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Why Do We Stay?

When I wrote post here called Letting The Hens Be, I raised some questions. Today I’m glad that my question of ‘why do we stay in abusive relationships’ is being answered.

I’m so proud to introduce you today to Mary Hudak-Collins. She’s one of the nicest and most thoughtful online friends I have. Mary is extremely intelligent and talented in so many areas that I’ve lost count. But most of all she’s is the kind of person you’d like to go to when you need something and you know that she’ll pull out all the stops to help. 

I am humbled by Mary’s sharing today. That she has moved on from this situation to become a woman of such confidence and love is surely a very powerful message to us all.

Why Do We Stay?

My thoughts today were spurred by a recent post that Corinne had written: “Letting The Hens Be”. For anyone who read this, you realize this had nothing to do with chickens. But the message was a serious one and for me, a cause for reflection. I have ‘tolerated’ much in my life, and as I get older and wiser, I find myself asking “why did I allow myself to tolerate the misery I experienced in my life?” Of course, in anyone’s life we have experiences that are beyond our control, but then there are times when we could have taken control but didn’t and paid dearly for that decision.

When someone talks about being hurt by their spouse, or abused by a loved one, it seems the quickest response is “Why do you stay?” or “Why do you put up with it?” These questions are the most difficult to answer, especially when trying to explain to someone who has never been in your shoes.

In my case, I’m not sure what kept me in an abusive relationship. I was raised in a loving family. My parents worked hard for what my sister and I had. They were strict, keeping me out of trouble in my teens, but at the same time trying to provide for me whatever they could afford. I wasn’t a popular person in school, and had only a few close friends in college. I had the need to be ‘liked’.  I found myself becoming a ‘people-pleaser’ and before I knew it, I was involved in an abusive relationship. Most times, women don’t even realize this is occurring because the abuse doesn’t begin to occur until after you are well into the relationship.

You know how the adage goes: ‘appearances can be deceiving’. There is no truer statement. On the outside, we were the ‘perfect’ couple. He was a loving, considerate, compassionate, and charming man. Everyone loved him and never missed a chance to tell me how ‘lucky’ I was to be with him. Behind closed doors, I had a cheating b***** who convinced me that this is how life was and that all men were like him. Before long, you begin to believe what you are hearing over and over again. Even when others begin to see what is happening and encourage you to get out of the relationship, your mind already believes what you have been told: you are no good and you will never have better.

I was constantly told by my peers that I didn’t deserve to live like I was living. I was college-educated, had a great job with future potential, and a loving family. But it was hard to convince myself that I could get away and be alright on my own. Abusers have a unique way of manipulating a person’s mind. It took 14 years before I woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and in my mind I heard the words “you don’t deserve to live this way”. Maybe it was the words coinciding with actually seeing my reflection in the mirror? I don’t know. But it was as though someone gave me a shove and woke me up. It was then that my life took a 360 degree turn.

I secretly made plans to leave, always in fear what he would do to me when he found out I was leaving. As quiet as I kept my plans, he still found out what was going on. He tried everything from crying, telling me he couldn’t live without me to anger and breaking things. I stood strong, although I don’t know where the strength came from. He recruited his friends to talk to me, trying to convince me what a mistake I was making and how I would be sorry down the road.

The day I left, he came home from work early. Again, I stood strong even though my entire body was trembling in fear that I would never get away with my life. There will always be memories that cannot be washed away from a person’s mind. As I write this, I can close my eyes and still see his face in my rear-view mirror as I drove away from our house.

I was not quite to the state line when I received a call from a friend telling me that she had just visited him. She informed me that he had a gun and had told her that he would not live without me and that he planned to come after me. I changed my plans of where I was going and went into hiding. Even doing that, he was able to get my unlisted phone number, and called to tell me that he would find me. The fear was overwhelming. I moved once again and this time, refrained from phone service.

It was years before I stopped looking over my shoulder. The fear lived with me as a constant companion. Eventually, I heard through the grapevine that he was engaged. It wasn’t until that point that I began to relax and breathe. I began to live again. It took a long time before I could trust again.

Why do people tolerate something like this in their life? There are many reasons, each as different as the next person. For me, it was the need to be ‘liked’, the need to be able to fix anything, the lack of self-confidence and belief in myself, and fear. We all have our comfort zones no matter who we are, good or bad, the longer we are in them, the harder it is to move out of them. If you are someone who has experienced this in your life, you understand the mindset. If you have not, do not fall into the fallacy that it is easy to walk away. It is never easy. There are too many facets to the situation that you never see.

If you know of someone going through something like this, be supportive, not degrading. They need your support. They need to draw on your strength, because God knows they have very little of their own. If it wouldn’t have been for my close friends and family, God only knows where I would be today.


  1. Sanjib Saha Sanjib Saha May 26, 2012

    Well Mary,
    I must say you are a brave woman! Really brave! When i was reading the article, i could actually feel it, feel the things that happened with you. Really hard to answer such questions. Not many can do what you have done, specially here in India. But slowly everyone is learning from their mistakes. And the result is in front of all of us. I am really happy that you have moved on from this kind of situation.
    A salute to you!!!
    Sanjib Saha recently posted..Top 5 Android Apps for StudentsMy Profile

  2. […] glad that the three guest posts in the recent past resonated with you (thank you Linda, Myrna and Mary). There’s a lot more to […]

  3. Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues March 20, 2012

    If you haven’t read this already – I urge you do so.

  4. Nicole Ican Nicole Ican March 2, 2012

    What a great post!, Thank you for sending me the link. I really don’t know what to say. I really wish i could just leave and go.
    “If you know of someone going through something like this, be supportive, not degrading. They need your support. They need to draw on your strength, because God knows they have very little of their own.” That is the most important thing, I don’t even have family and friend’s support. I have my online friend, who became my real family, my only support. Thank you so much.

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins March 2, 2012

      Nicole, only you can be the one to make that decision for yourself.  It took me a very long time before I even realized what was happening was wrong, and then even longer before I ever mad the decision to leave and it didn’t happen overnight.  I put a lot of planning into it.  When, where, how, and what would I say if I was asked my someone or even worse, himself.  I devised a plan B if plan A didn’t work.  I played all of this over and over again in my mind so there was no mistakes.  And most of all, you have to be very careful.  This is not easy.  It’s not a trip to the grocery store and back; it’s for good, forever; no looking back.  One of the most important aspects to this is if there are children in the picture.  If so, you are now responsible for the child’s safety in your departure.  Anything else is immaterial.  You can’t worry about anything else but you, and your child(ren).
       “I don’t even have family and friend’s support. I have my online friend, who became my real family, my only support”.  I understand that you feel that you are alone.  That is a bad place to be going through abuse.  But I want to tell you that you are not alone.  The internet is a wonderful way to search anything, and spousal abuse is not excluded.  Here are just a couple of links that may help you get started when you get to that point: 

      I just did a search and numerous organizations came up, of course, I don’t know where you are from so it makes it a little more difficult.  Some organizations are state specific.  If you do search anything, always delete your search history.

      Nicole, I hope that you find what you are looking for in life.  It’s not an easy task for you when you are in an abusive relationship.  I do understand.  I will be keeping you in my prayers _/_

      • nikky44 nikky44 March 2, 2012

        Thank you very much Mary. I understand how hard it was for you and how hard it is and will be for me too. I have three children suffering too.
        Unfortunately, I don’t feel very safe to share a lot of information, as from where i come from etc, because I don’t know, it scares me a lot unless its to a private email or as a private message on facebook, but I can say that I come from a country where abusing women is legal, so whatever i tried to tell the authorities, there is no help, its legal. Even reports from hospital and the permanant damage are not enough for them to protect me.
        I’m sorry but I’m very scared to say more on here as I am using my name, my email addres, im scared.
        Same as you said, its after very long years that i realized that what is happening is wrong.
        Thank you very much Mary and Corinne

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  6. Alpana Jaiswal Alpana Jaiswal February 28, 2012

    I am at a loss of words,there are several parts here,which is a replica of my own story,and I know what it is like…Only the person going through will understand….Hts of to you Mary for writing this,I don’t have the guts to do so..I admire u for it,and thank u Corinne,for letting us read this.

  7. Irene Irene February 28, 2012

    Aww Mary, I don’t know what to say. But thank you so much for sharing this very honest post. And yes, it is so easy for people to pass on judgment, but one needs to be in another person’s shoes in order to understand what that person is going through. You are truly a blessing to those who are currently going through the same thing.

  8. Amy Amy February 28, 2012

    Mary, I am so relieved for you that you’ve found your voice and allow others to hear it! I have found through personal experience that there is freedom in letting the ‘secret’ out and the hold it has lessens.

    I recall my very 1st summer job, I was 16 and got a job at a dry cleaners. Oh my, it was so incredibly hot… this woman that worked there, she was really nice and even though she was old, like in her 30’s (lol), we quickly became friends. Her husband was really ‘nice’ and always brought her to work…She wore long sleeve shirts… her name was Patti and sometimes she smelled of alcohol. At first I thought maybe she couldn’t afford short sleeve shirts, so I offered to brings a few in for her. She declined my offer. And then one day she standing at the bagging thingy and raised her arms and I what I saw shocked me. I confronted her… too young to offer any advice; I just listened. She ‘made’ me promise not to tell. It was so awful. I was so young. I have thought of her often over the years, she was fired from the cleaners because she could not make it to work on time. I tried to talk her into telling them the reason but she wouldn’t.   My heart hurts for her… I just hope and pray she found a way out. I am SOOOO glad that you found the courage to leave. 

    Thank you for opening up and sharing.

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 28, 2012

      Thank you Amy.  I can’t imagine how scarred you must have been, listening to her story, at that young age.  But, I’m sure that the time you spent with her, listening without judgment, was refreshing and encouraging to her.  You’ll never know what became of her, but it would be nice to think that she saw you as inspirational and sought to get away at some point in her life.  As you have thought of her during your lifetime, I’m sure she has thought of you as well 🙂

  9. Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 28, 2012

    Blond Duck, so sorry your comment landed in spam 🙁  For most people, judging someone comes easy, almost like it is second nature.  It’s when they begin to make comments from that judgment that creates a problem for others.  We should all look at another’s situation with a grain of salt, realizing that we don’t always know all of the details surrounding their situation, therefore unable to make a valid judgment.  If we, instead, support and encourage their choices with safety in mind, I believe we would all be better off.  The old adage ‘Love is Blind’ is sometimes more than just an ‘old adage’ .

  10. Myrna Myrna February 28, 2012

    Congratulations Mary.  You found some peace by taking a big risk.  I understand how difficult it is for women or men, who are being abused to find the courage to leave and change the circumstances of their lives.  Thank you so much for sharing such a personal story in such a sincere manner.

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 28, 2012

      Myrna, I guess I really didn’t realize just how big the risks were at the time I left…maybe because I was so young?  Now, looking back I see that I didn’t choose the brightest of ways to leave and left myself exposed to a much bigger danger.  All I can say is that I had an angel on my shoulder, protecting me every step of the way.

  11. Rimly Bezbaruah Rimly Bezbaruah February 27, 2012

    Mary it felt like reading my own life story. I have had nightmares that kept me awake for a long time but I think today I am on the road to healing and finding the real me. Thank you for sharing this

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 28, 2012

      Rimly, our worlds are so very large yet quite small when you really think about it.  We are at separate ends from each other although we share the same tale.  I’m so thankful that you are healing and finding the strength to become the woman you were meant to be.  I’m happy to know you and have you in my ‘circle’.  Stay well 🙂

  12. Larry Larry February 27, 2012

    What an amazing world the blogosphere has created for all of us. And Mary daily you show what a fantastic example you are to everyone. You never hold back, whether teaching, informing, or revealing. But ineverything you do, you show the way. You show hope. You show possibility. You demonstrate what blogging can be all about. There is no longer any need for people to hide, to hold things in. This is the outlet you’ve needed. And when you use it, be amazed at the support you will receive. That is the wonders that the blogosphere and the communities around it offer, help, support, people to listen, new friends to find, and a place you can empty all of that negativity that fills you.  Neither does it surprise me that Corinne has brought out such a wonderful emotive piece.  So well done to both of you.

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 28, 2012

      I was amazed, Larry, how Corinne’s post on the ‘hens’ lit a fire in me.  I’ve shared this story many times with others over the years, in hopes that it would allow them to see that ‘getting away’ is a possibility and that no one has to live that way.  But when Corinne asked me to write a guest post, I wanted to but wasn’t quite sure what to write about…until I read about the ‘hens’.  It didn’t take long for all of this to flow from my mind to the computer screen.  Incredible how things work.  Our blogging network is a wonderful place full of amazing people who offer encouragement and support.  I have never been a part of such a loving community and I thank each and every one of you for your kind words <3

  13. Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 27, 2012

    Thank you Savira for the hugs ☺  I wish I had known of you ‘silent’ days back then.  I believe that would have given me much insight, but then again being so young, who knows?  Age comes with wisdom and courage.  I do hope that this post does help someone, in one way or another.

  14. Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 27, 2012

    It is amazing to me the stories I have read on the internet across the globe about women who have experienced abuse.  I believe that part of me kept everything so quiet because I though it WAS me.  For a long time, I felt I was the one causing this to happen and continuously tried to change this and that, thinking it would help.  It didn’t and it never will.  It is NOT our fault, or us causing them to act any particular way.  It is in their makeup.  I’m not exactly sure how he is living today.  It’s been awhile since we have spoken.  I don’t hate him, and I do think about him every once in awhile.  I want him to be okay.  Most of all, I want him to realize what he has done to me and others in his life and the effect it had.  Will I get my wish?  Probably not.  Most men of this nature truly don’t believe there is anything wrong with how they treat women.  The funny thing about all of this is that his father hurt his mother in quite the same way.  When we first got together, I remember him telling me “I will never hurt you like my father did my mother”.  I will never forget his words.

  15. Blond Duck Blond Duck February 27, 2012

    Popped in from SITS!  It can be so hard to judge someone in this situation, and why they won’t leave….but love isn’t logical.

  16. Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 27, 2012

    Kathleen, although we have always been close, there were just some things that I needed to do on my own.  You were so far away and involved in your own life, that I depended on mom and dad for support through this ugliness.  I never thought for a moment that you wouldn’t have been there.  I’m thankful that I was able to get away from that life and was able to start over again.  You know what my life is like now, and although it’s been up and down, it is because of normal, everyday stuff, not abuse.  I love you too sissy!

  17. Punam Punam February 27, 2012

    Corinne, you must know already that Mary’s post would reduce me to tears. And so it did. And I so so so want to hug Mary and congratulate her for “choosing life” the way she did, for she survived. And every survivor is a winner. To me, like they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And I see a strong Mary here.  My heart goes out to you, and although I have had hens in my life that I “let be” too, there are days when their “cackling” still rings in my head and makes me go crazy.
    As Mary said, walking away is not easy, but when u do muster the courage to walk away, I believe.. one should, because each one of us are miracles of God, meant to be happy and caring and care-free, not abused, humiliated and ridiculed.
    Love you, Mary.. Love you, Corinne.. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 27, 2012

      Thank you Punam.  It has made me stronger, and smarter.  And I believe, like you, that we should be happy, caring, and care-free.  No one should ever have to endure any kind of abuse.  Love you Punam <3 

  18. Jimshu Jimshu February 27, 2012

    I’ve not been wanting to come here Mary. But yes, I understand abusive households. Well I don’t understand them really, but then when you’re young and experiencing them you have no idea that it is different, it’s the ‘normality’ that you are experiencing then for yourself -only when you get out do you fully realise that it is not normal. And therein lies part of the problem that the abusive environment they grew up in, is what seems normal to them so they carry it on into their family.
    It’s so good to see others breaking out and saying “No more! I’ll not carry on the abusive behaviour!”And the blogging world is helping others break out, find the strength, seek another life. They are such brave people. You are one. 

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 27, 2012

      I know Jim that this type of post is difficult for most.  It makes people uncomfortable, especially if it hits close to home.  It’s a shame that some grow up thinking that this type of situation is the ‘norm’.  It breaks my heart and I wish there was some way to just make every one aware of the warning signs before they are in too deep.  Thank you for coming by Jim.  I do appreciate your comment.

  19. Katbig Katbig February 27, 2012

    You asked me to read this and comment. Well, here goes.  First, I hope your story will help others to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel and people willing to help. Second, I thought that I knew what you were going through with him. Evidently I didn’t. Not by a long shot.  Oh, there were bits and pieces, but not the whole story. I’d have been there in a heartbeat if you had asked. I just thank God that you finally got away. Writing this with tears in my eyes. I love you. Your sister, Kathleen.

  20. Sweepy Jean Sweepy Jean February 27, 2012

    You are a strong and beautiful person. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us, Mary. xox

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 27, 2012

      Sweepy, thank you for reading 🙂  I believe all of us have a bit of history that we eventually become comfortable sharing with others.  If this post helps just one person, it will have made all the difference in the world.

  21. Tameka Mullins Tameka Mullins February 26, 2012

    Mary, I’m so happy that you were able to get out of the toxic relationship you were in and that you weren’t harmed. Your story will definitely help someone else. You were very brave in sharing. Blessings to you! 

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 26, 2012

      Tameka, I never realized just how lucky I was to be able to get out.  I keep reading and re-reading Kim’s comment regarding her sister.  Although I was afraid that he would do something to really hurt me, I guess I never realized that death could be an outcome.  This is such a dangerous situation for anyone to be in, female or male.  Hopefully, as awareness increases in the public, so will support.  Thank you for sharing 🙂

  22. Nelieta Mishchenko Nelieta Mishchenko February 26, 2012

    Mary, I think it is easy for people to say “Get out of there”, but like you say it is not that easy. Nobody can judge until they have walked in the other person`s shoes. So glad you managed to get away! Like you said, where would you have been now if you had stayed? xxxxx

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 26, 2012

      Nelieta, the only thing I know is that I would not be here 🙂  I highly doubt that I would have had any children to share my life with.  Every day, I count my blessings for the people in my life.  I am thankful for the wonderful people I have met through blogging.  I am thankful for the ones who share in my story and leave such thoughtful and encouraging comments.  It allows me to realize that I am headed in the right direction, a healthy direction.  Writing this story reinforces the fact, even in my life, that when you are talking to someone who is in a difficult  situation in their life, sometimes it is better to listen and avoid advice or suggestion, especially if you have not ‘walked in their shoes’.  Thank you Nelieta.

  23. Debbie M. Debbie M. February 26, 2012

    We always think we’re alone and no one else is going through/or have gone through our same situations . . . Until you meet a group of women/men writers/bloggers online and that’s when you see that you aren’t alone and many have similar stories as yours. It’s takes a lot to dig deep and relive some of it to share with others, thanks for sharing Mary.  I lived in an abusive relationship for years, I asked myself after leaving why I stayed so long? Sometimes we just can’t give an answer, often not really knowing. But then one day it hits us!! We stayed because it was all we’ve known… 

    Thanks for sharing 

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 26, 2012

      Deb, I guess I never realized the question I’ve received from others since leaving, not until reading your comment.  In sharing my story over the years, that is the exact question I have been asked, but it never hit home with me.  ‘Why did I stay so long?’  Fourteen years is a long time to live like that.  I guess it is because I am a different person now and people can’t imagine me in that type of relationship.  Even when I think back to how I was back then [seems like a lifetime ago], I can’t picture myself living through it.
      But you have hit the nail on the head…we stay because it is all we know.  I was young and it was my first, serious relationship.  It shaped my beliefs of how a relationship should be, even though I had been raised much differently, watching my parents in a healthy relationship.  I was naive and had no idea it was even considered an ‘abusive’ relationship until much later.  Seriously, I had no physical marks on me, how could it be abusive?  But mental and emotional abuse is just as bad as the marks.  It leaves deep scars either way.
      Thank you for sharing your comment.  Even now, I’m still learning 🙂

  24. Savira Savira February 26, 2012

    You were right in doing what you did, courage and strength was by your side.A very hard story to write and especially since the memories are so raw. Thank you for this and hope your message will help others.
    Hugs to you

  25. Notanottinghillmum Notanottinghillmum February 26, 2012

    Great post Mary – as others have said I had no idea about this side of your life and  I’m sure the positive side is it has contributed to the extremely compassionate person you are now. It’s terrifying though that this man seems to have become even worse once you left – I’m so glad you managed to hide from him – it is chilling to think what might have happened and we can only pity the woman he is now with. Who knows how he is treating her. Although a friend who was in an abusive relationship with a man for several years who was v charismatic, university educated etc kept being told by mutual friends – well he didn’t hit any of his past girlfriends – what is it you do? You must be provoking him. Her broke her ribs at one point. With friends like that!!! Thanks goodness there are people like you who have been through it able to provide support and brave enough to share their story!

  26. Sapna Sapna February 26, 2012

    Can’t believe this. I just had  a discussion about a similar topic like 5 mins back and now I am reading this. My ‘ultra strong’ friend had to say “one should know what are you getting into and be mentally prepared for it” about giving in and feels walking away is easy but little does she understand the state of mind the person is in when made to feel like a piece of trash. 

    Guess at times, only being in that position helps you understand what the person is going through and nothing less. 

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues February 26, 2012

      I’m glad Mary’s story resonated with you. We sometimes go in to relationships thinking that ‘we know what we’re getting in to’ and hoping that our presence will change the other. Walking away is never easy. Our emotions can be so confusing at the best of times and even more so when we are being hounded by wrong messages from an abusive  partner.  
      Thanks for coming by @openid-69672:disqus . I’m sure Mary will respond to you too soon. 

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 26, 2012

      Sapna, I had more than one ‘ultra strong’ friend make similar statements to me.  So, it is not only the fear that a person deals with, it is the mindset of who they consider to be their most admired and close friend that they have to listen to as well.  Those kind of statements didn’t help me any, it only kept me there longer.  When someone that you are close to tells you that you should have known, it increases the feeling of low self-worth, self-image, self-esteem and completely strips you of your confidence.  You find yourself questioning and doubting your choices and feeling as though maybe you are wrong, maybe this is how it should be, and maybe you just need to ‘suck’ it up and take it; it’s not so bad.
      But that is exactly one of the things that keeps a woman in this situation.  Things in life are not always black and white.  There are a lot of grey areas, and it is those areas that need to be focused on.  They are the inconsistent areas of life.  It is the ‘ultra strong’ people of the world that look at life through rose-colored glasses and believe that you make your own destiny.  I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with that.  I believe that sometimes, we find ourselves in situations that are less than desirable and it is in those times that we pull on the strength of our friends and family to get us through it.  In the end, it makes us a stronger individual and a more caring, compassionate friend for others.

  27. tbaoo tbaoo February 26, 2012

    thank you very much mary and so good on you for standing strong – 🙂 

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 26, 2012

      Tbaoo, thank you.  Strength comes in many shapes and sizes.  I hope that I never lose mine and that I can share it with others in their time of need.

  28. Pamanner Pamanner February 26, 2012

    My Lord, I had no idea what you went through. While I do not know from personal experience what that must have felt like (to be afraid for your life), I am not unfamiliar with pain and it is 100% true:  people need support and to be shown love. AMEN, Mary! xoxoxo

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 26, 2012

      Pamela, no matter what kind of sadness or fear shadows over someone’s life, the love and support of family and friends can ease the journey.  It certainly did mine 🙂

  29. Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 25, 2012

    Andy, Andy…the romantic in my internet life 🙂  Your words always warms me in one way or another.  I don’t know if you realize it or not, but your words have a way of touching one’s soul at such a deep level.  You are truly an inspiration to me.  Thank you for being you, and being here 🙂 

  30. Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 25, 2012

    OMG Kim, in reading this I am in disbelief and sadness.  I know the courage it took for her to step away only to end in a tragedy.  Reading this brings all the anger forward, and I don’t even want to describe what I have running through my head about what I would do to that man.  But then, it makes me no better than him.
    I am so sorry for the loss of your sister.  Were there children involved?  I can’t even begin to imagine what your family endured through this situation.  Will keep you in my prayers and will continue to ‘scream’ my story along with others.  

    • My Inner Chick My Inner Chick February 27, 2012


        Kay has 3 boys.  Two are with my mother & father.  They are older, but

      They MISS their mother deeply deeply….every single day.

      Everything changed in an instant. 

      And the thing is,  Mourning never really ends.

      At least, mine doesn’t.

      I wish  wish wish the clock could turn back….

      Thank you for telling your story.  Do you have a blog?

      Xxx Love Love Love.

      • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 28, 2012

        Kim, how cliche to say it would have been easier if children hadn’t been involved and I don’t say that lightly, by any means.  This is such a horrific tragedy to begin with, but for children to grow up knowing how things evolved for their mother has to be so traumatic for them.  I know, that for me, I was always thankful that children weren’t in the picture at the time.  If there had of been, I wonder if I would have ever left.  I’m not sure.
        I understand the wishes of turning the clock back.  I never wish that I could change my life, because it would ultimately change who I am right now.  But, I do wish that I could go back and spend time at certain phases of my life, especially when my mother passed away, to be able to be with her for just one more minute…to say what I never was given the chance to say…to let her know how much I loved her and how much she would be missed in my life.
        Okay Kim, now you’ve done it [sniffle, sniffle, tissues].  I don’t cry well so changing the subject.
        Yes, I actually have 2 blogs. is centered around my daughter and her health issues. is my anonymous blog where I go to write and say what I can’t say on my first blog ☺  I also have a sports blog that is less active.  We founded a not for profit, youth sports organization 5 years ago for underprivileged girls, teaching basic to advance fundamentals of basketball and competing at college attended tournament in hopes to get the girls a scholarship for college.
        Thank you Kim for being so honest and sincere in your comments.  I do hope the best for you and your sister’s family in the future.  I will keep you all in my prayers _/_

  31. My Inner Chick My Inner Chick February 25, 2012

    Did my comment go thru? Or is it in Spam?

    My Inner Chick

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues February 25, 2012

      @069f82b6d320654603807f0aa4a9f1e9:disqus  Kim – I’m sorry your first comment went to spam 🙁  I have now approved it and Mary will respond to you. Thank you so much for coming by. I know how close this subject is to your heart. Holding you in love and prayer. 

      • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 25, 2012

        Kim, thank you so much for returning to check for a reply.  I most definitely wouldn’t have wanted to miss your comment.  It just tore me up.  But women also need to be aware that your sister’s tragedy is also a fear when leaving.  I know that once I was aware there was a gun in the picture, I was so scarred for my life and had no idea what to do from one minute to the next.  I was also afraid to stay with friends and family for fear of putting them in danger.  I felt alone and abandoned for a long time.
        Just to note to all, I have been in contact with this man since leaving in 1992, and the last time we spoke he informed me that leaving was the best thing anyone could have done for him.  I didn’t pursue an explanation of his comment as I really didn’t want to go there, but it was good to see he had moved on with his life as well.

  32. Lynne Watts Lynne Watts February 25, 2012

    Really a brave and honest post!  Thanks for sharing it!!!  So many people are in these relationships and need the support to take the steps that Mary did.  

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 25, 2012

      Lynne, I hope that this post helps someone.  My purpose was to allow readers to realize that there is a way out, although it’s not at all easy, and can sometimes be quite dangerous.  But, women need to realize that there is help ALL over the nation.  They just have to reach out and accept it.  I also wanted women to know that no matter how much you ‘think’ the situation will change, it won’t.  It only tends to escalate, getting someone physically hurt in the end, sometimes including death.  It is best to escape as soon as it becomes evident.  The longer one stays, the more difficult it becomes to walk away.  I consider myself one of the lucky ones.   Even with his threats and intentions, I was able to move on and begin my life over.  I was able to grow and become the woman I should have been back then.  I was able to become involved in a wonderful relationship and have children.  This all sounds like a fairy tale when I read what I’ve written, but I have never lost the strength that I gained to walk away, and it has become my ‘right hand man’, so to speak.  

  33. Bryan Thompson Bryan Thompson February 25, 2012

    Hi Corinne, first of all, I am so sorry for all you went through for so long. I cannot imagine. My brother was actually in an abusive relationship years ago. It was one of those rare reversals where his girlfriend was extremely belligerent when she got angry. He tolerated it partly out of concern for her instability and largely out of fear of what she might do if he broke things off. Thankfully he did get out of it. Thank you for sharing your story. You will help a lot of people.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues February 25, 2012

      Thank you for sharing, @thompsonland:disqus . It’s not often we hear of men being the victims of such abuse. But it’s easy to understand why he stayed. However, I’m glad your brother got out of that relationship. This is not my story but one shared by my friend, Mary. 

      • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 25, 2012

        Thank you Corinne for clarifying 🙂  Bryan, although we usually tend to hear about woman being abused, it does happen to men quite frequently.  I wish more men would tell their stories, but I understand the ‘pride’ thing going on.  I know men who have talked to me on a personal level, sharing details of their life, not even realizing that they are in an abusive relationship.  The question I ask them is ‘if this was a woman telling her story, what would you think?’  They always reply…’well, that would be abuse!’  
        It’s no different for a man.  It doesn’t make them weak, or un-manly, as some think.  It just makes them human.

  34. Bongo Bongo February 25, 2012

    Corinne and Mary…thank you for this post….I read it a few days ago when it came out…it brought me to tears and I didn’t know what to say…Mary you and I have a lot in common and I know you know the story..I have never been brave enough to write mine…I admire you for being able to get it written out…and I love you more then words can say…..As always….XOXOXOXOXO

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 25, 2012

      Bonnie, Bonnie, Bonnie…so many posts could be written, so many tears could be shed, so many prayers could be said.  I wish everyone had the opportunity to know you at the level I do.  There is so much more to the woman ‘Bongo’ then what meets the eye through your blog.  No matter what…our pasts can never be changed.  And for better or worse, our past shapes who we are and where we are at in life.  In your case, your past was so horrific, that you had someone else to live through it for you.  Through your therapy, I believe that you will gain the strength to go through each memory yourself, and once you have done that you will be free and be able to move on.  I patiently await that moment because that will be the day that I help you prepare a new about your triumphs, your dreams, your future.  You are going to blow the blogging world away!  And I will always be there for you…cheering you on Chicky!

  35. My Inner Chick My Inner Chick February 25, 2012

    My heart beat quickly as I read this. 

    I felt every. single. word.  inside.  my.  bones.

    …..Because my sister could have written this post.

    She Stayed.  She fu%#ing stayed.

    She stayed for many reasons.

    When she finall ydecided to leave for good, her husband (monster ) put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger 3 times.

    The thing is:  I died that day, too.     In many ways. The entire family did.


    I thank God you got out.  I am happy for you and your new life.

    I only wish my sister were reading this blog right this minute.

    Keep Screaming your story!!

    Love Love Love.

    My Inner Chick

  36. Jessica Mokrzycki Jessica Mokrzycki February 25, 2012

    Really powerful post Mary. I am really glad that you are no longer in a relationship like that…I like how you emphasize to others to be supportive and not critical to those who find themselves in harmful relationships.

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 25, 2012

      Even though a woman escapes this situation, it becomes a part of her.  There are times in my life that something happens and all the thoughts and images crowd my mind.  Without a current, healthy relationship, you can find yourself going from one relationship to another, never finding your place.  I count my blessings every day for the man I am married to.  Even as fearful as I may get because of my past creeping into crevices it’s not wanted, he does understand and is always assuring that those things will never happen again.  There are a lot of spouses that don’t want to hear about a woman’s past, much less help her deal with it.  Open communication is so essential to success of a marriage.  

  37. Andy Andy February 24, 2012

    Mary, when I read stories like this, it just cuts me in two. 
    Abusers and wife beaters are not men, they are so small in character that they use emotional blackmail to appear mighty and strong. Thank goodness you had your wake-up call & your wits about you. If you had stayed, the outcome could have been so completely different today.You’ve been very brave to share with all of us & I appreciate your openness & honesty. I’ve only known you for a few months and you’ve already worked your way into my heart. Doesn’t matter what or where you have come from, you’ll always be beautiful to me. <3<3<3 Thanks Corinne.

  38. Elizabeth Young Elizabeth Young February 24, 2012

    Ah, finally! I enjoyed this post a great deal, and found it very healthy and inspiring. Sorry it took me so long to say so! I never, ever understood why my mother stayed with my father. The only reason was societal pressure against divorce, which had decreased a great deal already when I was growing up. Thanks for a great post Mary.

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 25, 2012

      Without completely giving away my age, Elizabeth, I know how hard something like this was to deal with just 30 years ago.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it would have been like during my parents generation.  It is good to see that women, all over the world, are beginning to see how special they are and that they don’t have to live with this, or any type, of abuse.

  39. Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 24, 2012

    Lazy Pineapple, actually it wasn’t hard to write it as I have come to terms with this happening in my life and have dealt with it.  Now, sharing it with the whole world was a different story.  Not because it makes me feel dirty or bad, I’ve moved past that point too…but just knowing that some individuals that read it say “you should have just left” because they have never been in that place before and can’t truly understand it.  Part of writing this post for Corinne is that mindset of ‘you should have just left’ needs to change to ‘what can I do to help you get away from this situation?’

  40. Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 24, 2012

    Jerly, so well put.  For 14 years, I saw this man as someone so perfect!  When the words “I am leaving” left my lips, you would have thought I had stabbed a knife in his back.  He was reduced to tears and the floor.  Again, I found myself second guessing myself, just knowing that he would change and everything would be better.  But, this time I didn’t fall for what my mind and body was telling me.  I stuck with the plan.  I believe, by this point, I had come to realize how he had manipulated my thoughts.  I’m so happy I did because I wouldn’t be where I am at today if I hadn’t 🙂

  41. G Angela G Angela February 24, 2012

    This truly a very daring and a  beautiful post,  its not easy to get out of relationships so easily,  it takes a lot of courage.  Thanks for posting this Mary &Corinne !

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 24, 2012

      G Angela, so very true…it takes a lot of courage and a lot of planning.  Whatever it takes for anyone to move away from this type of relationship, I hope people find it.  Mine was an accumulation of things.  I look back at it now and wonder what in the world was I thinking.  But again, it lended to who I am today 🙂

  42. Lazy Pineapple Lazy Pineapple February 24, 2012

    oh must be so difficult to write this post. I salute your courage for taking the steps and moving out of that relationship. 

  43. Jerly Jerly February 24, 2012

    Well Done!! I am struck by the clarity you have Mary of why people stay and why you stayed. Like “people pleaser’ That turns on the abuses as the abuser hits exactly where it hurts, taking advantage of that weakness to make you feel u are wrong and control you. “beginning to believe what is told again and again” loosing ones own judgement by trusting the others is again a problem of wanting to be liked. Nothing but strength from God can get one either out of it or lead one to correct ones situation. One has to grow as tall or taller and dwarf the abuser by this strength, to survive within the relation by changing the equations to a balance…

  44. Kathy Kathy February 24, 2012

    Such and amazingly touching and transparent post. Really makes one wonder about why we tolerate anything we are miserable about for so long and yet regardless of what it is, sometimes tolerance is all you can do.

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 24, 2012

      Kathy, I believe each woman (or man) has a different reason for staying in a miserable situation.  Many women that I know are in this same type of relationship, but feel they can’t leave because of the children.  I am there for them for support and encourage walking away.  I can’t say I understand because I had no children at the time of my experience, but I can empathize.  Is it better to leave?  I would think so, only because the children are being raised in this type of atmosphere and what is that teaching them?  They are learning that this is how relationships should be and that abuse is ‘alright’.  The circle continues.  At some point, it has to be broken 🙂

  45. Lisa Brandel Lisa Brandel February 24, 2012

    <3 Love<3 thank you for this post, and thank you for my ongoing lesson…*hugs*

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 24, 2012

      {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Lisa}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}  You are very welcome 🙂

  46. melissatandoc melissatandoc February 24, 2012

    Oh Mary it’s one side of you I have come to know today Thanks for sharing your story. It made me cringe to know that men could be like that. I always find women to be stronger inside. It takes time perhaps to decide because we think that they could change one day or perhaps because the kids need a father…I remember asking my SD about St. Rita’s abusive husband, well, he said, grace takes place both ways.

    I hug you for the courage with which you have demonstrated. You are a beautiful person and you are worthy of all the love in the world.  You are loved!

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 24, 2012

      Awhhh Melissa, thank you so much 🙂  I had always thought I was strong inside, but found that I wasn’t quite as much as I would have liked to think.  Fear is crippling.  Once I realized that I was not alone, things began to turn around for me.  I’m so happy that I have been able to move past that point in my life and use it towards changing my future.

  47. Ron Ron February 24, 2012

    Mary – I read this entire story and not for a moment did I think it was about you. I have learned something very deep and strong about you today. It is a powerful story and you laid yourself open for all to see. It does help me understand the Mary I have grown to know better. You are a truly good person with strength and resolve. Bravo!

    Be well,

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 24, 2012

      Thank you Ron 🙂  We bloggers get to know so many people through our writings, but we really only know what others are willing to share with us.  I used to see this experience as something bad and dirty, and was embarrassed that I wasn’t strong enough to walk away as soon as I realized what was going on.  I guess I held onto the hope that I could change it.  I feel that it has made me a better person and I’m happy with that.
      If a person can walk away from a negative experience with a positive change in their life, they are doing good 🙂

  48. DangerousLinda DangerousLinda February 23, 2012

    Hi, Mary! ~

    Thank you for sharing your powerful story.  I appreciate the depth of self-reflection and authenticity demonstrated in this post.  Like you, I have experienced different types of abusive relationships in my life.  I agree that we must take responsibility for the part we played, without ‘blame’, if we want to come out truly empowered.  Well done!  Love, love, love! 

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 24, 2012

      Linda, I can remember always thinking “what did I do” and “what is wrong with me”.  I was so under control of this man that I was ‘brain-washed’ into thinking that it was my fault.  Totally!  I placed him on a throne and bowed to his every need, like a slave.  With each indiscretion, I worked harder, I tried to please more, I was dying inside.
      Even after I left, I couldn’t believe that I would ever be in a relationship again.  His words sang in my head every time I met someone.  It wasn’t until I found out that even though he was engaged to be married that he had continued his ‘lifestyle’.  That’s when I realized that I didn’t necessarily ‘do anything’ nor was there anything ‘wrong with me’.   I was in an abusive relationship and no matter what I did or how I did it, that fact wouldn’t change:  it would still be an abusive relationship.
      Many women who have experienced this in their life never get involved in another relationship.  That saddens me.  Even with the depth of pain I went through, it made me more consciously aware of others around me and more sensitive to their situation.  I have moved on and am now in a healthy, loving relationship.  It isn’t perfect, but I don’t know any relationship that is.  The one thing that I know is that I am happy, no longer abused in any way, and I would be very sad if my husband wasn’t in my life 🙂

      • DangerousLinda DangerousLinda February 24, 2012


  49. Sangeeta khanna Sangeeta khanna February 23, 2012

    Wonderful survival story…. I am so glad you had the courage Mary, we have all seen people suffering all their lives for no fault of theirs … Sharing it here is all the more generous on your part as it would be a motivation for many..

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 24, 2012

      Sangeeta, it took a long time to muster up the courage to ‘walk away’.  I just wish I would have done it sooner.  No matter what, it’s important that people who are in an abusive relationship realize that there is always someone, somewhere, that will listen without judgment and can help in some way 🙂

  50. Leah Leah February 23, 2012

    Having lived that life I definitely can understand this post; moving on to counseled troubled teens & battered women…I can understand the ‘reasoning’ people tell themselves to give them support to stay in a devastating relationship.  Mine only lasted for 6 months and only that long because I was in the midst of a custody battle and had an attorney telling me that if I left; I would loose my foothold.  All this being said; the primary reason that people tend to stay in these types of relationships is ‘fear’.  Fear of what will happen if they leave, fear of not being able to survive alone, fear of the unknown.  ”
    If you know of someone going through something like this, be supportive, not degrading. They need your support”  these words are the best advice!  In my case, having gone through my short battle that nearly put me in my grave helped me become a better counselor. (The whole ‘you can’t understand where someone is coming from unless you’ve been where they’ve been’ thing)  GREAT post!!!

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 24, 2012

      Thank you Leah.  Fear is such a controlling element of our lives.  It’s a shame that your attorney couldn’t find a different way for you to make it through this time without staying in those circumstances.  But as one mother to another, I understand that you would go through anything for your child.  I would have.  Fortunately for me, I had no children at this time and it was just me.  I can’t even begin to imagine what I would have done or how I would have handled it if their had been children involved.  Thank you for sharing 🙂

  51. Jan Jan February 23, 2012

    Mary, it is as if you have written my story. helping people to understand walking away is not always possible, especially without help, is an all important fact. Thank you for telling our story.<3

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 24, 2012

      Jan, it seems the more I talk about the past, the more I connect with people learning that they have had experiences in their life that are very similar, if not the same.  Even after having gone through this, I find myself sometimes having the urge to say “Just leave” when someone is sharing their current experience.  I have to do a mental check and remind myself that I was once in those shoes and that comment didn’t help me in any way, nor did it encourage me to leave.

  52. Martha Orlando Martha Orlando February 23, 2012

    Oh, Mary, what a powerful, heart-wrenching piece you have written here.  And, boy, to I ever understand . . . in describing your experience, you could have been talking about mine years and years ago.
    Bless you for having the courage to share this.  I pray it helps others to see if they, too, are in an abusive relationship or be understanding and supportive of those who are.
    Blessings to you!

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 24, 2012

      One of the most important things to remember in any abusive relationship is that there is someone out there, somewhere, to talk to.  Even if it is just a ‘help’ line.  Someone is there.  If only one person reads this and can take something away with them that will help, then writing it is all worth it 🙂

  53. Janaki Nagaraj Janaki Nagaraj February 23, 2012

    Mary, this is such a touching story…a nightmare to have lived one. I had a friend who was in an abusive relationship…she needed the moral support which I provided for her at that time. Today, she is single and happy.

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 24, 2012

      Janaki, your friend is lucky to have had you in her life.  The importance of having just one person available to lean on is immeasurable.  Part of me hates that I ever lived this part of my life, but the rest of me knows that this experience contributed to who I am today 🙂

  54. Luchi Smiles Luchi Smiles February 23, 2012

    I can understand you, I understand how difficult it is to get out of such relationships. It is even more difficult when there are poor-innocent-victims (the kids) involved in the relationship.
    Thanks for this wonderful post Mary and Corinne 🙂

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 24, 2012

      Luchi Smiles, I guess I could say that I was lucky to have had no children at this time.  I know so many relationships that go through this and although the parents struggle with the pain, it is the children that ultimately pay.

  55. The Social Frog The Social Frog February 23, 2012

    Wonderful post!

    • Mary Hudak-Collins Mary Hudak-Collins February 24, 2012

      Thank you 🙂  I wouldn’t have been able to write about this experience a couple of years ago.  But after blogging and reading so many different posts written, it has certainly been of comfort to hear other’s experiences of their past.  I have finally worked through this and have began to use it in a positive way in my life.

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