In this episode Rosie Aiello, co-founder of the Love is Kind Network, best-selling author and internationally renowned entrepreneur, joins Sex, Love and SuperPowers host Tatiana Berindei to discuss how to identify unhealthy relationships. Tune in as Rosie shares details of her own story of leaving a 25 year marriage, as well as very clear red flags and tips as to what to do if you think you are in an abusive relationship.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Sex, Love and SuperPowers podcast show. I’m your host, touched Tatiana Berindei, and today I have with me Rosie Aiello, and we are going to be discussing leaving unhealthy relationships. Let me tell you a little bit about Rosie. Trapped in an emotionally, mentally, and financially abusive relationship for nearly 25 years, Rosie Aiello engineered an international escape from the Middle East to save her daughter and herself from domestic violence. Nearly mentally destroyed and stunned by PTSD, within a few short years after arriving back to her home state of California, she became a speaker, best-selling author, and an international award-winning entrepreneur. With her programs, Rosie now empowers women to find their voice, worth, and confidence so they can create a joyful, productive, and fully expressed life.
She and her daughter, Sunny, are authors of the upcoming mother-daughter Memoir called 11 Hours to Freedom, where they share their journey of escape, freedom, and healing. They are now on a global movement to help save 1 million women and their children from this insidious abuse. Welcome to the show and thank you for being with us today, Rosie.
Oh, thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here with you.
Yeah, it’s wonderful to have you. So I’m going to ask you what I love to ask all of our guests. What are your superpowers?
Well, and this is really fun too to really kind of think about it in that way, and I think a couple of my … or a few of my superpowers are, the first one is probably planning. So, you know, you can imagine planning, executing an escape takes a lot of planning, which was not my first escape, but planning I think would be at the top of it. And I think another really superpower of mine is really leading women forward. It’s the forward momentum, looking forward and having them achieve their objectives. And the last one, at least that I’ll share, of course we all have many superpowers as we were discussing before, is truly is compassionate listening. I think I can hold space for a lot of people, and I enjoy doing that.
Beautiful. That’s an important gift in the work that you do.
Yeah, yeah. Thank you for that. I’m so curious to hear more about your story. I mean, all that I really know is what’s in your bio. Does it feel right to sort of give me and our listeners just a brief little synopsis of sort of what you were inside of that you needed to escape? I mean, we’re talking about leaving unhealthy relationships here today, and I think it’s really important to define what an unhealthy relationship is because a lot of the work that I do and that a lot of people who’ve been on the show do is help people to heal their relationships, and yet I think that it’s really fair to state that there’s a line that, once you cross, there’s really no healing. There’s no resolving some … Sometimes the resolution is to leave, and where is that line? How does it get defined? I think if you could maybe share a little bit of your story, we learn so much through story, that there might be some listeners who could really identify with that.
Yeah, absolutely. You know, of course hindsight is great, and I didn’t know anything when I was first into the marriage, but I just, from the get go, even when we were just dating, I just, I always felt uncomfortable or I wasn’t doing enough and it wasn’t quite enough, and he would get upset, but he would also just like tell me, “Look. If I’m important to you, then you’ll do blah, blah, blah.” So it was things were couched quite a bit like that.
But these men have a really great side to them. They’re charming, they’re smart. I mean, he was probably the smartest guy I’ve ever been with. I mean, just super smart and very cultured, and we had met at the university but we didn’t get married for a long, long time since then because of different relationships that interested in between. However, when I was in college and first met him, and of course you’re younger and freer and you want that freedom, and I felt him being a little bit oppressive then. So I was like, “Well, I don’t have time for that.” But when he came back into my life, I had actually was getting out of a marriage, and so here he came and he was just so doting and so much attention, which I didn’t get at all in my prior relationship. So you know, I was already kind of in a weakened state.
But we had a lot of fun together. We shared a lot of values together, all the things that if you were to look down a checklist, he checked off so many. And because I had been in a prior relationship where we didn’t argue, we just … There was like zero communication. He, on the other hand, communicated a lot, but usually it was with anger, which was something I wasn’t really used to at all. But I thought, “Oh, well, he’s angry. Well that’s good because that means we’re in a good relationship. People should get angry, and we should talk about it.”
So I started to develop an early pattern, which of course I didn’t know until I landed back in United States and started healing, that this became a pattern of making excuses for his behavior. So already, just for your listeners, if they’re making excuses for their partner’s behavior, this is a red flag. But you know, we had enough good times together that it offset the bad times. And you mentioned how you … And this is in the podcast and your coaching and everything else about helping people heal their relationships, and of course we have cultural mores, we have religious mores, we have a lot of these things, just family, pressures also to keep the marriage together. And then when you have a child, we have one, it’s just like, well, you need to stay together for the child.
So all of these things were putting pressure on me, and it’s like, well, I just, I’ve got to keep this marriage together for no matter what. I’m going to make it work. I was really successful in business, working in corporate, and I surely can make this marriage work. Again, these are warning signs of how this is negative and destructive thinking and behavior on my part.
So the longer we were married, things got worse, and then as my daughter just really … Well, I’ll give you two instances of my daughter. When my daughter was really young, I mean like seven years old, so children know very … We’d be sitting at the table and he would start getting on my case about something, and she would say to him, “Papa, you know, that’s really not very nice how you’re talking to Mama.” And so he would stop, and then it became sort of a joke. He would say, “Oh, you know, you’re Mama’s little lawyer,” because she was defending me. So on the one hand she was quite aware, and then secondly, it was so humiliating for me to have to sit there and listen to my seven year old daughter defend me, but I knew that if I opened my mouth it would have made things worse.
What was the point where you knew you needed to leave?
So then when my … Then I started to … You know, I’ve got my hands on some books and started to understand what verbal abuse was, emotional abuse was, and I told my daughter when she was 16, I go, “Look, this is what’s been happening. I didn’t know it until now.” And I said, “You know, when you’re ready, we can leave.” Now, I was in the Middle East. I lived in the Middle East for 25 years, I was in Saudi Arabia and then Lebanon. So in the Middle East and in Lebanon, you cannot … Custody goes automatically to the father until they turn major at 18. And so there is no way in heaven I would have ever left my daughter. I just wouldn’t be able to do it.
So we had to wait until she turned major, and when she was 20 she was at the university, at the American University of Beirut, and one day she came home to me and she said to me, “Mom, you’ve got to get me away from my abusive father,” because as she was going through adolescence, and you know how children are. Adolescence is a time of pulling away, it’s a time of challenging your parents. I mean, you know. Everybody knows. But for him, he viewed it as a personal attack on him, and so she couldn’t grow up being a normal … a teenager. So things were really bad. It was … In Lebanon, we have real landmines. You don’t know when you’re going to step on one and it’s going to blow up, and that’s how it became. I never knew what was going to happen and he would just blow up at me. So when she said that that day, I planned within four months the escape of our lives.
Wow. It’s a really fascinating story and I want to hear more, and I’m sure our listeners want to hear more. We do have to go to a quick break. Before we go to break, can you tell everybody where they can go to find out more about you and your story and your work?
Oh, absolutely. They can go to theloveiskindnetwork.com and there is a gift for them. There’s a free gift right there. It’s called 11 Keys to Confidently Ask for What You Want because I got the ass kicked out of me during that 25 years of losing my voice, my worth, and my confidence. And so I’m just getting back to what I know a lot of women suffer from. So again, that’s theloveiskindnetwork.com. You can do forward slash gift and it will take you right there to the gift. And of course, there’s other things you can see on the website, but it’s really good. We’re really proud of it. We’re growing the website to really help women understand that they deserve to be treated with kindness.
Beautiful. Well, we’ve been talking with Rosie Aiello about leaving unhealthy relationships. More when we get back, so stay tuned.