Friday, October 19, 2007

Surviving Abuse

This is a very sensitive topic for me, but I thought this might be a good way to get my feelings out, and maybe help someone else.

It has been 6 years and I still have flashbacks of the physical abuse I received in my first marriage. I was married 2 years, a long time in my kind of predicament, but I constantly see stories of people staying in these relationships sometimes to their death, or otherwise they wait to leave 30 years into it. I also am the youngest out of 5 kids in my immediate family to get grey hair at such a young age and I attribute it to my 2 years in that marriage. I was only 21 when I got my first grey hair. Also, if I showed you pictures of me from during that time, which are few and far between, they do not look like me. The stress not only wore and tore on my insides and emotions, I started to look on the outside how I felt on the inside. You wouldn't recognize me if I showed you. Likewise, now that I am in a healthy relationship, I look the best I ever have. I look a lot younger now, like I have turned back the clock.

My deciding point, was when I got pregnant with my first baby and knew that I never wanted my child to see me abused, or worse yet, for him to hurt the baby. I am not giving great detail here because I am in hiding from my abuser. They usually stalk you as mine did.

Why would you even want to be with a person like this in the first place? Lets start at the beginning...

I was young and naive at 19, more naive than some. I had become a christian at 16 and devoted myself to God and helping others. One day this guy (the abuser) started talking to me (we had mutual friends) and told me about the relationship he was in. He was living with a 16 year old girl (he was 22 and started dating her when she was 14 and his parents I later found out kicked him out). He told me he was a christian and that his father was a preacher, so I told him as a friend that how he was living, he knew that it was wrong. I did not expect anything to come from this. People don't usually listen when you tell them things like that, but I guess he had another agenda. I still just thought he was a friend when he brought me to meet his parents, which now I know was just a bid to get his parents back on his good side. "look, I brought home a nice, christian girl" kind of thing. At the time, I was very strict and wore dresses all the time because I believed that is how you should dress as to distinguish that you are a girl.

He broke up with the girl the NEXT day...I am even shaking as I am typing this because this is something I try not to think on anymore.

So then at the beginning, it was all suddle. I was a little surprised and alarmed that he broke up with the girl, but as a friend I told him that was good. It was a very brave thing to do and he probably did the right thing. So it started out that he just hung out with our mutual friends, then it was driving me home, very subtly he snaked his way into my life. He told me everything I wanted to hear in the beginning. We seemed to "want the same things" out of life. He said he wanted to be a preacher like his dad, which appealed to me. And I felt like I was helping him.

The whole thing felt weird to me and we discussed this on mutiple occasions. We just said "lets see what happens". I never liked him in a boyfriend way, but just thought that I could help him, and he had a nice, sweet family, so what's the worst that can happen?

I went on some strange dates with him where he would try to do weird things in public that freaked me out, but I was young, and he made me feel like I was freaking out because there was something wrong with me. Like he did some odd things that I don't care to talk about and the next day, I told him that I wanted to date other people and wasn't sure if we were going anywhere. He tried to talk me out of it but I really didn't like him. I started actively looking for someone else. I went out on a date with this guy I worked with soon after that conversation, and he followed me the whole time on my date! And my date knew it too. It was embarassing. When he drove me home, he went to my neighbors house, got out of his truck and stared at us, I guess to see if I was going to kiss him or something. It was so embarassing, I never got to see that guy again. So the next night after that, I worked until 11:30 pm, and as I was walking to my car, he jumped out of a dark corner and scared me. I was like, "what are you doing here, its almost midnight?" he said "I wanted to see you and he begged me to go out with him". It was at that moment that I knew that he wouldn't stop leaving me alone unless I went along with it, so I did.

I realize in hindsight, I could have gone to the police for stalking or something, but I didn't know that at the time. I thought I had to handle it myself. Well, soon after this, he raped me and honestly, I was so clueless at the time, I didn't call it that back then. I blamed myself, but I tried to push him off me and I was screaming at him no and to stop but he seemed to enjoy the fight. Sicko. But as I said, I was a christian and in my mind I though that well, I have done this and now we have to get married. I thought it was the right thing to do in Gods eyes.

Between that time, and the wedding, there were 2 times when he publicly beat me and the police got involved and actually pulled their guns on him. They kept telling me it wasn't my fault and that I deserved better, but they didn't understand that he would just find me and go after me. I saw no way away from him. Even after all of this, no charges were filed against him, the police just drove me home and told my parents what happened.

So why did my family allow me to get married since they knew what he was like? I have no idea. They knew that I didn't like him in that way. When the preacher said "is there anyone who believes these two should not be joined", I was seriously waiting for someone to stand up and save me... it was quiet, and we were married. More beatings happened the first night. The honeymoon night.

As soon as we were married, we moved out of state because he claimed he wanted to go to college to become a preacher. He went to the college and preached sermons that I listened to, and I always hoped that he would change and constantly prayed for him, and for myself to make it through.

Obviously, more happened than I am stating here, but if I were to write in every single thing, this would be a 1,000 page novel, so I am trying to condense this.

He was mad at me one day, and he threatened to wreck the car into various things in the middle of nowhere where no one would find me because I wanted to get out. I was so scared. Somehow, I convinced him to just take me to my brothers house to clear my head and we would talk the next day. I spent the night there, trying to plot how to get out of the situation. I had already talked with my pastor and he was willing to fly me out. I was just scared at the thought. I had no money, no job because he was controlling and he wouldn't let me work. If I got a job, he made sure he got me fired from it. I just didn't know what to do and I was afraid if I left him, he would kill me.

So I went back with him the next day and of course he was so sorry and would never do that again. I started having nightmares...about my own husband! That alarmed me. There was one time that I dreamed that he was going to kill me. He put his hands around my neck, smiling and evil smile, with scorching red eyes. When I woke up, the room didn't feel right. I felt some kind of evil presence.. He was awake and said that I was laughing but it was not my laugh. That scared me. I can't be posessed right? I am a christian? How is that possible? I have since had people tell me that he may have just told me that to scare me and that there may very well been a presence in the room but I wouldn't have been posessed.

I prayed all the time, God, what do I do? Is it wrong for me to leave him? I don't believe in divorce. I never seemed to find my answer, so I stayed.

He beat me again, and again, and finally I told him, "I am not supporting your wishes to be a pastor anymore (I was doing his homework for him). I told him that he was not right and I wasn't going to help him in that anymore until he stopped hitting me. He said "fine" and instead of maybe saying he would change or something, he dropped out of college and we went back to our hometown. We stayed with his parents for a while, in which even in their own house, he tried to suffocate me with a pillow, of course he justified it by saying "I didn't want you to wake up my parents with your screaming", when I found out I was pregnant while we were living with them, he pushed me down their stairs and said "I'm sorry, you don't look pregnant so I didn't think about that". While we were there, behind his back I applied for my own housing and got accepted, but yet again he said he was so sorry and would never do it again, and I thought the christian thing to do was to give him his chances.

So again, we moved away from my family, his family, everyone. He wouldn't let me work or have friends.

We were living in a shack (literally) when I was pregnant. I was about 5 months along now and was showing quite clearly. We were moving out of this shack to go to another one and we started fighting over the vacuum. He would not let me take it. I told him, this is our last day to move out and we can't come back and get it. It was the only thing that I owned that was mine anymore. Anything I had before I married him, he broke it, he broke everything, and the vacuum was the only thing I had left. Silly, huh?

So we got in a big fight over, thats right, the vacuum. I begged him. There was enough room, just let me get it... somehow this escalated into him headbutting me in the head, dragging me around by my hair, and popping my neck. At the moment he twisted my neck around and it popped numerous times, the whole room fell quiet, I was quiet, for a second I thought I was dead. That's when I knew it was life or death that I get away from him. For myself and my unborn baby. When I realized I was still alive, I screamed so loud, I was so scared. I think I had God's protection. I finally told him that I had had enough and acted like i was going to cooperate. He had a hold of my arm so I wouldn't get away. I told him I wouldn't run, I'm done fighting and as soon as we were out side, holding my belly, I made a break for it and ran to the landlords house and for some reason he couldn't catch me (again, I think God helped me I was praying at the time) He sped off in his car (the only car we owned) and I asked for help from the landlord and told them what happened. I called my family and they picked me up that night. I should have went to the hospital with what he did to me, but I was afraid. I have seen the shows on tv where they will arrest people for being pregnant and letting abuse happen like that. so I refused to go and I went to live with my parents.

I lived there for about a month and he called saying he missed me and was sorry and would never do it again. He said he would even go to counseling, but that I should go first. well, I went to counseling and she basically just sent me on my way because she couldn't give marriage counseling with the spouse missing. I did not tell her about the abuse though. Again, I knew if anyone knew I was in danger, I would be arrested, or he would be arrested for a few months, get out, and then kill me. Nice justice system we have, isn't it?

I decided to try again. By now, my family was very aware of what was going on and my brothers were very worried about me. One of my brothers talked to me and told me I shouldn't go back. I told him to trust me and that God would take care of me, and I may get hurt again, but he cannot take my life because I have God's protection. I still believe that to be true.

I went back and he acted like he missed me, but to this day, he probably doesn't know that his friend that he was living with told me that the day after I left he was with other girls. His friend said to me"well, he though you weren't coming back". Wow. Yea he missed me, he missed his punching bag I guess. I went into premature labor, I knew that I probably would because of the stress and the beatings but my doctor did not know this. They managed to stop my labor and I went home, still having the baby a month early. Besides being Jaundiced, he was healthy. And I thought, maybe now that there is a baby, he will stop hitting me. Well, he didn't of course and even one time we were fighting and he was holding the baby and was covering his mouth and nose yelling at me, as the baby started to flail. I got scared and yanked the baby away from him. He said he didn't mean to, but I wasn't going to wait for an 'accident' to happen. From then on, I carefully planned my escape. I took what little money he had saved, got my own job, packed up my car, and waited for him to hit me, one more time. I already warned him and I guess he didn't believe me. I said, "now you know if you hurt me again, I have to leave" He said "ok ok I know I won't do it again.

So it didn't take long, a day or two, and I guess he didn't believe me because he beat me again, knocked me out of my chair, pinned me against the wall and told me if I told anyone, he would kill me. I said okay and acted like I wasn't going to tell anyone. I went to work because he dropped me off, but as soon as I entered the building I told my manager to call the police. I met the police at my house when they arrested him. He was in jail a total of 24 hours. He eventually pled guilty to that and got 2 years probation. That was the extent of his punishment for years of abuse.

I did not let him come back to me again. I had watched enough oprah to know that I did not want to be one of those women that has 3 kids and 30 years later and my kids have to see that. Not me. I refused to let that be me. I reclaimed my life and had the locks changed on the house. I was free, so I thought. he broke into my house late one night through the back door and I was holding the baby and he pulled a knife on me. I ran outside frantic and none of the neighbors seemed to care what was going on. A friend of mine drove me to the police station where I gave my statement. They tried to find him, but they told me if he went out of the county that there was nothing they could do because it would be out of their jursisdiction. That is the stupidest thing I have heard. So, he didn't get arrested, he pled not guilty in court but he was charged with unlawful use of a weapon at least because of the evidence and testimonies, and he still to this day cannot hold a job because of the little criminal record I was able to get filed on him. He also eventually lost his license because of failure to pay child support.

Later, I found out that he called my mom and threatened to kill her and the rest of my family.

Sure, there are a lot of things I wish I could do over, like staying away from the phsyco from the start, but I was young and I just thought that you could trust people. I have always lived by the scripture, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" Unfortunately, sometimes that means you get hurt. They will have their reward someday, if they do not get it on this earth.

God was faithful to me. He spared my life, on numerous occasions, and I left that relationship early enough that my son will not have to ever see that kind of behavior. Or see his mommy get hurt. I kicked that creap out when my baby was 5 months old and soon after, I was not looking for anyone else of course and did not think that I would ever marry again, but God unexpectantly brought a great guy into my life that was totally crazy about me and loved my baby and we got married, and everything turned out perfect. I never though I would have a life after that, but I am more happy now than I ever thought was possible. My ex won't dare to come near me now because I have someone that will protect me from that, and truth is, all wife beaters are anyways are cowards that like to prey on people weaker than them.

So if you are in a relationship similar, call it what it is, be smart, get protection, restraining orders, anything you can and don't let this rule your life any longer. I am glad I did. I came to the conclusion from reading the Bible that God does not want us to be in pain. He is a loving God and cares about us, like we care about our own kids, we are his kids. I believe there are a few instances where divorce is an option, but it is always our choice. Our free will, and I don't believe that because I divorced this person that I will not make heaven. Also, you need to realize something that I did not know at the time. When you are in a situation like that , all you are thinking about is survival. How to get out of it, etc, but the longer you take the death threats, and the abuse, the more it will haunt you perhaps for the rest of your life. I am pretty sure that I have post traumatic stress disorder because of my experience. Not a fun way to live. I have sudden flashbacks sometimes I have to fight, I can't watch certain movies or types of movies anymore that may trigger a memory. It is traumatic. I did watch the movie "Enough" with Jennifer Lopez and I wished I could have been more like her. you don't think about it while it is happening... that the memories will follow you, but they do, so get out before you become traumatized.

Oh and by the way, I don't wear dresses anymore. I think they are too accessible, and my daughter will never wear one to school or anywhere else unless there are pants under them. This is just my personal opinion, but I believe I could have avoided my rape and gotten away had it been more difficult for him.

I don't even talk about this to anyone anymore. No one around me knows what I have been through except my husband. As far as they know, I had both of my children with my current husband. Everyone even says they look alike. They even have similar interests and talents. I think it's interesting how God works things out that way. But to my son, this is his daddy. The only daddy he has ever know. His biological sperm donor never cared to see him. He didn't even stay in the room when I was giving birth! He went out to eat with his parents and left me in the hospital alone! He never used his visitation, and never sent child support. My husband adopted my son to make him officially his just 2 years ago. I just wanted to start completely new, without people looking at me a certain way, and I like it that way.

I have a fantastic life now, couldn't be better. My husband coudn't be more opposite than my first. and now that is off my chest, that is all I want to focus on now. I have been with my new husband for 5 years now. I am still young and I have the rest of my life ahead of me. You can have a happy ending too.

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