Domestic Violence – I Am A Survivor

When this crossed my Facebook feed tonight, I couldn’t help but click on it. Not in the I-wanna-see-the-train-wreck kind of way, but in the been-there-done-that kind of way.

Way back in my youth when I was young and invincible, I fell for the wrong guy. I have always referred to is as my “College experiment gone bad” but it’s much more than that. It was my journey into adulthood.

I was 18 and just started college. This guy seemed to hang out wherever I was and he was kinda cocky and cute. He had a way of smiling that caused the dimple on his cheek to stare at you in a sexy kind of way. He was confident. He said he was going places and was in the college ROTC program to become an Army Officer. He was also someone I had known since gradeschool.

Although our college campus was huge and we didn’t share any classes, we seemed to run into each other. A lot. More than a mere coincidence and that got my interest up. I began noticing where we would bump into each other and I’d be in the same place on purpose… hoping to see him. We both “put the flirt on” but he never asked me out.

One day I found him at lunch in the school cafeteria. I walked over to him with all the confidence in the world and said, “I don’t have to work Saturday night, where are you taking me?” (I had never done that before and have never done that since.)

It was the start of a dating experience that was fun, exciting, and dangerous.

He began to put restrictions on what I could do. I found it cute. “I can’t go there tonight, (name withheld) doesn’t think I should go. And, “Oh, (name withheld) wouldn’t want me to do that”. It was nice to be a couple and I kinda likes the “ownership” he had on me. I was young. I thought it was cute and didn’t know any better. It progressed. Because I allowed it.

We’d be at a restaurant and I’d look up to see who it was. He’d be jealous. I thought it was cute.

We’d be talking about family and he would get angry. He hated his mom, yet loved his dad. My family is very close and very happy and giving. His family was very different. For Christmas his mother would buy him underwear, jeans, and a case of soup. My parents would buy me a new wardrobe and expensive gifts. He hated family. I loved family. Not because of the extravagant gifts, but because of the love among us.

He told me of how shortly after his birth, there was a huge earthquake. His mother had been on the couch feeding him. When the tremors hit, she placed him on the couch, grabbed two ornaments from the fireplace mantle and fled the house. I was horrified and doubtful. His mom confirmed it many times as it was her favorite story to tell. She had less love for her two boys than she did for her four girls. That would be a huge factor in their future.

One night we were joking around and talking (the topic escapes me at this late date) and he was offended. He wrapped his hand around my neck and squeezed. I struggled. Shocked. Scared. Eventually, he let up and acted like it was all a big joke. I should have seen the warning then…

Eventually, he proposed. I accepted.

I stood on the day of our wedding in tears as my mother fastened the many buttons on my gown and credited the tears to nerves out loud. Inside was different. She told me I could leave, that I didn’t have to do this. I felt trapped as my parents had spent a small fortune on this event. I stared out the window and contemplated how badly I could be hurt jumping from a second story window. I thought about the people downstairs who had taken time from their day to see me wed. People whom I cared about. Whom I loved.

I heard the wedding march and obediently moved towards the door, down the stairs and to the procession. I cried the entire ceremony and chalked it up to nerves. I was lying to myself and everyone else. I knew I was making a mistake.

Our marriage lasted less than three years and the whole time was a mesh of arguments and distrust. I couldn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t do anything. I dropped out of school because we could only afford one of us in school and I had a decent paying job. He would attend school during the day and worked nights. He called me constantly to check up on me. He would check the hood of my car for heat when he got home. He would walk in every night while I was sleeping, flip on the lights to wake me up and start accusing me of stuff I hadn’t done. I was half asleep as I jumped out of bed to defend myself. It was always loud and ugly.

He would make comments about my thighs and my hair. I was almost 5’8″ and barely 105 lbs. He made me feel fat. He made me feel ugly. He made me want to thank the world for letting me borrow every breath of air I took. He had beaten me down with the control and the jealousy. He accused me of cheating when I proudly wore my wedding ring and he hid his in the ashtray of his truck.

I remember the day he found me in the bathroom, admiring myself all decked out in my finery. “You’re cute!” I said outloud. “I don’t know what you are talking about,” he spat, “When are you going to do something about your thighs?.” I was crushed.

Things became worse. He became more controlling and jealous. I was afraid. Very afraid. What I had found “cute” in the beginning had become very bad.

I knew I had to get out. I devised a plan and found an apartment. I just needed the money. A few more paydays…

My bank card was taken by the ATM machine. He laughed and said I entered the wrong code. (I later found out that he had told the bank that I had left and was trying to empty our account)

I paid our car insurance. Both vehicles.

I paid our rent. Our utilities.

He went to school by day and work at night.

I put a deposit on an apartment as I questioned my bank as to my frozen card. I heard nothing. I felt very alone.

One night he came home in a rage. He flipped the bedroom light on as I was sleeping and screamed at me. He had found my car hood warm and knew that I had gone somewhere.

I jumped out of bed and met him nose to nose. His fists were balled at his side as he opened and closed them. I dared him to hit me. I dared him to give me an excuse to leave. He took a step towards me and I took two towards him, no longer afraid. I called him out. He retreated. I returned to my warm bed, anticipating the move to my new apartment. One more paycheck and it was mine.

After several hours, I awoke to the strangest feeling. Someone was watching me. I opened my eyes and faced the barrel of a gun.

I saw his wild eyes. I saw his finger on the trigger. I closed my eyes, tired and defeated. I prayed for my family. I hoped that they would find peace among the pain. I waited. Expecting the sound of a shot to sound out. I heard silence. I remained still.

I heard him move. I waited with my eyes shut, still anticipating the shot. The shot what would remove me from my hell. Silence.

After an hour or so, I opened my eyes. He was gone. I heard a noise from the living room, and silently peaked in. He was there… lovingly stroking his rifle as he wore his hunting vest loaded with bullets. I remember thinking that his careful caresses of his weapons should have been for me. I returned to my bed. Our bed.

The next morning I awoke with a passion, a reason, a need.

I kissed him goodbye as I headed to work, only to turn around an hour later and head back home. He was gone.

He had taken the boat and headed for the lake. Perfect.

I called my parents and told them I needed to move. Their only question was, “What time do you need us?”. I told them 4pm. I had a lot of packing to do.

I left. I moved to where I felt safe, and my parents never asked a single question about why. I think, secretly, they knew.

I filed for divorce. I hid in my apartment with the blinds closed and probably had the world’s record for how fast I could put my car in the garage and get my butt in the house. I was traumatized when I saw his vehicle across the street as he visited friends.

When I went in for my divorce, the judge was hesitant to grant it as I hadn’t had the mandatory 90 day separation. I was horrified and pleaded with my attorney to make it happen, I was so very afraid for my life. I stated as much.

Divorce granted.

I was free. I was happy. I was finally allowed to be ME!

i went on with my life and bought a house. I replaced every material thing I lost in the divorce. I became strong.

Years later we became friends. He was a Cop. He apologized. He admitted his mistakes. We laughed. We joked. We moved forward. We both loved the Dallas Cowboys and would text and talk about the games. As friends.

He committed suicide. He had remarried and divorced again. He and his ex had an argument and he decided to take the lead. He pulled his Police weapon from it’s holster and fired a fatal shot after another argument.

I  was devastated. That was not what I wanted for him. I wanted him to know love and joy! I wanted him to feel needed. I wanted him to know every emotion that had been denied him through his upbringing.

I was gutted.

I attended the funeral.

I was sad that he had come so far, and failed.

I had spoken to him only days before his death. I had texted him. Everything seemed ok.

I am haunted with his passing. Could I have done more?

Why do I tell you this? Because every day, young women are being drawn in to the “Ownership” that I found so endearing at first. Every day, young women are being sucked in to the deceit. Every day, young women are thinking, “I can fix this.” You cannot. Nothing can fix a broken person who doesn’t see the need to be “Fixed”.

I was a very confident person. A world traveler. I had seen more by age 18 than most people see in a lifetime. I was an overachiever and a “brainiac”. Yet I let him steal the very person who I was, and become someone who he wanted me to be. Submissive. Subservient. It happened over a period of time… and I let it happen because I loved him.

Please don’t be like me. See the warning signs. Be brave. You don’t need a man to be whole as you are just perfect the way you are. With or without a significant other.

Stay safe and love yourself first.

One thought on “Domestic Violence – I Am A Survivor

  1. By your forgiveness and friendship you gave more than most would ever dream of giving or receiving, especially with what you went through. You are a strong woman. Praise God for your safety. Thank you for sharing… It lets others know they are not alone, and they don’t have to stay.

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