"The Relationship That Almost Killed Me"

Leaving an abuser is the beginning of a long road to psychological freedom

Here are some of the times I didn't leave my partner: I didn't leave him when he hit me so hard that he paralyzed my diaphragm and I couldn't scream for help. I didn't leave after neighbors had him arrested, or when he grabbed me by my throat and dragged me around the house, or when friends and family begged me to leave. I did not even leave when he threw me against the floor while I was six months pregnant. Did I think about it? Of course I did. I thought about it every single time he raised his hand to me. Sometimes I even did leave--for a night, for three. But I always came back, because as any battered woman can tell you, the leaving can feel harder than the abuse. Most of us carry with us a wretched crib sheet of times we should have left, and that list just keeps getting longer. Here's the story of how I put an end to mine.

Meeting Scott* was like meeting the rest of my life. He was gorgeous, a successful male model. I was a model too, and a single parent-- devoted, but also wild and a little unsettled. He came into the picture and love-bombed me, constantly telling me that I was the most beautiful woman in the world, asking to spend every waking minute together. He took on my baggage (and believe me, I had some). At that time in my life, I was convinced that I needed a husband and a father for my son, Christian. I believed that being with Scott transformed me from a statistic--another woman of color with a baby and no man--into half of a perfect couple.

[Read more of Sil Lai's powerful story at REDBOOK MAG]