Once upon a time, there was a little girl. She was so full of bubbly happiness, imagination, hopes, and dreams. She believed in fairy tales, and somehow, this childish innocence that permeated her being was there well into adulthood.
Her earliest memories were of abuses; some were psychological, and some were physical. All left scars that she continually tried to heal with the promises of “someday” that she fed herself.
But she grew up and found herself unwittingly following patterns that all the statistics say are patterns of abuse. Even though she was reasonably intelligent. And even though she knew what to look for. Somehow, she made poor choices repeatedly and allowed her deep seated habits of only seeing the good in the midst of the bad to flourish to the point she was oblivious of the bad until she was drowning in it.
She met him, and she let him move her a thousand miles away from home and safety and the tribe she had built over the years that would have protected her if she had asked.
Then there were alarms on the doors and control wielded to break her. He even said, “I’ll break you and rebuild you no matter how long it takes.”
No one was there. No one was allowed to become her friend. She was stuck in the shadows for years before he had a “manic psychotic break” and left the doors unlocked so she could run within a matter of minutes.
And she rebuilt her life from the ground up and vowed that the first sign of causing pain meant she would cut that person out of her life immediately without another chance to hurt her again…no matter how slight the pain or how unwittingly and innocently it was inflicted.
I’ve been accused of being too callous and too hard. I’ve been accused of having commitment issues and doing whatever it takes to sabotage relationships before they even begin. But the only people who say those things haven’t had the misfortune to know the keen sting of being abused in an unrelenting cycle. I have that knowledge, but until my marriage, I was unaware of how much abuse I had taken over the years that even qualified as abuse. There’s a hell of a lot out there, and it isn’t just smacking and beating, rest assured.
This last time, though, really caused me to become hyper aware of my own emotions and scared of ever feeling like I once did. When I got away, all the little things became the big things to me because I was denied them once upon a time.
We moved here from a thousand miles away, and the abuses started immediately. I was denied my license. He wouldn’t take me to get it once we moved here stating I needed to ride in the back with the baby anyway so I could keep her happy. Yes, that’s right, I was no longer allowed to ride in the front, I had to keep my daughter quiet at all times or I was failing. A crying baby meant I was failing. It might seem minor, but can you comprehend the stress and anxiety that arises when you know you will be severely condemned the moment your newborn cries and you must ensure that this infant never does anything beyond eats, sleeps, and coos happily? Even your rest becomes nonexistent overnight because you must hear her first fusses before he does, so you are always in a constant state of alertness…even when you are supposed to be resetting.
I married him not because I was deeply in love, but because I already had three children from my first marriage, and two of those lovely children were autistic. No one would play with my oldest. He never had any friends until we moved up here. But when we began dating, he organized football games in my yard and got the neighborhood kids to play with my son, and he went to the parents of more than one brat out there ridiculing my child which meant to me that I had found someone who could offer my kids what I was incapable of giving them. A whole family with a doting father…
Until we got here, and he installed alarms on the doors and kept them all sequestered to their rooms. They were dangerous suddenly…and he had to protect our daughter from the monsters I had birthed.
He would go shopping three times a day and pick fights beforehand. He refused to keep food in the house, and the meals he served were barely sufficient enough for one. His fighting with me ensured he got to demean me. I had to agree to whatever stupid thing he wanted…three times a day…before he would feed us something. I bowed down repeatedly to whatever he wished just so I could get some food into my kids’ bellies.
Then there was that mother’s day. I had talked him into letting me have a job at the golf resort we lived next to. I was working a brunch. I had been kept up all night during one of his ravings, and I finally told him as I left to walk to work that he couldn’t hurt me any further. I didn’t care what he did after the things he put me through that night and leading up to it.
So around seven that evening, he sent my oldest daughter into my workplace to let me know he hadn’t fed them. I went outside and discovered he had fed our mutual child but left the others to go hungry because I had said he couldn’t hurt me. He flat out said that was the reason, and he had to prove me wrong.
Now, I got that job in the first place simply because he had control of all the money, and serving meant I could pocket money and save up for our escape again. All of my checks were signed over to the account that had both our names on it but was denied to me in any form of access. No checks. No debit card. No access. It was all his.
I was urinated on. I was raped even though he didn’t seem to notice that was what he was doing. I was degraded and smacked around. I was told I was nothing, and his family would help tear me down and leave me with nothing. In fact, his family knew about his acts and stood behind him on every last action and word. Ultra wealthy people tend to only care about their appearances, not reality.
I was never allowed a cell-phone. I had to make phone calls to my mother under his watchful eye. I couldn’t have friends. I had it reinforced by the police that no one would help me.
My youngest son was five when he played with the baby in the car. And so my ex pulled over and grabbed him around the neck and threatened him over speaking to “his child” because my son was shit and would always be shit and wasn’t good enough to even look at her. One of his rules was to look out the window and not speak when we were in the car. He couldn’t even look forward.
When he brought my son home in tears, I waited until my ex went to the bathroom and used the phone to dial 911. I quickly explained, and the operator told me to dial a nonsense number once I hung up so he wouldn’t know I did it. She said it was no customary to hang up on a call, but she understood my safety issue.
The police arrived and stood outside the door listening to our argument for ten minutes, they said. When they knocked, they issued an “in house arrest” which meant he was “arrested” and released to stay in his own home with those of us he was attacking, and he had a 300 dollar fine to pay. They called him a terrorist. They ridiculed him for the words they heard him saying to us. They photographed my son’s neck. Then they left him there with us. They fucking left him with us!! I thought I would be able to grab bags, jump in the car, and take us all to Florida before he could get bail, but they left him there after pissing him off more. The main officer called me at work every day the following week to beg me to leave him. “How do you expect me to do that? You were supposed to take him away so I could. He knows I can’t take our daughter with him there…he can legally stop me. You told him so. So he won’t go anywhere without her, and she sleeps in his room now with locks on the door so I can’t get in. He even takes her to Wal-Mart at two in the morning now just because he wakes up and wants to go.”
So I never called the police again.
I could keep writing about the hell we lived in, but I don’t want to. Let’s just wrap it up by saying he had what is called a manic psychotic break, and he left my daughter with me long enough to get the hell out after a week of being terrified by some horror movie stuff before he finally left the house all alone. We made a ten minute snatch and dash, and we made it to a shelter, and we started all over even with the interference of his family that tried to lock me back in place. I testified in court a few days after escape to have him locked in a mental ward. They deemed him a danger to himself and to others, but I was still denied a protection order. That doesn’t make a damn lick of sense, but I promise you they make it as hard as possible for women to escape their abusers so many women end up not getting away. You have to be truly determined and truly terrified to actually make it out.
Yet, you keep asking why she stays….why she takes it…
October is domestic violence awareness month. That spurred me into sharing some of my story. Before I met him, I thought I had escaped the cycle of childhood abuse and could craft a life that is all my own. After him, I realized how fucked up it all is…that even when you are cognizant and determined to never lead a life of depression and fear and anger, you end up doing it anyway…like a moth to the flame…it’s all you really know, so how are you supposed to find something else when you can’t even recognize what else there is? I envisioned healthy relationships the way young children envision fairy tales.
But I’m all grown up now, and I know fairy tales aren’t real. No one can save you but yourself. However, that doesn’t mean that things shouldn’t change so it becomes a little less impossible to rescue yourself. Domestic violence is one of those crimes where the victim takes on the responsibility of the transgressor. Somehow you’ve done something to deserve it. And here are the nonsensical laws that will keep you locked in place and cut you off at the knees. And here’s a shelter that will give you thirty days to find another home with no money, no supports, and no resources. After that thirty days, you’ll all be on the streets, but don’t stay where you’re at, and you can’t leave without his permission anyway unless you want to leave your children behind.
It’s madness. Plain and simple…it’s madness. They’re all mad here.