Finding Courage & Empowerment
The first year and a half of their relationship he seemed so perfect. She fell deeply in love and married. But nothing in her background prepared Independent National Sales Director Sandy Campbell for marriage to an abusive husband. Read about her experience, how she changed Canadian Case Law and 10 lessons she wants women to know about domestic violence.
For the first year and a half I knew him, he was the perfect date and gentleman. I fell deeply in love, and we got engaged when I was 17. Then, slowly, the abuse began—starting with jealousy.
I had no knowledge or history of relationship violence, so I did not recognize the signs. Back in 1978, domestic violence was not talked about in public. My parents had always been very loving with each other and with me.
While I didn’t understand what was happening, I felt something wasn’t quite right and broke off our engagement three times. But each time, my fiancé begged me to come back, convincing me our relationship would be wonderful again. And each time, I believed him. Eventually, we married in 1981.
Cycles of Abuse
Before we married I didn’t realize he was slowly isolating me from my family and friends. After we married and during my first pregnancy, I experienced cycles of emotional and physical abuse—unpredictable violent periods followed by loving, apologetic and perfect behavior with promises of a better future.
My confidence quickly eroded as a result of abuse and isolation. I felt guilty, ashamed and stupid. When the abuse continued during my second pregnancy, I finally summoned the courage to leave him, even though I believed deeply in marriage for life. Again my ex-husband convinced me he had changed for the better through his counseling appointments, and I went back to him.
After our third daughter was born the physical abuse started again. Even though we went to two years of marriage counseling and my ex-husband went to anger management classes, his violent, controlling behavior escalated.
He monitored every phone call. He made many threats to kill me and even held a gun to my head and pulled the trigger. I did not know it wasn’t loaded as he had just finished making bullets for the gun.
He even started to abuse me in public, alarming my family and friends. Finally during an outburst in 1997, he beat me for the last time, and he was arrested at our home.
My daughters were eight, 10 and 12 then. I knew that children needed to see loving relationships, and staying in an abusive marriage was not healthy for them or for me. We divorced in 1998.
But even after the divorce, my ex-husband continued stalking and threatening us. Since 1997, he has received five criminal convictions and has breached restraining orders multiple times.
I’ve been in court protecting myself and my daughters for 20 years—representing myself since 2006. During that year, we were granted a lifetime restraining order, which included protecting my new husband.
New Case Law in Canada Created
In 2015, my ex-husband tried to have the lifetime restraining order removed. I represented myself in court again. My ex-husband’s lawyer told him I could not win the trial because the maximum time for a restraining order was three years in Canada at that time.
However, in April 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada allowed the existing lifetime restraining order to remain in place because reasonable grounds were established. This created a new Case Law in Canada!
Throughout all of my challenges and ordeals, I’ve taken God as my partner. I credit God and Mary Kay Ash for me being alive right now.
Running my Mary Kay business built my self-worth and self-esteem, making a huge difference in my life. Years ago, my mother even wrote a letter to Mary Kay Ash thanking her for creating the opportunity that had empowered me.
In 2006, I became a National Sales Director.
I hope what I have learned can help other women. We must all do what we can to stop this epidemic of domestic abuse!
10 Things to Know About Dealing with Domestic Abuse
Here are ten things I’ve learned about dealing with domestic abuse, which may help you or someone you know:
● Reach out for help as soon as possible. Talk with people you can trust to help you.
● Understand that abuse is not your fault—you did not cause it.
● Learn your rights.
● Document the abuse and every relevant thing that happens.
● Know your financial and insurance information.
● Be proactive with your legal counsel—accurate information and proof you provide to legal counsel helps immensely.
● Get consultations from a top attorney in your area, either prior to or immediately after you leave.
● Keep all receipts from payments made to attorneys for consultations.
● Learn if your abuser has any past criminal charges anywhere.
● Know you are not meant to be in an abusive relationship.