So here it goes. This will be THE MOST difficult letter I have ever written. I’ve finally found to courage to share this...even though my hands are shaking as I type...
In honor of October being Domestic Violence Month, I’ve decided to tell my story because it’s time for me to break the silence. Writing has helped me in my healing process and I know someone out there needs to know they are not alone.
For 15+ years, I kept a BIG secret out of fear and shame. I was abused. Physically, emotionally, and verbally by a person who seems like such a great guy, a great dad, with a great family.
Over those years, I’ve been beat down by words, belittled, violated, controlled, humiliated for his amusement, hit countless times, choked, punched, kicked to the ground to the point I couldn’t breathe, bruised, scarred, suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns, and have a crushed left hand, that even after surgery, will never fully function again. The doctor used artificial ligaments to reconnect my thumb, but chronic arthritis has set in from the injuries and the pain will be lifelong.
The last time he put his hands on me was earlier this year. It was a terrible situation that I re-live often. My injuries that time included a black eye, severe burns on my face and neck, and a crushed left hand with a dislocated thumb and torn ligaments.
Several weeks prior, I caught him having and affair. It was the ultimate betrayal and I was devastated, but in the back of my mind, I had a warped sense of relief...catching him cheating....well now I finally had a *socially acceptable* way to divorce him that didn’t require me to expose his abuse. I just wasn’t mentally strong enough to expose these skeletons and answer all the “then why did you stay?” And “why did you go back?” questions.
I had filed for divorce....but he wasn’t going quietly. He wouldn’t leave the house or accept that our marriage was over. He was emotionally unstable and I was genuinely scared he was going to kill me. We got in an unrelated argument that escalated, but this time was different. I decided to fight back. The girls were sleeping and sadly they woke up to World War III. What they woke up to and saw was the end result of me fighting back and they didn’t know what happened to cause my reaction. I was hysterical. I was at my breaking point. I had ENOUGH. I cried out for them to call their grandma (his mom...she lives close) to come get them immediately to get them out of the house. He put me in a headlock and I bit his arm to get me to let him go. I ran to the bathroom and saw my burnt face and neck in the mirror...I lost it. At that moment, I felt more rage than fear.
I was determined to hurt him back. I grabbed the first thing I spotted...a clothes iron that was in the laundry room...and tried to hit him with it. I was whipping it around like a crazy person and was so emotionally distraught, I couldn’t even hit him with it and he was literally a foot in front of me. The girls got the iron out of my hand and just then his mom showed up. I laid on the steps crying and yelling as she got the girls out of the house. He left as well, following them to her house. I forced myself to get up off the steps...and I called 911.
The dispatcher calmed me down. I was in shock and experiencing a panic attack from my burns. I thought I was having a heart attack and couldn’t collect my thoughts. She dispatched police and an officer was at my house in 20 minutes...and another officer was sent to his mom's house to question him.
The awful truth of what happened next might be just as disturbing. I didn’t realize it at the time, but by him following the girls to his moms gave him an opportunity to create a false story of what happened, lie to the girls...and to the police, to make me look like the aggressor so charges wouldn’t be pressed on him again like they were several years ago. It was a brilliant scheme. It was the ultimate way for him to get off scott-free and ruin my life in the process. The girls believed him because they didn’t see the whole altercation...and...after all, he’s their dad. They didn’t think he’d lie to them. (Although, after they thought about it more, they played detective and found many holes in his story that didn’t add up...but it was too late). The police in this county also happen to know him, his family, and the ties are strong...so they chose to believe him too.
The end result was even though the reality was he assaulted me first...multiple times, blacked my eye, burnt my face, crushed my hand, and choked me, I was arrested as the aggressor because I bit his arm when he put me in a headlock to choke me out. It was UNREAL. I rode in the back of a cop car with handcuffs around my crushed hand, sobbing all the way.
I couldn’t fathom what was occurring. What kind of a monster would do this...he boldly lied to cover up his wrong doing to torture me even further? I’ve learned that the self-preservation of a narcissist is mastering the ability to dodge the consequences of their actions, regardless of morals. And that’s exactly what he did.
I am still at a complete loss that a system that I thought protected the innocent could be so crooked. I had never been to jail...and it was honestly more horrific and traumatic than being abused all those years ...especially when I was crucified based on a lie and nepotism. I still have nightmares about being in that holding cell, laying on the concrete floor, freezing. I don’t understand how those officers could turn a blind eye to a battered woman and protect a guilty scum bag.
The silver lining is I am healing. I am a survivor. I am speaking my truth publicly for the first time. I don’t have to pretend I had a good husband or a happy marriage anymore. With so many people, I used to put him up on a glorified pedestal. I didn’t want people to see his evil...to escape the embarrassment of who he *really* was. I even covered up the abuse with people I was closet to in this world. His alcoholism played a key role in his abuse and unfortunately, the disease will plague him forever.
What I went through was absolutely terrible, but I do believe it has only made me stronger. I’m more courageous than I’ve ever been in my life, optimistic of the future, and relieved to have my freedom after all these years.
If anyone reading this can relate, is living in a secret hell like I was, or know someone who is...I know how you are feeling. I know how hard it is to get away because I left him twice...and went back...twice. The manipulation is overwhelming, but don’t go back! No matter how many times he says he’ll change and he’s sorry. I can tell you that it just gets more toxic over time...the next fight will be worse than the time before. I also know first hand how much you can hide from friends, family and co-workers. You might have a successful career despite this deep dark secret and terrified if you expose it, it will destroy the one thing you have that keeps you sane, respected and independent. I know how many excuses you can make when being strong is your only option. I know you probably love him and you might have kids together, and you want to keep the family dynamic together. That was my thought process, too. However, staying together only desensitized my girls into thinking that environment was normal.
Leaving him has been the best thing I could have done for my girls, and over the past few months, it truly shows. They now know the difference between a healthy relationship, bad choices, and being in a safe environment. My biggest fear now is he continues to make terrible & dangerous choices, led by alcohol. I will deal with that for the sake of my girls safety and am taking steps to protect them. I also worry they will find themselves in abusive relationships one day. I pray everyday they will recognize and not accept that kind of behavior from a partner when they become young adults. My oldest daughter has witnessed the majority of the abuse. As a 10 year old little girl, she called 911 one night because she thought he was going to beat me to death. Now, as a 21 year old adult, she will not tolerate a man treating her poorly or settle, which makes me proud, but I also see her wildly independent ways, her quest for a gypsy lifestyle, and her intense anger towards him and his views are a direct correlation of growing up in a violent household.
My guilt of not getting out for good sooner weighs on me daily. Why I went back numerous times and tolerated it baffles me today. All I can say is I came from a broken home, no immediate close family, and lots of insecurities. I was vulnerable and easily manipulated. He was also fantastic at apologizing and making me feel like somehow it was my fault.
Today, I’m imposing a statue of limitations on feeling sorry for myself. I’m done crying, grieving, venting, being revengeful, trying to make him regretful...and done being angry. Today is the day I go from VICTIM to SURVIVOR. I will speak my truth with reckless abandon, but I will keep moving on. I don’t want the pain of my marriage and divorce to be my identity or calling card. I’m sure he will continue his fake campaign on Facebook in an attempt to rectify his reputation to convince everyone he is wonderful, an amazing dad and a hard worker. I wish him the best with that too. What other people chose to believe is none of my business.
I am now free from all the broken promises, manipulation and false hope that weighed me down. I will find the discipline to forgive him...I will continue to miss him, love him and send him light...praying he will be free from his demons and find peace as well.