Aug 17 2012
600 miles…One domestic abuse suvivor’s story.
The following story will be very difficult for many people, especially women, to read. Honestly, I kept the majority of the details out, for both my and my reader’s emotional well being. There was worse things going on. It DOES end well, I promise.
November 22nd, 2005. Long Island, NY. Survivor Series, WWE, on TV. That was the setting. I’m with “friends”, a group of drunks and stoners, people I hoped would help me forget my life. My husband was in jail for almost killing my daughter, who was then taken in by my aunt, who was better equipped than myself to care for that tiny 4 month old then a jobless, homeless woman with postpartum depression. I was depressed and alone. I had a boyfriend, a lovely man we’ll call “J”. He deserved better than me, because I didn’t see what I had with him.
Yes, right now, I bet you are wondering why I, as an abuse survivor, would say that J deserved better. Well, because J never hurt me. J, honestly, was a wonderful man, who was just not equipped to deal with the emotional hell and turmoil I was going through. I cheated on him, which he didn’t deserve. He left me, rightfully so, and, alone, I went further into a deep depression . I won’t try and justify my cheating, it was wrong, and I will never forgive myself for it.
Anyway, I had met *him* that night, at my “friend”‘s house. We’ll call him “Chuck”. Not because his name isn’t “Chuck”, but because it’s a variant of his name that he despises a LOT.
I was in a bad way, with low self esteem, very little care for the world, on and off of my postpartum depression medication, dealing with courts and other things, living in a tiny makeshift room built out of the dining room of a 2 bedroom apartment, which ended with 4 bedrooms, a kitchen and two bathrooms, and no common area. My family shunned me because of the situation that led to my daughter being placed with my aunt, and I didn’t have any “good” friends, just new friends who I was suddenly thrust into close relationships with, and old “friends” who were pretty much the same as they had been 4 years prior when I stopped talking to them.
He came up and was charming, not the best looking man, but had that bad boy edge. I was sick, and knew I didn’t make a good impression. He found me on myspace anyway. Yes, Myspace, I didn’t get a Facebook until 2009. I know, I know, pathetic. We talked, and he charmed me further. I ended up meeting up with him about two months after J left me, which was 3 days before my 22nd birthday. It was “love at first desperation” I suppose, though back then I just thought he was sent from above to save me from everything. We moved in together quickly, within a month, and got jobs. Everything was ‘great’, though we were living in a basement without a kitchen and working 70 hour weeks to support ourselves and his pot habit. I looked past the pot, I mean, it wasn’t crack like my (now late)husband, right? I took what I could to visit my daughter, but his habits rubbed off on me and I became lax in my visits. I will never forgive myself for that.
I took to drinking to self-medicate, even smoked pot now and again. I was depressed, trying hard to find a way to make my life better, and not seeing how he was hurting my chances. I wanted to get my daughter back, and, though I didn’t see it then, he was working very hard to keep that from happening(eventually, I lost the ability to get her back, and I do, in many ways, blame him). He lied to me and my social worker, told both of us he had a bachelor’s degree but couldn’t find a job because “English Lit didn’t go far on LI”. Found out a year in that he only survived a semester and a half before flunking out of ACCOUNTING school, never even applied at the school he supposed had the degree from.
About 6 months in, I became a little more forceful about us bettering our living situation and habits. I stopped everything but a glass of wine here and there. He promised to stopped smoking weed. We set a date. It came, and went. Not much changed, though now he was a lot more sneaky about it. The abuse also escalated. He had lost his job, and I was supporting both of us.
Up until now, I hadn’t seen it. It was subtle. Like the little voice in the back of your head pushing you down. It was emotional abuse, but it wasn’t like he told me I wasn’t good enough or ugly. No, it was really subtle, and sneaky. “Are you sure you should do that, I think _____ would be better?”
He was controlling me, and I let him. It didn’t become clear until I laid down my demands about the drugs and alcohol, and our living situation.
Then it became verbal abuse. “What the F$&% do you want from ME? I’m doing the best I can!” When he wasn’t doing anything. “You are so F*&^ing pushy, you know that?” When he wasn’t putting out applications and I showed him a few places that were hiring. “Stop nagging me” When I’d ask after work how his job hunt went.
Then, one day, I was fed up with his excuses. I had been supporting the both of us with just my income, living in a moldy basement, unable to get the proper healthcare I needed. I was heading to work, and I made the mistake of saying, I’m not sure I’m coming back. I didn’t go to work that day. I couldn’t explain the hand shaped bruise on my forearm. I thought, “He’s so afraid of losing me he grabbed me to hold me close.” So naive.
I didn’t mention leaving again. I didn’t stay silent though. I kept pushing for him to help me support the house, begged him to stop the drugs. Tried to get us into couples counseling. It ended one of three ways: 1) He stormed out. 2) He left me in tears. 3) He left me with bruises.
I didn’t cry once he hit me. I actually dissociated. It took years to get those memories back. I wish I didn’t have them.
Things got really bad when I realized he was sexually abusing me in my sleep. I would wake up to him doing unspeakable things to me. Many times I ended up having such horrible panic attacks from PTSD flashbacks to childhood abuse I would end up at the hospital. God bless those women, they KNEW something was up, but I wouldn’t say anything. They pulled him out and asked me what, if anything, was wrong at home. I always said no, just money issues and stress like “any other couple”. Never mentioned the abuse, physical, mental or sexual.
One time I bit him in a sensitive area when I woke up. It was the only time, because he forced me to go to our friends graduation party with a large shiner and tell everyone how clumsy I was. He then forced me to get my license permit photo done a few days later, when it was just starting to heal. I had to keep the same story. For years, I had a license that showed me with a black eye.
I still didn’t tell anyone. He “stopped” smoking weed then, so I thought he’d stop hitting me.
Then we got into a fight in front of friends. He slapped me because I fell asleep on the couch(after him keeping me up all night). I freaked on him because we were in front of friends. I was embarrassed. Not that I got slapped, but because he was showing off our abuse. I was fine with it being hidden. I got up, got dressed, grabbed my coat and told him I was going to work, and, not coming back. Mind you, in front of friends. We still lived in that retched basement. I was walking up the stairs. He ran after me, grabbed me by my coat, and threw me down the stairs. In front of our “friends”(*who were male and female). I tried to run into the bedroom, past those friends. I made it to the door before he knocked me down…and kicked me in my lower back, which already had issues, repeatedly. Then my shoulders, then he slapped me. All while blaming ME for him HAVING to hit me in front of them.
Our “friends”, did nothing. Just stared. I came out after “composing myself” at his demand, and APOLOGIZED for creating the scene. They continued the visit as if nothing happened. I don’t even remember their names, I despise them so much.
I stayed for a few more months, hiding, never talking to anyone. Avoiding those “friends”. I thought to myself, “hey, he hasn’t hit me in awhile, maybe it’s over, maybe we can get back into the swing of things.” And it was true. He stopped abusing me for awhile.
To be honest, I have to add the following tidbit…after the stairs incident, and before the finding out about his weed again, we found(yes, we) a lump in one of his testicles. It was an aggressive form of testicular cancer that was growing and spreading fast. He stopped hitting me and abusing me during this time. I think he had other things to worry about than controlling me. He had to have it removed completely. I was the doting girlfriend(actually, fiance) who was with him at the hospital, and at every appointment. We talked about him going back to weed when chemo started, only because I’m a BIG advocate for medicinal marijuana, especially when considering cancer patients.
You know, this is where I still have trouble forgiving myself. I didn’t leave him when he hit me. I didn’t leave him when he verbally and mentally abused me. I didn’t leave him when he started raping and sodomizing me in my sleep.
No, I left him when I found out he was smoking weed again. He went back on his promise and was smoking weed again, long before we found the cancer. He was too stoned to be angry and hit me. Then too worried about his cancer to care.
I found out his lie, and secretly made plans to leave. He was still recovering from surgery, but hadn’t started chemo yet. I didn’t care. I was done. I’d been the victim of physical and sexual abuse before, as a child. I was the victim of verbal abuse nearly all my life.
But I was rarely, if ever, blatantly lied to, except by my husband, who I threw in jail and never looked back upon, and now him. yeah, I wasn’t going to have it.
How pathetic is that? To be complacent with gross injustices like physical and sexual abuse, but go over the top with lying? Regardless, I left.
Took my paycheck, and bought my friend Noel a plane ticket to New York. He was living in North Carolina, and was determined to rescue me from this. He was the first person I told EVERYTHING to.
600 miles he flew… 600 miles we drove back. 600 miles does not sever the electronic ties, and I found myself talking to Chuck and trying to get him help. I was convinced it could be salvaged, that we just “needed a break”.
That lasted 2 weeks, when I realized that he wasn’t changing. It took a little longer to realize I didn’t need him, and was okay on my own. I found out later that he was still lying to lure women, and was still hurting them. I regret not putting him in jail….
That was 5 years ago, August of 2007. September that year, Noel, my current(and last)husband, asked me out on a date. We took it slow, at first, as I was petrified that he was going to abuse me or take advantage of me. He did neither. He went at my pace, and followed my lead. A year later, he asked for my hand in marriage. July of 2011, we got married. Yes, a 3 year engagement. He has never raised his hands to me, and he only tells me I’m nagging when I already know I am, and it’s never as a way to shut me up, it’s to let me know. He lets me have all the control I can handle, because he is my partner, not my owner. He is patient and understanding, and the best friend, husband, lover and father of my son I could ever ask for.
My daughter was adopted by my Aunt in 2008, and I am very happy to report that she is an amazing 7 year old with a spunky attitude and her late father’s facial features and my eyes and hair. She is well adjusted and perfect. Yes, it would have been nice to raise her, but I was in no shape to do it back then. I’m blessed to have family who could!
If you are in an abusive relationship(or even just think you might be), PLEASE, get help. Go to your local hospital; go to your local police department. Build a “bug out bag”, in secret, with your paperwork(health, ID, social security, etc), copies of the car keys/a bus pass, some money, and a weeks worth of medication and clothing. USE IT. You are NOT alone! There are shelters, and there are programs.
Please,don’t be me….
Love doesn’t hurt. It heals. It helps. It makes you shine.