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Life After An Abusive Marriage: Dealing With the Judgment

Life After An Abusive Marriage: Dealing With the Judgment

Single mom Brandi E. says it's struggle to understand why people are so hard on moms who've walked away from abusive marriages or relationships. She can’t fathom why some think it's better for moms to acquiesce to an abusive spouse instead of moving on to create a safe home for their children.

She knows firsthand. “I'm a single mom because I divorced my son's verbally and emotionally abusive father. I then became a single mom to three more children, because I adopted them out of the foster care system. Again, I feel being raised by a single mom is better than being raised in a group home or institution. Unfortunately people assume that if you are a single mom, you are on welfare. Maybe I'm not the norm, but I own my own business. I'm able to work at home and raise my children myself."

Brandi’s words point to a troubling challenge faced by single moms even after they've left abusive relationships: the unspoken judgment that they were wrong to walk away and deprive their children of a two-parent home.


This stigma can be particularly pronounced in the workplace says Kristin G, who feels that she's judged in an ongoing way by co-workers "because I didn't make the best choice in men." She finds it especially tough when co-workers make insensitive comments: "I don't know why they...don't understand how we are working harder. We are going it ALONE and taking on the responsibilities of two parents."

Should I Have Stayed?

Experts and many Circle of Moms community members agree that despite the no matter the stigma, it’s better and healthier to leave an abusive relationship than to stay.

“Abusive relationships are terribly unhealthy for the mom and her children,” says marriage and family psychotherapist Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill. “There are always exceptions of course, but moms in these home situations should be encouraged to leave, and need to plan their leaving with some support and if possible, professional help. “

Staying in an abusive relationship is “never OK,” says Rabbi Alexander Seinfeld of Baltimore, MD., adding that “The most important thing children need to grow up emotionally healthy is to have a peaceful home. If the home is not peaceful, she (the mom) must have the courage to make a change.”

Fear is what keeps moms in abusive relationships, says Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D.

“This should not be a difficult decision, because staying with an abusive man can mean your children will grow up to be abused or be abusive,” says Tessina. "You can figure out how to survive as a single mom, but you can't undo the harm that staying with an abuser will do to your children."

Joanne F. agrees. “Why raise a child in a family that always fights and is abusive in any way? You should take them out of that environment. Children don't always need two parents. They need love.“

"People always ask me 'So, why don't you get back with his father so you can have a real family?" says Nicole T. "Really? Last time I checked we are a real family. I love my son with all that I have and I don't want him to grow up in a home full of tension. And to think I didn't have to sacrifice my dignity or self-worth to be in an abusive relationship to give my son a 'real family.' I wish society would be more accepting of single moms."

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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