October is Domestic Violence awareness month. We are all aware of it, at least we seem to be. We always think, it doesn’t happen in our neighborhood, to our friends or even in our family. Maybe you wonder “why would they stay”.
I understand the fear, the shame, the embarrassment. Even thinking about writing more of this story makes me sick to my stomach. I get fearful of my abuser getting angry. I wonder if more people knew, what would they say? would they say I deserved it? what will he do? Truth is, he can get angry, but he can’t hurt me anymore. I can write all I want, as there are plenty of police reports, restraining orders.
I know with counseling people can change certain behaviors, but part of that is also admitting that they are responsible for their actions. Do I think that my ex has changed, I don’t know, do I worry about the person he is with today? I do. Is it my responsibility to let her know? I don’t know. Do I think people deserve a chance to change? YES, but he also made me many promises, that he would never do it again. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME….
It is hard to imagine why anyone would subject themselves to such violence. Even know I get outraged thinking about it. I don’t get mad at the “Victim”, I get mad at the abuser, because what I remember is manipulation, empty promises, and feeling like it was somehow my fault, and that if I changed he would stop. The Abuser knows all this, and instead of cherishing someone, and making them feel like the amazing individual they are, they stomp them down until they feel like they are worth nothing.
My husband now has said to me before “I just don’t see you as a person who would put up with that.”
I know he didn’t mean it in a rude way, as if it means I was “less” of a person for staying, or even that my standards were some how lower than.
It isn’t like I said to myself,: “hey, you should get into a relationship that he thinks of you as his property, and beats you.” No one goes in to a relationship with that thought.
It happened so slowly, then quickly. When I left and learned all the “signs”, I thought, how interesting, the only problem is some of those things also apply to my relationship now.
I was 17 when I met him, he was shy and seemed like a nice guy, he was 20. Within 2 weeks of knowing him I moved to Alaska with him, I was running away from state’s custody, he gave me a quick out. I didn’t think about it. I just went, 3000 miles away from everything, and anyone I knew. Not only that, I didn’t tell anyone. (I told 1 person, My Foster Mom.). I only had him to depend on. For the first 2 months we lived with his room mates, and everything seemed fine. I found a job, he didn’t like it, because I was making friends. He had full control as I didn’t have a car. So I had to find a different job.
I remember the first time he hit my so clearly. I still blame myself, his Mom had called and I had answered the phone, she wasn’t happy that I was living with him, who would be. I told him his mom was a “Bitch”, he smacked me so hard it made my ears ring. Then I APOLOGIZED!
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that” I said, I TOTALLY thought I deserved it. I really shouldn’t have said such a mean thing, but really, I didn’t’ deserve to be hit…
His response:”I wouldn’t have hit you, but you did make me.” At that time, I BELIEVED it! No one could have told me different.
There it started, I felt like it was my fault, told him it was my fault. So I started watching what I said. I really didn’t expect that he would ever hit me again….
Then a friend I had gone to junior high with was living in Alaska, as fate would have it I ran in to her, we planned a night out! We had so much fun! I came home, I was a little late, I unlocked the door, and started to walk in, my friend was behind me. He punched me square in the face. She didn’t say anything, I am sure she was just as shocked as I was, she just ran off. I APOLOGIZED again, “I’m sorry I was late, but we couldn’t call. ” I again blamed myself. Why I thought it was ok that he hit me for those things, I don’t know. Perhaps I was justifying his behavior? I was so embarrassed that he had hit me in front of my friend that I didn’t call her again.
It went down hill fast, cops had been called, I would never tell them he hit me, one time he beat me so bad, that both of my eyes were black, the cops came, and even told me you need to tell us, one of these days he is going to kill you. I don’t know why I didn’t tell them. I never once, while we lived in Alaska filed a police report. Did I think they couldn’t help? Was I scared because I had nowhere to go. Probably both of those things.
I was 3000 miles away from anyone that could help me, I was 18, my Foster Mom only had months to live, I couldn’t burden them with my problems. I had no one, no friends, no family. NO ONE. The only person I had was the one abusing me. There is something so profoundly sad about that, even looking back on it. I let the abuse continue, I just figured this is how my life was going to be, I had been thrown away and abused by my “real” parents, why would I believe I should be treated with any kind of respect. My Foster Mom and I talked many nights, I always lied and told her everything was fine. She only had a few months left on this earth. She promised Christmas, she oculd wait until Christmas, we would be coming down to visit.
She died in August, I needed to go home for the funeral, he had to let me go… NOPE, he took my money and beat me up. That is such a painful sentence to write, I hate thinking about that, that even when it was super important, something so important for me, he still didn’t let me go, He said he was afraid I wouldn’t come back. He was right, I wouldn’t have. That among many things, are unforgivable I can’t even imagine being that selfish. I will never again allow someone to have them much financial control over me. NEVER.
Finally he decided he wanted to move back home to Utah, I was done, I didn’t tell him. We got to Utah. My sister picked us up. We dropped him off at his Parents house. His mom asked about the bruises on my arms. I held them up in front up my face, “I was tired of him hitting my face.” She said NOTHING! I still wonder why she didn’t say anything… I did somehow convince myself that she even believed that I deserved it. Well, later on she proved to me time and again that she felt like it was my fault. “If you weren’t such a Bitch.” Just another person, making me believe somehow the abuse he gave me was my fault.
When you are constantly being put down, and made to feel they you are worthless, you start believing it. You start believing that you are worth nothing, and that no one would help you, because it is what you deserve.
I was back where I could find some place to live, where there was people who could help me. BUT did I stay away? Nope, I went back. I think they call it the “Honey Moon” stage, and for a while because he was living at his parents’ house, he didn’t hit me. But he did make me feel bad about myself. Like on my Birthday, and come to think of it, not one of my Birthdays did he make a big deal, in fact he went out of his way to make me miserable, to some how make me feel worthless, like I didn’t even deserve a celebration. But after every time he either ruined something of mine, made me feel bad, came the overly loving, overly giving, charming person. It was really like living with two different people. One was so nice, and apologized made promises, then the mean person who made me feel worthless, like I deserved to be abused, and that no one would want me.
Then I became pregnant. Which changed the game entirely. I grew up in a very abusive home, I’m sure a lot of women, or men for that matter believe that their spouse/partner, will only abuse them. NOPE, not true by a long shot. At least my experience has been if they abuse you, they will abuse your children. Having another person to protect gave me the strength and courage to leave. I didn’t feel like I was worth it, but my child, my child would have a better life than me. You can read that story Here.
I wish I could say that I never went back after my Son was born. But I can’t, I don’t know what it is about promises, and those charming natures, maybe it was just the longing for my child to have a father. Eventually I did stay away, only because I finally realized that it was better to have my son not have his dad in his life. This is another story.
This month I will be sharing others stories. I hope you will stay tuned, and perhaps learn something about how we can prevent abuse, how we can help those in an abusive relationship. Even what to do if your children become involved in a Domestic Violent relationship.
(I will also be linking up to Pour Your Heart Out on Things I can’t say)