“I left my marriage of 25 years, after a life of struggling to cope with my husband’s violence and controlling issues. We argued for as long as I can remember, and I was terribly alone after my eldest son left for university. Worst of all, my younger son started copying his father’s habits. I left for a shelter at times, but because of my children, I went back to him.
“Unfortunately, after I left him the last time, my husband found an email message from an old male friend, and told the boys I left him to be with another man. He was quick to ask for a divorce and, after that, my younger son stopped talking to me.
“I’m living with my 82-year-old mum, who has been my rock; she knows what went on in my marriage and is as sad as I am about not seeing her grandchildren. I email and text my boys every day but get no response from them, and I don’t know how I cope.
“I don’t understand how they can possibly blame me, as they witnessed the aggression and violence their whole lives. I miss them so much, and I know you’ll think I’m crazy but I still love my husband and wish I could go back to my home.”
“You have been so brave in escaping the violence you have endured for so long, and you should be proud of yourself. I do understand why you say you still love your husband – he is the father of your children. However, I think perhaps you’re in love with the man you would like him to be, rather than the violent, aggressive man he actually is.
“Sadly, it would seem that your sons have been affected – and that is completely understandable. It’s also possible that your sons believe their father’s story about you being with someone else, and are therefore angry with you for breaking up the family they were used to. They may even sympathise with their father, in spite of the violence they have witnessed over the years. I imagine if he has been so controlling with you, he is probably equally controlling with your sons.
“It may well be that he has banned them from talking to you and, even though they are getting your messages, they may be afraid to respond. Either way, they have been living with the violence their whole life too, and that is bound to have impacted them deeply.
“As long as they are unwilling or unable to respond to you, there is little you can do other than what you’re already doing right now. However, I wonder if you have acknowledged to them the hurt they may be feeling? They are not young any more, but none the less it’s important they know they may be angry with you.
“It may sound strange, but if you’ve done anything that they may interpret as hurtful and unfair toward them, you need to let them know you accept this and that you apologise for it. You could then ask them what they want from you in order to make amends.
“Whatever else you do, make no reference to any ill feeling you may hold towards their father. This might only drive a deeper wedge between you. I hope, in time, they will begin to see your side of things, allow you back into their lives again.”
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