I think physical abuse in a domestic violence situation is one of the easier types to identify with. When someone hits you, it’s hard to deny, although, it is possible to minimize the actions.
You don’t have to have a black eye or bruises to have been physically abused. Some abusers are more subtle, and make sure they don’t leave marks. Black and blues, or not, it still counts.
Some examples of physical abuse are as follows:
- Pulling your hair, punching, slapping, kicking, biting or choking you
- Forbidding you from eating or sleeping
- Hurting you with weapons
- Preventing you from calling the police or seeking medical attention
- Harming your children
- Harming your pets
- Abandoning you in unfamiliar places
- Driving recklessly or dangerously when you are in the car with them
- Forcing you to use drugs or alcohol (especially if you’ve had a substance abuse problem in the past)
Most every time my abuser assaulted me, he would choke me, followed by a threat of my murder. Thankfully I was strong enough to fight my way out of his grip before I lost consciousness. When he would fly into a fit of rage, I knew my safety, and the safety of my children was at risk. I knew if I didn’t try to escape from his grip, he would have kept going until I was dead. Once he started, there was no way to get him out of the dangerous trance he was in.
I remember the fear I felt the first time I saw the look of rage in his eyes. I was uncertain if I would live another day. Thoughts about the future I would miss out on if he took my last breath flashed before my eyes. I’d never get to see my kids grow up. I wouldn’t have a chance to meet my grandchildren. I wouldn’t grow old.
Thoughts frantically raced through my mind. Who would take care of my kids? What lies would he make them believe? Would he even be held accountable for my murder? No one knows who he really is. No one would believe he could do such things. What would the headlines in the newspaper say? Would I be missed? Was he right? Would anyone notice I was missing?
The monster he usually was, became magnified. Reasoning with him while he was in this state was not an option. The only thing I had left that I could do was fight back. Find the adrenaline induced strength and become my own monster. There was too much to lose to let him win. I’m not sure where the strength came from, but I am thankful everyday that I was able to find it. I am thankful he did not own guns, because I know the outcome would have been different. I know I would have become a headline in the local paper, either as a missing person, or as a murder.
*Harming your pets
But that was just the bad days. There were normal days that he was abusing me, and I didn’t even recognize it as abuse. He was notorious for hurting my pets. Because I loved them, he would hurt them in front of me so I could watch them suffer. When my son was a baby, we got a kitten. The poor thing didn’t stand a chance. Had I known what his future was going to be, I never would have adopted him.
His name was Howard. A small, black kitten. Howard was playful, as most kittens are. He was sweet and wanted loved. With a small baby it was sometimes hard to give him all of the love he was looking for, but he was learning how to fit into the family. Howard picked the wrong lap to crawl into looking for love. He did not find it. He found brutality and abuse. My ex-husband threw his little body against the wall, and laughed as the little baby cried. Howard, and my son. I rushed to the kitten’s rescue, where he came over and kicked his little body, yelling, “you had it coming you piece of shit.”
I tried to keep them apart, but there were times I was unable to. As expected, after the abuse Howard faced, he became mean and started attacking us. I knew for his safety and quality of life I had to find him a new home. He was still just a baby, and I knew he was scared and craved love. My mom agreed to add him to her collection of cats. This way, we would still be able to visit him. Howard was never the same. He couldn’t breath out of his nose and his teeth had been broken.
My love of animals made me try again. We adopted a dog. I thought maybe this time it would be different. It was not. The first accident in the house and he was at it again. I didn’t wait this time, I returned the dog to the shelter. Heartbroken, but I knew staying at the shelter was better than the life with us.
*Harming your children
It didn’t stop with pets though. His abuse began with the children, too. If my son woke up one too many times at night he was called every name you can imagine, and manhandled. Never really hit…not then anyway.
When I wasn’t able to protect my animals or my child, I knew I needed to leave. I had a plan, and packed my car ready to leave while he was at work. A neighbor clued him in on what I had been doing, and it became too dangerous to leave. If I couldn’t leave, I had to gather the strength to fight back.
*Driving recklessly or dangerously when you are in the car with them
Most of this abuse stayed behind our closed doors, but there was one time I remember well he was unable to pretend. He was driving my new car, with me and my three young children in their car seats when he noticed a young girl driving. The girl misjudged the distance between us and pulled out on to the road. There was plenty of time for him to slow down to avoid an accident, but he hit the gas. He ran my car into the side of hers, and when she got out her car, she was already crying. He tears infuriated him, and he screamed at her, calling her the names usually reserved for me. My babies were crying, but I had to get out to comfort this young girl, who was obviously a new driver. She was no more then seventeen, and he attacked her. If I did not step in, it may have become physical. Because of his behavior, I told her to go. I told her it was’t a big deal, and I didn’t care about the damage. I paid the price later for the kindness I gave her.
These were things I didn’t know were abuse, not until I started talking to others and doing my own research. This is why it is so important to share our stories and our experiences. When we recognize that we are not alone, it takes the stigma away. It makes us feel less broken or damaged. There is camaraderie in knowing someone else knows. And when you see others have survived some of these horrors, you know that you can too.
I urge you to speak out, even quietly. Talk with others who understand, and who have been there. There is healing in the release of these things. You never know who you might help. Stay strong. We are in this together.