My name is Brenda. I am 41 and spent most my years in abuse. Starting as a child with an abusive home I don’t remember. My father gave my sister and I up for adoption to my step father when I was four. He was an abusive man. Though from the outside people thought we were the perfect family of five after my brother came along. A deacon in a well known church who also was physically abusive and a pedophile who read to us scripture prior to molesting us and telling me how much of a failure my mother was and she was the reason he had to turn to me. I ended up in foster care. And by the age of 14 a run away from foster care in Los Angeles. Moved in with a man who was 28 feeling special and not knowing why a college educated man would want me. Very abusive. And kept me there until three days before my 18th birthday when I said fine send me back. I watched this man not only abuse me but run over two men who made him angry by calling me sweetheart in a fast food restaurant. The day after we separated he stole our son from childcare while I was in class. I went crying to a friend who sent her brother to retrieve my son. That man never left after being my hero. I married him and had three children. He was horribly physically abusive. In an Aryan nation gang a few years after we married. Addicted and an alcoholic. I took my three kids 4 months, 3, and 6 years old and ran away. Half way across the country to only be found. On his way to commit murder suicide as his letters said they found in his backpack he couldn’t help himself.
Stopped at a bar. Got into a fight with a female. Stabbed the man who intervened. A police chase followed as he assaulted the woman in the car driving and pressing the gas so she couldn’t stop. She hit a median and the car rolled and crushed him. My children were 1,4, and 7. I married again and after another ten abusive years divorced. Then the first man I dated after that assaulted me. This time I was left almost dead. Raped in front of my son then 13 and still struggle with PTSD and a brain injury. I went through court. I was told they were offering him a plea deal. Strangulation, First Degree False Imprisonment, and Felony Assault 3rd offense (others weren’t me). I was told he would get five years for each. I figured 15 years I could live with. My kids would be out of high school. I could move. But, the judge said he could do his time together and 15 turned to 5. In Nebraska they have the Good Time Law which gives them one day for each day served. So here I am two years later and he will be released on time served. That means no parole. And I was refused a restraining order. He has to assault me within the year. His prior means nothing to the courts. I am terrified and know I am trapped here. With my injury I haven’t been able to work. I am on social security. I see a Neurologist, Psychiatrist, Counselor, Medical Doctor, Vocational Therapy, and Occupational therapy have no money to run and he gets to walk away a free man. He will be back. Don’t forget my name. You will see it in the papers again.
He has a history of stalking and already is threatening. However, I am a survivor!! And so are my children. I don’t wish this on anyone but that close to death I finally reached out to learn more about what Normal should be. I attended every hearing, including parole. For Domestic Violence Month I was able to be an advocate and talk on our local news. They ran a three part article on my story and telling people how to get help. I am an advocate on a facebook page. And refuse to be silent. But most of all I am proud of my children. In high school now. The day before parole they had the entire school teachers and students dressed in purple and carrying signs saying silent no more and supporting survivors and our family. I never imagined my boys doing something so huge in the community and as I drove up to drop them off not knowing what I would see the day before the parole hearing I cred. I cried feeling such love and support. I have been through hell. Now I have knowledge and wisdom most people don’t. I don’t judge and can guide them through court and be supportive wherever they are in their journey. I am scared to death now he’s being released. I won’t lie. But I won’t be quiet either. I won’t go without a fight! Stay Strong!! If I can do it anyone can. I have pictures of the community and high school showing support in purple with their signs. Not sure how to include that. Feel free to use my name. I am silent no more and want to help in any way I can!
My name is Tracie Tucker. I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an employee, and a survivor. I endured emotional and physical violence by the hands of my ex-husband. I’m going to begin by telling you my story. I was married to my ex-husband, Adam, for 4 years. Within a few months of us being married, Adam became physically abusive. I remember the first time he ever hit me, we were arguing and he back handed me straight across the face as I got out of the bathtub and was wrapping myself up in a towel. He slapped me so hard, I hit the ground. He was immediately apologetic, telling me he loved me, he’d never do it again and that if I hadn’t made him so angry, he wouldn’t have had to do it in the first place. To this day, I don’t remember what the argument was about, all I can remember is that I wanted some peace and quiet and to stop arguing, so I went to take a bath, but he followed me into the bathroom and continued to yell and argue with me while I was trying to relax in the bathtub. I knew at that very moment that the violence wouldn’t stop there. You see, Adam had been arrested on average twice a year while he was married to his first wife for 10 years. I knew about his history, but chose to dismiss it when he told me he loved me, that he had changed and that all of those arrests were his ex-wife’s fault. The beatings became more frequent as time went by.
Adam would get angry over the smallest things…If dinner wasn’t cooked the way he wanted it, if his pants weren’t ironed just right, if I took too long grocery shopping, if I didn’t want to have intercourse at the very moment he did. It got to the point that we couldn’t even go out and socialize with friends and family, because he was so jealous and would always abuse me when we would get home. Adam would hit me across the face, punch me, choke me, literally pick me up and throw me across the room like a rag doll, shove me into things, even physically kick me out of the bed when I wouldn’t have sex with him after he had come home in the middle of the night drunk and high and beaten me, he would rape me, threaten to kill me, threaten to kill my entire family if I left him. One night, Adam got drunk, we had family over earlier that day and he had been drinking all night. Adam was insistent on having sex and I was trying to clean the kitchen…he pulled me into the bedroom and started hitting me, I tried to run to the living room to get away and he started picking me up and throwing me across the house. So, I ran back to the bedroom to try and get some clothes on and he took my dresser drawers out of my hands and threw it across the room, then he tried to kill me, and almost did…he threw me on the bed and began choking me, he choked me so bad I blacked out and it ruptured the blood vessels in my eyes.
As soon as I came to, I ran straight to the neighbors, no clothes on whatsoever, and had them call for help. Adam was arrested that night, although I begged and pleaded for the officers not to arrest him, they did anyway and I bonded him out of jail the very next morning. I was out of work for a week because of the damage to my face and neck. After that night, he promised to attend counseling and never lay a hand on me again, we made an agreement that if he did, I was pressing charges and leaving him. Unfortunately, neither one of us held up to the agreement, within 2 weeks, he was hitting me on a regular basis again. One night while he was beating me, I decided I had enough, I ran to my dresser drawer where I kept a handgun for my protection, only to find it in pieces and him laughing at me, he knew I would resort to that for my protection, so he had already disassembled it. That’s when I knew that I needed to figure out a way to leave because he was going to kill me one day, if I didn’t. I did finally press charges and leave him one night, after he had beaten me for the last time and fractured my wrist and I didn’t look back. He was convicted for felony strangulation, violating a protective order, misdemeanor family assault and federal gun charges. What the majority of the population doesn’t understand is how difficult it is to leave an abusive partner and to prosecute them.
1 in 4 women will be victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives and every 9 seconds in the United States a woman is beaten by her partner. Every 9 seconds! That’s a lot of women that have been abused, just since you started reading this! The problem is that it is difficult to leave an abusive relationship, so it goes unreported in most cases until somebody else is forced to step in, until someone is seriously injured or until someone is killed. The average response time for a 911 call is 10 minutes, I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, that was just enough time for my ex-husband to finish me off. It’s not law enforcement’s fault that the response time takes that long, it’s just the simple cold hard truth. I don’t know about anyone else, but that’s a scary thought…so leave an abusive partner the first chance you get, the first time he hits you! There are many resources available for domestic violence victims nowadays, there is help out there for them, they just usually don’t know about it. Just in Victoria alone, there are many aids and avenues available to crime victims. Both the sheriff’s office and police department have crime victim liaisons as well as the prosecutor’s office.
There are many counseling centers available at no cost and you may also ask for financial assistance to relocate or get back on your feet. What many victims don’t realize is that it is their decision to leave, their decision to start fresh and their decision to prosecute. That being said, it requires effort on their part. You can’t just leave and put it all in the hands of a victim liaison, a police officer, an investigator, a prosecuting attorney or even a family member. You have to follow it through to the end. Just like any other life altering decision, it requires effort and participation. You wouldn’t expect to get a college degree without attending college, so don’t expect law enforcement to repair the months or years of damage from the relationship that you chose to stay in. Time and time again, women have their husbands arrested and start the prosecuting process with every intention of following it through, but it is rare that they do. It is because of this, that law enforcement may not take it as seriously as you would like. It’s because of this that men are still out there beating women, I know, I was one of those women at one time. As a victim that is looking for justice, you have to fully cooperate with the justice system. It is set up to protect victims. But you have to help yourself as well.
The only way to stop domestic violence is to stand up to it! Leave your husband, press charges, follow up with the investigators, with the prosecuting attorney, make your presence known, show up at every court hearing, arraignment and sentencing, follow up with the parole board. Take a stand! If they are behind bars, they know someone got tired of the abuse, maybe they will think twice before doing again! I will admit, it is stressful, standing up to anyone who has hurt you. I attended hearing after hearing for all of my ex-husband’s charges. It seemed like it was never going to end, they would just keep getting reset to another date for this or that…one time I left the court house, got in my car and just bawled my eyes out, instead of going back to work like I should have, I went to spend the day with my dad. I felt like I couldn’t take any more resets, I just wanted it to be over with….and then it happened, a few court dates later, we didn’t even have to go to trial, he pled guilty to everything. After he pled guilty, I exercised my right to stand up there in that courtroom and give what is called a Victim Impact Statement; it is a statement, off the record, to the court and the offender of how the crime impacted mine and my family’s life. It was the first time I had ever got to stand up to him and tell him how much turmoil he put me and my family through and how I have learned from the situation.
I would go through every single court hearing all over again to have that moment…it was justice in and of itself. I was finally free, free to be me, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a sister, an employee and no longer the abused! The only way to stop domestic violence is to stand up to it. If you see the signs in a loved one, offer help, let them know that whenever they decide to do something about it, you’re there for them. Contact your local law enforcement, counseling agency, hospital….they all know the resources to help you or a loved one get out of an abusive relationship. But don’t stop there, use your knowledge to help others who are going through it. Remember that it takes time and be patient.
Look for these warning signs and offer help:
• Frequent jealousy
• Checking on their partner’s every move
• False accusations
• Isolating their partner from family and friends
• Rarely attending social gatherings
• The abused partner calling in sick to work to avoid showing signs of abuse
• Mood swings
• Controlling personality
• Withholding money or hiding money from their partner
• Preventing their partner from reaching their goals (job, school)
• Not allowing their partner to make any decisions on her own
• Drug and alcohol abuse
If you see any of these signs in any loved one or family friend, please offer help, it may be the one thing that they need to hear in order to take a stand, stop the abuse and leave! I know you have all heard it time and time again, but domestic violence does affect everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, middle class, white, African American, Hispanic, legal, illegal, fat, skinny, male, female, average member of the community or a public figure…it affects you!
Look at it this way:
• 57% of homelessness can be attributed to victims of domestic violence
• Almost 8 million days of paid work are missed annually due to domestic violence
• Domestic violence causes approximately 2 million injuries and 1,300 deaths a years
• Almost 6 billion dollars in health/medical related expenses a year are a result of domestic violence
• Over 30% of law enforcement’s time is spent on domestic violence DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AFFECTS EVERYONE! And to end my story on a happy note…Since I left my ex-husband and followed through with prosecuting him, I have found myself again. I have figured out what it’s like to think and act for myself again without worrying about any repercussions. I’m able to enjoy time with family and friends and socialize. We all have a past, and some of us have worse than others, but it is ultimately up to us to determine our futures…make yours a happy one.
Emotional Abuse; The Invisible Train Wreck In hindsight
I never felt my relationship with my husband of twenty-two years was abusive. One would certainly think it would be so easily detected; so easily felt. I would have never believed it could have been part of my life. The abuse had crept into my life effortlessly and I subconsciously learned to survive through the horrific dysfunction. I despised it, yet couldn’t give it up. Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse is often more difficult to recover from, as the scars can often be more self-destructive. There are no visible marks and friends and family can barely detect your pain. In the beginning, I thought my relationship struggles were the typical marital woes everyone faced as newlyweds. I felt determined to work through the battles I constantly faced. I thought it was that part of my marital journey where I would suffer through and learn to accept my significant other’s faults. I was proud of my ability to survive. The scars on my heart began to thicken and block my ability to love this man. The mistreatment felt so wrong, but my learned ability to forgive trumped all my instinctive feelings. The turmoil was relentless. The few people I shared this with were oblivious to any abuse. Their empathy quickly turned to excuses for my husband’s irrational behavior. They’d never witnessed any of it, so I am wondering if they ever really believed me or maybe thought I exaggerated the truth. The ups and downs became a regular gig in the days and months of my marriage. It never stopped or slowed down. It was and is a toxic cycle in any abusive relationships.
We would have great normal days, but then someone or something would cause a trigger reaction where there would be arguing, threats and intimidation, then denial, blaming and saying I caused him to act that way. There was never an apology, but there was always a guaranteed silent treatment that followed and lasted for days. The communication would just stop. I became invisible, as well as my feelings. The times I wanted to leave were immeasurable. He was an expert at convincing me I would never make it on my own, and the kids would hate me forever. Self-doubt was inevitable. The abuse became such a profound part of my life, yet I stayed. The level of toxicity increased through the years. I became very depressed during our last years together as a couple. At one low point, I developed shingles. I felt trapped and unable to see how diminished my self respect had become. I lost my ability to be combative in arguments, because I’d rather keep the peace than trigger and emotional outburst. The joy and happiness in my life was trapped underneath the misery. I worried more about my kid’s and my husband’s lives than my own well being. It was pathetic, but it became my normal. Truthfully, I did not even know what emotional and financial abuse was or that it was considered domestic violence until I finally broke down and secretly went to a local women’s abuse center for counseling. Knowledge became power for me. I began to research and read up on the issues.
They all resonated with me. I learned the best way to handle an abuser and how to leave an unhealthy marriage. My husband’s goal was to gain control and power over me through all the belittling, financial control and manipulation. His behavior had become unpredictable and troublesome. The more I pulled away from his grip on me, the tighter he held on. I had to carefully plan my escape. The last few months we were together, I had to act like I would try to work on our relationship. I pretended to care, when deep down I hated him and myself for allowing this man to tear apart my soul. I began regular therapy, which gave me instant perspective. Every time I left the sessions, I felt more powerful. Just having an outsider view my marriage, who acknowledged my disheveled marital unraveling and allowed my doubts and fears to slowly dissipate. It was if when I was inside the confines of his delusional world, I couldn’t think straight or function as the strong woman I once was. His constant barrage of hurtful words kept me fenced in on the emotional merry-go-round. My therapist explained once, that this vicious and toxic cycle was what we needed in each other as partners. He needed to be in control of my life, and I became accustomed to forgiving his bad behavior. It took me an excruciating year of facing my fears to realize I had to leave or I would never make it out. I was afraid I would become seriously ill from internalizing the abuse for all these years. The strong fist of domestic violence would end up costing me my life, my soul and my being! It wasn’t up to me to help him see his evil ways or making him better.
That was his karma. He had to help himself and I knew I had to jump off the merry-go-round no matter how difficult it would be. I blindsided him and left while he was away one day. With the support of family, therapist, attorney and friends I am starting a new life. It was the scariest decision I had ever made, but I now considered it to be an exciting new beginning for me. A new chapter has begun. I know write my own future and that is the power of self. Emotional and financial abuse is real and is as destructive to a human being, as physical abuse. Here are some sane and loving directions for anyone who may be on the same park ride as I once was. Get an attorney. If you can’t afford one, there are pro-bono attorneys available. If you love your home, and find it too difficult to leave; if the abuser refuses to exit and makes more money that you, you have to have to walk out the door. Make a plan, find a place if even temporary. It’s just a material item. Your being’s sanity is far more important than any replaceable structure. Do research information about emotional abuse. Call Women’s Centers in your area for free counseling and support. Knowledge is power. They can even help you with housing, finding free attorneys and filing a PFA if your situation warrants that. Do not engage in any conversations with the abuser, especially after you leave. It’s their tool for getting you back on that detrimental ride of abuse. I blocked my abuser immediately from my cell phone and emails. My boundaries were not strong enough to guard off the hurtful words I wanted to leave behind. It has to be an abrupt cut off of all communication. If you have kids, the abuser can communicate through attorneys. Learn how to love your self. Involve yourself in a great support group or with others who have gone through similar situations. Most importantly, don’t look back; you are not going that way. Get therapy and work on YOU.
I am a survivor of Domestic Violence by an intimate partner, and I’m also an artist. Earlier this year I reached out to a peer of mine who is a spectacular painter based in California, Sarah Stolar. I asked her if she would interested in painting an image of me after my partner nearly ended my life. It was the only time in 2+ years that I ever managed to document the carnage, and attribute these images with ultimately saving my life and ending that relationship. The reason I asked Sarah is because she has been gorgeous images of different types of “strong” women, and now, after 7 years I finally realized that I too, am a strong woman. Through her painting, I gained so much more courage and was able to open a dialogue with my friends and family, who had previously been in the dark about not only the physical injuries, but the mental as well (I have struggled with severe PTSD for about 8 years now).
I would like to use Sarah’s painting and my story to help other people who might currently be trapped in a violent relationship or those who’ve managed to get out but are riddled the guilt, shame and PTSD and feel they must cope alone.
I would love it you could share my story, and the beautiful painting Sarah made of the moment I decided I wanted to live, and therefore had to get out. The painting equal parts haunting, heroic and beautiful. I will attach the images. Please let me know what you decide. I don’t want mystery to have been in vain. I want help others who are where I was. I got a second chance. I am still alive, and I do not wish to take that for granted.
Thank you so much for your time,
I was with my ex on and off for 4 years, together consistently for the last 2 years. I left him 3 months ago took our 3 year old son with nothing more then the clothes on our back. Sometimes I don’t know what was worse the physical or the emotional. The scares for the physical heal, but the emotional and verbal abuse still lives in my head everyday. ” your fat, your a slut, your disgusting, no one would ever want you, your lucky I put up with you. The hardest part was that my son witnessed most of it. I pray everyday that because I finally got out while he’s young maybe he won’t remember the abuse we suffered at the hands of the man that was suppose to protect us. I work on myself everyday but its hard. Everyday feels like an up hill battle but I try to remember everyday is also one more day further away.
A Story Of Survival
Many people have asked me over the last 7 yrs several things about my life. Why I am in Philadelphia, why if I have children are they not with me, why I live alone, and why I have no friends. Well let me put it out to you….. A loner most of my life I never did develop close friendships growing up, I preferred to travel with groups of people instead of just 1 or 2. I had a 7 yr marriage to my 1st love which resulted in the birth of my son Paul. He was born during my 6th month of pregnancy weighing only 3lbs 3ozs and 13 in long. He struggled the first 76 days of his life to live. As a result he had Cerebral Palsy and with this came the end of my marriage, my husband could not handle a “cripple” so he left us. I threw myself into raising my son and encouraging him to become independent and abled not disabled.
He is now a father himself. My second marriage came when Paulie (as I did and still do call him) was 7 years old. I met, became engaged, and married within 6 months. We welcomed 2 children, Cody in 1992, and Ashley in 1994. When Paul graduated High School and no longer needed mom’s help, I began my dream of becoming a nurse. I went to class M-F and worked nights. On the weekends I did part time work too. Three months before my graduation my husband had a heart attack and triple bypass surgery. He recovered but came home changed. With an accusing attitude he insisted that I only wanted to be a nurse to “catch” a doctor….So resulted in divorce #2. With a new career, and start of a new life, the kids and I were happy. Until… A year passed and I met “him”. A fun loving guy he took great interest in me and my kids. I would come home from work to find groceries overflowing in my carport, and when I would go to pay my bills I would be told they were already paid. he would show up on weekends and take us everywhere, camping, fishing, on trips, shopping, anywhere the kids wanted to go, eventually he won me over. After 4 yrs of this things took a drastic change.
Now here’s the part that to this day blows my mind. We were together 4 yrs and never once, once, did we have a cross word, argue, or disagree, until… It was after a day of working a double shift, I went to pick him up at his mothers. She told me he had called her earlier and left a number for me. When I called I was told by his friend that they would be back in the area late and I should just go home. I left his mother’s at 12 midnight and drove the hour drive home. When I got in I checked the answering machine but no calls. At around 3 am I was startled awake by what I thought was something crashing through the house. When my eyes adjusted to the darkness I saw a shape at the foot of the bed, and felt something warm on my face. I turned on the light and there he stood at the foot of the bed with an 835 Ulti-Mag Shotgun, the “warmth” was blood ……I screamed “what did you do?” He had an evil sneer on his face and his eyes literally looked black. He said “today you die.” I tried to get past him to the bathroom but he was much bigger and stronger. At the time I weighed 105 lbs and I am 5’9″. He was 6’4″ and 295 lbs.
He grabbed me by the hair and literally threw me down the stairs. By the time I stood up he was on me. He pushed me through a window onto the carport roof. How I got down I still don’t remember, but he was there. Now people ask”why didn’t you scream, why didn’t you fight back”. Well answer I was first of all in shock and our nearest neighbor was 2 miles away. He drug me back into the house and there I saw it. He had all our rifles, guns, and hunting equipment out. Along with rope, tape, and chains. He proceeded to choke me til I almost passed out, then bound me and began kicking me punching me, and hitting me with the butt of a 308 rifle. I remember I kept pleading with him to stop, but he was like a crazed person. Hours later he must have gotten tired, and without thinking I grabbed the rifle barrel and begged him to either kill me or let me go.
Something registered with him because he suddenly looked at me and asked “what happened to you?” He took me upstairs and when I looked into the mirror I didn’t recognize myself. He told me “you better get ready for work”. I was floored, how could I go to work? I was bleeding, and couldn’t even see. As I got ready to try and shower he commanded 1 more thing, after he was done, I showered and cried, how was I going to fix it so no one would know? When I went back into the bedroom to dress he was passed out. I snuck down the stairs praying he wouldn’t wake up, when I got into my car I slid as far as possible down into the seat, released the parking brake and drifted down the driveway.
I thought oh God I’m going to get away, but had the idea he was toying with me and was actually in the window with the barrel of a gun trained on me. When I hit the end of the driveway, I started the car, punched the accelerator, and didn’t breathe until I was 3 miles away. I GOT OUT!!!! I drove to work where I slid into a concrete parking barricade, my co-workers rushed over, and that is all I remember until I woke up in ICU a day later. For all that he did to me he ran for 2 weeks, and when caught he received a whole 72 hours in jail. This man has caused my ex to sue me and get custody of the 2 children we have together, made a promise that he will “finish” me, caused me to have to leave my family behind. So now it’s out there. It doesn’t change the person you know as me to tell this. Just wanted to answer the spoken and hushed questions about me….. I AM A SURVIVOR….HE CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME…
My Mother’s Story
My advice is for parents of anyone in a family violence situation. My three words of advice to offer to parents….DON’T STOP TRYING
No matter how hard it is to keep trying to talk to your child (who is now most likely an adult), no matter how you may feel you are pushing them away, no matter that they may tell you they hate you, you don’t understand, you don’t know him/her, like I do, not matter what…. DON’T STOP TRYING.
My daughter began a relationship with a man that I did not like. No matter how I tried, I just didn’t like him. But that didn’t mean I saw him as a bad guy, again, just not my kind of guy. There were red flags; they way she was so quiet around him, they way he tried to “fit in” and talk about all his experiences, and most importantly, they way he ignored the children that were at my house. Usually that’s the first connection for anyone new, they will interact with the children because it’s more comfortable and kids are less judgmental. This did not happen, despite the fact that there are constantly grandchildren running around our house.</br>
He immediately moved in with her, with no concern to the fact that he had no income and her income was so small. This was another red flag, she had only been on her own for a couple of months and was enjoying it greatly. It surprised us all that she would have someone move in with her. Then began the clear signs that proved he was a liar, not to be trusted and our daughter’s change in both appearance and outward demeanor let us know that things were not right.
The first suspicion of course was drugs, that’s what is the first suspicion for most parents. But we knew that our daughter had a strong distaste for drugs. It was one of her character columns, the stuff she was made of, so it was very hard for me to even think that, but I could see changes in her and knew something was not right. I tried to talk with her, but I had become so angry about this new man that the conversations with my daughter had begun to always turn to an argument. By the time we were through we were both exhausted with her trying to tell me he was good and I was not seeing the real him and me trying to point out how dramatically her values had changed.
At one point, she began to express to her sister and I how manipulative he was and that he was hateful to her. My oldest daughter and I told her then, LEAVE….tell him to move out. She said she had thought about it but just didn’t know how to do this, and she did not want to feel like a failure in the relationship. We continued to talk with her about this, even offering to tell him for her. By this time both of his parents and his little brother were staying with her for weeks at a time. She had been on her own for only two months before he moved in and now here were 4 people living with her in a small 800 square foot 1 bedroom condo, The extra financial burden was taking its toll on her. We (her father, brothers and her sister) staged our own brand of intervention. We went to her house and told all of them that she wanted them all to move out. We even forced her to say the same thing. They all packed up and left. But he was only gone for a couple of days when he began calling her over and over at all hours until she told him to come back. In retrospect, I can say now that we thought we did the right thing. But it was much like a roach infested house, we got rid of the roach but did nothing to maintain the house so that roaches would not return….and they did. If I could do it all over again, I would offer her more support after he left. Divert her into another area, encourage her to change her phone number where he could no longer contact her.
Then much to our surprise, she became pregnant and she married him. They posted on their marriage announcement on Facebook, she did not tell me face to face, even though we are still speaking almost daily. This changed everything about how we were going to maintain a relationship with our daughter. I began trying to find a way to connect with him and look beyond the ugliness that I thought I was seeing. It did not help much, but I was willing to try. I would not lose my daughter just because I was of the opinion that she had chosen the wrong mate.
One pinnacle point was when we found out that he had been using drugs, methamphetamine. This was dramatic. It was difficult enough to know that he was using dangerous drugs, but remember, drugs had always been a deal breaker for my daughter, and now she had actually married someone who was using one of the most dangerous drugs that exist. That was when I knew, something is terribly wrong. Somewhere my daughter is no longer the same person she was before she met this man. Sometime around late summer we noticed that she was wearing sweaters to work, this did not seem right, even though she was a small framed girl, it was 95 to 100 degrees here. Then one day I saw a large mass of bruising on her arm. She told me that she had fallen off the bed and hit her arm on the night stand. She had always bruised easily so I completely ignored what I saw and believed her. Duh….red flag.
Now this was beginning to get frightening, my daughter had lost a lot of weight even though she was around 6 months pregnant. Christmas was a disaster. We had leased a beach house, as we do every year, she only showed up twice and both times were with him. One day he was obviously coming down from his drug, he was paranoid, wore his sweatshirt hood the entire time he was there and said he was shaking because he was so cold. We struggled through the next three months with constant bickering. She was still losing weight and we could tell that she was not sleeping. I knew that there were no drugs in her system because she was still going to her doctor regularly. Any drugs would have shown up in the urine test that were performed with each visit. So why was she still losing weight and why was she so miserable, she had a new baby coming soon.
She was at eight and a half months into her pregnancy, I was getting ready for bed one night when I got a phone call from a number I had never seen, but it was late at night and as a mother of 4, of course I answered it. It was a woman calling to tell me that my daughter was at her house and she had been beaten. Immediately she handed the phone to a sheriff’s deputy who informed me that my daughter had been beaten and was in his custody but they did not have the person who beat her in custody. I immediately drove to where she was which was in another county. When I picked her up the sheriff’s deputy said the actual incident had taken place in another county and needed to be reported there. He said they had completed a report but would be limited in what they could do since it the beating had taken place in another county. My daughter looked pitiful, she was in her last two weeks of pregnancy, had lost a dramatic amount of weight and now she was covered in bruises. We immediately went to the emergency room and our local police met us there. The first thing out of her mouth was that this was all her fault. She then began telling the officer everything that happened that night. When he told her that he knows bruising and that some of the bruising on her was a few weeks old, she then began telling him of other incidents of violence with her husband. This totally came to a surprise to me, I was embarrassed and ashamed that I did not know this. I was humiliated that all of this had been taking place and I had not done anything to protect her.
Without going into all the detail, an immediate emergency protective order was placed and a warrant was issued with charges of a 2nd degree felony, he had tried to strangle her. But, he had not been found yet, so we knew he was still out there. We brought my daughter home to our home and we alternated between who would sit up all night and watch the house just in case he showed up. But he didn’t. However, he was constantly calling my daughter and I could tell by our conversations that she would go back to him if she were able. The police finally caught him the week my daughter gave birth. She delivered the baby and remarkably in spite of the beating that had just taken place, the baby was healthy. We now returned to our home as three generations of women, me with my daughter and my grand-daughter in tow.
For a week or so we felt some sense of peace. He was in jail with a very large bond. He still continued to call her from the jail no matter that there was a protective and a no contact order. This constantly tugged on her. She had a new baby with no father around her and her husband calling from jail trying telling her that if she told the judge that there was no choking that night then the charges would be reduced. Then came the day that his parents bonded him out, after three weeks in jail they raised enough money to pay his bond and he was now on the streets again, calling my daughter. She was torn, this was her husband, the father of her daughter and he was telling her that he was so sorry and this would never happen again. PARENTS…QUICK NOTE: This is a time when you are able retrieve the phone (take a picture of it) hide it, whatever you have to do. If there is a protective order in place all you have to do is show this to the police to have the abuser arrested again for violating the order. I did not do that, I valued my daughters privacy and thought that was too aggressive. I know better now.
He got out on a Thursday, my daughter left that following Sunday to go to church. I know that she had no intentions of going back to him that day because she begged her nephew to go to church with her, but he did not. Her husband was still texting and calling her and after church services she agreed to meet him and let him see the baby. It all went downhill from there. She text me and told me she was with a friend and would be home tomorrow. I immediately panicked, thinking that she could be with him. I informed our local police to please watch for them. I gave them her car information, license plate number, everything that I had. For the next three days she text me saying she was with a friend, but somewhere I knew better. I just knew she was with him. Finally three days later she told me that she was with him and that she was going to move back with him. She tried to assure me that the beating was over and that it was all a mistake and it was her fault. Red flag….if your child tells you that it is their fault that someone hit them you need to step in. There is nothing that warrants striking someone. At this point I was completely lost, I did not know what to do. There is nothing that I could say to try and sway her.
Now I began trying to think of things that I could do, how do I make the protective order effective if she chooses to stay with him. Then I thought of the baby, who will protect the baby. If my daughter was so lost in providing her own safety, she was not going to provide safety for my granddaughter. That was when I called my daughter and told her that I was going to contact CPS, Child Protective Services. Of course she did not believe that I would do that, I didn’t even believe that I would do that. But I was desperate, I needed to do something. CPS took my information and told me that would immediately begin an investigation but they needed to know where she was. I did not know, I suspected, but I did not know.
Within a few days my daughter contacted me and said she was coming home that Saturday to pick up some of her belongings. She said that her husband was sending her father-in-law with her and she could not bring the baby. That heads up allowed me to get a true friend to hide out and follow her when she left. I knew that if that friend lost her that there was a good chance that I may not see her again. He did follow her to another county and then called to tell me what motel they were staying in. I immediately contacted the police there and informed them that my daughter was with a man that had just tried to kill her and that there was a protective order in place. I told them where she was and that she needed to be removed immediately. I was shocked when the dispatcher ask me if he was holding her against her will, I immediately started crying and screaming that how does she even have any will left, this man had completely beaten the will out of her. I don’t know what finally changed the dispatchers mind, maybe because I told them there was a 4 week old baby there, or that CPS was looking for them, or just the desperation in my voice, but they did agree to go and see if she was being held against her will. I will never know what made the police take this more seriously, but the dispatcher called me back within 30 minutes to tell me that they had arrested him for violation of the protective order. About an hour later my daughter called me to tell me that he had been arrested and that she was going to try and find a friend to stay with. I told her to come home, she began crying saying that she did not think she would be allowed to come back home.
I would love to tell you that she came back home and fell into my arms and then all the answers fell into place, but that is not what happened. We went through months of struggle. She still had to go and file for a two year extended protective order, she had to file for divorce; she had to work with CPS; none of these things came easy. She still had a criminal trial to face because he had abused her and she would have to testify. Then there was the restoration of our relationship. She was bitter, I was bitter. She was trying to get over the loss of her husband, I was elated that he was gone and unable to harm her.
The beating was eleven months ago, and I can say that now we have such a wonderful relationship. Trust me, we still butt heads, but we have a full understanding and true respect for each other. We have both grown and we both know now that there are lines in the sand that must be drawn. My daughter now knows that I will stop at nothing to protect her and my granddaughter. And I now know and can say with confidence that through counseling, prayer, and experience that my daughter will stop at nothing to protect herself and her daughter.
Parents, don’t be shy. When an abuser begins to have that control and influence and when you begin to see that your child is no longer your friend then you need to know not going to be their friend so there is not much point in trying. Seek out help, get their true friends input, go online, look up parents of the abused, call shelters, call aid to victims try to get as much information and support as possible. They have experience and may be able to offer you that one piece that you needed to help save your child. My daughter was 23 years old when this happened, so she was far from a child, but she was my child. When I began taking these more aggressive steps I was sure that she would hate me for the rest of my life. I think maybe for a little while she may have thought she hated me. But that is long gone and as hard as those phone calls were to make, it saved my daughter’s life. So that is my only piece.