Anastasia

 “I didn’t want him to be like his dad...”

I used to live in a very abusive situation with my ex-husband and my father-in-law.

My ex-husband was verbally very abusive, the humiliating kind. Some things were just so bad, I can’t say them. He started to put ideas in my head that I’m a useless person, that I couldn’t do anything in this life without him.

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When I was six months pregnant, he hit me. I was crying because it was our anniversary and I wanted to spend the day with him, but he got very upset. At the time, I thought it was my fault but later I realized it wasn’t. It’s normal to be emotional when you’re pregnant, but it’s not normal for a man to raise his hand against a woman.

I had thought about leaving for about six months. It took a while because I wasn’t sure. But one day I realized it was a very, very bad situation, not only for me but for my child.

It was a Friday and my husband was out. I had an argument with my father-in-law — he raised a knife to me while I was holding my two-month-old son. He said, “I hate you, you’re not a good wife.” He even said the baby wasn’t his grandson. I was very scared, but at the same time I had an animal instinct to protect my child. I phoned my husband, but instead of saying, “I’ll come to help you,” he told me it was my fault.

That night, I waited until they went out. I took only diapers and clothes because I thought I would go back.

The shelter gave me so much I can’t put it into a few words.

The first night, I was crying a lot because I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know English. I was young, with a baby. I didn’t have any immigration papers. I didn’t know how to find a job, where I could find money. I was going to call my husband and ask for forgiveness.

But every day I talked to other women. A nurse came and helped me with the child. The staff explained what to do in terms of family court, immigration, how to apply to college, how to apply for a subsidized apartment. So every single day I realized it was for the better.

I think my son gave me the strength to make the decision. I didn’t want him to see his father humiliating his mother. And I didn’t want him to be like his dad.

The biggest thing I learned was not to be scared and to stand up for yourself. There was a slow psychological effect - that I can do better, I can do it by myself, I’m a strong person, I’m a strong woman.

I know it sounds funny, but dreams do come true. Whatever you think can become reality.

Anastasia, Student
Participant, Interval House Women’s Shelter - A Canadian Women’s Foundation-funded program