Saturday, October 13, 2007

Why doesn't she leave-Part 2

Yesterday,I discussed my story and how it was I ended up in a domestic violence situation.


I apologize it 's long but felt I had to do it that way to give the background how someone gets into that situation.


I feel once folks know how it can happen they can be compassionate and proactive when it happens.


I left you with my total despair at the loss of my marriage and how used I was by my then husband.


He had not one compassionate bone in his body at that moment. I didn't even recognize this person I had known almost a quarter of a century.


I waited for the end to come without saying a word.I didn't want to live and I wanted to never feel the hurt I had felt all my life again.


I was silent,mute.


I guess I drifted into unconsciousness. I, of course, don't remember.


I am told it was longer than an hour before he called 911.He didn't want to be embarrassed because we both belonged to the local fire department and the paramedics would know us.


I am also told he left me alone and went to the local Walgreens to purchase syrup of Ipecac to make me vomit the contents of my stomach.


I know you should never induce vomiting in an unconscious person and he knew it too.He was a certified EMT.


To this day I have a few friends who think he should be guilty of attempted murder.



Apparently,I was taken to the hospital and my stomach pumped and was given some kind of charcoal stuff to absorb what might be left in my system.As a side note, let me tell you that is bad stuff and would keep me from ever attempting it again.



I came to in the afternoon with my family and a couple friends in the room.


I was so disgusted with myself that I had failed and would live to be hurt over and over again.I knew I could never have whatever it took to do this again.


Paul tried to apologize for his words pushing me over the edge but I just couldn't believe he was truly remorseful.I somehow knew his hurting me would go and on if I allowed him back into my life.I remember vaguely screaming at him to leave.



I was transferred to a psychiatric hospital on the other side of Houston.I was told by Paul when he and the kids came to visit me 2 days later that it was 58 miles one way and didn't intend to make a second trip.


I was hospitalized for a week.


In that time I met another patient.He was intriguing to me. He wasn't really like so many of the other patients.His illness wasn't outward.Neither was mine. To just observe us we didn't manifest mental illness symptoms.


I was diagnosed with acute clinical depression and bipolar disorder.


I really had no idea what bipolar was or what it meant even though I had a brother who was schizophrenic and bipolar. I knew most of the symptoms I had witnessed with him were from the schizophrenia;I really didn't know the bipolar symptoms and I was grateful I had only inherited the bipolar disorder. I learned that bipolar is/can be hereditary.



The staff after hearing my life history said they were not surprised I was there but surprised it had taken so long for me to to get there.


During my stay I became friendly with this man,Oscar. I could have an intelligent conversation.He wasn't hitting on me. He seemed quiet and in control. He liked to play rummy as I did so we played game after game.


At that time,in my insane state I felt he was a good friend.


It came time for us to be released.I called Paul because I didn't know anyone else to call to come pick me up and take me to my condo.


My car was parked there and I had no cash on me.


He refused.


My only other option I knew was to take a taxi and stop and get the money from the ATM and it would take just about all I had in my account.It was my only alternative.


Oscar had been working with the powers that be at the institution to provide him transportation but he really had no place to go home to.


So between us we cooked up this hare-brained idea that made perfect sense at the time for him to get the transportation and he could come home with me.


It was coming up on 4th of July weekend, a few days before it was Mandy's birthday and I knew she wouldn't speak to me.None of the family would.


I was virtually alone and lonely.


I was afraid to be alone with myself.Not just afraid,terrified.I couldn't promise I wouldn't harm myself again.


I was so grateful to have someone with me,to be accountable to;someone who understood what I was going through,to watch me.To get me help if I needed it.


To this day I believe I owe him my life for if it hadn't been for him I doubt I'd be alive.


I couldn't have cared any less about myself at that time.


We began a deep friendship. I was out of work due to the mental state for a few weeks receiving outpatient care.


We spent hours upon hours sharing our life histories and how we got to where we were at that time.


He was Christian as was I.We shared a faith that was a bond between us.


He had financial resources I didn't have.


For his living there he got cable turned on,helped me with bills since I was out of work. My savings was depleted from the wedding and I wouldn't get my short term disability check until after I returned to work. I knew it took forever to get it.


I was between a rock and hard place and so was Oscar. I could scratch his back and he could scratch mine.


Eventually, I returned to work and he stayed home and took care of cleaning, laundry and cooking and seemed to enjoy it.


After a few months I came home to him gone and no word where he was.


That was the beginning of a long,hard process of learning what it was to live with a drug addict.


That was his demon, drugs-crack cocaine to be specific.


He would disappear for a couple days and return and be remorseful and not use again for months.


After each time when he'd return it would be bliss, happiness, contentment. I wanted to believe each time was the last time.

After awhile it was feeling we were falling in love as strange as it may be.

We wanted to believe it was a "God thing" that we had found each other.

We went to church, did our Bible study every day, watched Christian TV, listened to Christian music.

No one else I had been involved with professed his love for Jesus the way this man did.

We were an interracial couple and had abuse from the outside world but it didn't bother us.

I never thought about the color of his skin. He was just like me in my eyes.


He seemed in tune with me. He knew when I was down or tired or frazzled.

He offered comfort where the others abandoned me at those times and sought out the comfort of others.

He was letting me see into himself in a very personal way.

I was building a relationship with his family whereas mine had left me in the dust because "I was crazy".

It might be contagious and it sure as hell was uncomfortable and a stigma attached.

As much as I invited them into my world as it was then no one obliged.

The kids didn't check on me to see if I needed anything.

I was extremely hurt but just stuffed it down and went on with life as it was.

More and more I became dependant on Oscar.

He was the only family I had at that time.

I was accepted,warts and all.

He treated me as an equal.

We would laugh and joke around.

We took long car rides and discovered new places neither of us knew before.

We took walks in the park near the house every day.We had picnics and fed the ducks.

We developed friendships unrelated to our past lives before we knew each other.



He bought my clothes and had excellent taste. He would laugh at my goof ups and we developed our own private jokes.

We said grace before meals and knelt at the bed and prayed together before bedtime.Our faith grew stronger and much of our lives was centered around church.

I was living the life I thought I always wanted.

We grew closer and closer.



Eventually, we were engaged. Our church was helping plan a wedding when we were ready. We received counseling from our pastor to prepare for the marriage.

Meanwhile the only of my four children who had contact with me was Dan.

He never gave up on me, unconditional love for his Mom.



Then he would go out and use again and the cycle would start all over.He was sorry.We'd pray harder. We became more involved in church.

I became sicker with my fibromyalgia and its symptoms which were many.

He encouraged me to leave my job.I eventually did and began working back at a convenience store around the corner from the house.I had worked there before and it seemed suited to me.



He's take me to work,even though I could walk, it was so close. He'd cook breakfast for me before work if I worked in the morning.He'd cook lunch or dinner if I worked a later shift.

He's pick me up after work.

He's run all the errands. He took care of the bills so I didn't have to worry about it.

I became even sicker.

He eventually talked me into quitting work and he would support me.After all, we were going to be married.

He helped me file for SSD so I could have my own income and get medical benefits.



What I didn't know and understand at the time he was grooming me for domestic violence.

It was classic.

He began to be verbally abusive at times.He would convince me it was my fault in one way or another.

He controlled the finances since I didn't work.

He bought the groceries and took over the responsibilities of the bills.

He became possessive.At first it was kind of cute because no one had ever "cared" about me like that.It quickly became a nuisance.

He began to accuse me of things that weren't happening.He gained further control over my everyday life. When we would take walks he constanly accused me of looking at other men.I learned to walk with my head down.From his insane perspective he believed it was real no matter how hard I convinced him it wasn't.He would punch me in the head for looking at other people.I dreaded running into someone I knew because I knew they'd want to stop and have a friendly conversation but I would have hell to pay later.



Now,instead of walking for fun it became a chore,I had to because he insisted.The picnics and feeding the ducks stopped.

The long drives ceased. Any shopping on my part stopped because he couldn't afford it or decided it wasn't worthwhile.Also.I would be accused of flirting while I was away from him.
There were times he'd want me to walk to the convenience store to get cigarettes but I was timed.If I wasn't back in 7 minutes I knew it wasn't going to be pleasant when I got home. You might wonder why I didn't use those opportunities to get away.I was terrified if it didn't work he's find me and kill me and harm whomever helped me.
I did call my ex once;he lived less than 5 minutes away.He refused me any help.All I wanted was trasportation to get far enough away he couldn't find me.

My friendships were stopping because he'd point out how this one and that one were trying to cause trouble.



The verbal abuse started included name calling and vile cursing,worse than ever.The venom that came from his mouth was unbelievable, demeaning and humiliating.

The church attendance was forced;it was controlled.I could only belong to whatever group he decided was worthwhile.

He came to every doctors appointment I had and came into the rooms with me.He determined if this doctor or that doctor was treating me satisfactorily.At first it seemed he did have my best interest at heart because a couple of them were negligible.After awhile it was a control issue.

In the early years he was very sympathetic and understanding of my health issues.

As time wore on he said I was using it for attention.



He became frustrated and angry that my SSD wasn't forthcoming and I had to appeal and reappeal.

I drew out my 401 K to help with the finances.I cashed in stock I had while working.

He began to throw up to me I wasn't helping but repaying him for what he'd spent already so I still owed him.



I became severely depressed and despondent.Trying to anticipate his moods and outbursts taxed whatever physical energy I had. His outbursts were more frequent,then daily,then almost hourly.
Always, he proclained love for me.




He eventually said he wanted me to leave.I had gone back to work very part time,15 hours a week at a little restaurant in the neighborhood.

Dan and Jennie were gracious enough to allow me to come live with them in Ohio.I took what little money I had and what little he so "generously" gave to me complete with a tirade and left TX for Ohio.

I was rid of him I thought.

He called every day,more than once a day.If we weren't home or asleep he left messages.The messages became more belligerent.

On one hand he wanted me out of his life and the other he still wanted the control.



Dan And Jennie were in a financial crisis themselves the whole time I was there.I was ill and couldn't work and knew I was a drain on them although they never would have thought of me as that way.

It came time they had to move into an apartment and I couldn't have them incur more expense because I was with them.I would pray and pray my SSD would get settled so I could help them out.It didn't come through for a couple more years.



While I was in OH Oscar suffered a couple heart attacks and had reconstructive knee surgery.

At the time Dan and Jennie were making plans to move he presented me with an offer.

He had moved to a bigger place and he needed in home care.

Why didn't I come back and we would live as roommates and I could help with his physical care for a place to stay.

At that point it seemed like the most feasible plan I could come up with.



The very day I returned as he picked me up from the bus station (I had left my car with Dan and Jennie) instead of going straight home,Oscar made a run into Houston for drugs.Never had he done them at home before when I was with him nor had he ever done them around me.I was now a captive audience in the truest sense of the word.



I was drawn into the life of a crack addict in full blown using.It was frightening to me.The paranoia he had was enough to keep me in a constant state of alert.

I couldn't believe how rundown and shoddy the furniture we had purchased together had become while I was away.

No real food in the house. The place was shabby and unkempt.

The extra bedroom that was supposed to be ready for me when I arrived was bare;I was to sleep on the couch.

I couldn't have the TV on due to his paranoia.He checked the windows and doors every 5 minutes literally.Blankets were up anywhere he thought someone could see in even places that made no sense but I learned quickly not to question.



I couldn't get a drink of water or use the bathroom without him becoming increasingly angry claiming I made too much noise.

I fell asleep on the couch only to wake up to him rummaging through my purse to see if I had money he could get at to go get more drugs.



The next day he was somewhat more stable and went to a church to collect a couple bags of food for us to eat.Never had he stooped so low when I had been with him before.



Each day became increasingly worse.He made contacts for his drug dealer in order to get drugs.His health was affected.He basically never groomed.

He was terribly verbally abusive in ways I never knew he could be before.



He became cruel,downright cruel. He withheld anything he thought I would want and most of what I needed. Nothing I could do was correct.No matter what I thought it was wrong.
He would wait til I was asleep and take my blanket saying I didn't deserve one.I hadn't earned it.

The verbal abuse turned into financial and psychological abuse.

It was affecting my health in a very negative way and that didn't matter to him.I was again seeking attention.



I was shaking all the time and becoming more impaired in my thought process having to constantly second guess him never knowing what would set him off. I was scared for myself because my thinking was so impaired.I literally had to think second by second afraid I'd do something else to irrate him and set him off again.



Then it turned physical.I don't even remember the first time he hit me what it was for because once he did it the first time it's like it opened the floodgates.

I became the scapegoat for every wrong that had ever happened to him in his entire life.



The physical abuse was unrelenting.

I knew I had to get away;I just had to figure out how.

At first it was just a seed I had planted in my head.

He controlled every minute of my days.



He decided what medicine I could take and how it was dispensed.At times he tried to overdose me and I would bar my mouth and he would squeeze my face until he could get it into my mouth.

I would hold it under my tongue and wait til I could get to the bathroom and spit it out.Sometimes I ended up having it dissolve in my mouth because he would even follow me into the bathroom.It was his paranoia.

He determined if I could bathe and groom myself.

He removed the shower curtain of the bathroom I used and would watch me take a bath and make sure I "wasn't taking too long".

My IBS symptoms were at an all time high.He accused me of faking that too.

He accused me of faking the effects of my medicine.



He determined when and if I could eat.He barred me from the kitchen.It was "his" food,"his" kitchen.He was paying for it.

All the while he continued to use the drugs and often forcing me to go with him when he went on his runs. I saw the worse of the worst of downtown Houston and all the filth and seediness that accompanies those who frequent that behavior.

He would make his score and then put them into my purse so if he was caught or stopped I would take the fall instead of him.

I can't tell you how many prayers I prayed during those times.



Finally,one Friday afternoon after a drug run he was being chased down by someone involved with the drugs,I guess it was a drug dealer.He was speeding through this seedy area of Houston,taking chances,car on two wheels,going the wrong way on one way streets trying to lose this character.This seemed to last forever but I guess in reality it was 20-30 minutes.

I just couldn't believe somehow I had allowed myself to get into this mess.



As luck or as I prefer to believe Divine Providence set in.

His car overheated and he still continued to use the car until the engine blew on I-45 in downtown Houston in rush hour traffic.

I had decided even if I was caught with the drugs being in jail was better than living with him.



He got the car to the side of the road and eventually a wrecker came by and he negotiated a deal to get us and the car home.

He used worse than ever that night.Then he was in a rage when it was gone.

Somehow,that was all my fault and he began to beat on me as if his life depended on it.

I didn't think it was going to stop. He choked me and as I would find out later that would happen with more and more frequency.My glasses became mangled.



He determined if I could have a cup of coffee in the mornings.He knew that was one of the things I enjoyed so he used it against me.After a couple weeks I got smart and acted like I didn't want it anymore.Then he forced me to drink cup after cup.



I had no appetite because my stomach was torn into knots.He would force me to eat by holding my mouth open.

I constantly shook from nerves.Of course,I was doing that to annoy him.He didn't like the way I breathed. I had to force myself to take shallow breaths as quietly as I could.Sometimes it didn't work and I'd get smacked in the head.

If I spoke without his permission I was punched across the mouth.I was cowering and withdrawing more and more into myself.

He didn't like the way I did laundry or cleaned the house even though before he would praise me and brag to others how well I did.

Eventually,I wasn't allowed to attend church anymore because I was too much a sinner and God didn't even want to see me in His house.I wasn't worthy.

He'd come home from church and check star 69 to see if I had called anyone.

Trust me I thought about calling for help when he was gone but knew if help didn't come before he returned my life was in jeopardy.



One Sunday he did have me attend church with him again. He had fallen asleep during the sermon.When we were walking home he berated me for not waking him up.I had tried a couple times and decided to just let him sleep as long as he wasn't snoring.I knew while he was sleeping he wouldn't hurt me.

On the way home he became extremely agitated at me and started hitting me and yanking my hair pulling on me behind him.

As we were cutting through the park he raised his cane at me and I could see in his eyes he could have killed me.I started running until I could find a place to hide.

I stayed there for I don't know how long trying to think of what I should do.

I knew it would be a perfect time to escape but all my things were at the house.I didn't even have my purse.

I finally got up the nerve to return.It was getting cold and I didn't have a sweater with me.



Of course, needless to say I took a behomoth of a beating that evening.



I need to interject in the early stages of the physical abuse he was always sorry and promised it would never happen again and I wanted to believe him.

Towards the end he was never sorry and was sorrier he hadn't hit me harder.



Shortly after that Sunday it became even worse.

He began to knock me into furniture and my legs and arms would have cuts and scrapes.He'd knock me to the floor and kick me. He's pick me up and sling me into the wall.He pick me up again and drag me by my hair.He'd spit on me. He'd find things to abuse me with.He'd pour hot water on me or freezing cold water on me and then shove me outside on the balcony.I would be shivering.



He would shove my head into the toilet and flush it and I'd think I was going to drown.

He would heat up the burners on the stove and put my hand on the hot burner.He'd burn me with cigarettes or the lighter.

He would put hot sauce in my mouth and not let me have water.

He would put pillows over my face trying to smother me.

He would stomp on my fingers and toes.He'd pull on my breasts so hard I wanted to scream but didn't.

Too many times I had so many bruises and cuts that he had to keep me isolated.If someone came over he made me hide in a closet. It was nothing for me to have black eyes, puffed up lips and bloodied nose.



He would wake me up out of a deep sleep and pull me by my clothes and drag me across the floor or throw me into the wall repeatedly and punch and kick me all the time berating me,cursing me, my family,my friends and tell me how useless I was.



After time I was so beaten up and beaten down mentally I didn't care if I lived or died anymore.

He bought the movie "Seven" and forced me to watch it no less than three times a day so I could "see" myself as the seven sins.

He would make me repeat the dialogue over and over.

To this day it's hard for me to watch the actors in that movie in something else and not see them as those characters.



He threatened my family who still lived in TX. He would tell me how he would find them and what he would do when he did.I believed he would.I knew he could.

Just when I would think it couldn't get worse it would.

He started accusing me of poisoning his food.How,I don't know.With what he never told me.

He became even more violent if that was possible.

He began cutting me.He would stab me with a fork when I was caught off guard.

He would repeatedly rape me. He would hold my head down and force me to perform oral sex.



It was almost impossible for me to physically fight back although there were times I tried.

I am 5 ft tall and at that time I guess I was about 150 lbs. he was 6 ft 2 in tall and weighed 325.

It wasn't hard for him to overpower me.



I continued to try to formulate a plan in my head with whatever senses I still had, to escape.I guess my planning was a 2 month process.

It was after Halloween, through Thanksgiving (which by the way was chicken and a can of green beans),and finally my day came December 23rd.

I had a doctors appointment and the landlady was taking me and dropping me off and going to pick me up later.I was to call when I was ready.

I went into my closet and told my possesions good-bye.The few things I had that had survived the flood and I was able to accumulate again.My children's few pictures,a couple rings I intended to pass onto my daughters.



I had the clothes on my back and a jean jacket and my Bible.I didn't need a heavy coat if I was going to be in Maddie's car going to and from the doctor and I knew he would be suspicious.



When I got to the doctors I told them I was a victim of domestic violence and they checked me out.They called the shelter and I was interviewed to make sure this was what I wanted to do.

One of the nurses put me in her car and drove me to the meeting up place for me to be picked up.

The true location of the shelter is never disclosed and to this day I wouldn't divulge its exact location.



I was mentally so beaten down when I entered the shelter they kept me on a sucide watch for 45 days.It wasn't so much that I would harm myself again but that I wouldn't prevent harm if it came to me.As an example,if I were crossing the street and a car was coming at me I wouldn't have jumped out of the way.If I had been diagnosed with cancer I wouldn't have chosen treatment.



Through much therapy and counseling and hard work on my part I got my head straight.I learned why I had made the choices I did based on what I had learned throughout my childhood.

I learned that even though I was an educated person and well read it didn't mean I was able to see the abuse for what it was until it was too late.

Abuse is insiedeous. it starts begnign and escalates.

To me, most abuse looked normal because it was what I had grown up with and as a matter of fact, most of my neighborhood lived under similar circumstances.



I wanted to be loved and accepted for who I was and not just for what I did so bad I'd subject myself to any good story that came down the pike.



I regret that my children were subjected to all this while growing up.I can never go back and change it.

I can only hope my example can show them it's never too late to get help if you need it.I also hope we have broken the silence within the family and we adhere to no more secrets and that I have broken the cycle of violence they have been exposed to.



So why doesn't she leave? She has been beaten down,controlled,manipulated and been threatened.Only until the survival instinct takes over will she likely be able to leave and not go back.

Statistics show that a woman may leave 7-10 times before she can stay away for good.

She feels she has no alternative.

She feels she is worthless and no one would care.

She likely has few resources left available to her.

Her emotional state is fragile and her thinking is askew.

There are many reasons why she won't leave.



And the saddest statistic is that a woman is most unsafe when she has made the decison to leave and does.

We only have to look at Cheryl Dawson to find that statistic is true.



My life is totally different today. I make good choices now.

The relationship I am in today is healthy.

It's hard for me to go back and remember those days just a few years ago.It's painful and I get sick thinking of them.

It was painful to relive them in my writing this.

If even one woman can see herself in my situation and make the choice to get help then it was worth it.

It can stop with you. It doesn't have to continue a lifetime.I was 51 years old the day I entered shelter.It's never too late.

Update: If you or someone you know is in a Domestic Violence situation, please have them call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224.

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3 comments:

EquestJess said...

My heart goes out to you. I too was a victim of domestic violence. It started when I was about 17 and didn't stop until I was nearly 20. Though my experiences in no way compare to yours, it has still left me tattered and scarred. I was never abused at home, but often times neglected by my parents. I don't think they ever meant any harm by it, but it hurt all the same. They would shelter me, but they failed in the emotional department. So when you said, "I wanted to be loved and accepted for who I was and not just for what I did so bad I'd subject myself to any good story that came down the pike.", well that really hit home for me. I know how painful it is for you to write what you just have. But I want you to know; I was truly enthralled the entire time I read it. It is good, if I can say that, to be able to relate to someone. Not to feel like you're alone and be so ashamed. It's hard when I hear people say "you were stupid for staying" or "why didn't you just leave"? I think it really was about 10 times before I was gone for good. All the hitting, choking, and cruel words just didn't matter because he was always "sorry". I think you are brave. I think you are wonderful. I want you to know, I'm very thankful you wrote this.

Bee said...

Oh, dear Maggie. This is a heartbreaking story. I am so sorry you had to live through all of that and to know that at times, you felt like you deserved it. I hope you never know anything else in life but love from all of those around you.

aaron said...

My thoughts and especially prayers go out to you, in hopes that you will have a much better life from now on. It saddens me to hear, and most certainly kept me on the edge of my seat throughout your story.

I hope that women all over will read your blog and realize it's never too late to seek help. May God bless those in the same situations.