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‘He was always disappearing. I created a picture-perfect life for others to gawk at and admire. I didn’t want to be alone.’: Single mom says leaving her abuser was the ‘hardest decision of my life’

“The changes in his behavior were subtle. The flirting and flattery mutated into backhanded compliments and criticisms. If I ever questioned his behavior or cruelty, he would dismiss my concerns. ‘I was just joking.’ ‘You shouldn’t be so sensitive.’ ‘Can’t you take a joke?’ I spent all my energy trying to impress him.”

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