Dear Dr. Romance: I am writing to you for some advice... I hope you can help.

I am the mother of 5 children, in my mid-thirties, and married for about 10 years. I have been abused for years. People I know tell me to fix my marriage that "You could've handled this better or that." I don't know.
That I have 5 children "why didn't you do something sooner? You're chances of finding another man will be basically 15% with 5 and that's keeping hopes high." So my mind is in shambles. I have been hit, controlled and manuipulated (by husband and in-laws) since the first year of marriage ...I never told my family until a few years ago, when I ran away from him. I went back my family and i believed he was sincere in change....the change that occured was the beatings stopped and I had a little more freedom. But he was not happy he felt taken advantage of (ex. if I went to buy milk or food more than twice a week at the big food store.) But we still had fights at least 3x a month. We are very similar but for some reason he places limitations on what i can or cannot do, or what i can say or think. He drives me crazy. Now after another 8 years I can't handle it anymore. He has begun to hit me again besides the constant put downs. I let him take me from the USA to Israel which was a big mistake on my part. I don't know what to do. I haven't worked since I was 18 . I have 5 children, one of whom (4 y) doesn't want to be with me and is with his father. I need help figuring this out. Sometimes I even consider going back. His father keeps telling me to go back. I know I won't be happy. Please help me out.

Dear Reader:

 Please don't go back to a man who beats and abuses you.  I agree that Israel was a big mistake on your part.  You haven't been thinking clearly or making good decisions for a long time. Your husband does not love you, he doesn't want a wife, he wants a slave.  He probably learned it from his father, so don't take his father's advice.  Will your family help you get back to the states?  You don't say how old your children are. I'm assuming, from the length of your marriage, most of them are in grade school.  You'll need help to get free. 

If you can get back to the states, you can call the  The National Domestic Violence Hotline  (1-800-799-SAFE)  , and go with your children to a woman's shelter.  There, you can get training in earning a living, and help taking care of your children. Israel may have something similar.   It's not going to be easy, but what you've been going through is not easy either.  Every day that you stay, your children are learning to be abusive like their father, or abused like you. 

If you manage to get away from him, he will promise to change, but don't believe him unless he goes to extensive therapy.  Once you get away, stay away for at least a year, no matter what he says.  In a year, you'll be able to see if he changes for real.  I don't think he will.  He's taken you to Israel so he can have more control.  Talk to your family, get them to help you come over here, (you can say it's just for a visit to your children's grandparents) and make a plan to get into a woman's shelter, so you don't have to be dependent on your family. Your family can also contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE)   to find out how to best help you.   "Family Violence Q & A"  tells you how to take care of yourself and your children. 

It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction will explain how violence and dysfunction are passed down in families and cultures and how to recover from it.

It Ends With You

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Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.