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Disclaimer: This is the personal story of a survivor of domestic violence. It is intended to help and give hope to those in similar situations. We are not licensed therapists or Doctors. It is in no way an absolute fix or a solution for all. These are the things the story teller has personally dealt with and the lessons learned from their experience. If you need immediate help, please call 9-1-1. Please seek professional help if you are suffering from the ramifications of domestic abuse. The true name of the writer has been concealed for their protection.
I have always wanted to share my story. I knew if I did and put real names it would be a source of embarrassment for several people. So, I stayed quiet. My goal was never to expose anyone. I simply wanted other women to know what to look out for. My children have a good relationship with their father now, and we are amicable, so I write this anonymously as to not disrupt that. Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair that things were not as hard for him as they were for me, (especially after I left the marriage) but I know that “the books aren’t balanced daily.” I am in a loving and happy marriage now, and that’s all that matters.
Before I tell my story, I feel like I should back up a little bit and explain what happened in my life prior to meeting my ex. I was raised in a Christian home but my father was a bit extreme at times. From what I understand he endured some abuse from his father and brothers growing up. He had a lot of anger and drastic ways of teaching us and punishing us. I know that he wanted better for us but I don’t think he truly understood what unconditional love was. A lot of his methods completely ruined my self-esteem. I am not blaming him for the poor decisions I made in my life, but I do think it heavily influenced how I saw myself. He made me feel like no matter what I did I would not be good enough. A lot of the times he would play head games with me saying, “You know what you did,” when more often than not I had no idea. I remember my siblings and I were probably more well behaved compared to some of our friends, yet every time we turned around we were always in trouble for something. He could also be physically abusive sometimes. When I was growing up I thought that it was normal, but I realized in middle school that not every parent disciplined the way he did. A lot of it was done when my mother wasn’t home, and if we tried to tell her he said we were lying. I don’t think I ever saw my dad physically abuse my mom but he did blame her all the time for what he thought was our misbehavior. I am pretty sure he ruined her self-esteem as well.
When I started being into boys I was attracted to “bad boys.” To me decent guys were boring, but I also think deep down I felt like they were too good for me. I thought I was ugly, and weird. More often than not I got my feelings hurt by these types of boys. I still had my values so I just stayed away from boys for a while. I remember I deliberately failed out of a good magnet school because I felt like I was not good enough to be with my peers. I went to the local high school after that. Around this time my dad started to withdraw from the family. He would spend all of his time on the computer. I remember one Christmas he was on his computer all day while we were opening presents. This behavior went on for probably a year. Around this time, I also had my first boyfriend who I was completely smitten with. I was participating in soccer and my dad didn’t want to come pick me up from practice so I was walked to my boyfriend’s house after school every day waiting on him to pick me up. I eventually had to quit the team which was embarrassing. Then one day when I was 16, I got up in the middle of the night, probably to raid the pantry and he was on his computer. I read over his shoulder from a distance. He was planning on having an affair on my mom. He turned around and saw me, and told me if I told my mom I’d be in trouble. I told her anyway.
By this point I had completely lost any respect I had for my dad and I did not feel my mom deserved that. She made him leave. He got an apartment in town and my mom would make me go over there with 2 of my siblings. He would be gone all hours of the night and drink, and when he was home and fed us we had to stand over the kitchen sink. I would steal his quarters and go across the street to the gas station and buy snacks because we were hungry. When my mom first kicked him out I went wild. I think because I realized I was free from him and knew my mom couldn’t stop me. I had a lot of hurt and anger and I didn’t realize this until many years later, but I felt like if my mom and dad couldn’t make it, how was I supposed to? I started getting mixed up with the wrong crowd. I had a bad reputation…as in I was the girl people knew not to mess with.
My boyfriend’s mom also made him break up with me, I guess because she thought I had too many issues but that crushed me. I think it may have been for my own good because he had issues too. (He wound up committing suicide a couple of years later). I think if I had a loving father and a good home environment I would have been able to recover but I started spiraling out of control. This went on for a few months. I was so angry with my dad and I was heartbroken. Things started getting really hard at home. My mom was sick and we didn’t have much money coming in. I had a weekend job and most of that money went to helping my mom out. I dated a couple of guys here and there but they only wanted one thing from me and if they got it they dumped me. I had no self-worth and I did not care what happened to me. I had lost my virginity and was ashamed and stopped going to church. My grades dropped. I went to summer school and was living with my brother and his wife for the summer. I met some people in their apartment complex and got involved with drugs. At first it was just weed. When school started back up I was sneaking out, and selling pot at school. I honestly just didn’t care. Every time a guy treated me bad it validated in my mind I was worthless. When I was 17 I met this one guy who I thought was different but he wound up going to jail for almost year. He was four years older than me. I thought I was so in love with him, and so I stayed single for a year waiting on him. I missed my own junior prom; I had several decent guys ask me out and I declined. I had no sense of self identity.
During this time period is when I met my ex-husband. He actually worked with me and my first impression of him was that he was a jerk. We actually became friends though and we were best friends for the longest time. (How that came about is another entirely different story). He was in a relationship himself. This was during the summer. I was working full time and my mom needed money and I was angry and resentful because my father was not paying any time of child support (for his four minor children.) I really felt like I was forced to grow up too fast. Sometime soon after my boyfriend got out of jail and he started getting into hard drugs. I was running around with him and his friends and one night one of his friends slipped something in my drink and you can imagine what happened from there. I was at an all time low. I did crack with my boyfriend a couple of times. My thought process was “If you can’t beam em, join em.” I honestly didn’t care if I was dead or alive. My mom found out about the crack incidents and banned me from seeing him. The first day of senior year I skipped school to be with him. My mom found out and kicked me out. (Which in retrospect was probably the best thing she did for me.) I lived with my boyfriend for about a month and then he wound up going back to jail. I went to go live with my brother. I dropped out of high school and started working full time. I was starting to somewhat get my act together. My boyfriend got out of jail and he was only out for a week and he was supposed to be clean from drugs. But he wasn’t. He actually stole birthday money from me and took it to buy drugs and cheated on me. My friend from work was the one who told me. I was 18 by this time.
So now that I have explained everything that happened prior to being with my ex-husband I can get to my story. The guy who I was best friends with at work…well while my ex-boyfriend was in jail he actually tried to ask me out several times but I wasn’t having it. I was not interested in him like that. After I found out my boyfriend cheated on me I dumped him and decided I was going to work on myself. The guy I worked with (we will call him Brad, not his real name) and some other people used to come hang out with me after work at my brother’s house. Brad and I got really close and we used to play fight a lot, I guess that’s how we flirted. One night he kissed me. I wasn’t sure what to make of it but he asked me to give him a chance and he promised he wouldn’t hurt me like all the other guys prior to him did. I decided to give him a chance. I think I just wanted to be loved. Looking back, I can thank him for getting me away from the loser I was with and the drugs he was doing. My brother and his wife were having marital problems and I wound up having to leave their apartment. I could have moved back in with my mom because I was straightened out by then but Brad wanted me to live with him. He was living with his brother and his brother’s girlfriend at the time. I remember thinking it was kind of rushed but I went along with it because I thought he was going to help take care of me. The peace was short lived.
I remember the first time he hit me he was drinking and asked me to denounce my religion and I told him no. We got into a fight and he made me get out of his truck and walk home (to my mom’s.) I cried in her lap and she called him and he told her I was being the b-word. My mom told me if I knew what was good for me I would break up with him. I thought that was so out of character for him because he had always been so nice and supportive and this came out of nowhere and blind sighted me. We started getting into fights because he was always talking to his ex-girlfriends. I wasn’t jealous but I would tell him that if he cared about me he would tell them to stop calling. One day we were arguing about it so bad he had me on the bed and was strangling me. His friend at the time had to pull him off of me. There was one time he backed me into a corner and wouldn’t let me pass, and he was egging me on and taunting me, so I hit him in the mouth and cracked his tooth. I am not going to sit here and act like I was 100 percent innocent, because sometimes I would hit him too and fist fight with him. We were together for maybe a few months and I got tired of it. It was so sucky because he was only mean when he drank, but it became more and more. I remember him telling me that if I didn’t like it I could “Pack my sh*t and leave.” So, I did. I packed up my stuff and went to go live with my mom. We were technically broken up for about 2 months. Before I had left I had bought a vehicle from his step brother that needed work that we had fixed up. One night after we broke up it broke down at a car wash and I called him to help me and he just came and dropped his tools by my feet and told me to do it myself. I don’t think he was expecting me to, but I changed the starter by myself. He would call me and ask me if I wanted to go hang out with him. I didn’t at first but stupidly I gave in. I soon realized he was talking to other girls at the same time and I told him I wasn’t going to have an intimate relationship with him if it was not exclusive to just me. He said he didn’t know what he wanted. I left his house angry that day and got into a car accident on my way to work.
I don’t remember it but I was told I overcorrected going around a curve, we think to avoid hitting something in the road. I was in ICU for several days and I had serious injuries and they weren’t sure if I was going to even make it. But I did and when I woke up he was there. I found out later he rode to the hospital with me. After that he decided he wanted to try to make things work but it didn’t last very long. That was in September. I moved back in and it was great for a couple of months, but it didn’t take long before we were fighting again. I was super emotional and I wanted to leave him but then I found out I was pregnant. That should have been all the motivation I needed but it didn’t work out that way. He acted devastated to learn I was pregnant. Not the reaction I was hoping for.
His parents were putting a lot of pressure on us to get married. I don’t think they knew how bad the fighting was, and if they did they swept it under the rug. I didn’t want to get married but I also didn’t want to be 19 and pregnant and go back to my mom’s and be a burden to her when she was already struggling. I thought maybe having a kid would straighten him out. And in some ways, it did. He was very responsible with money and worked hard. We wound up getting our own place. I actually went to college for semester. When I was pregnant he would leave me at home and go party without me. I felt like I was in it alone. I had my son a couple of months before I turned 20. The drinking started back up and he was sneaking and talking to his exes again. He was always accusing me of cheating on him, when I think in reality he was projecting feelings of guilt onto me. There was one time I was crying at work and one of our mutual friends asked me why and so I confided in him. We had a long conversation over text. Which was probably a mistake because he told his cousin that he slept with me, when in fact we never did anything. I was not even remotely attracted to him. His cousin was Brad’s ex-girlfriend, who had a grudge against me for being with him. I remember he called me at work and told me to come home and he beat me the worst anyone has ever beat me in my life. He pulled up the phone records with the texts. He smashed my head into the desk well over 30 times, he kicked me, spit on me, slapped me across the face. I was begging him to stop. At one point I threw up and was seeing stars. He truly thought I had cheated on him and that is how he justified beating me. I remember thinking to myself “EVEN if I had, I don’t deserve this.” I was so hurt that he would believe his ex over me. In all honestly I think he wanted it to be true to absolve him of his own guilt.
The only reason he stopped beating me that night was because he heard the cops pull up and thought it was for him, but it was for the neighbors. I called his dad and told him what happened and he came and talked to him.
Every time people hear this they ask me why I stayed. Surely that would have been enough right? I had no self esteem and I thought that’s all I was worth. I was scared because I had a now 1 year old and I didn’t have anywhere to go, or any money because he took my paychecks and managed all of the bills. (I found out after we got divorced years later he actually did cheat on me with our boss’s daughter. Go figure.) He was on his best behavior for about a year so I thought it was over. There was another time we went to hang out with some of my friends and he was drinking a bit much because he didn’t like big crowds. Some guy I knew approached him and told him we were friends and he had nothing to worry about. (This guy was a friend of a friend and knew I was married and wasn’t trying to pull anything.) My ex took that as we were trying to hide something and he beat me that night too. Not nearly as bad as the first time but it was bad enough. I was prepared to leave him then but he swore up and down he would stop drinking. Which he did for a while. There were times he accused me of cheating because I didn’t want to be intimate with him. But how could I be close to someone who tore me down all the time?
One night when my son was 2 ½ I had him in the tub and his dad was up there with him and I was downstairs putting together something for my sister in law’s baby shower. I asked him to get my son out of the tub and he told me no, because was on the phone. So, I put everything down and walked upstairs and I shot him a dirty look. When my back was turned he kicked the back of my knees and I fell down the stairs head first, and my head partially went through the wall and I landed on my arm the wrong way. He didn’t want to take me to the hospital at first so I went to an orthopedic a couple of days later and realized I had a fractured elbow. They kept asking me how it happened and I lied. I then realized I was scared of what would happen if he found out I told on him. A lot of people have asked me why I never called the cops and I figured they wouldn’t believe me or wouldn’t help me. I found out the following week I was 6 weeks pregnant. I asked him if we could get marriage counseling and he said he didn’t want to. (But he did quit drinking for the longest time, almost 2 years.) In the meantime, we bought a house and moved and soon our daughter was born. When she was a few months shy of being 2 he started drinking again. He would call me fat and I found out he was talking to his ex-again (as a matter of fact he talked to her pretty much every single day that we had ever been together) I remember yelling at him and telling him if he wanted to be with her so bad to go. He put hands on me again that night. I wrote him a letter and I told him if he ever drank or put hands on me again I was leaving. My mom told me that if I gave him that ultimatum I had to stick with it because he would never take me seriously. Around the end of October, he told me that I needed to go back to work so that we could provide Christmas for the kids. (Prior to that he didn’t want me working at all.) I went to work and it helped me gain some of my independence back. Honestly, I was toying with the idea of leaving him, I just didn’t know how to yet. One day my boss called me into work at 5 am and Brad sat up from a dead sleep and back handed me across the face, causing my nose and lip to bleed everywhere. He thought I had a thing for my boss (who was gay by the way.)
I went in to work and the assistant manager at the time asked me what happened and I told him my daughter accidentally head butted me. The next shift I worked with him he asked me why I let him treat me that way. It really made me angry because I didn’t want anyone to know my secret. I thought he had a lot of nerve. But I found myself asking myself that question over and over. “Why do you let him treat you that way?” One day I was panicking because I needed to leave at 3, and I didn’t want to be late because I didn’t want to make Brad late for work. The assistant manager said he could tell something was up from how I was acting.
Not long after Christmas Brad had been working on converting our garage into a workspace for me. Things had just gotten to the point me and him barely talked and he was drinking again. One day I drove home and I was on the phone with my friend who was upset because she had just had a miscarriage. He walked outside and told me to get off the phone, because he had to talk to me. I could smell alcohol on his breath. I told him to hold on. He said “I’m your husband I come first.” I probably said something smart alec in return. He took the phone from my hand and threw it in the yard and drug me inside and slapped me a couple of times and threw me into my daughter’s crib. She was almost 2 and I remember seeing the look of horror on her face and watching her face crumble.
Then I remembered that letter I wrote and my mom’s words, “If you give him an ultimatum you have to be willing to follow through with it.” I also felt so guilty for allowing my kids to be around I fighting up until that point. I swore to myself then my daughter would not grow up thinking it was okay for a man to mistreat a woman. I did not want her to have no self-esteem like I did. I told him I was leaving him. I am not sure what I did that night because I don’t remember but I know I didn’t go to my mom’s because she had been living in another city since I was 21 and I was now 25. He asked me if we could try marriage counseling. I was thinking, “What’s the point?” But my mom told me to go to validate how I was feeling. I am not going to pretend I did everything 100 percent perfect in our marriage but I never did anything to deliberately hurt him and he did that to me over and over. He told the counselor he didn’t think he had a problem. She told me I was stupid if I stayed.
I had to live with him another 6 weeks until our income tax return came in. Word got around at work that I was leaving my husband. The assistant manager- the one who made me mad for asking me why I let him treat me that way- texted me to make sure I was okay. I kind of filled him in on what happened. I remember calling my sister in law telling her about it and telling her I think he liked me but that I was so confused with everything going on. My ex overheard the conversation and assumed I was leaving him for another man. There were rumors in his family I was living with another man and I had not even left my house yet. That as the hardest 6 weeks of my life. We were at each other’s throats and he was out at the bar drinking every night leaving me to take care of the kids by myself. He didn’t want me to go but I think he just didn’t want to be alone. Contrary to what he and his family thought, I also didn’t talk to that guy from work the whole time because I wanted to make sure I left on the right terms. And I also wanted to make sure I did it for myself, not because there was another guy waiting.
When my income tax return came in I moved out to an apartment. My ex would call me drunk and call me names and say he hated me. As much as I was glad to go I was also very heartbroken. Some part of me was hoping he would change for me. I still did not fully understand what alcohol addiction was and what it entailed. Turns out, I moved close to my assistant manager. After weeks of not talking he would come hang out and we would watch movies. He would sit on the other end of the couch. I thought it was so odd but my friend told me he was trying to show me respect. A few months later we started dating and I waited a few months to introduce him to my kids. We wound up getting married several years later and we have 2 kids together. He has never once called me a name, pushed, me, spit at me. He has shown me that I am deserving of being treated with respect.
A few years ago, Brad was arrested for beating some girl he was seeing. He was court ordered domestic violence classes, as well as AA, and anger management classes. I realized it wasn’t me, it was him. It didn’t matter how much someone loved him it would never be enough. I am so glad I had the strength to finally leave and get my children out of that environment. I feel like that was the beginning of what caused him to change. I told him he would not see his children if he was a drunk. Now he has made a lot of progress and he is remarried and he has a good relationship with his kids.
One thing I learned the super hard way is if you stay with someone after the first time they abuse you, they learn that it’s ok to do it again. I also learned to never let anyone have that much control over me or my finances. In a relationship or a marriage, you are equals. There is no reason for someone to have that much control over you. I also learned who my true friends were. There were a lot of people who thought I had this perfect life and didn’t want to accept he did what he did. Or they wanted to make excuses for him. It was a blow to me but I got through it stronger than ever. I know who I am and I don’t need their validation. I also realized how strong I truly am. I learned how NOT to treat people because of what I went through with him and my father. Come to think of it, my ex was just like my father. I learned that if you wouldn’t want someone talking to your daughter that way, you shouldn’t accept it for yourself. If you are with an alcoholic they will pick alcohol over you every time. There is nothing wrong with you. It’s their issue to fix, not yours. I also learned that someone rushing you into a relationship and isolating you from everyone is a huge red flag. And most importantly if you have been abused, please file a police report. That is the number one thing I wish I would have done because it came to a point where it was my word against his. You deserve so much better than someone who tears you down. True love builds you up. Lately I have been doing a lot of mindset work to heal from those feelings of not “feeling good enough.” We are so very careful how we talk to our children because I never want them to feel that way. I don’t want then to feel like their life doesn’t matter or have them feel like they need validation from their spouse. The cycle stops with me.
If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.
For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).
If you are being abused by your partner, know there is nothing you have done or are doing to cause the abuse. It is solely the choice of the abuser to abuse. It may seem impossible to escape your abuser, change your circumstances, or find the help you need, but it is possible. However, you know your abuser best, so think carefully through your situation and circumstances and do what is the best for you.
Baton Rouge Area
(225) 389-3001 or statewide toll free at 1-800-541-9706.
Their phones are 24hrs/day
The Butterfly Society (Local non-profit - Zachary)
Battered Women's Shelter (Ascension parish)
1068 E Worthey St,
Gonzales, LA 70737
EBRDA Domestic Violence Division
24/hr National Number(s): 1-800-799-7233 and 1-800-787-3224