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LeavesNoTrace's avatar

My ex forced me to throw out my mother's ashes. Has anyone ever heard of/been in a similar situation?

Asked by LeavesNoTrace (5674points) January 23rd, 2016

A little over three years ago, my mother died of cancer. At the time, I was in what can only be described as an abusive relationship with a insecure and manipulative man.

The first thing he did after she died was pressure me into moving to Latin America with him, where I lived an under his family’s roof and under his watchful eye. Isolated and thousands of miles from my friends and family. Besides the sexual abuse, constant arguments over nothing, and emotional bullying, one of the cruelest things he ever did was force me into throwing away the small amount of my mom’s cremains I had brought with me from my country.

He did this because some “spiritual healer” (AKA witch doctor quack) his family was close to insisted that my mother’s ashes were carrying “negative energy” and not allowing me to move on. (Keep in mind, she had passed away just a few months earlier and we were close.) I was absolutely against the idea, but he just wouldn’t let it go… The truth was that my mother wasn’t a fan of his and he was happy she was dead and wanted me to forget her as soon as possible to live under his control. The more he isolated me from friends and family (even the dead ones), the easier it would be to force me into being his marital rape slave and baby factory.

We argued about it for several days, screaming fights that always ended up with me in tears and him slamming doors. “If you loved me, you would do this” he would say, or “This is for YOUR own good. Don’t you want to feel better?”

I was recovering from a 2-month bout of severe dysentery and still physically very weak from my illness. I can’t remember how exactly it happened, but my resolve finally broke. He made me get into the car and drove me many miles to a steep cliff that overlooked the old colonial city. (As least he picked a good view?) He then stood over me and watched as I poured her ashes over the cliff and collapsed in a heap of tears. He didn’t have a gun to my head, but I didn’t want to do it and he made me. I’ll never forget the look of smug satisfaction on that piece of sh*t’s face that he had “won” yet another of his abusive battles with me. I felt so weak and am still ashamed that I didn’t stand my ground.

It took me another year to get out that horrible relationship, many more hurtful personal attacks, rapes, and instances of manipulative cruelty. I’ve since found love and stability with a wonderful partner but I’m still gutted when I think about this traumatic experience.

Luckily, I did give some of her ashes to a family friend and she gave them back to me when I returned so now I still have some of her. Today, my current boyfriend (the man I actually hope to marry someday) and I were cleaning to pass time during the blizzard and I saw him gently dust my mother’s urn before putting her back with the utmost care. It sounds morbid but it warmed my heart a little.

This is a weird story, I know and I’m not sure why I felt compelled to tell it. But has anyone ever heard of an abusive partner doing such a thing? Things are much better now, but how can I come to terms with this awful experience with this awful person?

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25 Answers

beautifuldreamingstars's avatar

I am so sorry you had to go through all this. The worst is over. Thank God (or the universe, or yourself, or a globin- whatever you believe in is my point) that the worst is over and nothing else bad happened that could have been permanent…. you being murdered from the abusive relationship for example….... Many women and people do not make it out alive…....

Look towards yourself to ask WHY and how you got to that situation and point…. What made you keep going back? Really ask deep inside…...... go through the motions. It’s OKAY to be angry. It’s okay to hurt…. It’s okay to cry…..

We all make mistakes. We all wish for the best.

It is a shame everything you went through but always be grateful….. Be grateful that you made it out of the abusive relationship.

Given that you might still have to work on yourself, go to therapy, counseling, etc. The worst is over.

Now time to focus on you and pick up all the pieces. Your mother loves you and her spirit is with you.

beautifuldreamingstars's avatar

And I know this might be difficult to hear….. please understand…. that in a way you can not blame all this on him either….. please do not be angry for what I’m about to say. Sometimes people put themselves in those bad situations unknowingly… or make themselves the victim. I am not trying to put you down in any way. But the truth is that no one “forced” you to move to Latin America with him or throw out your mother’s ashes…. you even said it yourself that he didn’t have a gun to your head… So you need to ask yourself and look within yourself WHY DID YOU ALLOW HIM to treat you so badly? What made you stay? What made you go back? Etc…. All those really deep questions only you will know…..

No one can really help you here….

We can give you advice, guide you…. etc….. but YOU will need to be the one to pick yourself back up. You are already doing a good job by venting…. talking about it will help…..

Do not beat yourself up for things that you can’t control or change….... I would advise to love yourself a little more. Look deep within yourself – you have all the answers you need….. You mother’s spirit is with you…...

beautifuldreamingstars's avatar

You allowed (in some way) this to happen so you need to take responsibility. Because like you said – no one had a gun to your head. It is very sad to hear but you will move on from this and learn. You control only yourself.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I’m sorry you experienced this @LeavesNoTrace. No, I haven’t ever had an ex who forced me to throw away a loved parent’s remains. My ex did dispose of my grandmother’s rocking chair. I loved my grandmother. I’d transported that chair 12,000 miles. I wanted to restore it. I left it when I left the family home. I had always intended to get the things I left behind once I was settled. He didn’t offer it to me. He just got rid of it. He also got rid of a crocheted blanket I brought my children home from the hospital in. He ditched pencil drawings I had done. He ditched many of my precious belongings. All things that were of great importance to me. He wanted to hurt me.

Of course, what this man did to you is appalling. However, your mother isn’t her remains. Just as my grandmother’s chair isn’t her. The memory of your mother remains with you. He can’t take that away from you. While it hurts that he took something precious away from you, you have to let it go. You have to move on from that relationship and accept it happened and it is over. That’s really all you can do. I think you are seeing a therapist. That’s good because it gives you an outlet to express your anger and hurt. Try to keep in mind that the most precious thing your mother left you with is your life and memories of your time with her. Nobody can take those memories. You still have them. He didn’t take them.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

Hi @beautifuldreamingstars Thanks. A lot has changed in my life since then and I feel like a different person so it’s hard to believe that I used to attract partners like that.

I’d like to chalk it up to just bad luck, but at the time I had broken up with an emotionally abusive partner just to end up with a worse one in less than a year. I grew up with an abusive father I no longer have contact with—he’s completely unrepentant for how he treated me and still thinks it’s my fault—but that’s a different story. I’m not making excuses but at the time, I think it was a big factor.

The story has a happy ending though, (I hope). In september of 2014, I met a wonderful man and have been with him since. He’s kind, considerate, mellow and drives me wild in only the best possible ways. I can’t imagine my life without him and we hope to be married someday. Having been through what I went through, I think that the upside is that I can appreciate a good thing even more.

However, despite the wonderful life I have now, sometimes I still feel like I’m “in it” when I think about the past. My therapist said that I have PTSD and I think she may be right. My current partner is aware and understanding of this, which is very helpful.

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Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@beautifuldreamingstars, the person who is responsible for abusing this woman is her abuser. She doesn’t have to take responsibility for that. Don’t blame the victim. She was abused by her father and then by this man. She was obviously vulnerable and he took advantage of her vulnerability. What you’ve posted here is victim blaming.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit Thanks, it’s not the first time I’ve heard a healthy dose of victim blaming for this situation. Even from my friends and family. I think a lot of people don’t want to think that it can happen to them because they’re “smart”, but it happened to me and I think I’m pretty smart too.

Hindsight is 20/20 but when I was in this situation it was nearly impossible to see my way out. I was far from home with no parents, and thousands of miles from my friends and family. This guy gaslighted me and told me that I was a worthless orphan and the only he would ever love me and that I was “lucky” to have someone like him. It was horrible, he also took me to the aforementioned witch doctor who was definitely misogynistic and culturally backwards. He put his hands on me and said that I had been a prostitute before I met my partner (not true) and needed to do what he said.

It was degrading and horrible.

The disrespect toward my mothers remains and my wishes toward them was just the cherry on top of an epically traumatic sh*t sundae.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I understand. Gaslighting is a pretty common aspect of domestic violence and abuse. I’m glad you’re out of the situation. Stay strong. Life can be much better than it was. You have your future in front of you.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m so glad you still have some of her ashes, since it obviously means so much to you. It would to me too. It doesn’t fix the loss you feel from the ashes you no longer have, but it’s some comfort I would think.

You were in a very difficult situation and I hope you can not beat yourself up about it. Your ex was macho bullshit as we call it. A different culture, superstitious, possessive, insecure, and what you went through with him, you will never again. You know the signs, the red flag, and you now also know you can live through the pain of the break up. The break up would never be that difficult again. I’ve never heard of ashes bringing bad energy, but people have all sorts of beliefs about death, burial, and so on.

Hopefully, your sadness and regret about everything that transpired only comes in short waves, and over time fewer and fewer in short duration.

It sounds like you are with a great guy now, I’m so happy to hear it.

msh's avatar

Wow. That was a difficult thing to share. I am so very sorry that you had to go through all of that horrid time. You sound so much stronger and calmly at peace. That takes a lot of work to achieve. I am so very glad that you found such a loving partner to be with. The sweet balm for a battered spirit.
I had a thought that went through my mind as you described that terrible day on the cliff. You said that before that day, he was taking away her ashes – and your spirit, one handful at a time? Then you went to the highest point and cast her ashes to be free! Not in the house where a container of her ashes were diminished to releasing little bits of her, and the love you felt with them. You were sent the very best message and change. A gift from her!
You watched her ashes fly free, and even better- away. Away from there. Away from him. Away from the hell you were stuck living in. Away to be free in a breeze over a place you even said was quite a view. What if, were it possible, she was giving you that gentle nudge right then? To see him at his most cruel startled you into seeing things with such clarity, that you changed your life. Not that second, that evening… the actual departure was in human terms. But that day made all the difference. For you.
What asshole didn’t realize at that moment, was that you didn’t throw your happiness and love away, so that he could take that remaining part of your heart and soul! With your Mom’s freedom- he lost Everything. He failed. It ended right then. You too were free now.
The fact that you got up and got out was excellent! Good for you!
The fact that you received back some of what meant so much to you was no accident. Perhaps that was your Mom’s gift to you also. You still have a part of her always. Right there with you. (and someone else who is intellegent enough to ‘get’ that!) She is always there. Always will be.
You are both free.
Sending hugs.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

If you believe in the afterlife, at least you know mum’s soul is at peace knowing you are out of that hellhole. If you don’t believe in the beyond, then getting out of there was honoring your dignity and your mother’s memory. Believe me that in itself is more sacred than any ashes left over from our mortal bodies. Your mum would be proud!

JLeslie's avatar

@ZEPHYRA I don’t think the OP mentioned anything about concern for her mom’s soul. She is talking about her own loss having to toss her mom’s ashes while under duress.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

True but the fact that she is free makes it all better to cope with.

beautifuldreamingstars's avatar


AWESOME! Good for you! It is great you feel like a different person.

Give yourself credit for coming out of the situation. You are strong. Keep telling yourself that. It is great you got out of it.

I am so happy for you :) Keep doing your thing and keep positive :) You are on a great path :)

beautifuldreamingstars's avatar


You are ridiculous. I was not victim blaming.

I am a young woman in my 20’s and I’ve gone through 2 abusive relationships AND I had an abusive very unstable childhood as well…. I have actual experience, knowledge in this situation so I offered my advice. Don’t tell me what I can and can’t say. I have actually been through an abusive relationship just as she had. I have gone through what she has. I understand the things she has felt, been through, etc. So I understand and I see it from my perspective…. Someone who has actually gone through that. So mind your own business. I wasn’t victim blaming.

beautifuldreamingstars's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace P.S- You are really smart for trusting your intuition as well. Keep listening to it. You are very smart and wise. Like you said, you appreciate things more now. Good for you. Give yourself credit. You are strong for getting over that horrible situation! The worse is behind you! Keep looking forward to the future. Keep reminding yourself of all the good things. It’s okay to cry and get sad every once in a while. It’s okay to go through the motions. Allow yourself to heal. But you sound like a very strong smart lady who has a grip on her life.

I have PTSD as well.

In fact, let me message you on here…... Nosy people think I’m victim blaming when I’ve been in the same exact situation and can relate to you more than they can….. Ha…

I had PTSD like whenever a guy or someone got too close to me or put their hands to me I would automatically jump and be defensive…. because it brought back memories of my ex boyfriend hitting me…........ stuff like that…...

Or I’d hear a particular song that would remind me about that time…... Triggers…..

You’ve come a long way though. I would say to just keep busy, keep positive, keep talking to a therapist or someone….. You are doing great though.

Honestly give yourself a pat on the back for making your way out of it because it takes a lot of strength and courage to leave that situation and comes to term with everything. I finally came to terms with my last abusive relationship and that was 5 / 6 years ago.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@beautifuldreamingstars, you can call it whatever you like, but the statements below are victim blaming. The only person responsible for raping and abusing this woman, is the man who did it. He is responsible for his behaviour. He is a rapist, he was abusive. He is the guilty party here. Holding a victim responsible or partially responsible for abuse is victim blaming.

Examples of victim blaming from your posts.

“Look towards yourself to ask WHY and how you got to that situation and point”. She has said he was manipulative and that he created the environment in which he could abuse her. He chose to abuse her.

“What made you keep going back?” She didn’t say she’d left and gone back. She’s described her situation. How do you know what options were available for her to leave? She’s said her father was abusive and her mother has died. She’s explained how he isolated her.

“And I know this might be difficult to hear….. please understand…. that in a way you can not blame all this on him either.” Yes she can. He is the abuser. She didn’t make him rape her and abuse her. She didn’t cause the abuse. He did.

“Sometimes people put themselves in those bad situations unknowingly… or make themselves the victim.” No. The man who abused her made her his victim. He was the one who chose to abuse her.

“But the truth is that no one “forced” you to move to Latin America with him or throw out your mother’s ashes….” How do you know what he did to her? Or what force he used, emotional or physical? You can’t say he didn’t ‘force’ her or what that ‘force’ entailed.

“you even said it yourself that he didn’t have a gun to your head… So you need to ask yourself and look within yourself WHY DID YOU ALLOW HIM to treat you so badly? What made you stay? What made you go back? Etc…. All those really deep questions only you will know…” Victim blaming that suggests she carries blame, instead of the blame being firmly in his court. He is the abuser.

“You allowed (in some way) this to happen so you need to take responsibility.” Victim Blaming.

“Because like you said – no one had a gun to your head.” Victim blaming.

@Leavesnotrace, you are not in any way responsible for that man abusing you. You should certainly pat yourself on the back for escaping that situation, but do not buy into the idea that you were responsible for his behaviour.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Your abuser was looking to dominate you in order to feel good about himself.
Fotuneatley your small spark of courage grew to allow you to obtain the strength to leave intact.
I was in simular abusive relationship with what one would think was a nice man who was charming and friendly “until” I maried him.
I went to a Womans shelter because of him and learned of people like him that prey on woman ( or men) to feel secure in their masculinity, however misaligned in thinking of what that entails. Old fashioned ideals on what makes a man like the breadwinner and master of the household?
It is just as well to never forget what you came out of in order to prevent it manifesting agin.
You are much stronger now and I am glad that you have found a loving person again in your life to make it worthwhile to look forward to a good life.
Bless you!

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beautifuldreamingstars's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit On average it takes a person about 7–10 or more times to leave an abuser. He chose to abuse her, yet she also chose to stay- even though she KNEW what he was doing was wrong. She even said IN HER OWN WORDS she knew that he didn’t put a gun to her head.

Not victim blaming, I’ve been in the same situation. I even lived in a domestic shelter so don’t tell me my opinion is wrong when I can relate to her more than ANY one of you can.

beautifuldreamingstars's avatar

AND the question was has anyone been in a similar situation…. I HAVE.

I’ve gone through abusive relationships so I understand what she’s gone through and can relate to her more.

I can actually say that I’ve walked in her shoes and understand more than you can, so mind your own business when I actually know what I’m talking about.


Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

You assume you’re the only person to have been in an abusive relationship. You assume too much.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

As the OP and person who was in the aforementioned situation. I will state that my ex-partner was a natural born abuser and very, VERY good at it. He was particularly good at playing the “nice guy” act in front of friends and family and even managed to fool some of them for a while…

Abusers are going to abuse, plain and simple. It makes me sad to think that I probably was not his last victim and he’s probably repeating the same cycle with someone else now. He promised to change so many times but simply couldn’t seem to help himself. No matter how many times we talked about the importance of sexual consent, boundaries, allowing me to see my friends and family he JUST. DIDN’T. GET. IT.

I’m glad I finally got out of that situation, as it was clearly unhealthy but I don’t think it was my “fault” for it happening in the first place. Bad luck? Hell yes.

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