“For 9.5 years all I heard was that I wasn’t good enough, or everything that went wrong was my fault, I was too fat. I was choked and grabbed forcibly by the arm and pushed. I was always made fun of, made to feel like I didn’t matter.
Wasn’t able to see friends, because they influenced my decisions. Seeing my parents was just as bad. Always cheating on me, when confronted with proof, he would say it wasn’t him. I was never his wife (we were married for 7 years), I was always his friend, the mother of his Godchildren.
I worked all the time, trying to earn money for our family, while he sat at home talking to other women and playing video games. He’d always spend out/my money on other women. Because we stopped being intimate with each other, I was cheating on him, I was hanging out with other guys.
The non-stop fighting, yelling , and the physical fights just kept going. Getting worse by the day. It had gotten to the point of severe violence where I felt my life was over. He choked me so hard, that my neck had hurt for 3 days. That’s when I knew it was time to go. Sneaking out didn’t work, so I was arrested for domestic violence. Spent 6 months on probation. It was worth it.”
As a child I grew up in a home full of abuse. My dad was physically, emotionally and sexually abusive to my mom. I remember waking up to the sound of their fighting and sneaking out of my room to watch, to make sure he didn’t kill her. He also threatened to kill my mom, brother, and me. The most fear I had ever experienced was when my mom finally left him. I keep my eyes open, looking over my shoulder every time I was outside, wondering when he was going to shoot me. I was six years old. As an adult, I repeated the cycle in my own home. My ex-husband started with psychological abuse, slowing killing my spirit, and taking any self-worth I had left away. He used my past to hold my hostage. The words turned physical for the first time when I was pregnant with my daughter. As I held my 20-month son, he put his hands around my neck and as he squeezed, he told us he was going to kill me and cut up my body and dump it in the river, saying, “No one would even notice you were missing.” Still holding my son, he pushed us to the ground and would not let us leave. He tried to get my son out of my arms, but my son would not let go of me as he screamed. This happened because he found out I was planning on leaving him. After this event, I felt that if I tried to leave again, we would have been killed. He said no one else would ever love me, and I was lucky he did. He took control of the finances, even though I earned the money, and made sure I did not have access to the things that I needed. He opened up credit cards in my name and maxed them out, so not only did I not have access to my money, I also did not have credit. He created a situation where I had to depend on him, and reminded me that I was nothing without him. As my self-esteem made its way to the surface, he would find ways to push it away. I had no real support system, and did not dare tell people what was happening. I was scared what else would happen if I told anyone. Through all of the abuse, I never called the police, not until he did. He called the police one afternoon and told them to arrest me for being a “whore.” When he did that, the police saw how dangerous he was. It was then that I knew they would believe me, and help me. The next time he put his hands on me, I called the police. He was arrested, and I was granted a protection order. He did violate that, and bullied me into dropping the order, telling me it was just a piece of paper and it wouldn’t protect me. I did what he told me, and suffered his abuse, control and manipulation even while the divorce proceeded on. We did not break free from his abuse fully until my youngest daughter disclosed to me that he had been sexually abusing her. Learning this made me fear for our lives. I was convinced he would kill me for trying to protect my daughter. We now have a protection order keeping him away from us, and allowing us to heal the years of abuse. I am happy to say I am happily married to a sweet, gentle man. Who, after six years together, has never called me a name other than Jessica. I know I am worth love and safety. I am teaching my children what love looks like, and what a healthy relationship is. I will do everything in my power to make the cycle of domestic violence end with me. I wrote a detailed, honest account of the abuse I survived in my memoir, The Monster That Ate My Mommy, to try to help others see that they are not alone. The link to my book is: http://a.co/72mQ7KJ
It doesn’t matter how long it’s been, or how many counseling sessions I have attended, sometimes I am still afraid. Sometimes the images I tried so hard to erase from my mind haunt my thoughts. Sometimes I feel guilty for all the things I could have done. Sometimes I wonder what it was that made so many people want to hurt me. After a while, its hard not to think it’s me, that maybe I am doing something wrong.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to walk down a street without having to scan the whole environment, on edge as I wait to ensure my safety. I think I lost this when I was four. At four I knew I had to be mindful of where I went and who I let see me. That fear is burned deep into my being.
I often get a feeling in my bones that alerts me to the danger that is waiting for me. It has quieted down a lot, but it still lingers in the breeze. It is not just one lurker that waits for me. There are a few, and each one has an entourage of others who could be after me too. And then I stop and think how crazy this all sounds, until I remember, its not crazy at all.
“I was about 30 weeks pregnant when I met him and we started dating. He was there for me and helped me in any way he could. He made sure I was taken care of and promised my son would be as well. Not long after, I had my son prematurely. Again, he was caring and was there each day and night to help. That slowly started to change. He started not caring if I went to visit my son in the NICU or not. He started drinking every night. When he drank he was verbally abusive and manipulative. I tried to confront him a few times, but he always told me it was my fault or I was overreacting. His drinking got worse and each time he drank he would put me down and tell me I’m not good enough. He said without him I would have and be nothing. He would make me have sex with him, saying if I didn’t then he would hurt me and make my life hell. After my son had been home from the hospital for a couple months, I took him (my son) to New Hampshire to visit with family. While we were gone, he (my abuser) moved into my house. When he did this, he did it without a care about my things. A lot of my things ended up outside in the shed. When I returned to the house, I found it to be a complete mess. Of course he never offered to help clean. I was scared to tell him that I wanted to move with my son back to New Hampshire, to live near family. When I did bring it up, he said okay, but days later he made a huge argument about it and said it was all my fault and that I led him on. From that day on, he was awful. He would drink excessively. He would come home late at night being very loud, waking my son. He trashed the house; liquor bottles scattered in the room he slept in. He threatened that he would hurt me and my son if I didn’t do what he says. My mother was my only support. She kept reminding me that before all else, I have to keep my son and I safe. So, we made a plan that as soon as my college semester was over, I would leave for New Hampshire. However, I had all important items ready on standby if I needed to leave at a moments notice. One night after class, I came home to cops at my house. He was very drunk slurring his words. He claimed someone broke into my house while he was gone. The door was busted in and the house was a wreck with things thrown everywhere, but somehow the only thing missing, was a pair of his shoes. The cops questioned him and myself. I told the cops how this wasn’t the first time he claimed this happened, and the time before he was drunk and I wasn’t home as well. The cops and I both knew what was really going on. They told me they would drive by again later to check up on my place and if I needed anything, give them a call. A few nights later, after coming home loud and drunk again, I asked him to please try to keep it down as I didn’t want it to wake my son. His anger burst out again, telling me I am nothing and no one will ever put up with me and my shit. No one will ever love me especially because I had a child. I called my mother and sat on the phone with her while she listened to him scream at me, inches from my face. He told me i was a slut and even said derogatory things about my family. My mom drove to my house while on the phone with me. When she got there, he was shocked and kept saying he never said those things. I grabbed my son and what we needed, and stayed at my moms that night. Soon after, he started moving his things out of my house, but still trying to make me out to be the bad guy. Acting as if it were my fault he had to move and had no money. After he was finally out, I changed the locks, but still lived in constant fear that he would come back one night and do who knows what. After the semester was over, I packed up what I could fit in my Honda Accord, grabbed my son and 4 dogs, and left for New Hampshire.
My son and I have been back in New Hampshire for almost 2 years now. There are still days I relive some of those moments and try not to blame myself for staying so long. Then I remind myself, I did it. I got away. I started a great life for my son and I. I will even have my degree soon! I hate that I had to go through it. However, I’m proud that I did what was best for me and my son, even if it meant starting all over.”
Thank you, Tiffany, for sharing your story. I am glad you are safe.
I’ll have to just focus on one traumatic incident of domestic abuse, because there have been many situations in my life. This one incident involves my cousin and his family. It happened when we were all young, in our 20’s. I had grown up close to this cousin and was Matron of Honor at his wedding. The day of this incident, my then husband, Peter, and I showed up at their apartment to help them with a move, as planned. When the door opened to let us in I saw my cousin’s wife holding a bunch of tissues to her nose. Their little boy, age 3, stood with his arms wrapped tightly across his chest, as if to hug himself. His mouth was turned down at the corners and his eyes averted mine……..I had to use the bathroom and in that room I saw a bathtub half-filled with bloody red water and soaking clothes….the move didn’t happen that day.
I once had a dream that my cousin was a silver airplane that slowly slipped out of the sky and crashed silently to the earth. That’s about the way it went.
Having written a brief account of a day in the distant past when my husband and I showed up to help my cousin and his wife with a move to a new apartment, only to have the moving plans cancelled after finding the wife incapacitated due to the broken bloody nose my cousin had caused earlier in the morning, I decided to write a little more about the violence that enveloped the life of this family member and the lives of many of the other family members whose lives intersected with his.
I’ve been wondering how it all started but analyzing the family, with its history of both wonderful and horrible stories of failures and sadness, joy and accomplishment, is too large a task, so for this project I will focus on telling a little of the story of my cousin.
I grew up with him and shared amazing childhood memories of fun, adventure, competition, love and brutality with this cousin, two years older than I. I can’t begin to encompass our lives in a write-up but his life impacted mine deeply and does to this day. He passed away a few months ago and when I got to the church, before the service, and saw the urn containing his ashes I choked up, in tears. Unlike a lot of others in the family I loved him and didn’t suffer violence at his hands, other than a few ice-balls to the head thrown between our snow forts and a few wicked “Indian sunburns” he gave me, twisting his strong hands around my arms. He did put me in some precariously dangerous situations, climbing trees, crashing into woodpiles on our sled, piled up, one on the other, and daring me to walk across the beams high above the concrete barn floor. We also rolled down a sandpit but avoided suffocating and we capsized while out fishing in a little boat on a pond, but didn’t drown. We went hunting but he was the one who fell into a hole out there in the woods and screamed for me to help because, he said, he’d spotted a bobcat. I left him and ran for my own hide.
When he stayed overnight in our house my mother had to put plastic on the bed to cover the mattress because he wet the bed ‘til he was 11 or 12. He had troublesome signs, including his propensity for torturing the family cat. One day, at his family home, he stuck his jackknife into the snout of the pig in the pen. The last time I saw him, within a year before his death, I recounted that memory but with the expectation of his laughing ruefully, remorsefully, at that outrageous act of cruelty. However, he just said, “I always hated that pig.” He was in his late 70”s when last we met up, he and his wife, and I, at McD’s for breakfast. His treat. I said next time would be on me. There was no next time. I took a picture of the two of them in their beat-up truck that day. I thought, when seeing the photo, that he looked like a hurt little boy in an old man’s body.
That day, he’d told me something I have had a very hard time believing. That he’d been molested growing up, by a family member. Now I wonder. His sister had told me that their father hated him and often beat him with a belt. Far worse, and something she later tried to rescind as maybe not true, was an account that the father’s friend had raped her brother when he was five years old. She had been told that. We will never know.
She also told me that her brother raped her when she was eight years old. I know that he molested several of the cousins, including myself, and one couldn’t bear to come to his funeral service because she was still dealing with things he had done.
In preparation for the funeral reception I contacted one of his daughters. In the planning conversation she casually mentioned that her father had raped her, before asking if she should bring a pasta salad. Apparently he raped both his daughters.
A granddaughter, who did attend the services, had told me some time before his passing that her grandfather had done “unspeakable things” to her during her childhood. Another granddaughter still misses both him and her grandmother and is sad at losing the best friends of her lifetime. She did say that he wasn’t really a nice man and had once punched her mother and had even punched her once.
I look back on our earliest childhood immortalized in black and white photographs. He and I in Florida when the sisters lived and worked there while the fathers were in the service, WW2. He and I playing in the park on stone monuments; sitting on the wooden stoop of an apartment building; later, he and I on the porch of the duplex in Enfield, he in ragged pants and I in my little wool coat.
We were in Germany together, he stationed in one area, my husband in another. He visited one week-end and fell asleep in a chair. When I woke him, he shot up straight, swinging his fists. He was drinking heavily by that point and had been since his teen-age years, during which time he once came to my house, woke me up and wanted me to go with him, which I did. I always did. “Little Cousin” he called me. He was very drunk and we just rode around. My mother never knew.
His life went by in a relatively quick period of successive violent incidents. I remember his holding off the police at gunpoint from an apartment when he was younger, ‘til he waved a white flag of truce. Violence is kind of a ridiculous waste of time.
Thank you, Nancy, for sharing your story. You are strong. You are brave. Your voice matters.
“So I met my husband after the death of my children’s father he came at the perfect time or so I thought. We dated and eventually married. I became pregnant shortly after we started dating it resulted in a miscarriage at 4 1/2 months along due to a fight between us. From there the man I knew and had loved turned into a life of abuse and living hell. I had 2 beautiful daughters we wanted and needed to fit somewhere after losing their father. I spent over 10 years with this man married I can remember every argument that lead to cops being called that lead to emergency room visits that made my kids afraid. We moved several times to get away from the area where he would become well known for his abuse. Taking me from family and friends every time. My children became witness to everything. I had 2 children eventually with my husband hoping to make him happy hoping the abuse would stop where it only became worse and more frequent. My husband was facing 41 years at one point. He served 8 months and got out his sweet talking and pleas made me go back. It was only when he came to my apartment one night even with a restraining order in effect that the final night of abuse and torture happened. He came in cut all phone lines broke computers took batteries in cell phones and kept me and our then 5 year old hostage all night was beaten abused and sexually assaulted all with her made to watch it happen it felt like days for those long 12 hours. Our son came home to find me on the floor covered in blood head to toe and called the police on his father. He was arrested finally held without bail I suffered many severe injuries I have broken bones in my forehead nerve damage in my eyes but I am alive I have raised my children we have healed. He served 5 years after pleading guilty even in the time in jail he violated restraining orders with letters I didn’t give up this was it. I was out of a terrible marriage. If not for my son coming home and finding me I don’t believe I’d be here today. 10 years later I’m living life with my 4 amazing children and my 3 beautiful grandchildren life is absolutely wonderful he didn’t break me he made me who I am today. I’m so happy I love my life now.
I am a survivor.”
Thank you, Amy, for sharing your story. I am so happy to hear you are enjoying your life.