With less than a week to go, I thought I'd start getting things rolling a bit early. The first time I spoke out about my own personal experiences with domestic violence, I was surprised by the number of women who contacted me to say they too had been in situations where they were hurt by a loved one. Sometimes it takes hearing a story that is similar to our own before we can take the first step in asking for help and beginning to heal painful wounds.
I'm reposting part of my own story here today and starting on October first, I will share the journey other women have taken. Women who inspire me and women who have yet to find the strength to change the dangerous situations they are in, have given me permission to share a few of their thoughts/stories with my blog readers.
Please feel free to leave your comments of support, love or understanding for these remarkable women to read. You never know what kind of effect you can have when showing another woman that you care. Sometimes, although the message is the same, it is the person giving that message that makes all the difference.
This is a basic journaling of my relationship with my ex-husband. This is taken from a few different journal entries and from my witness statement & police report. I was asked to take the emotions completely out and just give basic information and specific incidences. The emotions that I felt were to be left out. I was to leave out the verbal or emotionally abusive that happened to me almost daily. This is what I ended up with:
My Story of Domestic Violence
- the condensed version
In 1988 I moved from Utah to New York to be with my family. I met Steve at the high school my siblings also were attending. He was a senior and I was already out of school and working at McDonalds full time as a manager. We started going out and were an official couple after only a few short weeks.
My family and I lived just 4 houses away from Steve and his family. He started going to church with my family, started talking with the missionaries from our church and was baptized the following month. During this time, I had often seen him lose his temper with others but not with me.
I remember him coming in to my job a few times and being upset if I was talking to any other guy’s weather they were my employees or customers. He told me I should quit my job. He would get aggressive (swearing, threatening, waiting out in the parking lot for them) with a few male customers as well as male employees, to the point of my boss asking me not to have him in the store.
In the last month of June I found out I was pregnant. That night he found out I was going to have a baby, was the first time he ever hurt me. Earlier in the day I had told a co-worker of mine I was going to have a baby. As we walked out to our cars, he said congrats and gave me a hug. Steve had been waiting for me. As soon as we got in the car he reached over and pushed my head against the window and held it there tight enough that I couldn’t really move my face off the window. He was saying “You like him so much you can stare at him while he drives off!” Then we drove home. At my house I was crying and went into the back yard where he yelled at me for crying. He said it was my fault for trying to make him jealous.
That night he ask me to say sorry and I refused. He then took a box out which was mine and full of pictures, cards, prom and other dance photos, etc. and burned them all in the back yard after pouring gas on top. As he started walking home he said “if you’re not sorry now, you will be later”. And I was.
Over the next few weeks I had been slapped in the face, pushed down stairs, bit on the arm, pulled by my hair around the house, had my arms twisted behind my back, had been kicked hard enough to leave bruises on my legs and beer dumped over my head for not wanting to drink alcohol.
My family saw a lot of abuse. Anytime someone said something at all to him about what was going on, he acted like he was very sorry but then it would get worse because he thought “I was just trying to make him look bad”.
My family called the police four times that I know of. Once I think it was a neighbor, and once my store manager called when she saw him pushing me on the ground while walking out to the car. He was mad that I hadn’t quit my job. His friends & family had been kind to me and the few who knew what he was really like, told me he was just young and this is just how most guys act.
The police gave him a talk but left when he said I slipped and by the look on his face, I knew I’d better say nothing. So that is exactly the story I told.
Then he asks me to marry him. I told him I was afraid of him to which his response was to get upset and punch me in the ribs. (yes, I was still pregnant) This was followed by “When we are married it will be better” and “I’m sorry, but you know what happens if you upset me.”
It was just about every day he did something abusive.
He finally made me quit my job.
We were married. That night he we had spaghetti at our tiny new apartment by candle light and later he put the candle out on my back for not looking happy enough earlier in the day at the wedding. Over the months, I recall being pushed down in the snow by the face and, pushed into a ditch, and punched in the stomach. I was called every bad name you can think of.
One evening while I was taking a bath in our upstairs bathroom, I heard banging on the door and yelling. I still have no idea what set him off on this occasion. After the banging I saw him on the roof watching me. He proceeded to nail the window down into the frame. I got out to leave and he had boarded up the bathroom so I had no way out. I was stuck in that bathroom for 2 hours. Never got an explanation. He just took down the boards after two hours and left to go drinking with friends. Later, he came home put a fist through the wall because there wasn’t dinner waiting and said next time that’s what would happen to me.
I moved back in with my parents. He went back to his home down the street and within days was staying in my room with me. I went into our room my parents were supportive of him wanting to “work on our issues for the sake of the baby”. His family had told me he was just young and this is just how guys are.
steve left for basic training in the Air Force. These days were great. He missed home and was writing all the time saying all the right things, how he had changed, so sorry, love you to much to do all that again…..etc.
On April 26, 1989 my mother and I drove to watch him graduate from basic training. On the drive home, in the middle of a massive standstill on the turnpike due to an accident with a truck carrying gas, I went into labor. I had Joshua that day in Lehighton, Pennsylvania by emergency C-section. While I was being cut open he was complaining that now he won’t get back to party with friends now. Steve also ask how long if it all I would look normal again. He said I looked bad. He said so many rude or hurtful things, and the nurse hold my hand as I cried and she whispered to me to just focus on my new little baby.
That night he left me in the hospital and went home to party it up with his friends back home. Five days later he returned to Pennsylvania to pick me. Within weeks we had moved across country to Montana where I didn’t know a single soul.
In Montana h e would leave sometimes for a day, maybe three. Usually saying it was work but smelling like he’d been drinking. I had the bathroom door nailed again, this time for taking to long in the bathroom. I was taking a long time because I was had just had a miscarriage. This time he left me in the bathroom and left. I got the door open and went to check on my son, J osh. I found no sign of Steve except his wedding ring that had been left on the kitchen counter.
While in Montana I received: two black eyes, had a huge needle stabbed in my leg (for not sewing his patch in his uniform well enough), a glass plate broken over my head, dinner thrown against the wall because it wasn’t what he wanted, yelled at for smiling and saying thank you to the boy that helped us out with the groceries, had a tooth knocked out, was pushed down some stairs and I was choked with his hands leaving marks.
One night after he had been gone 4 days, I got a call from Steve. He said “I am heading home now with some friends and when we get there you’re going to have sex with all of them”. In the background, I could hear voices in the car and by his tone, I knew he was serious.
I called mom in back in New York and about 7 minutes later three kind men were at my door, each holding a black trash bag. They told me my mom had called, and explained that they were from my church and I had 5 minutes to shove whatever would fit into these bags. I just took baby stuff and a change of clothes. I left everything else I owned and I was driving off as Steve passed by with three guys and pulled in the driveway.
The next day I went to the bank to take out some of the money I had earlier deposited from my personal tax return. I was too late. Steve, my dear husband, had emptied the account just as the bank was opening and there wasn’t a single cent left.
Someone called my from the Air Force base. I was asked to talk to the base Chaplin and tell them what was going on. I told them everything. The next day about half the money was returned. My son and I went back home to NY, to live with my parents.
It wasn’t much more than a month until Steve was back in town. I was notified that he was “dishonorably discharged” from the military for all that he had done to me. He was really, really mad at me.
Now he was home, angry and he was drinking a lot more and often.
I got a job working with special needs clients in residential homes. I had an incident with him coming to my job and banging on doors, windows, yelling all sorts of obscenities while threatening to break down the doors. At one house he did break in the door and the police showed up.
And at another home, when I left to go to my car he was there and was pushed down on the hood of the car and tried to fight him off while held me down and I cried while he raped me. I didn’t say anything to anyone about this one because I thought at the time since we were still legally married it didn’t count. I didn’t ever press any charges because they said he would be out the next day while waiting sort it out in court. The whole time we were together, I never once filed an official report. I was scared of the repercussions not only for my son and myself but other family members as well. He threatened them also. He had told me many times that if I ended up causing him to go to jail it would be much worse when he got home.
I went to see an attorney. It took a while but I earned enough to retain them. My EX kept coming by my parents’ home and getting upset. Then he would say sorry and it won’t happen again. Also, I never received this entire time, a cent from him. Nothing.
The last incident I recall took place in another bathroom. He said he wanted to talk about his family being able to see josh so I was to come talk to him on his front lawn. Once I made it just about to his yard, he came out from behind a car, grabbed me and drug me yelling into the bathroom. No one else was home. For the next 4 hours I was punched, slapped, slammed into walls, given a bloody nose, had the shower curtain wrapped around my head so I couldn’t get any air, my shirt ripped open, soap shoved in my mouth, some sort of cleaning stuff poured on me and the whole time begging him to stop. I laid on that floor bleeding for what seemed like forever while he got more upset and would kick me for crying. Then he flipped me over on my back and put both hands around my neck and chocked me so hard I would feel like I was going to pass out. This happen twice and then on the third time I had pretty much told myself that I was going to die in this horrible bathroom because the person who said he loves me is about to kill me. I don’t know if I passed out or what I just know things got fuzzy and then I felt like I was waking up and breathing heavy. The last 45min or so was me talking me way out of that room. I got out and ran down to my house.
I moved to Utah.
I began working two jobs and earned enough money to file for divorce.
Married a wonderful man who adopted my son.
To this day my ex has never sent a card, money or helped out in any way.
Almost 20 years later I found myself testifying in court in a case where he had done the same sort of thing to a woman in Idaho. The prosecutors in Idaho felt like he was going to get only a “slap on the wrist” if I didn’t tell my story to the court so after all this time I finally found my voice. I am so very sorry I didn’t report any of this or pursue this legally. Maybe if I had, no one else would have had to experience the things I did.
Want to share your story on Simply June? You can email me firstname.lastname@example.org.