In 2011 I met a guy online who I’d talk to for hours on the phone and text constantly. When we finally agreed to meet in person, I was beyond excited. The first weekend we spent together was great, he was cute and different than any guy I’d ever been with before even though he told me the next time he came to visit he was moving in which I’d brushed off as a joke. It wasn’t but despite the alarming speed our relationship grew, I stayed with him regardless. I hadn’t dated anyone in a while and had this fear that no one would want to be with a single mom.
A few months into the relationship, we got into trouble at Walmart and I got arrested while he took off running leaving me to take the fall. I’m by no means a Saint but I’d never been in any serious trouble with the law and going to jail was one of the most terrifying experiences to me. After I got out, my parents came to get me and he was already blowing my phone up apologizing for leaving me. Now there were already signs that I should have left him: substance abuse, him leaving me there, being hesitant to introduce him to my family and that gut feeling when he got angry that he might hurt me. I knew the state of his life already but I genuinely believed I could fix him despite that internal alarm screaming at me.
We eventually got back together and within that time I found out I was pregnant leading us to get married. Marriage has always been a big deal to me especially my family being there to share the moment with but our wedding wasn’t anything like that and my family wasn’t there. Shortly after we got married, he hit me for the first time. I can’t recall what caused the fight but he asked me if I loved him when we got married, he didn’t believe me when I said yes so I told him no which led to him pushing off the bed. He pulled me back up off of the floor then punched me in the head.
I should’ve believed him when he said things wouldn’t be the same afterwards because they never were. Despite helping him make sure he was able to see his son, get back and forth to his jobs and giving all of my time to him, things still got worse. Time went by and the abuse ranged from punching, kicking, spitting in my face, pulling my hair, depriving me of sleep to fight to eventually choking me until I was unconscious. It wasn’t just physical though, he’d yell at me while I was driving, call me stupid and told me no one would ever love me and he was all I had. He isolated me from my family, punched my hand until it was broken because I wouldn’t touch him and burned me with a cigarette. He told me my family was against our marriage which drove a wedge between my mother and I.
They had tried to get me away from him but my failed relationship with my son’s father had me yearning to not create another broken family and some how the abuse was penance for allowing things to fall apart. So much time was spent wearing sweaters to cover the bruises which he’d show to his friends as if they were some trophy. The first time he hit me around my son I was seven months pregnant. He told him to shut the door while we went to the living room to ‘talk’. I was told to stand still while he hit me stating that “This is the pain you’ve put me through. Now you have to just stand there and take it.” He threw punches, kicked me once I was down, hit me with a plastic flute until it broke then pulled the connector to a wooden chair off and hit me in the head with it.
The tears didn’t come anymore with his threats of leaving. Part of me wished he just would’ve even though I’d tell him to stay to keep him from hitting me. I’d try to convince myself that we should work because of our daughter and because I really believed that I’d never be able to survive without him. He’d apologize, shower me with gifts, bring me lunch at work and tell me how much he loved me. This would last for a little while until something set him off again. He’d constantly accuse me of cheating and go through my phone and email picking out random contacts I was ‘cheating’ with even though I’d never been unfaithful. He’d gaslight me until I began to question my own sanity. The second time he hit me around my son was when we’d taken a vacation to Dallas and then to Memphis. I’d forgotten to grab his clothes from the closet when I’d grabbed mine and he just lost it. He called me selfish, pulled me off the bed and pushed my head against a door hinge then hit me with a plastic hanger until it broke leaving a gash on my arm.
My son asked why he was hitting me and I was told to lie and say we were just playing around I was 8 months pregnant. The last time he hit me was March 16, 2012 exactly two weeks before my daughter was born. He was coming down from meth and running on three days of no sleep. We were having the typical fight of him asking if I was cheating. I told him no, he didn’t believe me so I told him yes. He was going to beat me no matter what I’d said which I’d just accepted. A part of me wanted to die just so there was no more pain because if I was as terrible as he made me believe I was then why live?
I’d considered giving up custody of my son just so he wouldn’t have to be in that toxic environment anymore. He kicked me, punched me, choked me multiple times until I blacked out. The one time I tried to leave prior to this incident he pinned me against the wall and choked me until I passed out. I believed with every fiber of my being that this was it, he was going to kill me. He sprayed Shout in my eyes and hit me with the brick of a laptop charger. The abuse continued for what seemed like an eternity until he finally calmed down enough for me to ask him if he wanted to go to the store since he was out of cigarettes. Some how through everything, I’d made up my mind that this was going to be the last time he hit me.
My first glimmer of hope was after we went to the store and got to his friend’s house so he could get weed. He took the keys and my phone with him but once he was inside the house I took off running to the first house I saw with lights on. The ladies inside let me use their phone to call my mom once I explained what’d happened. I just needed to get away from him, give him time to calm down. That’s what I thought anyway. Shortly after the police were contacted, he turned himself in and was locked up for two months. Hours after he’d been released, his family had contacted me begging to see my daughter and allowed him to talk to me despite the emergency protective order that’d been in place. He’d called me while he was in jail so had his friends.
The last time I saw my abuser I told my family I was going to church but after service was over I went back to him. Six days I was housed up in a hotel with him and his family so they could see this little girl and things were good until I wasn’t able to get a U-Haul which was going to be used to move our things to the apartment we’d decided to get to start a new life away from my family. I was torn. I didn’t want to lose my parents like I’d lost my condo or my car. They’re small material things, yes, but they were all that I had to show my independence. It was the first time I’d lived on my own and the first new car I’d ever financed but, without him, I couldn’t afford either.
When his dad and I got back to the hotel, I could already tell he was in a foul mood but still I wanted to console him. He didn’t hit me but he yelled for about 10 minutes until the police showed up which were tipped off by my parents who had someone follow us to find where we were staying. It’s been hard to come back and I still struggle even five years later. I struggle with my self esteem, I struggle with standing up for myself and cannot bear any form of confrontation out of fear of what it could escalate to so I apologize even if it’s not my fault. The journey is long and that silver lining takes so long to appear but you deserve so much better. What abusers put you through isn’t love, it’s the need to control and manipulate due to their own insecurities.