October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month...
Many or all of you do not know my history. But I have experience in domestic violence. I want to tell you a story of what happened to me, or at least the Reader's Digest version. I want to do this, because I hope to give someone courage to leave a domestic violent situation...and that no matter what they can do it.
This is going to be a long one!
I met my ex husband in April of 1999. He was the most attentive, wonderful, caring man I had ever met! I thought he was the man of my dreams. He loved my family..my family loved him! He had custody of his 4 kids because he told me that he rescued them from an abusive mother. Little did I know, he was the abusive one. She may have been abusive to the kids, I dont know, and will never know.
I saw the signs early, but didnt realize they were signs.
First, was his controlling behaviour. At the time I was living in Michigan...and he was in Ohio(where I am from). Often we would keep in contact online during the week and I would travel to Ohio on the weekend to spend it with him and his family. We were talking in a chat room with some of my other friends. I said something that upset him..and he got very snappy with me in the chat room. My girlfriend Karen said something to him about it and he told her to mind her own business. From that day on...I was not allowed to be friends with Karen.
One morning I woke up and checked my voicemail. He left me a message, a very angry one. He wanted to know where I was, and who I was with. When I talked to him later in the morning, he could not believe that when he called me I did not hear the phone ringing while I slept. Shortly after he asked me to move in. I am thinking, so he could keep an eye on me.
For the 5 months or so...things got worse by the day. I would get yelled at for nothing. I would have to stay up late with him because I wasnt allowed to go to bed without him...then I would have to get up at 6 to get the kids off to school. I would lay on the couch, and he would throw a fit. I was to come back to bed and rub either his back or feet. I was not allowed to fall back asleep. He would fall back asleep and if he woke up and I wasnt rubbing...Id get nudge to keep it up. He didnt work...well for very long anyways, which is whole other story. He was always looking for ways to scam the system. He eventually had an accident at work, that he was collecting workmans comp for. He supposedly hurt his back, but it never kept him from picking me up and throwing me against the wall or on the bed eventually.
The first time something physical happened...was totally bizarre. We got into an argument. I decided I needed a break. I went and got my coat on and was going to go for a drive. He pinned me up against the counter and wouldnt let me move or leave. Being that I felt trapped, I smacked him across the face. (which later Battered Women Services told me that this was a normal response). All hell broke loose after that. Without getting into the play by play...I was thrown against the wall, choked, thrown to the floor and smacked in the mouth(leaving a fat lip).
The worse beating I ever got was when I got smart with him. He grabbed me...threw me to the floor grabbed the front of my hair and started banging my head into the floor, he then picked me up and threw me on the bed, straddled my body(he was estimated to be around 350 lbs then)holding down my arms with his knees and punched me in the left eye. My eye was swollen shut for 4 days..and black and blue for 2 weeks.
The beatings were bad...but the name calling killed me more then that. There were times he would get in my face, yell at me, call me names...and in my mind I was begging him to just hit me and get it over with. I later found out that for most abused women...they felt the same things.
I left him 4 times before I left for good. There is a statistic that an abused woman will leave her abuser an average of 7 times before leaving for good. There was a cop that worked for my dad as a side job...he told me this and then he said to me "Dawn...dont make the average..". That will always stay in my mind.
Twice I stayed at the Battered Woman's Shelter...that was the most humbling experience in my life. Sure there were women there that really abused the system..but there were some there that just tore my heart strings. It wasnt the best of places to live...but it was such a relief to know that I wasnt going to be called names, or beaten. I learned alot in the shelter and it was the best thing I had ever done.
One thing I must say...the most dangerous time for a woman is after leaving an abuser. This is why it is important to go somewhere that an abuser doesnt know...such as a friends that the abuser doesnt know where they live, or a shelter. I found this out the hard way.
My ex still tried to court me after the last time I left him. He would ask me to meet him for dinner so I could sign a paper, or talk. I was stupid and did. He didnt do anything in these meetings, but what happened after I stopped them...did things get bad.
Mother's Day 2002 he showed up at my parents where I was staying...with the kids. It was around 11PM! The kids brought me mother's day cards. Each which said that they missed me and wanted to know when I was coming home. That night..he stayed in the car while the kids gave me the cards and I gave each of them a hug. They went back to the car, and ex said he forgot to give them some mail I needed. So he got out of the car and came to the door. After the kids were out of ear shot...I gave him an ear full. I told him that I was really angry that he had sunk to a new low..and that I was filing for a divorce as soon as possible. It was over. He told me he was in counseling...blah blah blah. I told him to leave and walked in the house and shut the door in his face.
2 months later...I had started dating a wonderful guy. We had been dating a month. We went to a wedding and went to the bar. We came home and went into my room. It was July so the window was open. First, him and I had never had sex. We fooled around, but never did anything that could be called sex. I had a few to drink, so I was a little on the ummm horny side. I took off my dress and bent over and kissed him. Outside my bedroom window came my ex's voice "That is my wife you are fucking". My then boyfriend turned to the window and said, "what are you going to do about it". My ex said "Im going to fucking kill you.", he then punched through the window with what we think was a box cutter. Needless to say...911 was called about 10 cop cars later.. they couldnt find him.
2003 he finally turned himself in. He was found guilty of criminal damaging and menacing. He appealed and lost. He is still wanted, because he failed to show for sentencing.(His original sentence was 90 days, 60 days suspended with 30 served under house arrest. The 60 days were suspended as long as he had no contact with me or my then boyfriend. Oh btw..they tried to plea bargin with him..and the only reason he wouldnt take the plea was because he didnt want to pay for the screen and he didnt want the no contact stipulation.(How smart was he?LOL)
While he was in court for the charges, he was served with a temporary protection order...I had tried to get a protection order a few times, but he dodged service(answering the door and saying he was his cousin..and that he was in another state, etc.). With CPOs, if the person is not served...it is not in effect. Boy was he ticked that he got served! Later that year...I got my divorce finally(he dodged that service too), and the CPO hearing. He was going to fight the CPO but something happened on the way into the court room. His lawyer pulled him aside...they came in and said that they agreed to it. My attorney thinks that his lawyer said that he would not represent him in the appeal unless he agreed. This was the last time I saw him..
I still look over my shoulder, or if Im outside at my house and hear a sound in the woods, I still get scared. I worry Im going to run into him..but thankfully never have.
A leapord doesnt change his spots..and this is proof. During all these court hearings...he kept talking about his fiancee. I think to make me jealous...didnt work. I felt sorry for her.... About two months after all this ended...I was looking up stuff on the court site to see what was going on with him...She had filed a CPO against him too.
All this comes to head because..she contacted me. Turns out..he beat her too. She also told me that they were never engaged(she has since married), in fact...she never loved him. We traded stories..and so much was similar..good thing for her..she got out when she did.
There is soooo much more to the abuse. Threats against me and my family if I left. There were letters he sent to my family filled with lies and half truths(he wrote in the letter to my sister that I said my dad was having an affair, and that I was a prostitute a few years before...He told her that I said my mom was a druggie and alcoholic and was doing all this while she was prego with me...you get the picture). I am currently working on a book to detail many of the other things. I am hoping to colaborate with the girl he dated after me.
Ok...I hope you have gotten this far if you need to(if you dont need to..thanks for reading my ramblings). If you needed to read this..I wrote this because I want those of you to know that are in this situation...you can get out! They do not change. I know. I went back 3 times because he said he had changed.
If he has you feeling trapped because of money or transportation...there are ways around that. You can do it without him. He will not be the charming, loving guy you met...no matter how much you wish he will.
Please call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233). Please read this on their website about using the computer to look for help http://www.ndvh.org/help/warning.html. (I had used the library computer a few times)
You dont deserve to be abused. Whether it be physically, mentally, verbally, emotionally, or even spiritually. Please make the call and be safe. If you have kids..dont let them grow up seeing this going on. Statistics show that they will likely grow up to be abusers, or be abused..because that is what they think is the "norm".
If nothing else..I hope I have helped at least one person.
Labels: domestic violence