My Story of Surviving Domestic Abuse
I'm Laura. Read my story of surviving domestic abuse, domestic violence. Maybe it will help you break free from an abusive marriage or relationship.
Oct. 1982 - Oct. 1983
We first met in October 1982, a couple of weeks before my birthday. I was working at a pizza delivery store as a cook. The kitchen had a huge picture window that we watched the world watch us spinning pizzas, just like on TV. He frequented the little beer-joint next door, and the first day I saw him is the ONLY time I ever dropped a pizza dough - and I dropped it on my head. I thought he was HOT! He didn't see my embarrassing moment, thank goodness!
Shortly thereafter, I quit working at the pizza place and started waiting tables at the beer-joint. We started talking and spending time together. He was SO nice; he'd buy me dinner and little gifts. On my birthday, he brought me a HUGE bouquet of flowers in a swan vase (I cherished that vase for many years). Before long, I asked him to move in with me, since he was then living with his sister and her family.
I was going to college and working part-time. He was working full-time, so we played house. At first, things were great. I'd come home and cook dinner, clean the house, work on my homework. He'd watch TV or go to visit his buddies, "to let me study." After a while, I noticed that it was getting later-and-later before he'd get home. He always had an explanation of why, so I didn't worry too much. Besides, I was busy trying to keep up my schoolwork.
We talked about getting married one day, but I told him not right now, let me finish school. Unfortunately, I was quickly losing interest in that. I guess, looking back, it was because I was more interested in what I could do for him, rather than what I could do for myself. So I eventually dropped out altogether.
Then, in September 1983, we found out I was pregnant.
Oct. 1983 - May 1985
It was an uneventful pregnancy. We talked about getting married. I wanted to, he didn't. I guess I should have left it at that! But no, I continued to argue for it, and eventually, in March 1984, we did get married in the Judge's chambers; no family, no flowers, and only his friends in attendance. My "maid of honor" was his best friend's brother. I was seven months pregnant by then.
At one point, right before that, I found out from his boss's wife that a woman named Pat kept calling him at work. When I asked him who Pat was, he gave me some vague answer about she was a girl he went to school with. He said he ran into her in the course of his job, and that I shouldn't worry about it. No matter what I asked, he always said the same thing. To this day, I know he was lying, but can't prove it.
We didn't know if the baby was a boy or a girl and didn't want to know. I picked a name for a girl but never did settle on a boy's name, which was odd, because we did end up with a girl. She was beautiful. The joy of my life. She kept me very busy, as babies do, and for a while, life seemed almost perfect. Well, as perfect as having no money could be! But many couples have the same problem, so I didn't think much about it.
A major incident happened during this time. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but at the time I didn't see it for what it was.
My parents had been on vacation and stopped into our town to see the baby, who was by then 8 months old and starting to walk. Since I was not working, and we had not yet been "back home" to show off the new baby, they invited me to drive back with them, and they'd send us back on a bus in a couple of days. (You need to know here, we had not been back home because every time I suggested it, he made some excuse not to go. Either he had to work, or the car wouldn't make it, or he didn't feel like driving the long drive, whatever.) He was at work, so I called him and asked if he would mind if I went. I felt like I was doing the right thing, to let him know I wanted to go since it wouldn't cost us anything. His only response was to become very sullen and say, "Do whatever you want to do." So I did. I went with them. Who wouldn't have? Silly me...
I had a wonderful time, seeing all of my family, showing off our little angel. I saw a few old friends, again very proud of the baby. We discovered that if I stayed two extra days, instead of the original four, I could fly back instead of taking the bus for the same price. So we set up the flight and I called him to tell him. I was glad that I would be able to stay two more days, and also that I wouldn't have to sit on the bus for hours. The flight would only take one hour.
When I called him, he simply said, "Fine," and hung up. Since I was enjoying being with my family, I thought nothing of it. I just assumed he was having a bad day and was tired. Boy, was I ever in for a surprise!
When he picked me up at the airport, I was expecting a warm welcome: "Hi honey, I missed you and how's my angel?" etc. Not so. He never said a word to me or the baby. I was carrying her, her car seat, her diaper bag, my purse and my carry-on bag.
He just made sure I saw him, then turned and walked off, presumably towards the car. I called after him, but he ignored me. So I put the car seat on the floor, put her diaper bag and my carry-on in it, and started pushing it step-by-step with my foot. Some lady, bless her heart, saw what was going on and helped me carry the stuff to the car, where he was waiting. We got home, and he never said anything. For the next three days, I got the "silent treatment" in response to anything I said. He made his own meals, did his own laundry; but even worse, he ignored the baby. It was as if we didn't exist.
As it turns out, he had "found out" about some shuffling I had done with the money. Nothing more than anyone else would have done in our sad financial position, but he didn't see it that way. You know, "rob Peter to pay Paul." I would let the electric bill go late to pay the already late water bill, then pay half of the rent to pay the electric bill, etc. I'd tell him I needed more of his check than he was giving me to pay those bills, but he'd say "this is all there is," not realizing that I had become friends with the bookkeeper where he worked, and I knew that he was not telling me how much he REALLY made each week.
Bottom line is this: he was convinced I was stashing money in a savings account! No amount of pleading on my part would convince him otherwise. He just "knew" that I was planning something behind his back.
Looking back, that could have been one of the things that should have made me leave. But one of the characteristics of "co-dependence" is wanting to make things better AT ALL COSTS. That's what I wanted to do. I was determined to make him see the truth about any situation, not realizing that his truth was the only one he would ever see. Now I know that, but not then.
Well, after a few more months of living check-to-check, I knew I had to find a job in order to make ends meet. So I found a good sitter for the baby, who was 11-months by then, and got a really great job at a small loan company.
May 1985 to Oct. 1990
Just a word of warning - this one is long.
The job I got was in a loan office. I was trained to do everything from taking applications over the phone, to processing the applications, to making the loan, to taking payments, to collection work when the payments weren't made. Within a month, I was making deposits of very large amounts of money, using the manager's car to take it to the bank. My husband didn't like me leaving to go to the bank, but I tried to tell him it was part of my job, and that it showed me I was trusted to do a good job.
I made $5/hour to start and it was my money. The people I worked for were very nice and took time to show me how to do what I needed to do. The baby was at a decent daycare. I would go home in the evenings, make dinner, clean the house, play with the baby, and I thought we were doing pretty good.
Then, little odd things began happening. No, I began to NOTICE them more, I think. He would come home an hour late and say he'd gotten stuck on a job. Or the phone would ring, and if I answered it, they'd hang up - and he would accuse me of having a boyfriend. I would call his work just to say hello and that I was thinking of him, and they'd say he was late again. If I asked him what took so long to get to work, he'd start a fight about me not being home to take care of the baby, and why in the hell was I checking up on him, etc.
Since he wouldn't really help with paying the bills, we still had no money and only one car (so I took the bus to work). No matter how much I made, when I would ask him for part of his check to help pay the bills, he "didn't have any leftover." When I would ask, "leftover from what," he would change the subject or start an argument over something he maintained was my fault; such as the laundry wasn't done or dinner wasn't ready early enough.
He eventually lost his job because he lost his temper one day and told off a customer. Then it seemed as though no job was good enough for him. It didn't matter to him that even flipping burgers would bring in $4.50 an hour and would help. Oh no, he wanted to be making the $7.00 an hour he was used to, or else he just wouldn't work. So we were living on my check.
Now, I've taken you through all this to get here: In February of 1987, my boss offered me a manager's position. The only catch was that we'd have to move from San Antonio to Killeen, 175 miles away. Since he wasn't working and we really had no family ties to where we lived, it didn't seem like a problem. I thought.
As part of my manager's training, I had to work in the military offices, since the new office was in a military town. I needed to get used to the ways of the military, the language, etc., so that I'd be better informed in the new office. Well, if he called the office and I wasn't there, he'd throw a FIT for them to track me down and call him. He even threatened one time to come to the office and "take care of the problem" himself, which to this day I'm not really sure what he meant, but he scared the dickens out of the poor girl that answered the phone.
Basically, what I'd have to do is call him, tell him "I'm going to such-and-such office, I'm leaving right now." Then I'd call him the minute I got there. If it took longer than he thought it should, then he'd want to know where I stopped, who did I see, why didn't I tell him I was stopping, etc. He never would believe that traffic was bad. He even accused me of having an affair with my boss to get the promotion.
We finally moved to the new office. I got enough of a pay raise to afford a really nice BIG house; lots of room, a big yard for our little girl to play in. Unfortunately, his male ego was hurt because he couldn't find a "good job" in the little military town. Everyone hired family or military wives, which is usually what happens. The one job he did get, he lost because of his temper again - only this time he told off the boss's wife, who doubled as the bookkeeper, when (as he said) she screwed him out of three-hours pay. I never did get the whole story on that one. At any rate, he never did get a steady job.
My job was great - for me. He hated it. As the manager, I felt it was my job to open every day at 9am and stay til close at 6pm. He felt like I should be able to come and go as I pleased (or rather, as HE pleased), because that's what "all the other managers do." I also was more comfortable taking the deposits to the bank myself, but he even questioned that, going back to when I worked for the other office. He couldn't understand why I couldn't give that job to someone else, since it had been given to me (as a clerk) previously. He assumed I was lying about going to the bank before, therefore I must be lying about going now.
Let me note something here: throughout our marriage, I was constantly being accused of lying about one thing or the other. First of all, I was not raised that way. Secondly, I had more respect for our marriage vows than that. And most of all, I had no reason to lie to him - I wasn't hiding a boyfriend or a secret bank account, contrary to his constant accusations. Toward the end of the marriage, I began to be very secretive, but I'll get to that.
After we got settled, his ego was really getting the better of him. At one point, he decided that if he couldn't find a job in that town, he would go look elsewhere. He packed a backpack with some really strange items like a little duck I had given him, some pictures of the baby and me, warm clothes (since he was headed north) and took his dog and a handgun for protection. He set off walking, with me pleading with him not to go. Looking back, I know now that it was just more manipulation and control on his part. I was playing exactly the role I was supposed to be playing, the pleading, begging, sobbing wife. I carried a lot of anger with me over that one for a long time.
Anyway, he got arrested for vagrancy about 45 miles up the road. Unfortunately, he had an outstanding ticket in another county about 100 miles farther away, so they extradited him.
He called me to come get the dog and the backpack. This was on a Friday, and he said he'd be let go Monday night. Well, Sunday afternoon I get a phone call. It's him, and he's at a friend's house in San Antonio. Turns out, he "just couldn't take it," so he called them to pay off the ticket and come bail him out. He wanted me to drive to San Antonio to get him. He was also mad as hell that I didn't come "visit him" in jail!
I couldn't believe it. Our car was barely making it, our little girl was sick, it was raining the whole weekend, and he was mad that I didn't come play the little bereaved wife to him while he was in jail for three days. Now we owe this friend about $200 that we don't have, plus I have to drive to San Antonio to pick him up, taking off work to do so. I very nearly filed for divorce right then. By that time, I was beginning to realize that I would be just fine on my own. However, once I got to San Antonio, he turned on that Irish charm again, cried and pleaded, and I took him back.
We got home, things were fine for a long time. I now know that we were in what's commonly called the "honeymoon phase." That's when there's a huge blowout, then you make up, and things are wonderful. I thought he had changed, but not so. With physical abuse, this is the time where he promises not to "ever do it again." With us, he vowed to get a job, no matter what.
He had been hanging out at this one bar, where he met this woman who he claimed needed a ride to work and to get groceries. He would tell me these stories about her, about how she was so wild that she would show off her tattoos to anyone who asked - and they were on her breasts. He would laugh about it, and when I'd say "when can I meet her," he'd say, "oh, you don't have anything in common with her, she's a biker." I believe I did have something in common with her - my husband! But he always denied anything going on. What an idiot I was, right? But denial is a big part of this syndrome. And boy was I ever in denial!
Then I got pregnant with my son. And while he was, for the most part, an accident (we hadn't really talked about having anymore, but we weren't trying NOT to), he was very welcome. I thought maybe this will keep my husband at home. And when the baby came, it did. For about two days.
I had maternity leave coming, so since I was at home, he didn't feel obligated to stay home to baby-sit. I started going in to work, saying my employees were having trouble with the computer, just so he'd have to stay home with the baby and our daughter (who was by now 5-yrs old). He'd bring them both up to me at work, and say he had a job interview. I could keep them there, since we had a little break room in the back. He'd bring crayons and a coloring book and the playpen for the baby, then show up that evening to pick us up to go home. Curiously, with all those job interviews, he never did find a job. Hmm.
All this time, he was still accusing me of one thing or the other. If he called and I was at the bank (we could walk from the office), he'd be right there within minutes to check up on me. If I called the house and he was gone, it was none of my business where he went.
We had a joint checking account, because I had this dream of "life the way it should be," where it's not "your money" or "my money," but "our money." I thought if he saw that I trusted him with it, he'd respect that. So he always had access to the money. If I tried to save some money to go visit back home, he'd end up with it. (We went back to my hometown about once a year, only when the income tax refund came in.) Even our regular expenses became next to impossible to keep up with.
Eventually, I got to where I would pay the bills with money orders and put whatever was left in the bank for groceries. Sometimes, he'd beat me to the money, and we would have to really wing it for groceries. If I questioned him, or told him to stay out of the money at least until I got groceries, he would use that as an excuse to throw a fit and stomp out and get drunk. Then he'd come home, all apologetic. More than once, he overdrew the account, using the ATM card and going by the balance on the receipt, instead of the balance in the checkbook. He would say it was the bank's fault since they didn't put the real balance on the receipt.
This went on-and-on. He'd work odd jobs for two or three days, then quit. He tried to start a lawn care business, but the extent of his advertising was to put a sign in OUR yard, which looked like hell, that he'd do yards. He figured people driving by would see the sign and call him. I bought him some nice business cards. All he had to do was walk around and leave them on front doors or windshields. I found them dumped in the trash about three weeks later. He said he had passed them all out. When I showed him the full box, he said "oh no, those are the wrong ones" and that was it. No further explanation.
During the winter of 1990, I became pregnant with our third child. Once again, I was accused of lying, on two counts. One, I was accused of "deliberately getting pregnant," and two, although I didn't even know I was pregnant until I was eight weeks, he decided "I knew all along." Wrong to both counts! She is the joy of my life, but at the time I knew that the VERY LAST thing I needed was another baby.
He gave me a really hard time for awhile, saying it probably wasn't even his etc. Then he decided to leave it alone. In August 1990, Saddam Hussein attacked Kuwait, and Fort Hood emptied out. All the soldiers went to the Persian Gulf, and I was let go in October, due to "cutbacks." I was given a very healthy severance check due to a profit sharing plan in the company, and we moved back to San Antonio. We had been away for three-and-a-half years. I was seven-months pregnant.
Oct. 1990 - Jan 1993
**Just a note here: on top of everything else, my dad was taken hostage by Saddam Hussein. So here I was, trying to deal with being without a job, very pregnant, and my dad was in the hands of a madman. He was released relatively unharmed right before Christmas.
I decided to stay home with the kids for awhile. My daughter was born in January 1991, and we lived off my severance pay and my part of the company profit-sharing plan. In April, he finally got a job. Things seemed to be going along okay, with me at home and he was working. I was the Girl Scout leader for my daughter's troop, and we seemed to be "normal." His mother moved in with us again, and his brother too (that didn't last too long, thank goodness - his brother moved on. His mom stayed with us, though.). My mother-in-law would help me with the babies and that was good. But with two women in one house, eventually tempers started flaring and patience wore thin. So I decided to go BACK to work.
I found a job as a substitute at the nearby school district where my oldest daughter was in first grade. I suddenly discovered that I absolutely loved to teach! I toyed with the idea of going back to school, but when I approached him with it, I was shot down. He would say, "I don't think you need to go to school. It's a waste of money." So I put it off.
The teachers at the school, however, encouraged me to look into college. They didn't know the situation at home. So what I did was actually apply for, and get accepted into, the four-year college there! Two days a week, when he thought I was working, I was really in school. Later, my financial aid fell through, so I had to quit.
But once I'd tasted it, boy did I ever want more! I told him outright that I was going, whether he liked it or not. Of course, that started many arguments. What I didn't know was that I had also started on my road to freedom....
Jan. 1993 - Sept. 1995
This was truly the beginning of the end.
I got myself together, and applied to the local junior college, turned in my financial aid early, was accepted and approved, and took my first real classes the summer of 1993. (I took 3 classes a semester for the next three years, going almost every semester. I think I skipped two.) Things really started getting weird from then on.
He would always appear to be supportive of my going to school, but he would make little remarks about how I was neglecting my "wifely duties," which included house-cleaning, cooking, taking care of the kids, and, of course, sex. Fact was, his mother kept the house very neat, and she was a good sitter for the most part. I did the cooking, nobody ever went hungry.
As for sex, I simply was not interested in sex (this happens frequently - I thought I was tired - now I know I was becoming very dissatisfied with our relationship). However, I felt that it was my job, like maybe if I could GET interested again, things would be better.
He kind of realized the dilemma I was in and used it to make me feel guilty about everything. He tried to "guilt" me into doing things I didn't EVEN want to do. For example, he really put on the pressure to bring another woman into our bedroom for a menage-a-trois. Now that may be some people's idea of a good time, and that's fine for them, but I'm not even remotely interested in anything like that.
This pressuring went on for a couple of months and one night came to a screeching halt. We went for a drink at a bar that he frequented; a strip-joint. I decided that the way to make things right with us was to try life his way, to be more open to partying and going to bars. Well, he introduced me to this "friend" of his, a dancer, who just happened to be bi-sexual. This little fact was whispered in my ear, accompanied by "Does she turn you on?" I was disgusted and left. I started walking home, and he came after me, finally realizing by my extreme reaction that I was not interested. He said he only brought it up as a joke.
Around the end of October 1994, I discovered he had an affair with another woman. She called me to confess. She felt so very guilty because she was my friend. He managed to ruin a friendship. (I know, it takes two. But to this day, I think he did it because he was jealous of my friendship with her.) I asked him about it, and with his answer THE LIGHT WENT ON. He didn't deny it, he said, "She's just trying to drive us crazy." I know now THAT was the day that I began to really think about getting the hell away from him and that I didn't love him anymore.
You see, this man never lied to me. Ever. He would very skillfully OMIT and DANCE AROUND the truth. Example: one night he came home from work, showered, and left again. He was gone until 3 a.m. The next day, I asked "where were you?" His answer was, "I went over to Joe's."
A couple of days later, I was talking to Joe's wife on the phone, and I laughingly apologized for him being over so late. She said, "oh no, he was only here about 45 minutes around 8 o'clock." Now, notice, he didn't lie. He did go "over to Joe's," he just left out all the rest of it.
From then on, I paid very close attention. I forgave the infidelity, telling myself "once is a mistake. He was drunk." But I watched very closely. If I asked him where he went, he would get very defensive and accuse me of checking up on him. And the only answer I would get was, "just driving around, thinking."
During this time, he made it so hard for me to have a "normal" life. I had friends, but if I went to their house, I was "meeting" someone. Or we were "plotting" against him. He actually told me these things! After all, why would I want to spend more time with my friends than my husband?
Needless to say, my friends never came to our house because he made them feel too uncomfortable. He'd sit and listen very attentively to our conversation, not contributing, just almost monitoring what we'd say. So they quit coming over. The same thing would happen if my folks came to town. We would hardly have a private moment. He was always "hovering" right there. He actually told me one time that he didn't want us talking about him while they were visiting. I laughed at him, saying they couldn't care less about HIM, they wanted to talk about the grandkids. But he was so paranoid.
When I went to the grocery store, if I was gone longer than he thought I should be, I was accused of being in the storeroom with the bagboy. Really! I can laugh at it now, but then it horrified me. I had to account for every minute and every penny, and most of the time I had to take at least one of the kids with me everywhere I went. The thing is, I wasn't doing anything. But in order to prove to him I was faithful, I had to abide by his rules. And that didn't even work. He still accused me of all kinds of evil plots and infidelities.
As far as school went, I was making straight A's, staying on the Dean's list. I do not know how I managed, but I did. He never said he was proud of me, never would offer to keep the kids busy so I could study. He would just remark that I cared more about school than our family, that school was the top priority in my life. He even went so far as to say that I must be sleeping with my professors to make such good grades. At one point, I informed him that two of my professors that semester were women, and he said, "So? It could happen."
He became literally OBSESSED with anything connected with sex, whether it was porn movies, magazines, peekaboo lingerie, whatever. He started staying home, but he would camp out in our bedroom, watching those movies. Then expect me to do the things he saw in them. I know now that not only was I subjected to verbal abuse, but I endured sexual abuse as well.
A little "fun" goes a long way. Sometimes, in a healthy relationship, you and your partner might want to experiment with new things, but in this instance it went way past playful. I don't even want to admit some of the things I let him do, but feel free to use your imagination. I was probably subjected to whatever you can come up with. And I did this all in the name of "fixing" the marriage.
I began to dread going to bed. I'd stay up past midnight, just to avoid the bedroom. I would wait til he fell asleep, then creep into bed, praying he wouldn't wake up. Sometimes, of course, he would just wait me out, then I had no way out.
Then, he fell at work, hurt his back, and was unable to work for a long time. IF I thought it was bad before, it started getting worse.
Sept. 1995 - April 1997
Everything happened so fast at the end!
My dad passed away in August 1995 and you would have thought that I would have wanted to be close to my husband, but I didn't even want to be comforted by him. His hands on me just really made my skin crawl. I guess that's because of all the sick things he was making me do "because you are my wife." I know now that in a truly healthy relationship, those things are not forced on you. When he fell and hurt his back, in one way it was a blessing, but it also ended up making matters worse. Which I guess was a good thing, because it helped me along - but I'm getting ahead of myself here.
He couldn't work, so he was home ALL THE TIME. Once he got up and around, he followed me everywhere--to school, to work, he would even go with me to the grocery store and the library. He said since he had the chance, he wanted to get to know my life. Of course, I knew even then he was just trying to see if he could "catch me" doing something. Not that I was doing anything to catch, but he was trying!
The little time I had with my friends completely disappeared. He would even go with me to my study groups, saying he wanted to learn what I was learning. But when we'd leave, he'd say "I saw you looking at that guy" (or the guy was looking at me). Of course, I had no interest in a 20-year old living with his parents, but try to tell HIM that!
If I thought the drinking was bad, it became unbearable when he added his prescription painkillers to the mix. Up to that point, I was able to hide the arguing from my kids and keep them from hearing his hateful remarks. But the drugs and alcohol combination made it harder-and-harder to prevent them from direct exposure. It got to where I was calling the police at least once a week, just to get a moment's peace.
The first time I had him arrested, they put him in a cell with a phone, and he called me EVERY TWO MINUTES, ALL NIGHT. Like a dummy, I answered the phone, accepting the collect call. He'd say, "you'd BETTER come get me, right now." I'd tell him, "no, you are gonna stay right where you are." Then, I'd hang up and he'd call right back. That continued all night long.
In the morning, like a dummy, I went and picked him up from jail. All the way home he harassed me, in front of the kids, about did I enjoy my night with my boyfriend, and when did we plan on getting together again, so he could be better dressed for his night in jail. This was in front of our children. I could feel myself hating him more-and-more, but not knowing what to do.
This was around November. The semester before, in about April, I had read a book for a research paper that ended up showing me the way to get out from under him. The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans literally changed my life. I had been playing with some of the techniques she describes in the book, but not really seriously.
At this point, due to his continuing drinking and now painkillers, he was completely out of hand, worse than I had ever seen him before. He was accusing me of seeing several men, accusing me of trying to turn our kids away from him, and accusing me of even trying to make him "hurt more" by taking away his pain medication. He was out of control. So I started really turning up the heat, using the techniques Ms. Evans recommends and it was making him nuts. If he accused me of something, I wouldn't DENY it, as I used to. I'd say "I do not have to listen to this." If he tried to change the subject from my question (diverting), I'd force him back to the issue.
Believe me, these things WORK!! Sadly, it became almost a game for me, to see how crazy I could make him. I got to where I was playing HIS head games, accusing HIM of seeing another woman, that he was hiding money from me, etc., just to see him squirm. This went on for a couple of months. Then, one night, I decided I had had ENOUGH. It was Feb. 28, 1996.
This was the turning point, the moment of truth. He had gone out, "driving around" again, and came home about 11:30 (the time is important). I was pretending to be asleep again, but he came in and yanked off the blankets. I pulled them back onto the bed. He threw them out the back door. By the time I gave up on having a blanket, five were in the backyard.
He was being so loud, he woke up my youngest daughter. She came and climbed up onto our bed and I figured he'd leave her blanket alone. Oh no, out the back door went that one. I put her back into her room and bed. As I was doing so, he came into the kids' room and started swearing at me, calling me names. I ignored him, continued comforting the kids (all three, were awake by now). He kept yelling at me, cussing, then he found the straw that broke the camel's back.
He called me the one name that did it. He called me a C***. I hope you can figure it out, because I refuse to even spell it out completely! I slapped him, right in front of my babies. It was almost a reflex action, without thought, to SHUT HIM UP! I ran into the living room, thinking, "OH GOD he's gonna hit me now!" But he didn't. He just came into the living room and started yelling again, that I'd hit him for no reason.
When I realized he wasn't going to hit me, I decided it was safe to call the police. Before I could dial the number, he jerked the phone out of the wall and stomped on it. Then, he went into the bedroom and got that one and killed it, too. So I decided to go down to the payphone at the corner and thought I'd better change out of my nightgown first. I pulled my gown over my head and was reaching for my jeans and t-shirt. He came into the bedroom, and said, "if you're going somewhere, then you're going just like that."
He then picked me up (bad back was all numb from alcohol & painkillers) and tried to put me out the front door, stark naked. I went limp and he dropped me. I got dressed, and had to leave in his car, because he had mine blocked in. I called the police, and they met me at the payphone, then followed me back to the house. They put him in handcuffs, so we could get some clothes together. His mother (still living with us) left with me and the kids. It was 1:45 a.m. when we headed for my brother's house. So the whole thing took about 2-hours. That's important.
All this was due to the mixture of alcohol and drugs. When I did get brave enough to try to talk to him, he only remembered about TEN MINUTES of all of the above! He didn't know why the phones were in pieces, or the blankets in the backyard. He did remember me slapping him, but not the reason why.
I still tried to make it work. We never moved back in, but I would go stay the night, hoping things would change if we just talked it over. But every time I'd think we were getting somewhere, it would go right back to awful again. He blamed the whole thing on me, saying if I would just give up my friends and school and just be his wife again, it would all be okay. We went back and forth like that for months. I finally realized that THERE WAS NOTHING I COULD DO TO MAKE IT WORK!!!! He was NOT going to change. He didn't want to. HE DIDN'T WANT TO.
I came to see that it wasn't my fault. I was not doing anything wrong by having friends, and enjoying school, and spending time at the library. That is perfectly normal behavior. It was HIS behavior that was messed up. HE was the one who needed help. And since he didn't want to get help, for us and for our marriage, I left and stayed away for good. It was the BEST decision I made for me and my kids.
He made it really hard on us, though. The year we were separated was rough. He made sure of that. He would call and harass me. If I wasn't home, he would leave long threatening messages on the answering machine. I kept the tapes for a long time, hoping to use them to have him committed. He would drive by our house at all hours, to see if I had my "boyfriend" there (of course, I didn't want anything to do with a man at that point!). He would come up to my second job at Wal-mart and just follow me around the store. He would call there, saying he was going to commit suicide if I didn't come back to him (at one point I asked him if he needed help doing it and he stopped using that threat).
He would call my day job at the elementary school and say he was coming up there if I didn't come to the phone. Finally, when I told him he was going to get me fired and then how would I feed the kids, he quit calling there. He would just come walking into my house like it was "ours," until I told him he had to knock like the rest of the world. Then, he wouldn't come over at all (to see the kids) saying he wasn't welcome. Oh yes, he made it very hard on us.
BUT! We were away from him, for the most part. And it was a wonderful feeling. I could go places without feeling guilty. I could have friends over and actually hold conversations. It was great. My money went to my kids, not his drinking. I was actually able to save a little each payday. Not much, but more than I ever had before!
In January 1997, I filed for divorce with my income tax refund check. It took almost all of it, but it was worth it. The divorce was final April 2, 1997 and I haven't seen him since. He has chosen not to see his kids or pay his child support. I do not say bad things about him to the kids because if, in the future, they decide to look for him, I want them to be able to say that any conclusions they draw about him are their own.
Now the good news - and it gets it's own chapter!!
Happy Ending and a New Beginning
My divorce was final on April 2, 1997. But that's not the best part. I want you to know that even after all that unhappiness, all that insanity, all the bad "stuff," I am in a healthy relationship. A loving, normal relationship. I met a wonderful man with an adorable daughter (so now I have four kids! He loves me, loves my kids, and would never in a million years hurt any of us. He makes me laugh, and makes me feel loved every day.
We truly have a healthy relationship, both as adults and as good parents to our kids. That's important, because in my first marriage, the kids were see-sawed back-and-forth, not knowing who to listen to or who they could count on. Now they do. Now they follow rules, and have consequences if they break the rules, and they know we do it because we love them.
Our relationship, on an adult level, is wonderful. We discuss, we don't yell. If we disagree, we do it intelligently. At the end of the day, we spend a few minutes sharing our day with each other. We talk over any problems and they are usually resolved. We hold hands in public. We cuddle at night. All those things that loving, caring grownups should do. And it's wonderful. I said that, didn't I? I just can't tell you how awesome it feels to do it right!!
|There is hope.
There is love.
It's out there, for you.
You just gotta know you deserve it.
I want to try to help you get there.
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Staff, H. (2008, December 19). My Story of Surviving Domestic Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, June 2 from https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/articles/my-story-of-surviving-domestic-abuse