I have been thinking for the past several weeks about how to put the last 6 years of my life into a short letter,
but it seems an impossible task. How can someone condense almost 6 years of emotional,
financial, verbal, and physical abuse into a short letter? There is so much to
talk about, so much to discuss, so much that happened. These six years are written
in many places.......in a journal I kept throughout the relationship, from the beginning to the end; in the archives of an
online message board I have been involved with on a daily basis since February of this year; in a journal I have kept since
escaping the abuse, trying to put the pieces of my life back together; in emails exchanged between myself and my abuser, myself
and my friends; myself and my family; in cards and letters exchanged between myself and my abuser........so many places to
find the story, so much of the story to tell. Where do I begin?
I can begin by stating that my situation is really no different than that of any person living in an abusive
relationship - go to any website, read any book, hear anyone's story, and mine is basically the same. From the beginning, he was charming and sweet, and slowly and deceptively became manipulative and controlling
more and more each day. Constant criticisms, belittling, putdowns, insults, name
callings became more and more persistent with each passing day.....eventually with each passing hour. Slowly and manipulatively, I was isolated from my friends, my family, even my coworkers. Every aspect of my life was controlled by my abuser. Sometimes,
as I look back and remember things, I can't believe that it actually happened, much less to me. That I couldn't wear lipstick to work unless I snuck it out in my handbag.....that I couldn't stay late
and help my coworkers when needed because he would become enraged and accusatory......
that I could not dress as I wanted, could not wear my hair as I wanted, could not wear the color nail polish I wanted
for fear of being ridiculed, put down, criticized. Any accomplishment that I
was proud of and excited about, immediately became a shameful, guilt trip......all
of the pride and excitement ripped away and shredded in a flash.
Called horrific names that one could never even imagine being called in a lifetime.....being ridiculed and humiliated
into doing things just to keep the peace, even when the responsibility lies solely with the abuser....things like standing
upside down naked on your head. This because you are accused of trying to give
oral sex to a man you barely know because you are simply being friendly and "normal" by talking to him at a Christmas party. And because of these insane and delusional accusations, you are not only forced to
perform a humiliating act such as that described above, but you also have a gun pointed point blank at you, you are forced
out of your vehicle at 2am to hitch a ride home on a highway 35 miles from home..............
And yet, for some reason, unknown to you, unimaginable to you, you stay with this man because somehow he is
able to manipulate you into believing it will never happen again....or that you NEED him.
Crazy? Yes, it would seem it is.....
Yet the abuse continues.....and continues. Not only is he abusing
you emotionally, financially and physically, but you highly suspect that he is being unfaithful to you as well, subjecting
you to the possibility of disease and God knows what else. You know in your heart
you are right, but you incredulously believe his lies and excuses, how ever far fetched they may be. You find emails, phone bills. You even find a print out of
a cybersex session.........and when you confront him with all of these things, he always finds some excuse and explanation
for these things........leaving you feeling guilty and ashamed for suspecting anything.
Even though he constantly threatens you with cheating, with leaving you........
The financial abuse is so great it leaves your impeccable credit destroyed beyond comprehension. Leaving you reminders of him for years to come.
There is so much more, so much that would take pages and pages and pages to fill.........
When you finally somehow find the strength to leave, he still manages to manipulate and control you, the same tactics continue. He moves in with another woman
the day after you leave, claiming he would be out on the street otherwise.......even if he is a firefighter with a large city
fire department, the only person he can find to stay with is a woman he "barely knows"........then, he proceeds to make no
secrets that she wants more than friendship with him....yet claims to want to work things out with you. And can't seem to comprehend why on earth you are disgusted by this and refuse to continue a relationship
in this manner.
He tries every tactic to manipulate you. When begging and pleading
and sobbing and promises to change don't work, he reverts to name calling, threatening, insulting, and projecting. Eventually, as much as you are trying to move on and heal yourself, he continues to make himself a constant
presence in your life, deceptively and manipulatively. Catching you at times
he knows your guard will be lowered: at work, when you are traveling on business, after
he's not tried contacting you for several days or weeks.....
Then, the cycle repeats itself.....he begs pleads, promises. You
have lost all faith, lost all trust. He begins stalking you and your fears of
him intensify. You don't want him near your house, near you at all. You are terrified. He continues the cycle, criticizing, insulting,
and threatening. You have no choice but to file a restraining order.
Its still not over because he can't be served. You know where he
lives but not his exact address or phone number because he refused to give it to you, yet somehow, even though you were extremely
careful to protect yourself and keep your new address and phone number surreptitious, he managed to find out anyway. You know his work address and phone number but because of his schedule they are having
difficulty serving him at work as well. So your worst fears come true.........
After a few weeks of emails begging forgiveness, begging for yet another chance, one Sunday morning he calls you. You don't answer. Soon after you hear a knock on your door. You are momentarily
paralyzed with fear.......suddenly, you find yourself dialing 911 and before you know it there are police officers there,
and he is being served and your head is spinning.
And when you face him in court, his begging and pleading and promises to change, once again, are refuted. He releases his attorney on you, making you feel like YOU are a criminal, like YOU
are the one who has done something wrong. He brings this woman with him, tells
the court he can't imagine why you are doing this, he is in a serious relationship........humiliates you in front of the court,
your family, your own self. And because you have never called the police when
he has used physical abuse against you, when he has destroyed your personal property or that of your employer, or when he
locked you out of the house, because you never filed assault charges against him, you are denied your restraining order.
The only way you have survived this emotional roller coaster, this immense depression, guilt, incredible range
of emotions, is because of the support of your family, coworkers, friends, and most importantly, a new group of friends you
met online, on a support board. You realize that you are not alone, that you
are not the only one experiencing the emotions, the guilt, and the fear. That
your experiences are not unique, that the entire last 6 years of your life are written in many books, many websites, many
documentaries, many made for TV movies.... you read and read and read until you
can't read anymore.
And then you have an awakening.........you realize that you can't stay quiet anymore. You realize that you have an entire new life, full of promise and hope.
You have new friends, and you have a new purpose to your life. Suddenly
you realize the beauty that has been denied to you for so long. The humiliation,
the embarrassment, the shame you feel begins to fade away, and you feel empowered, you feel that you need to now begin to
work on that purpose. You are no longer afraid, you are no longer consumed by
the aforementioned feelings and you begin to open up. You realize you need to
do whatever it takes so that you can help just one victim of abuse......if you can help one, your anguish and suffering was
not meaningless, not senseless. And along the way, you find new and lifelong
friendships that you will forever thank your creator for.
My hope for the future is to lead other sufferers of abuse to a life of promise and hope, full of opportunities. To prevent their children from perpetuating the cycle, to instead lead them to lives
full of love and possibilities. To raise the awareness, to prevent one, just
one mother and child from suffering abuse.
I am not a victim, I never was, nor will I ever be. I am
a survivor. I am an advocate, a believer.
It is my hope that maybe by sharing my own experience, I can help just one who is enduring abuse find hope and a way