Did you know October is Domestic Violence Awareness month? Yeah, I didn’t either, it clearly doesn’t get enough attention! I feel a little nauseous with what I’m about to share with you. This is not something I’ve talked about much in depth with anyone, even my own family. As most of you may know, this is my second marriage. What some of you may not know is that I am a domestic violence survivor. There, yeah, I said that, out loud. Feeling completely vulnerable right now because I’ve never considered myself to be a “victim” or a “survivor” of any sort. That makes me sound heroic or something and I definitely do not feel heroic! As I cleaned an old file cabinet drawer this month, I stumbled upon a large file containing numerous court documents and police reports. I sobbed uncontrollably as I read through as I had forgotten (or tried to forget rather) the details that these reports contained. In an attempt to raise more awareness on the matter, I’m going to be sharing parts of these stories with you this month.
I’ll start with a little backstory: I married my high school sweetheart at a very young age (19 to be exact). He was handsome and funny and could always make me laugh. He was not without flaw and I knew that from the get go. Honesty was never a strong quality he possessed and this was often a problem for us even throughout the dating and engagement years. I knew he had been involved in several physical altercations with schoolmates throughout the years (prior to me really) but what young man hasn’t? He was never violent with me, in fact, throughout our 3 years of dating/engagement, I only saw him remotely violent or agitated once. Marriage, as you know, at any age, is difficult. Ours was no different. We were still struggling to find ourselves, we were growing up together, and dealing with very adult things like BILLS and jobs. After a year of marriage, I found myself expecting. He was less than thrilled and demanded that I have an abortion. I refused and said I would raise the baby alone if I had to. He knew there was no changing my mind and all I really ever wanted to be was a mother. Our relationship was strained from then on. Although he eventually came around and embraced the pregnancy and seemingly loved our daughter very much, our relationship never recovered. Raising a baby with a man who initially wasn’t sold on fatherhood was difficult enough, raising a baby with a man who could barely hold a job was downright torturous. We tried to make it work but no matter how hard tried, our resentment for one another only grew. It seemed we were more roommates sharing a child than a newly married young couple. We rarely spoke, we fought often, and rarely agreed on anything. I was 22 years old with a 1 year old child when I began to drink. Not heavily, not daily, not around my child but enough to contribute to our already mounting problems. It became an escape for me. I began going out a couple of times a week with friends. At first I would invite him along because I desperately wanted to have fun with him. We rarely had fun together though and I told myself i needed time away from him and the baby to unwind. I would stay with her all day long, bathe her, feed her, and put her in bed and then I would be off to the bowling alley or our favorite local mexican food restaurant for fun and drinks. I will never forget the first time he hit me. Sights and sounds from that night will forever haunt me. They are etched in my brain permanently.
It was a Thursday night and we had plans to go to a friend’s house for game night. They were a young married couple too and lots of fun. My mother was planning to keep the baby that evening and when he came home from work I was excited to go but he was in a terrible mood. At the last minute he decided he didn’t want to go. I decided I would go anyway because the thought of being cooped up with someone in a terrible mood all night sounded dreadful. He wasn’t happy about it. I don’t know exactly what led up to this point but I remember arguing with him for hours. Literally, hours. I was bringing up past issues, he was being unbearable, it was undoubtably tense. In attempts to diffuse the situation, I turned my back to him and began to walk from the front of the house to our bedroom in the back of the house. As I neared our daughter’s bedroom down the hall, he rushed up behind me and grabbed my hair. He threw me to the ground and then sat on top of me. He slapped my face repeatedly and yelled at me. He had a crazed look in his eye I’m not sure I had ever seen before. Pink flip phone in hand, I tried to wrestle him off of me unsuccessfully and dialed 911 with my unrestrained hand. As soon as he realized what I was doing, he grabbed the phone from my hands, ripped it in half, and threw the pieces to his right. It happened to hit and crack the window to my daughter’s room. I told him I wanted my mother. I begged for him to let me take my daughter and go to my mother’s house. He lifted me off the ground by my hair and swiped my daughter up in his free arm. She was crying all the while. Not crying, screaming bloody murder. I was also crying hysterically. We were both absolutely terrified. He put her in the backseat and threw me in the passenger seat slamming the door behind him and than began to drive. I thought about getting out and running but I couldn’t leave HER. He yelled at me the whole way. He said terrible things to me like “I should drive you out to the middle of nowhere and kill you”. I wanted so desperately to remain calm for my child but regaining my composure at this stage proved to be difficult. He drove for what seemed like an eternity and eventually pulled up to my parent’s house. My father was out of town and it was very late. Probably about 1 a.m. I rang the doorbell still crying, holding my daughter while he still had his hand tightly clasped to me left arm. My mother answered the door confused and half asleep. I remember blurting out “he hit me” in between sobs and her quickly ushering us inside. He left. She grabbed the phone and said she was calling the police. I urged her not to. I was confused and scared. We never called the police that night. Something that the both of us will probably always regret. The next day he was back with flowers, gifts, tears, and seemingly sincere apologies. He was under a lot of stress I told myself. Being a husband and father in your early 20’s can certainly take a toll on anyone. So we went back home with him with a solid promise it would never happen again. Only… it did.
to be continued…