Divorce Warriors: Elena’s Story
Stories of Divorce Survival From Real People
Editor’s Note: This year, Modern Law began offering a scholarship to people who have survived divorce. We asked applicants to tell us in an essay how divorce had made them better or stronger. This series is the result of the stories we received. We’ve changed names and locations when appropriate.
Imagine being a young mother who has suffered both physical and mental abuse at the hands of a man you were sharing your life with. I was that young mother. My child was a year old when enough was enough. I could no longer physically and mentally take the abuse from my ex-husband.
What I ultimately did changed my life and turned me into a completely different person. I filed for divorce. The hardest part of the whole divorce proceedings was not the divorce itself, but the battle in family court where I desperately tried to save my child from facing abuse at the hands of her father.
Years later, there were supervised visitation schedules and meetings with forensic psychologists, not to mention numerous law guardians who failed to speak up and protect my child. The divorce proceedings were a walk in the park compared to the family court custody and visitation battle.
Fifteen years later, I have come to realize that my past experience did not break me. I went from being a frightened young girl into a very strong woman. I have suffered loss and found love again.
I tried to find happiness with another relationship, and had more babies, but that too failed. My second husband abandoned us. If it had not been for the first divorce, I would not have been strong enough to stand back up, wipe away the tears and keep moving forward. Initially, the first divorce was complicated due to the abuse and the restraining order I had been granted. I had to drop out of school, find work and leave my home. We lost everything because I could not be the support system solely and financially.
Looking back and realizing who I once was causes me sadness. I lost a part of myself through the struggles. However, today I am enrolled in school, working and raising my children alone. I have made a personal decision to no longer be complacent. I am strong. Now is the time to find myself and to be the kind of woman my children can look up to.
I choose to focus on each new day as a challenge full of the unknown that I am ready to face and conquer. I choose to no longer focus on being a victim because I am not a victim anymore, I am a victor of my own life! I truly believe that when you hit rock bottom, you can either stay there and let life pass you by or you can claw your way up and live.
Finding yourself is truly a grand adventure and it is never too late in life to begin your journey.
My message to people who are going through divorce: please remember that you are not alone and that you will get through this because you are stronger than you realize at the moment. I joined a divorce support group, had my children attend therapy and I was also in therapy.
My old dreams vanished but I have been able to create new dreams and make new goals for myself all while raising my children, working, going back to school and volunteering. I keep active and while the mental scars are still there, they are my battle scars. They always remind me that I was once in a very bad place and that I will never be back there again because I finally made it through and nothing will ever stop me again from happiness and success.