MY DOMESTIC ABUSE STORY: Because I want to help others escape, heal, and live complete lives without the terror of domestic violence.
I am telling my story because I am a single mother of 3, trying to enjoy life, continue to raise and nurture my kids, be a strong addition to my family’s badge jewelry business (HoustonBadge.com), and also feed my own personal and professional goals.
I am telling my story because I don’t want to be a negative statistic; I’m trying like hell to live and succeed without government assistance and it’s hard and I’m tired.
I am telling my story because abuse doesn’t have just one look. It happens in the midst of beautiful, middle class families with their beautiful homes and nice cars and family portraits framed on the walls. It happens to even the most optimistic among us.
I am telling my story because I am so angry. I’m angry with myself for living that life for 12 years of marriage, and I’m angry because he still continues to have a hateful foothold in my life with his drunken texts in the middle of the night and his angry cussing screams. I’m angry at him for being this abusive man instead of the man I fell in love with. I’m angry at myself for not leaving at the very first incident. And I’m angry because my children are–in turn–angry with me for staying with him as long as I did, and they may never forgive me.
Abuse is a funny thing. When someone you love and vowed to cherish forever vacillates between loving and loathing you, it becomes difficult to tell where the solid ground is. When things are good, they’re GREAT! When things are bad you never know how bad they could possibly get and you ride out the storms in complete survival mode.
When I retrace the steps of my story, I remember that the abuse began subtly, emotionally, in the form of control. It began with statements like, “We don’t have to kiss every night,” and “We don’t have to have sex so often.” That withholding of intimacy was a great blow to me, as a woman, and as a newlywed.
We had blended our families and my children were four and five years old at the time his were teens. He began having very strong opinions about my parenting positions, which he had claimed to agree with when we were dating, and would be argumentative over parenting choices even when we were actually agreeing on the course of action. The partnership we shared when dating quickly revealed itself as a façade to hide the control hungry person who would stop at nothing to win.
The first time he hit me, he was drunk. He was often drunk, but I do not allow the alcohol to take the blame for the person consuming it. He was mad–at something, at anything!–and he started punching me. As he punched, I was getting pushed back nearer and nearer to a window. I was in such shock that this was happening, and in complete fear that these iron fists were going to punch me right through that window behind me.
There were times when he would punch. There were times my big, strong husband would pick me up and literally throw me across the room–into walls, through doorways, onto furniture. There were times he would pin me down to the ground, holding my hair in his giant hand and slam my head down on the hard wood or tile floors.
It is hard for me to look at pictures from our life. I love family photos and I see all of the little faces of my children and step-sons, and I see his and my faces. I love the pictures and they make me smile, then I remember… ‘That was the time he got arrested for public intoxication at my high school reunion then spent the next three weeks taking it out on me,’ OR ‘That was the anniversary when we went away for the weekend to celebrate and as soon as we got home something triggered him and he shoved my face into the door and my jaw was bruised and sore for a week.
I have had injuries. Physical and emotional scars. So many excuses and cover ups. So many tears and apologies and nights and days of hate and seething and kindness laced with the stench of vodka and regret.
But never change!
Apologies and promises but never change.
More anger but never expressed in a healthier way, only escalated abuse.
That’s the thing about abusers–if they do something and get away with it, you can bet they’ll go further next time, and further still the time after that, and the cycle will continue until (1) you’re dead, or (2) you stop allowing them to get away with the abuse.
When he turned the abuse onto my children I realized this was never going to end and it was never going to get better. No couples counseling was going to start working longer than a few days. No promises of change were ever going to kick in. No half-hearted attempts to quit drinking were ever going to make me more valuable to him than the vodka bottle. No number of times when I would literally be screaming at Satan to let loose of my husband would ever make him a genuinely kind, non-abusive man, husband, and father.
I felt because my babies were now teenagers and they had begun to loathe this man who had been the only father they had really had, yet he wasn’t much of a father to them at all.
I left him because I was tired of being awoken from sleep in the middle of the night to seething rage, triggered by who knows what, and directed at me.
I left because I realized I had given this marriage my ALL and yet all of the hope and optimism and love and prayers in the world weren’t going to save me, I was going to have to step out. I had to realize I was worthy and strong.
I can’t say that I saved myself, however. Family members, dear friends, professional abuse counselors and ministers have helped me along this journey. And it is a journey. It’s not over but it’s well underway.
It has been over two years, now, since I left my husband. He still loves and loathes me, depending on the hour. He still offers to help me or do things for me when he’s happy, and then flips the script on me and blames me for accepting his help or gift or whatever.
I share this with you today because if you are reading/watching this, you or someone you know is very likely in a dangerous situation involving domestic violence. So, here’s my simple advice for leaving, but I recommend seeking professional help in whatever way possible as soon as possible, for tomorrow may be too late.
1. Come to terms with the FACT that no amount of stuff or money are worth your life. If you can’t get out with them, leave them! There are friends, family members, churches and organizations, shelters and outreach programs that can help you.
2. Get professional help! If you can afford to pay a counselor (preferably one who specializes in domestic abuse) and can do so without your abuser finding out, do that! If you can’t afford this or cannot do it without your abuser knowing, there are free counseling resources in your area! Call from a friend’s phone, do whatever you have to do to get this service. These professionals will help your transition out of your abusive situation as safe and well-planned as possible. They are amazing life savers!!!
3. When you are ready to leave, let the local police know! Domestic violence calls are the most dangerous that any police officer can ever go on because they are so unpredictable. As dangerous as they are for the men and women who are trying to help serve and protect, these sorts of situations are exponentially more dangerous for YOU! Alert them so they can be on call and hopefully closely patrolling your neighborhood in case danger escalates.
4. Know that there are going to be days when even the most brutally victimized will regret leaving their abuser. Nights will be hard. You need a support system around you to hold your hand at times, and drag you kicking and screaming at other times. Get your support network ready because you are going to need them not only today but for years as you continue to adjust and journey forward.
5. Also know that this transition is going to hurt like hell, BUT it will NEVER hurt as badly as the abuse and betrayal hurt.
This is only the beginning. If this speaks to even one person and saves even one person from an abusive relationship, then this heartbreak I have felt is worth it!
I would like to follow this video/post up with another centered on moving into new relationships once you feel ready, and what constitutes “ready” because that’s going to be different for everyone. Not just a “how to date” but a true moving on and continuing the journey story of encouragement and hopefully some helpful tips, as well. Please let me know if this sort of follow-up would be of interest to you or someone you know.
Thank you for your attention. I hope this has been meaningful to you and that you feel it’s been time well spent.
Until next time, my friends…
Make it a GREAT day,