According to The Domestic Abuse Shelter of the Florida keys, one in three women will be abused at some point of her life. That is women. Men can also be the abused in a relationship. Can you imagine that number? That means that if you have three daughters, one could end up being abused. Another scary statistic is that children raised in an abusive home tend to grow up and continue in an abusive environment, whether it be as the abuser or abused. That’s not a statistic that I am proud of. Or one that I am willing to stand by and watch my children live. On the average, a woman will leave seven times before she leaves for good. I endured emotional abuse for years, being told that I wasn’t good enough. It still hurts, after over ten years. I’m not sharing this with you to embarrass myself, my family. I am sharing because if it saves one person, just one, it’s worth it. The first time he beat me, I left.
The history of it is that I grew up in an abusive household, without even knowing it. I didn’t see anything, I was blissfully unaware, until I was almost 16. Then I started seeing how down my mom was, and I begged her to take us girls and leave, that I would work and support us. At fifteen I did this. She refused. I did not learn until I was expecting my second child that my father had an emotional hold over her, that he used my sister and I to keep her where he wanted her. Once we were grown, that didn’t last long and he left her. In all reality, I have to stay on the neutral side at this point, because my father and his new wife are here, and my mother passed away five years ago. Not from the abuse, per say, but from the medical complications that resulted from years of abuse and heartbreak. My mother had also come from an abusive home. Her father had abused her. And had one hell of a hold on her mother, as she never said a word. So now, that’s two generations of history. Then I begin my path of destruction.
I fell in love (I use that term loosely for this case) with my ex husband too soon after leaving an alcoholic marriage. I never wanted to get married again and have it fail. He had two girls, and I had a boy, all within a year and a half of each other. He stopped drinking, we got a place together, we wound up pregnant with a baby girl. When she was three months old, we got married. I had seen the signs and ignored them, stupidly. He got hurt at work and started drinking again, sneaking out of the house after I was asleep to do so. We bought a house, away from his parents, who enable everything. A year later, he was arrested again for DWI (third time since we got married less than three years before). He called and all I asked was where my truck was. I was over being sympathetic. I called my mother, who drove the hour to my house to watch the children the next morning so I could go to work. He finally decided to go to rehab, “for me and the kids.” I told him to not bother. I knew that if he didn’t do it for himself, it wouldn’t help. He signed himself out a week later. His mommy and daddy went to get him. They brought him to our house. I had the house locked and told them to keep him. The cops were called, and because we were married, I couldn’t deny him coming home. Later that week, I refused sexual relations with him, and he cut off his wedding band. a couple days after that, he called me at work asking my who Uncle Mike was. I told him that it wasn’t important and I would discuss it at home. When i got home, he was livid. I explained that this man that he was so sure I was having an affair with, was indeed someone whom he had spoken with on the phone, whom I took care of in a professional capacity,. Due to HIPPA laws, I cannot disclose more than that, but it was an unfounded claim that my husband had blown out of proportion. The kids had mentioned him, as they had gone with me on Mother’s day night, after we had dinner with my mom, as his caregiver had called off and there was no one else to cover. I was not leaving him in that predicament.
At this point, my then husband, asked me if the marriage was over. He didn’t like that I didn’t answer right away. He asked again, and I simply told him that he had already cut his wedding band off, so I had assumed that he felt it was over. He came at me so fast, i couldn’t get away. When I finally did get away, he came at me again. This time, I had grabbed my purse, and as he ripped it out of my hands. my car key, with the beautiful keychain that my kids (with my mom’s help) had just givein me for Mother’s day, fell into my palm. I closed my fingers around it and held on for dear life. Once I could get my hands up by his face, I stuck my thumbs into his eyeballs as best I could (just as my dad had tought me). It was enough just for a minute to get him to stop. I played like it was done, that I wasn’t fighting anymore. I waited for a couple minutes that felt like forever. He went out of the room, and I jumped, locking the door between us, runing out the back door to my van, locking the doors and leaving as I was buckling. I was in my stocking feet. I drove uptown to the village office, where they took me in and locked the door until the sherrifs got there. They questioned me, and then went to my home, and asked my husband to come talk to me, and bring our daughter, who had been sleeping at the time. I had hated to leave her, but felt that she would be safe, and I knew that I was not. Once they brought him up, our daughter came to me, and after that, they took him away. The vilIage clerk had also called the school ,where my son was, and asked them to hold hime there until I could pick him up, that he was not to go on the bus home. As it was, the school brought him to me, as I was still dealing with the sherriffs office when they were headed home. I was so thankful for living in a small town at that time. I could not stand the thought of her and my son growing up thinking it was ok to treat someone like that. The next day, while my husband was still in jail, I started to make changes.
The locks were changed at the house. I filed an order of protection. I filed for sole custody of our daughter. I bagged his stuff up. I started shutting services down that weren’t essential, such as cable, switched to phone to the cheapest plan I could get, and anything else I could cut. These things were mainly for my peace of mind, as I had been paying most of the bills already. But it felt good to cut ties with anything that was “his” thing. Time went on, and the kids and I adjusted. Or, so i had thought.
It wasn’t something that we really discussed, until a couple years ago, we went to the movies. The gentleman I was dating at the time and my son went to see a guy movie, and my daughter and I went to see Safe Harbor (her choice). When we came out of the theater, my friend looked right through me. He didn’t know at the time what was wrong, just that it was. That movie caught me off guard like nothing had in seven years prior. I didn’t realize how hard it would hit me. I had lived with PTSD, and felt on top of things, but that night, I realized just how shaky that truly is. It is like having a gorgeous house on top of a fault line. My daughter also began questioning more. And at almost, eleven, and very mature for her age, I had to give hew some answers. She has since asked more, and knows the truth of what happened, and that it still does not reflect on whether her daddy loved me or not, just that it’s not an acceptable way to show love.
We, as a family, have all been adjusting again for almost three years, now. We finally made the decision to move back to where I grew up, which my dad had asked me to do when all this happened, but at that time, I had a good job, a house, and a good support network. I went on to get two jobs that I loved dearly, make a ton of friends that I hadn’t been able to have before that, and feel financially secure again. Then, almost three years ago, after looking near to where I lived for somewhere I could have my horses in my backyard, I found a place near where I grew up. I called and inquired about the job situation, and was told that a job would not be a problem. Not only would I have a job, but I would have a place to live with my horses in my backyard, without paying extra rent. Within a month, my kids and I moved. And while we miss people, and go visit now and then, we all feel better off where we are now. And the gentleman who had taken us to the movies, he is now my husband, and an amazing role model to my children, not only as a step father, but as to how a husband should treat his wife, even how to deflect her anger without upsetting her. I will admit, when I get tired, I can get very cranky, and rather than snapping back, he shows the kids how to talk to me and deescalate before I turn into the Mommy Monster.
I still have days that send chills up my spine. I still wonder, at times, when the other brick will fall. I still thank God for the physical abuse that made me realize I needed out. I thank God that he was there, and kept me from losing oxygen for too long. I thank God for my children and their safety. If have learned one thing, it is that we all make mistakes, and that’s ok, but we need to take the lessons learned from those mistakes, and learn to not make the same mistakes. I have learned that I was also to blame, not that I deserved to be abused, but that i could have done things differently to make things better for my kids and I. And I praise God that he has let me be better at seeing things. I could have made that mistake again, but I didn’t. I chose to move on and move up. And to share with my children, so that they know the truth, and how things should be, and how a loving marriage is. Because every princess should get her fairy tale. And we are all princesses. I may not be perfect, but I am perfectly me, and that’s how God intended me to be.