Staying Strong After an Abusive Marriage

Did you guys know that one in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner?

This includes a range of behaviors, slapping, shoving, pushing, yelling, and in some cases might not even be considered quote UN quote, domestic violence.


One in seven women and one in 25 men have been injured by an intimate partner.

This is all per the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Just because your abusive marriage may be legally over doesn’t always mean that the abuse stops.


Abuse and divorce can be physical, emotional, financial, or a combination of all three.

If you or someone you know is in danger and unsafe, please call 911.

You can also call the Domestic Abuse Hotline 1800 799-7233.


You also have the option to text the word begin, BEGIN to the number 88788 on Divorce Etcetera podcast.

We have spoken about domestic abuse in our past episodes.


You can find them in season one, episodes 3435 and 36.

But in today’s episode of the Divorce Etcetera podcast, we are talking about how to stay strong through the process of dealing with post separation abuse.


We’re the ex experts TH and Jessica, and we help you navigate your divorce and successfully move on with your life.

Let’s bring in today’s guest.

Tonight, we are speaking with divorce and recovery coach Tina Lynn Huggins.


She specializes in extreme high conflict with a background in abuse of all kinds, verbal, mental, gaslighting, financial, legal and physical abuse.

So welcome to the show, Tina.

Thank you for having me TH.


I mean, this is a super heavy topic and I want everybody to know out there that if this is not affecting you directly, you should still listen because you probably know somebody.

And I also want to ask Tina later on here how a friend, like what are telltale signs that someone is in an abusive relationship?


But let’s let’s get started here right now.

So Tina, how do you even know if you are in an abusive relationship?

You know, that is a great question because I lived in an abusive relationship for years and never even saw that.


Now for me, I’m a, I’m a fifth degree black belt.

And so physical violence was something that I dealt with in the ring.

You know, I taught my students, I learned to defend myself.

So for me, I’m not afraid of a physical contact, but I never even saw the physical contact in my relationship.


And The funny thing is, is even now, I am not gonna call my husband an abuser.

He’s it’s never happened before, never happened since it was situational with us.

But what happened, you know, we’re coming into this relationship and it just, we were married for 19 years and things just kind of started happening and I just kind of thought this was part of it.


I hated the yelling.

And so I would always go to leave.

And that’s kind of when that happened.

I, I ended up with a broken hand.

I ended up with separated ribs and in the last fight, the one that I saw as as abuse, he threw me out of the car.


I was getting ready to leave because I didn’t want to go through another yelling match with the alcohol in his system.

So he I get to the car and he jerks me out and throws me across the the yard and I dislocated my leg that had just healed from another accident 2 years earlier.


And so that one I saw as as violence.

I saw that as as domestic violence, but the other ones were much more.

There was more contact and I never saw that.


So what do you think made this time different for you?

I mean, so many people put our put themselves and myself, not physical abuse, but emotional and and we continue to go through it.


Why do we do that to ourselves?

Well, you know, kind of like what I just said it just it progressively got worse the yelling and but why do you?

Make excuses like why do you, why did we?

And you’re in the hot seat and I know you’re willing to answer the questions because I know everybody’s wondering, why do we make excuses to ourselves to forgive abuse?


Well, one, as I didn’t know I was forgiving abuse, OK, So I, I didn’t want my family to see him in negative light.

That was probably my biggest thing.

And there’s other things, you know, ’cause this is my arena where I work with the people in here and this is one of the things that we dig into.


But for me, as I totally didn’t want him to look bad in my family, my grandparents loved him, my parents loved him.

And so I never, never told anybody.

I didn’t tell my closest friends, I didn’t tell my family.


Nobody knew this was going on.

So didn’t your friends and family say Tina?

Another broken bone, another accident?

What is going on?

Not in my case.

They wouldn’t say that because I was always bruised up from teaching, you know, So in my case that would happen.


But the broken hand wasn’t visible.

I didn’t have to get a cast for it.

It was a, it was a hairline fracture to that.

I, what happened is he grabbed me and I released and hit the door jam then.


So he blamed me for that and I let him convince me.


You believed it was your fault.

Yes, I believe he was.

The one that did it.

So define what gaslighting is for everybody, please, because that’s an example.


Yes, and gaslighting is when they you know what happened, but they give their narrative basically they lie to you and and they tell you how it’s your fault how you did it.

And well, that part was kind of true.


I am the one who physically hit that door jamb, but I wouldn’t have had he not grabbed a hold of my hand had I not been afraid of what was going to come next.

And so they lied to you about the situation and turn the whole situation in some form of a a whole different narrative and make it your fault, show you how’s your fault.


So it’s so interesting because, you know, we make excuses for bad people.

Why are we afraid for people to see them as they are?

Is it because it’s a reflection on us that we’re with them?


I think, I think that’s part of it.

But we don’t want people to see, I mean, yes, they, we don’t want them to see us in a bad light, but we don’t want people to look at our dirty laundry.

We don’t want them to know all of the secrets, the family secrets that are going on.



Because our grandparents taught us to keep the The Dirty laundry in the hamper.

You know, our parents taught us, you don’t talk about this outside of the home.

This is family secrets.

And so we learn from generation to generation.


We watch what goes on.

I thought this was kind of normal.

Although my dad never struck my mom, he did financially abuse her and I would say in every almost every case I work on there is some form of financial abuse.


It is the one thing that I have pinpointed in every one of my abuse cases that they all have.

And then the and then the physical abuse in addition.

And what happens is, you know, you yell, you scream, you have a little argument, and it gets louder and louder over time.


And pretty soon somebody throws something.

And that’s what happened with my relationship is he threw something.

It wasn’t at me, so I didn’t think much of it.

Well, the next time it was close to me, and then the next time it was me.

And there was just three events that happened.


That’s how quickly that escalated, although it was over a period of time that that escalation happened.

But each fight there was no fights.

And then the next fight was more physical and more physical until a broken hand.

And it was two years after my broken hand episode and the dislocated ribs, they both came from the same fight that that I stayed with him over two years before I realized and and you’d asked me earlier, why was then different?


Why did I see that different?

Because I had already decided I was leaving.

I already had set my foot down with myself and I was looking for an exit.

And that’s why I saw that.

I see.

So were you afraid to make that decision to leave?


Like where, how, what kind of support did you get for yourself?

OK, I’m going to be OK to leave.

This is one of the reasons why I do the work that I did.

I didn’t get help.

I did everything wrong.


Everything wrong.

I left with debt, my car, my clothes and a couple pieces of furniture and some glasses.

He had the House, of course, the other vehicles, and it wasn’t just a house that was 40 acres.

And I just left and I didn’t know what a mediator was.


I thought they were supposed to help and I ended up screwing myself out of that so.

So what would you have done differently?

I would have.

I would have gotten help.

I would have told my family.

I would have told my friends.

Those are the two things that I always tell people that you need to do.


Make sure somebody knows what’s going on.

We need to stand up for ourselves because nobody else will.

Nobody will.

We have to stand up, talk about it, get in people’s face so that they understand things.

Because my mom didn’t.


It took, you know, we are talking about the post separation type abuse things.

And it was four years after I had left him.

And at that time I was living with my mom and she decided that she was going to try and get us back together.


He came drunk.

He got me in a chokehold on the floor.

I wouldn’t fight.

My youngest son had to pull him off of me, and my mom’s jaw was on the floor for two hours.

She never saw that side of him.

That was my fault because I didn’t tell her.


And she it’s it’s not full you, but when you told her she wasn’t listening to you.

Well, I.

Never told her.

I just told her that it wasn’t good.

I never talked about the physical abuse, never did tell her because I was afraid.

I was afraid.


So in my case, my grandmother had my mom and her older brother, and she got in a really serious fight with my grandfather and left for three months and took her kids to her, to her parents, to my great grandparents.


And they told her she made her bed and she had to sleep in it.

They set her back to die.

And that’s what I picked up.

All of this way cleared through me.

And so of course, my mom, if I had told her, I didn’t think she would listen because she didn’t listen to the problems with her own parents.


Right, right.

Oh my God, we are going to pause here for a quick minute because when Jessica and I were getting divorces from our exes, we hope someone would take us by the hand and make sure we didn’t make any of the mistakes that we made with our kids, dealing with our acts, God forbid, abuse, friends, dating, you name it.


So you’re in luck.

We just just like building ex experts for you.

We also created a divorce rule book.

We share what we wish we knew back then so you don’t make the same mistakes that we did.

If you want your copy, all you have to do is visit


It’s right there for you.

You don’t know what you don’t know, but the X experts do.

Oh my God.

So everybody just take a breath.

Like that’s probably not even the tip of the iceberg.

So you’re in this relationship, you walk away from your marriage.


Is there post divorce abuse?

Well, and you got to hear that abuse.

Mine wasn’t too bad.

The the problem I had was that he then did.

And this happens in almost every one of these situations.


This is where I can say he did fit the bill of an abuser because after I left then he he did the love bombing.

It was, I’m not joking, he called me every day.

There was way more love from him after I left than there was for the last 10 years of our marriage.


Me too.

It was like a honeymoon.

I could have whatever I wanted.

Come with me to therapy.

He came.

I want to rent this house, no problem.

I want this.

I want that.


So I milked it, knowing that there was not a chance in hell that I was staying with him.



And I I didn’t.

I wouldn’t I the one thing that I did wrong and I was not.

A physically abusive relationship, though my physical safety and the safety of my kids were not in jeopardy in any way shape or form like you’re talking about.



And the, what I did wrong and on the outside, everyone thought that I left him for another man because I kind of did in the sense that I moved in with another man and it’s because I had nowhere safe to go.

The one thing about this specific man is he was in a A and I needed to get rid of the alcohol on the outside of my life.


My parents were both Alcoholics.

My husband didn’t drink maybe as much as what my parents did or my dad did, but it affected him in a very mean kind of way.

And every fight we had, I, I beat myself up for him because I was sober.


I was 100% sober every time and he would come home after work and, and he would start in and I just would fight back.

And that fighting back with an alcoholic, that’s where the broken hand came from in the separated ribs that time and the dislocated leg.


He was intoxicated and there was not one word spoken.


He came and I could tell when his hand hit the doorknob that Oh my gosh, he’s, he’s at it.

I can feel the energy.

He came in.

I was folding clothes.

He walked past.


I saw my keys.

I grabbed my keys and ran and he beat me to I had it in in reverse, but he beat me to shutting the door.

He bent the door and I think I broke his nose when I punched him and that’s when he threw me out.


So post judgement abuse, how do you handle that?

And, and what are what are your tips for handling?

And I know you have so many different clients who are experiencing, you know, you think you got a divorce.


We’re done here.

He or she can’t hurt me anymore.

How is it possible that the abuse continues?

Well, part of the reason the abuse continues is because they have abused us in the, in the, in the aspect of the gas lighting and we have a fear of them.


So right there we’re giving them power to continue this abuse.

Now, most of the abuse that happens afterwards, like you and I both got love bond and we, we went through that type of thing.


And then of course, then there’s the I’m not going to let you leave kind of thing that becomes a little bit.

And then there is the physical abuse.

And I can tell you that after a divorce, the physical abuse that happens afterwards can be way worse than what’s actually in the marriage because they’ve lost control.


And once they lose control, then they will do everything to get control.

So our job is to set those boundaries hard and keep those boundaries the only like.

What kind of boundaries do you recommend people set if they are in this type of position?


So those boundaries are no communication.

Tina Swiven, who has some wonderful books out there about this kind of stuff.

She calls it the Gray Rock.

So if you have to communicate, it would only be about the children.

And then I recommend that they only communicate through an app such as my family Wizard.


And there’s another one that’s called, oh, shoot, I lost it.

But it’s we have a whole.

Bunch on our website, we have a podcast that we did all about Co parenting apps.

There’s fair, there’s talking parents and the and the purpose of these everybody is first of all, to stay organized.


Second of all, to set clear boundaries so you don’t have to communicate and everything is on record in these apps so they can depending on what state you’re in, they could be admitted to a court right as you know, as proof of you know, whatever the circumstance is, you have proof there based on their tone, based on you know, the language used in communicating through the app, all of it.


So you can go to X experts for resources on Co parenting apps.

I wish we had it back when I got a divorce again.

I had no physical abuse, but the financial and emotional was definitely there and I needed to handle him like a business transaction.


I would have an agenda.

I would practice before I would have to speak to him on the phone.

I removed the ability to text.

Everything was through e-mail.

Those were the kind of boundaries I set up also, so I wouldn’t get those notifications every two minutes.


If he was texting me, my phone would be going off all the time, so I could have some time to breathe and not be consumed by his harassment on the phone.

And also, I would say that if you do get any messages through the app or anything else, do not respond immediately.


Take time.

This is not, this is a very soft analogy, but you really want those pairs, that pair of shoes, right?

And so you put it in the cart.

And you let it sit for two days.

Do I really need the shoes?

Dah, dah, dah.

It’s a light.

It’s a light analogy here, people.


But it is the same thing.

You wait to digest what is being said, what is fact and what is noise.

Like this is all your fault is noise.

Or we’re picking our daughter.

You know our daughter needs to be picked up here.


That’s a fact.

So it will help you by taking a step back, digesting what’s being spewed your way.

And trust me, you probably only have like 2 lines that you have to read out of like a 10/10 paragraph, you know, speech that you’re going to get potentially.


So those brown boundaries are very, very, very important.

Now, Tina, if you are concerned and have experienced physical abuse with your spouse, why would you ever go near them alone again?


That’s another thing you don’t want to go near them.

When I say set boundaries, I mean hard boundaries.

No communication again through the apps and and only about the kids.

And in this in these cases, my clients have to have an attorney and so I will I tell them I know that it’s a pricey thing but that kind of communication needs to go through the attorney if need be.


Today I had one of my clients send me 3 emails that he got from his ex and he says I’m not going to read them because they’ll trigger me.

So let me know if they need to be answered.

Not a one of them did they I call it playing tennis.


They will lob a mean statement over and it’ll make you so mad because they know how to push your triggers, right?

And then you get mad and you say something bad.

That is where the abuse stays going.

We have to be the one to stop the abuse.


They can’t.

We stop that by stopping the communication.

We have to, like you said, don’t answer them.

I tell my clients to sleep on it and then I tell them you wait to even look at those apps if you have the kids until that night when the kids are in bed or when you send the kids back to them.


There’s no need for for you to communicate when you have the kids.


And aren’t there also cases where post judgment, another form of abuse is using the kids to also abuse you indirectly?


How do you manage that type of situation?

Because all we want to do is keep our kids safe even before we worry about ourselves.

So how do we keep our kids safe if there’s shared custody in this situation?

Well, it’s important that we don’t talk about the other one negatively in front of the kids.


That’s just a given.

We don’t talk about the divorce or any aspect of that in front of the kids.

And then when the kids come back and say something that went on in daddy’s home, then you sit down and you listen to them and you can talk to them in a way that’s, you know, if daddy’s daddy’s saying that you’re abusing him financially, mom.


And so I have one of my clients that’s just excellent This she goes, so how do you think I’m abusing your dad financially?

She asks the questions and she keeps digging down with those questions until the little one says, oh, I guess you’re not.


She says sometimes Daddy doesn’t see things the way that other people see them, and that’s OK ’cause that’s Daddy and they leave it at that.

What about an emergency?

Plan What about an emergency plan for your kids?


Because if you have someone who is physically abusive, verbally abusive.

I spoke with a woman today who has been suffering from coercive abuse.

Post judgment focused on the kids because she set up boundaries to protect herself, but they still were going to his house.


And so do you set up like an emergency plan with your kids?

Do they always get a cell phone?

Do they, you know, you need to educate them Also if there was physical abuse.

Yes, and you need to do that.


I have a lot of my clients, they’re using the Apple Watch that way that they have it on them all the time and they’ve got all of the proper numbers and the proper, all they have to do is literally push the button and the message goes out.


They don’t have to send the time to do that.


Brilliant and.

That’s the best way that I have found with my clients is that Apple Watch seems to be the best way ’cause sometimes dad might take the phone away, but the Apple Watch dad or mom won’t take that away generally.


OK, now how do we stop the cycle of abuse?

How when you have come out of a marriage, so your parents were Alcoholics, you were in a marriage with an alcoholic with physical abuse on top of that.

How do you heal yourself so you don’t then move on and continue the cycle because your kids are watching you and you don’t want to be there again?


So how do you stop the cycle for yourself?

You stop the cycle by by setting those boundaries and taking care of yourself.

Your kids need to see the things.

And so, so often, especially as moms, we are caregivers.


We give to our kids.

We do for them.

Our kids need to see us do for us.

We need to go and take care of ourselves.

And I would do this with my kids as I would tell them, OK, you have to go to bed.

And they’d say, well, it’s not bedtime.

Mommy needs a mommy break.


You can stay up, but mommy needs a mommy break.

And my kids still remember that you would take those breaks, mom.

And we understood that you needed some space.

So you’ve got to take care of yourself and and then you’ve got to talk to your kids about this.


You have to talk to your kids now.

It doesn’t have to be, you know, your daddy was bad, your mommy was bad.

It doesn’t have to be, but you want to create that open communication.

And then as parents, we need to pay attention to who our kids are hanging out with, especially who they’re starting to date and how that might look because they saw, they learned from us for in my kids cases, 19 years and, and they, they had 19 years of that kind of thing.


So, so how do we change that?

So my oldest was an adult when I left and my youngest was 16 and and I just talked to them and I let them know how much I love them and gave them a safe space to talk.


And now when they are in a bad place, I’m the first person they call.

They never called Dad.

But isn’t that, I mean, we’re all doing the best we can, right?

We’re doing the absolute best we can.


You guys can listen to 100 podcasts.

You can read a million articles, you can attend the webinar, you can hire coaches, you can do all of the things.

But at the end of the day, when your kid comes home and faces you with a question that you’re like, I don’t know how to answer it.


Take a breath and just be honest.

I don’t have the answer for that right now, but when I do, I’ll let you know.

Well, what about XY and Z?

Well, how does that make you feel?

Don’t put your stuff on your kids, but take a minute because and give yourself grace.


I’ve made a ton of repeat mistakes.

You’ve made a ton of repeat mistakes, Tina.

Like it took a while for us to be like, hello, wake up, you know, and the truth is, even if your friends were helping you, my friends were telling me he’s cheating, he’s doing this, he’s doing that.


I wasn’t ready to take it in, but in your case, Tina, you were being physically abused.

And I’m not diminishing the emotional and financial abuse, but having broken bones and broken limbs and and ribbed separated ribs, all of that stuff like that, you have to be either woken up to or someone needs to intervene.


So that leads to my next question.

As a friend, if I were in, if I were your friend Tina, living in your neighborhood, what do I look out for to know that you needed help?

What are the signs that friends and family should look for and say I need to help that woman?


And what do you do to help them?

So and, and most of the time you will see and, and this is more for women, you will see the woman is she always keeps her head down, eyes low.

They don’t go out very often.


They pick up the kids go and the kids are with them when they go to the grocery store and they rarely go and do things.

And you won’t almost ever see the two husband and wife out together.

You’ll see him out when the wife is being abused and she stays home.


And the very best way to handle that is just to talk to them, become a friend with them.

I will tell you this is a slow process because those of us who have been physically especially abused, we’re already afraid.

I wasn’t afraid of the physical, but I was of the emotional.


I to this day, I walk away when people start raising their voice and stuff at me because I it triggers.

It really triggers.

And just take your time, be there, be a friend and occasionally sneak in.

Is that I’m worried about you.


It it seems that maybe your home life’s not very good.

They may not take that very well, but you come back the next day and you come back the next day and you just be there as a neighbor.

You let them know that you’re there.

Eventually something might happen where they’re knocking on their on your door or they might just stop one day when you’re out there next to their car.


Yes, my husband has been being abusive to me and that’s what it’ll take, but it is a slow process.

It will not happen overnight.


Think that you can also call the domestic violence hotline and they can also give you tips on what to do and how to help them because not in in all cases, it doesn’t mean you leave the home immediately like you had.


Sometimes there’s you know, they’ll support you through the process and plan your time to leave as long as you’re not your life is not threatened.

So you can also check in with the domestic violence hotline.


And I will tell you that number again for everybody is 1-800-799-7233 or you can text the word begin to the number 88788.

Tina, I want to thank you so much for being on the show.


And if you enjoyed this episode of Divorce etcetera, which it’s hard to enjoy, but if you consumed it and learned something from it, which is really the intention of it, can you help 2 girls out, please?

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And it actually really helps us and other people like you who are dealing with divorce.

For more about Tina, your divorce coach specialist, and the services she offers, check out the show notes.

And of course, share this episode with anybody in need of help, who you think and you feel are in trouble.


Be a friend.

Be the one who reaches out and makes a difference for them and anybody else you know who can benefit from listening.

Have a great day.

Thank you.

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