Forgiving Your Abuser

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Forgiveness: a concept that is much easier taught than applied. I’ve been thinking about this a lot today, and my heart is full of hurt, anger, betrayal, sadness, and pain. How do I forgive my abuser after all he’s put me through? I am religious, Christian, and I’ve been taught my whole life that to become more like Christ, we need to forgive others, like He forgives us. This just seems so impossible. Even if you are not religious, forgiveness is a principle that should be applied, because forgiving your abuser will help you on your path to healing. In no way am I saying you should forget what happened, or minimize his/hers actions, but to forgive and try your hardest to move on.

The one major source of hurt that my heart and mind keep going back to is the day I gave birth to my child. The whole experience in the hospital was far from what I anticipated. DVP just wasn’t as supportive as I thought he would be. Yes, he abused me while I was pregnant, but I had hoped that, maybe, just maybe, the day of her birth would change his perspective.

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That morning, I was being induced, so I was told to be at the hospital at 0600. DVP had complained beforehand about how early it was and asked me if I could reschedule to a later time, which of course, I couldn’t. So, to avoid a fight or feeling more stressed than I already was, I asked my mom to drive me to the hospital. DVP didn’t even seem to care. I hoped he would step in and offer to drive me, as my husband and father to this child, but he was content with letting my mom get up to drive me while he slept in.

A few days before I was induced, DVP complained about having to stay in the hospital for three days. Our midwife had told us that there was a possibility of only two days, so he told me that we were going to leave at two days, not three because he just “wanted to be in our own home with our baby”, when in reality, it was because he wanted to be able to play video games and smoke marijuana. When I told him I wanted to take advantage of three days of recovery in the hospital with nurses that could help me, he said I didn’t need it. So, before DVP arrived, I had to tell my midwife that I was concerned that DVP would try and convince me to leave after only two days of recovery. I asked her to tell him that I must stay for three days. I was embarrassed that I had to do this!

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When he did finally arrive, he showed up in his pajamas. Maybe I’m a little picky about this, but I was irritated that he couldn’t put on decent clothes. We were going to have visitors all day and I didn’t want him looking like a bum. So I asked him to go change, and he and his mom argued the whole way home. Not sure of what, but I could already tell that DVP was on edge that day, and the argument was most likely his fault.

The whole time I was in labor, he just laid on the couch next to the bed, leaving uncomfortable chairs for his mother and mine. Yes, he was the father and should be on the couch closest to my bed, but I was irritated that he lounged around and took up most of the seating, by laying when he could have sat and opened up more room on the couch, while our visitors, our closest family members, had either no where to sit or sat in uncomfortable seats. My mom waited on me hand and foot, and he did nothing. He complained about what we were watching, started debates with his mother which ended in lots of tension or her leaving the room for a while to calm down. Later, the nurses and my midwife would tell me that they noticed he was acting like a jerk and was surprised at his behavior.

He did hold my hand during the delivery, and was happy to hold my daughter after she was born. He isn’t completely awful. But, his behavior in the recovery room is what is appalling. We were lucky to have a bigger room, a room that the nurses explained are usually reserved for hospital staff who are recovering from childbirth. DVP got his very own, twin-sized bed that folds out from a couch. Immediately, after getting settled in the room, he unfolded the bed and laid under the covers, even when we had visitors. He wouldn’t turn down the television when visitors came, and made no effort to visit with them. When we were picking a movie to watch, I wanted to watch one thing, and he wanted to watch a comedy that I really didn’t like, but he put on his choice instead of mine.

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I had asked him to close the blinds so I could sleep and he said no. Outright refused to get up out of bed to help me out. I slowly and painfully got out of my bed to close the blinds and then of course, he got mad at me for not being patient, like he had just “forgotten” that he just told me he wouldn’t do it. Later, I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and as I was eating, for the first time since before having my baby, took it, ignoring my protests, and took a huge bite, which was most of the small sandwich. When I voiced that it upset me, he said that he was much hungrier than me and is a bigger guy so he needs to eat more. Didn’t I just go through this incredibly exhausting experience of giving birth? I guess it didn’t matter to him. I have to mention, too, that this happened in front of my mother. She was appalled. He used to be very careful of what he let other people see of his true nature, but he just didn’t care.

The third day, when I was to be released,  I asked him to pick up our things so we could be ready to leave while I showered. When I got out, he hadn’t done anything. He was holding our baby, so I tried not to be irritated, and was hopeful that this was a sign that he cared about being her father. As I was picking up our things, he started bad-mouthing my home state because he just hated living here. He was telling her about all the things she wouldn’t be able to experience because we didn’t live in Big City. This was a constant argument between us. She obviously couldn’t understand a word he was saying and I knew he was saying it to get to me. Having little patience and being exhausted from childbirth, I sternly said, “Stop”, and he lost it.

He went on a rant, telling me I had no right to tell him what he could or couldn’t say to his daughter. He was getting really angry, and was yelling at me, in a raised voice, in the hospital room. I begged him to stop so nobody would hear, and he said he didn’t care. As he got more angry, he told me to jump out the window, to put my head in the toilet to drown myself, that he wouldn’t care if I died, that if I said anything to anyone, he’d take my daughter away from me. If I tried to say anything, he would tell me to shut up. I was so hurt. I had just had our daughter, and he was treating me like this?

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He got so mad, that he threw a hand sanitizer bottle at my belly. This whole time, he was holding my daughter. I was worried about him intentionally or unintentionally harming her, so I walked over to him, with my hands outstretched and calmly asked him to give her to me. I didn’t yell, raise my voice, nothing, in fear that he could hurt her if I did. He said no, and grabbed my left palm and dug his fingernails into me as hard as he could. Shocked, I went to my bed and grabbed a towel to wrap on my bleeding hand. It was bleeding more than I expected, and I didn’t know what to do.

At this time, the nurse walked in and saw me crying, holding my injured hand. She asked me what happened, so I told her, and she took my daughter, called security, and wrapped my injured hand in gauze. It doesn’t sound like the injury would be that bad, but he dug his nails so deep that I had scars there for an entire month after it happened. The nurse helped me move to a different room, for my security, and DVP was kicked out of the hospital. As they cleaned out my room, they found a marijuana pipe. He had been sneaking out to smoke, and I had no idea!

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Because they found the marijuana, they had to call the police, so I made my second DV report on him. My mom was on her way to come pick me up. While I sat in my new room, alone with my new baby, I sobbed my heart out. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. All I wanted was this fairytale, normal experience of going home with my new child and enjoying my maternity leave with my husband. But all of that was ruined. I knew, at that moment, that I was going to have to divorce him, though it took me two weeks to make that decision final.

I went home with my newborn to my parents and slept on the couch. I have never felt so broken. I hope to never feel this kind of pain again. I can’t find words to describe the hurt I felt. I wish more than anything that I wasn’t getting a divorce and that my daughter could have two parents to love her everyday. Unfortunately, because of my abuser’s choices, I had to do what is best for the safety and welfare of myself and my daughter. He couldn’t even make it without abusing me until we left the hospital. What would he have done with the new, added stress of being a new parent? I am glad I never have to find out.

After all that I have been through, which I still haven’t written all out, I sometimes feel like he doesn’t deserve my forgiveness. He hurt me in the hospital, recovering from childbirth. He almost killed me and my daughter while I was pregnant. Nevertheless, I still have moments where I want to go back to him. Other moments I despise him. It’s a vicious cycle that I go through almost daily. When I look at my sweet daughter’s face, I am reminded that I made the right choice. She will never remember the hurt, the yelling, the abuse, because I left while she was only three days old.

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So, how do I forgive him? It’s not easy, and it’s a daily struggle. I’ve realized, though, that the more I hold on to the pain, the longer it takes for me to feel at peace with myself. He doesn’t deserve one more thought from me of him. He doesn’t deserve to cause one more moment of unhappiness on his behalf. I deserve to be happy. How will I ever find happiness if I never forgive myself or him for what I’ve endured?

1- Go through the process of grief. You need to follow this through, before you can learn to forgive. Denial and Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. See this article here for descriptions: http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/.

2- Forgive yourself. This is important. Remember that everything you experienced was/is not your fault. You are not to blame for his actions. Tell yourself that you deserve to be happy, you deserve to be loved, you deserve to feel peace.

3- Let go of the past. Easier said than done. But, if you can let go, your future will much better, more hopeful, much happier. Don’t let him have any more control over your life than he already has.

There are many more things you can do, and so many articles about forgiveness that I encourage you to seek out. I could spend a lot of time covering this, but this post is already pretty long. Just remember, that it is in your best interest, whether he forgives you or not, or even cares, he doesn’t even have to know, to forgive him and to move on.

I truly believe that God, or Karma, whatever you believe in, will hold him accountable for his actions, even if justice fails, or even if justice is served. Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive, forgiveness is the attribute of the strong”. We are strong for standing up for ourselves and putting an end to abuse! We are not weak! I know it’s hard, but forgiving your abuser will help you find inner peace, and help you move on. Not doing so will just keep all that anger and hurt inside for a long time, and can make you more bitter and miserable. If you can’t bring yourself to do this, that’s okay. It takes time. But, I highly encourage you to try!

Amanda

Will I Ever Be the Same After Surviving Abuse?

 

Triggers. Flashbacks. Nightmares. Hyperventilating. Extreme Anxiety. PTSD. Avoiding places, situations, people. Sobbing. Becoming void of emotion. Depression. Fatigue. Sleeping too much or not sleeping enough. Self-doubt. Hyper vigilance. Eating disorders. Panic. Detachment. Suicidal thoughts/behavior. Anger. Hate. All of these are common effects of experiencing trauma. You are not alone in this. There isn’t “something wrong with you”. You are not broken. You CAN and WILL overcome these things. After all, you have already survived 100% of everything in your life so far. Chances are, you can survive this as well.

All of these things have weighed heavily on my mind over the long weekend. I was officially diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) last Wednesday, so I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around it. The more I reflect on the symptoms that come from abuse, the more it breaks my heart that as abuse victims we have experienced enough pain through the abuse, but now we have to experience all of these difficult side effects for years after, sometimes for the rest of our lives. However, I am learning how to be at peace with my situation, and I would like to help you find peace too.

About a month ago, I was at the hospital getting a certain type of MRI where they inject a dye into the injured area, in my case my shoulder, to see the contrast in the tissue. They first injected me with a numbing agent. They had me laying on a table with the x-ray machine inches from my face. The doctor stood over me, administering the shot in my already very tender and sore shoulder. I have had many shots in my shoulder before, and was expecting the pain. However, this time was different. When he started inserting the needle, the pain was more intense than I expected. I started hyperventilating. I started shaking. I started crying. All I could think about was all of the abuse I had experienced. The nurse had to rub my uninjured arm to soothe me. The doctor kept repeating that it usually doesn’t hurt this bad. I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t believe I reacted in such a childish manner! The medical staff must have thought I was stupid. I felt like I had to apologize for my behavior.

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Last week, I went to the dentist to get some cavities filled. I’ve had cavities filled many times in my life. The shots are uncomfortable, but not anything I can’t handle. Or so I thought. The first two shots went fine. The nerves in my mouth have a hard time going numb, it’s just that way with some people, so I had to have multiple shots. I was starting to panic, but I was keeping my calm pretty well. About half way through the drilling, I started to have feeling back. Ouch! It hurt! The dentist had to administer more shots. At this point, I started shaking, hyperventilating, my hand reactively shot up to block the dentist from touching me. After I calmed down, he continued drilling. The pain was uncomfortable, but not horrible. Yet, just like at the hospital, all I could think of was the abuse I had endured. I almost got up and left, but I couldn’t leave with holes drilled in my teeth. I had to persevere through the experience. Again, I felt silly, childish, and stupid. I can only imagine what the dentist and his assistant were thinking.

What was wrong with me? After relating these experiences and a few other symptoms I have been experiencing to my counselor, he diagnosed me with PTSD. I have heard about this for years, being in the military. I’m not in a combat career field, so I never thought it would happen to me. Little did I know, that after war related trauma being the most common cause of PTSD,  victims of domestic violence and sexual assault follow right behind. Second. That blows my mind. I’ve experienced both, and just so happen to also be in the military, so my situation is ironic.

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So, what exactly is PTSD? This article on the VA (Veteran’s Affairs) website explains it well http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/PTSD-overview/basics/what-is-ptsd.asp:

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur after you have been through a traumatic event.

During a traumatic event, you think that your life or others’ lives are in danger. You may feel afraid or feel that you have no control over what is happening around you. Most people have some stress-related reactions after a traumatic event; but, not everyone gets PTSD. If your reactions don’t go away over time and they disrupt your life, you may have PTSD.

How does PTSD develop?

Most people who go through a trauma have some symptoms at the beginning. Only some will develop PTSD over time. It isn’t clear why some people develop PTSD and others don’t.

Whether or not you get PTSD depends on many things:

  • How intense the trauma was or how long it lasted
  • If you were injured or lost someone important to you
  • How close you were to the event
  • How strong your reaction was
  • How much you felt in control of events
  • How much help and support you got after the event

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than four weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you might have PTSD.

There are four types of symptoms of PTSD:

    1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms)

You may have bad memories or nightmares. You even may feel like you’re going through the event again. This is called a flashback.

                 2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event

You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.

                 3. Negative changes in beliefs and feelings

The way you think about yourself and others may change because of the trauma. You may feel fear, guilt, or shame. Or, you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy. This is another way to avoid memories.

                4. Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal)

You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. Or, you may have trouble concentrating or sleeping. This is known as hyper arousal.

  • Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Drinking or drug problems
  • Physical symptoms or chronic pain
  • Employment problems
  • Relationship problems, including divorce

Chances are, if you experienced physical abuse, you have PTSD. In fact, those who have experienced all types of abuse, sexual, physical, emotional, verbal, etc. are more likely to develop PTSD.

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So, how to cope? How to find relief? How to feel “normal” again? One thing I learned is that PTSD, as well as many other trauma related symptoms never go away. We just learn how to survive day by day. There are many, many survivors out there who experience these things and feel like they are going crazy, that no one else could possibly understand what they are going through. You are wrong! There are support groups, counselors, loved ones, who can help you.

So far, here are ten coping methods that have seemed to help me:

  1. Mediation. I was very skeptical about meditation at first. My wonderful DV counselor is a huge advocate of meditation. We did a guided meditation together at the end of my session, and I was shocked at how relieved I felt after. My pain didn’t disappear, but it lessoned significantly. There are many apps you can download for this, but my current favorite is called Calm, which has a free and a paid subscription service. When I find myself having a flashback, I go to a quiet place and do a quick five to ten minute meditation to calm down. At night, when I can’t sleep or wake up from a nightmare, I do the “sleep” meditation, and almost every time, I fall asleep while I’m meditating. It doesn’t get rid of the nightmares, but at least I can fall asleep. I highly encourage you to try this!
  2. Use a Diffuser. I, again, was skeptical of this as well. My counselor had this on during one of my group therapy sessions and we meditated at the end of the session. She had us focus on the soothing smell, and afterwards, I felt drawn to the lavender scent. I bought some of the aromatherapy lotion from Bath and Body Works and I LOVE IT. There is something about the smell. These people know what they are talking about! So I invested in a diffuser this weekend and I’ve had it going non-stop. When my mind wanders, when I can’t sleep, I focus on the smell and surprisingly, I feel myself relax. Try it out!
  3. Exercise. Don’t roll your eyes at this! I promise, I won’t tell you to try something I don’t personally do myself. We are all at different levels. We all have different schedules. Even if all you can do is a ten minute walk, you are still helping yourself out. I am fortunate to get an hour a day to workout during work, so I have no excuse. But, not only do I need to get my pre-baby body back, working out releases endorphins that help reduce stress. I’ve found that the more I feel good about myself, (going back to loving yourself) and the way I look, the more positive I am about my situation. The days I miss working out, I don’t have as much energy and I’m more depressed. I understand this may not be for you, but give it a shot.
  4. Pray. If you’re not religious, go ahead and skip this method. I am in no way pushing my beliefs on anyone, but I have found that praying to my father in heaven for comfort, support, healing, patience, and strength daily have helped. This is a personal experience that you must have for yourself, but I have found that the days I don’t pray don’t seem to go as well. I also pray that those around me will be more compassionate and understanding to my situation, but also that I will be more Christ-like to those around me.
  5. Counseling. This was the best thing I did for myself. Counselors are trained in how to help people in our situation, and are unbiased and nonjudgmental. Well, they should be. If you’ve experienced a counselor who wasn’t these things, don’t give up. I recommend finding another. You can find free counseling from the local DV Shelter in your area. Talking to someone who isn’t emotionally connected to me is liberating. I can tell them everything, without holding back, and it feels amazing to get it all out. Group counseling is a wonderful thing as well. It’s really helpful to talk to others who have gone through the same thing and to be a support for each other.
  6. Keep a journal. If you can’t speak to a counselor, or want to do both (I do, obviously), writing is a great way to find release. However, if you are still with your abuser, be very careful about keeping a journal.
  7. Color/Draw. Don’t scoff at this! I bought one of those “Adult” coloring books that are trendy right now, and it is so therapeutic! In fact, most of the books I’ve come across talk about how coloring is therapeutic and stress-relieving. They’re right! I lose myself when I color. I put on music, and focus on the design and music. My mind will often wander to the abuse, but it’s not as painful.
  8. Go to the Spa/Pamper Yourself. Whether it’s taking a bath, getting a pedicure, new hair do, massage, whatever it is, feeling good about yourself heals your spirit. I can’t repeat this enough.
  9. Get Out of the House! Go by yourself or with friends. Go see a movie. Go to the park. Go on a drive. Go to dinner. Go on a walk. Just get out. Staying cooped up with your tissues and chocolate is wonderful, but you need to get away form harmful, hurtful, emotional thoughts and find a way to enjoy yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t up to this yet, or if you go out and go back home after five minutes. It’s okay! We’re a work in progress. Allow yourself time to adjust. But, when you’re ready, you’ll be surprised how much you needed time out of the house and how much you enjoyed it.
  10. Avoid drugs/alcohol. Don’t be offended. I say this because I have seen and experienced the damaging effects that come from doing these things. When you are a survivor of abuse/trauma, it is easy to become dependent on the temporary “therapeutic”, numbing effects of these substances. But, it’s very, very easy and actually faster in our situation, to become addicted. When I drank, I went to either a very dark place, or lost all self-control. I would always feel worse about myself when I sobered up. You just don’t need the added guilt and harm that can come from these things. You are strong without it. However, if you do use these things, don’t beat your self up. It’s okay, one step at a time. Eventually you will realize you are better off without it. If you enjoy drinking, there will come a point where you can self-regulate how much you drink, and you may be able to do so without thinking about the abuse. When you’re to that point, and you want to drink, That’s up to you. I, personally, will never drink again for these reasons, and other personal and religious reasons. I don’t look down on anyone that does, though. I love you all no matter what you do.

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There is so much more to say on this, but I’ll leave it there for now. Just remember, we are strong. No matter what effects of abuse we experience, they don’t define who we are. Although we may never be the same, we can learn to cope. There IS hope, and we can find it by taking care of ourselves. You can use your experiences to avoid future abuse, to help a loved one, or another victim.  We survived abuse, and we can survive anything else that comes our way.

Amanda

 

 

Falling Back in Love… With Myself

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I want to change gears for this post. I posted a lot of heavy stuff this week, and I don’t want this blog to be only about all the negative experiences. My site is called overcoming abuse after all, and today I want to talk about one way we as victims -scratch that- survivors can do this. Even after all I’ve written, I still have a lot of my tragic story left to tell, but let’s get some positive energy flowing today.

Today’s topic goes well with Valentine’s day coming up. I want to focus on love, but not about loving another significant other, or your children. I want you to be a little bit selfish in a way. I want you to focus on yourself. I want you to take the time to get to know yourself. Who are you under all those layers of scars, pain, suffering, trauma, abuse? Who is that person you once were? Who do you want to become? Where are you going? Who are you now?

Those seem like simple questions, right? Uhh… yeah. Not really. It’s extremely hard to figure out after your abuser has spent years making you feel unworthy of self-love, or love of any kind. It is easy to tell yourself that you are incapable of love. It’s easy to feel like no one will ever love you again with all the baggage you carry with you. What do I have to say about that? Leave it at the lost luggage office! You don’t need to pick it up and carry it with you to your next destination, because where you’re going, you’ll be able to get everything you need to start over.

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Let’s talk first about what we’ve packed in those suitcases. More accurately, what our abusers packed in our suitcases. One thing I personally keep packing is the feeling that I deserved what happened to me. Truly, there must be something wrong with me. Let’s examine this for a moment. I felt like I deserved every slap, punch, hair pull, choke, pinch, being held down, every object thrown at me, all my personal items destroyed, all the degrading name calling, the crude sexual acts – because he said he loved me. And this is where it gets confusing: I thought I loved him. But, think about it, how could you truly love someone who treated you so awful? Abusers are really good at pretending to love you in the honeymoon cycle of abuse. They are good at pretending to care, to love, to be passionate, thoughtful, romantic, whatever label you want to put on it. Some of you may object-“Wait a minute! If he didn’t love me, why did we get married? Of course he loved/loves me!” In the words of Lundy Bancroft in “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Abusive and Controlling Men”, (a book you need to read!) he explains:

“An abusive man often tries to convince his partner that his mistreatment of her is proof of how deeply he cares, but the reality is that abuse is the opposite of love. The more a man abuses you, the more he is demonstrating that he cares only about himself. He may feel a powerful desire to receive your love and caretaking, but he only wants to give love when it’s convenient.

‘So is he lying when he says he loves you? No, usually not. Most of my clients [abusers] do feel a powerful sensation inside that they call love. For many of them it is the only kind of feeling toward a female partner that they have ever had, so they have no way of knowing that is isn’t love. When an abusive man feels the powerful stirring inside that other people call love, he is probably largely feeling:

  • The desire to have you devote your life to keeping him happy with no outside interference
  • The desire to have sexual access
  • The desire to impress others by having you be his partner
  • The desire to posses and control you

‘These desires are important aspects of what romantic love means to him. He may well be capable of feeling genuine love for you, but first he will have to dramatically reorient his outlook in order to separate abusive and possessive desires from true caring.

‘Genuine love means respecting the humanity of the other person, wanting what is best for him or her, and supporting the other’s self-esteem and independence. This kind of love is incompatible with abuse and coercion.”

Recognizing that he truly didn’t love you in a normal, healthy way is hard. But, once you recognize this, you are on your way to loving yourself again. How? First, remind yourself that you are a beautiful person, amazing, loving, caring, educated, accomplished, or determined. Determined that you will not stand for anything less than what you deserve, and that is to be with someone who truly cares about you and your happiness and wellbeing. You deserve to have someone who is basically opposite of your abuser. Your significant other (SO) should help around the house, help with the children, take you out for dinner where you want to go sometimes (there should still always be compromise), maybe rub your feet after a long day, give you his full attention when you sit down to talk, be intimate with you when you feel up to it and respect you when you don’t, have a healthy argument that doesn’t involve abusive tactics AT ALL, try to get along with your family, respect the things that are important to you, etc. I could go on and on, and by no means is this an all inclusive list. The list will be different for everyone.

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What’s another item we keep in our luggage? A low-self esteem. Chances are that like me, a low self-esteem is probably why you settled for someone like him in the first place. Abusers are good at telling you that you are stupid, ugly, a whore, cunt, bitch, slut, fat, too skinny, not good enough in bed, hated by your family and friends, alone, messed-up, broken, that he’s the only one who can love you after the things you’ve done in your past, and so much more. If you’ve heard this over and over, day in and day out, it’s easy to start believing it’s the truth. You feel like the only person that you deserve is the man who slaps you across the face. You can put up with that because he is graciously choosing to love you when no one else will. But you are SO MUCH BETTER THAN THIS. The more you love yourself, the more you will realize that all of this is absurd.

Write down all of the things you are proud of and like about yourself. This will be hard. I know it. Take that list, no matter how big or small, and hang it on your mirror, or keep it in a safe place if you feel like it will upset your abuser. Look at it daily. Repeat it like a mantra. Add to that list when you think of something else that you love about yourself. There will be days that you feel like ripping that paper up to tiny shreds, and that’s okay. Do it. And then start it over the next day.

Think about who you want to be, not who your abuser wants to be. I want to be a country singer. I want to wear long maxi dresses, not short cocktail dresses all the time. I want to watch Disney movies, not horror or war movies all the time. I want to be a good mother, maybe stay at home with my kids, not be the only source of income while my abuser sits on his butt and does nothing all day. I want to decide where to go to dinner sometimes, not to the same Mexican restaurant. I want to go to my church, not to his every Sunday, and not to stay at home from church just to keep him company when I want to be at worship. I want to visit with my family, and stay as long as I want. What is it that YOU want?

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You are not broken. You are not unworthy of love from anyone else. If you desire it, you WILL find someone else. But the first step is to empty that suitcase, leave it at the baggage claim, turn it into the lost baggage office, I don’t care, just don’t take it with you! Get a new bag and fill it with things YOU love. Once you recognize who you are, who you want to be, where you’re going, you will begin to love yourself. You will make it through the hard days, and sometimes you won’t. But, you will love who you are and be less dependent on your abuser. The advice I have been given from others who have been through this is that the best thing they did was to learn to be happy with themselves, independent of having a partner. You don’t need to be with someone to validate your worth. But loving yourself and being happy with who you are can make it possible for you to go forward and find someone you want to love and care for and be able to accept their love and care in return.

I am learning to love myself, and that my friends, is the beginning of a beautiful future.

Until next time,

Amanda

“It’s YOUR Fault You Were Assaulted”

 

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In today’s post, I’m going to talk about when I was sexually assaulted, and it wasn’t by my ex-husband. I’m not going to go into specific details because I just wrote it all out and was sick to my stomach thinking about people I know and other victims having to read that awful, sickening event.  I deleted it and rewrote this whole thing. I thought I’d healed from this, but honestly, it was awful to relive the details. I’m writing about this because DVP’s abuse worsened because of this event.

I’m not weak, and I “don’t have something wrong with me”. I was just in a bad situation, and didn’t know how to get out of it. It is not my fault. I hope those who read this don’t think that I have “issues”, or that I attract a “certain type” of guy. I think I’ve come out of this the best way I could, which is why I’m here typing this: to help others.

Four months after we moved to Big City, I was getting really discouraged with how my life was going. I hated working retail, and had just started as a bank teller, which I also didn’t like too much. I had applied for many Universities and Colleges in Big City, and got accepted, but couldn’t afford them. Since I had grown to love the military community through the times I was on base with DVP and his friends, the idea began to swim around in my head to join.

During one particularly intense blizzard, I put on some of DVP’s extra military gear to stay warm. We went out to help shovel out cars that were trapped in the snow. People assumed I was in the military because of the camouflage snow suit I was wearing and thanked us for our service, and were glad military members would help. It was a good feeling. I looked at myself in the mirror and imagined myself wearing the uniform and imagined (a bit incorrectly) about what boot camp would be like. I decided to wait to talk to a recruiter for two weeks, to allow myself to ponder about whether I should enlist, and to be sure I was doing it for the right reasons (not just to wear the uniform or gain recognition). After further research on military life, I decided that serving would allow me to make a good income and receive tuition assistance for school, two things that we were struggling with.

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By the end of the month, I swore an oath to serve my country. I went through Basic Military Training (BMT) otherwise known as boot camp, and went on to technical school to learn how to do my job. Tomorrow I will touch more on these experiences because DVP displayed abusive tactics during these, but, today I want to focus on how he handled the sexual assault.

Technical School, or Tech School as we call it, is a lot like living on a college campus with all freshmen. Most of the trainees there are fresh out of high school, and still pretty immature. I was in my early twenties, and there were still a group of older trainees that enlisted later in life, but the majority were young. We had to live in dorms, go to school every day, do organized Physical Training (PT), etc. It was a good experience… for the first half of it.

The ratio of men to women is something like 25:1(possibly higher than that) for my particular career field. So, if you are a female Crew Chief, you get a lot of attention at school. I became good friends with another girl (I’m going to call her VT for Victim Two), and we hung out every day. Eventually, VT and I began to hang out with a group of guys on the weekends.

One night, our group of friends were out at dinner trying to decide what to do for the evening. None but one of us were of the legal drinking age, yet the goal was trying to figure out a way we could get alcohol and find a place to drink it. The one person of age was eventually influenced by two of the guys to buy us alcohol.  The whole time we had this conversation, I had a sick feeling in my stomach. I knew that it didn’t sound like a good idea, for many reasons. One, I was engaged and didn’t want to drink with other guys I hardly knew. Two, I was underage and just beginning my military career. I didn’t want to risk getting paperwork or getting kicked out for underage drinking.

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I voiced my concerns and just asked them to drop me off on the military base on their way to get alcohol. They ignored my comment and ushered us out the door to the car. I told VT that I didn’t want to go, and she said it would be fun, to not worry about it. But, still I worried. Everyone went inside Wal-Mart to buy the alcohol, but I stayed behind to try and call DVP. I couldn’t reach him. His phone was off (later I’d find out it was because he was at the casino losing my hard-earned money I’d saved from BMT). I was hoping I could ask his advice on what to do. I called multiple times, left multiple messages, but to no avail. When the group got back in the car, I asked them again to take me back, and they said I was being a party-pooper, and that I should just enjoy a few drinks.

The thought came to my mind to call a taxi, but I had never had to use one before and didn’t know how. With all the constant pressure to join them, I convinced myself that it was just a few drinks and I would make them take me back before it got too late.

Before this night, the guys would flirt with us a bit, but nothing inappropriate. They seemed like good friends, but honestly, I missed a ton of warning signs that I’ll get to later. They served us each a drink that must have had something in it because after just one drink, we were both highly intoxicated to the point of near passing out.

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All I’m going to say about what happened is that it involved two of the guys and us two girls.  When I woke up, I ran out to the car, which was unlocked, but didn’t have the keys. I tried to call DVP but he still wouldn’t answer. I just sat in the car and cried. When they did come out to the car, they took us back to base and acted like nothing happened. VT and I went to the chow hall to eat, and decided we weren’t going to report it, in fear for getting in trouble for underage drinking (which in the end we didn’t get in trouble for).

Before I go on to how DVP handled this, I want to explain a few things. First, one of the guys had complained on the way to get alcohol that he was currently being investigated for another sexual assault with a different victim. He was so convincing and charming, that we believed he must be innocent. That was another reason why I was nervous about joining them that night. Another sign was that one of the guys was very flirty with a lot of girls, including a Military Training Leader, like a drill instructor during boot camp but during school. And she flirted back with him! I’m telling you, he was very, very charming.  The fact that they wouldn’t take me back to base was a very, very clear sign that something bad was about to happen. I should have done everything in my power to make back on base. I could have called a friend, or a taxi. I could have called the police. Hindsight is 20/20, and I was scared. But, if you ever get in this situation, do all you can to leave.

Part of the reason why I think I hung out with these guys although I could see that they were degrading women, was because I had such a low self esteem from the abuse with DVP that I really liked the attention I got from these guys. Like I said, they were very charming. I felt “good” around them.

When I told DVP about what happened the next day, he was furious. He broke up with me. He told me to start looking for a place to live because he wasn’t letting me stay with him. He told me that I cheated on him, that I was a whore. He threatened to call my parents as soon as he got off the phone to tell them about their slut daughter. He told me I’d be all alone in Big City, without any friends and family, and he’d make sure his family didn’t help me.

I can’t begin to describe how alone I felt. I had just experienced something so awful, and felt like I couldn’t tell my parents because I didn’t think they’d understand. The only person I felt I could confide in was DVP and he didn’t want anything to do with me.

The next day, he told me he’d stay with me if I did certain sexual acts with him. He said he’d bought tickets to fly out that weekend. One of the horrible things he wanted me to do was have a threesome with the other victim. THIS DID NOT HAPPEN, but the fact that he would even demand this is just awful.

He told me that he went over to one of his old girlfriend’s house to have sex with her to get even, but he was “such a good person” and could never hurt me like I had just hurt him, so he just kissed her.

When he flew out, he made me wear his bomber jacket with his name and squadron patches the whole time he was there so “everyone knows who you belong to”.

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He threatened the guys who assaulted me, said he’d beat them and they better not be anywhere around or he’d find them. They called the cops on him, but he got off the hook.

We eventually got passed what happened, but every once in awhile he’d bring it up in fights. This incident happened five years ago, and he brought it up constantly, the last time being the last fight we had before I was granted the protective order.

Everything he did in reaction to this horrible event was emotional, sexual, and physical abuse. Although a lot of women don’t experience sexual assault like this, many experience traumatic events outside of their relationship before their abuser. When they bring up something from your past and use it against you, it’s abuse. Withholding emotional support, blackmailing, and threats are abuse. Even though you may be married to him, making you do sexual acts you are not comfortable with is still sexual abuse/assault.

Eventually I and VT reported the assault and testified at a trial against these perpetrators. One of the guys that assaulted me was convicted of sexual assault, served 5 years in jail, and got dishonorably discharged. The other guy, however, only was convicted of underage drinking and still serves in the military, because there wasn’t enough evidence and he a had a good lawyer. Does this mean he’s innocent? No. It’s easy to beat yourself up when abuser’s get away with what they’ve done. That does not mean you are at fault. I truly believe God will hold them accountable for their actions one day, even when justice fails.

Thank you all again for your support. It’s only been a short time since I started this blog and already I am so glad I did.  I’m glad I am able to reach out to so many people about abuse and I hope I am helping to save lives.

Amanda

 

 

 

You Can’t Buy Anything Without His Approval

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Today, I’m going to go into detail about a very bad, physically abusive episode that was caused from financial abuse. This is a topic I think most people aren’t aware happens with domestic violence, because finances are something that even non-abusive couples fight about. When an abuser is trying to control his victim, financial abuse is a very easy way for them to make you feel vulnerable and trapped, and assert control over you. Even when I experienced it myself, I didn’t think, “hey, he’s financially abusing me”. It was a slow, ongoing process that I didn’t truly recognize until I started becoming educated on domestic violence after I left the relationship.

When we moved away from my homestate to Big City, I left a decent job (especially for only being 18) as a Small Business Loan Processor at a bank. I made decent money, worked full-time and had the freedom to pay my own bills and to buy what I wanted. When we moved across the country I had a hard time finding a similar type of job. The job market in Illinois was not good. The first job that I was able to get was a Sales Associate at Aeropostale. It was not ideal, only paid minimum wage, and I just hate working retail. DVP found a job doing armed security for various companies, but it wasn’t much money and the cost of living was much higher than where I was from.

Because I was basically making nothing, we had to get a joint bank account. DVP had saved around $6,000 from his military deployment, which is easy to do since it’s tax free and you get hazard pay and whatnot. Since we lived with his mom rent free, we only had two car payments, insurance and two credit cards to pay on. We could have been okay if DVP hadn’t spent all of the $6000 in ONE MONTH. Here’s another way to notice warning signs: it’s all about extremes with an abuser. If you feel a behavior of any category is extreme, be on your guard.

So here’s how the $6000 got spent: We would go out and do fun, but stupid, things Downtown. Some of the really nice hotels in this big city can be expensive per night. He/we, on two different occasions, gathered his friends and stayed at The Drake and The Palomar. These are not cheap hotels! We spent a lot of money on a Penthouse Suite at the Palomar. The Drake has hosted U.S. Presidents and other VIP’s. The silverware is real silver. It’s just a really nice, classy place to stay. Not only did he spend lots of money on the rooms for all of his friends, but he’d supply the alcohol and yes, weed for all his friends. They’d get drunk and high and wander around the city.

He’d also go to the casino a lot and blow hundreds of dollars. Constantly blew money on weed. He bought a lot of things like electronics we really didn’t need. I am guilty of having spent money too, on clothes, so I’m not saying all the fault is on him. It’s easy to fall into the spending habit when you’re with a spender. But, where the fault comes is how he treated me after the money was gone. I never dreamed that once the money was gone, that was it, and from then on any financial security was to be my responsibility alone.

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His financial double standards and domineering started up right away. At Aeropostale,  obviously I was required to wear their clothing while at work. So every month, through the company we’d get two outfits for really cheap to help employees out with this. I’d buy the outfits and DVP would be furious. He’d tell me I wasn’t allowed to spend more money or threaten to take my debit card away from me. He’d make me feel extremely guilty for buying anything for myself if it didn’t mutually benefit him. His mom actually took my side on this, and after that, he threw up his hands and said that from that point on, I’d be in charge of the finances.

He wasn’t kidding. That was during the first few months of living together-within the first year of our relationship- and I did the ALL of the finances for the rest of the 6 years we were together. Here’s where things went really bad. He refused to put anything in his name but his own car. I had to take care of the electricity, the cable, the cell phones, our rent (when we eventually had our own place), the groceries, natural gas bill… everything. If we needed to call about something, like a missed payment or if the cable wouldn’t work, he would insist that I take care of it. If I would ever ask him to make a call or pay a bill, he would flatly refuse. There were times that we needed to call about the few things that were in his name and the company would refuse to talk to me because I was not on the account, but he still wouldn’t do it. He wouldn’t take responsibility for any of it. We were constantly paying hundreds of dollars on late fees for stupid things like parking tickets that he had gotten and ignored. He didn’t want to spend the money on parking permits (or was too lazy to go through the process of getting one) so he would just keep getting tickets and not pay them until we had collections after us all the time.

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Let’s fast forward to last year. We’d been married for three years. When I became full-time in the military and started making good money, he decided to stop trying to get a good job. He decided he’d just let me be his “sugar momma”, and spent most of his time home playing video games (and not helping around the house or cooking or doing ANYTHING productive to help out) while I worked full time and did all the grocery shopping, cooking cleaning, laundry, and finances. He would spend money even when we had nothing to spend. When we moved back to my home state he didn’t have a job for two months. We were in the negative at least $800/month because I couldn’t pay all of our bills. When we would have a small amount in our bank account, like $20 to last a whole week, he’d continue to spend money on chewing tobacco, which is $5 per can several times a week, buying marajuana, eating out because he wouldn’t cook for himself, etc. If there was nothing in the account he would put fast food and tobacco on a credit card. I would be so stressed about finances and beg him not to spend money, but he would anyway.

I eventually had to ask my parents for some groceries from their pantry, and use resources in the military to get free food and a small grant from the VA just to pay my bills. It was so embarrassing to go to my bosses about my financial situation, especially when my husband didn’t care at all.

Two of the most recent, bad fights I can remember (there’s a lot that happened to me that I just can’t remember anymore because it happened so often they’ve blended together) that resulted in physical abuse because of finances. One of these was actually what finally caused me to call the police for the abuse. Last February, a year ago now, I was begging him to look for a job. He immediately told me to leave it alone, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t let him keep spending money and lose our cars and apartment because I couldn’t afford everything on one income, especially with his spending habits.

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The argument escalated quickly. While I describe all of this, keep in mind that I was 12 weeks pregnant, and he knew I was. I was sitting on the couch, calmly trying to explain my frustration, and he snapped. He rushed towards me, grabbed me by my hair, and started dragging me up the stairs. I started screaming-it really hurt and I knew something bad was coming. He put his hand on my mouth and warned me that I had better stop screaming so the neighbors wouldn’t hear or he’d MAKE me stop. When we got to our bedroom, he trapped me into a corner and yelled and yelled. I pulled out my phone to text my mom for help and he took it away. I wanted to run out of the room, but he blocked the door and threw me on the bed, where he proceeded to slap me across the face, pull my hair, punch me on the arm, and pinned me down while he choked me to the point where I was seeing black spots. I was bawling at this point and he held his hand up to harm me again if I didn’t “shut the f*** up”. He saw me looking at the door and stood between the door and bed and threw my phone farther away from me. After he forced me to apologize for telling him to get a job, he went downstairs and played video games. I started packing a bag but I knew he was not going to let me leave so I went to bed. I couldn’t stand lying next to him all night long after what he had done. After work the next day, I went to my mom’s and we called the police . I wish I could say that I left him then, but I wouldn’t leave him for another 8 months.

A few weeks later, he finally got a job because I had filled out tons of job applications for him whether he wanted me to or not. If I hadn’t, he would never have had a job. His new employer gave him the choice of direct deposit or a debit card they would put his income on. He chose the debit card (of course he did, because he knew I would not have access to it without his allowing it!) and he promised he would take the money off the card to put in our joint account account. I told him that if he was going to do that, we might as well do direct deposit because I just knew I’d be the one who’d constantly have to take the money off the card (and that’s exactly what happened).

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So while we are arguing over this we were in the car and I was driving. When I expressed my opinion about the direct deposit he got extremely angry. He repeatedly hit my dashboard and pulled on the emergency brake while I drove. I pulled to the nearest parking lot, which happened to be the mall, out of fear for my life. I parked the car and he took everything out of my glove box and threw it out the window. When I got out to pick it up, he climbed to the other seat and drove off. When he came back, I begged for my car. We were making a huge scene and it was so embarrassing. It would have continued until a bystander threatened to call the police. (Oh how I wish he had, in retrospect!) My ex threatened for me to get in the car or he’d divorce me, so I got in and we sped off before the cops could come. When I got in the car he slapped me across the face and we went home. 

The point of all this, is that our arguments about finances would always start out small. But it would always end up so bad that he physically attacked me. He would often choke me so bad he could have killed me and/or my unborn child.

Financial tactics abusers use: not allowing you to have an income, controlling what you spend, ruining your credit by putting everything in your name, not getting a job, spending everything you have, giving you an “allowance”, etc. Don’t take this lightly. As you can see, even financial abuse can lead to harmful and even fatal physical abuse.

Amanda

 

Drugs or Me?

I have so much on my mind. I can’t sleep. I had group therapy at the Domestic Violence Shelter tonight and my mind is on overdrive. This post will be a little jumpy, as far a chronological events go. I want to focus this time on DVP’s drug usage because I didn’t think he was a regular user when we first got together, but he got back into it once me moved to Big City, and I need to emphasize the impact it had on our relationship.

I mentioned that DVP was in the military and got kicked out. The first time I encountered him using drugs was while he was still serving Active Duty, but this was during the 30 days notice he had to move back home. I came into his dorm room to visit right after work, and I would come over without telling him, cause he knew I would just come right over. In fact, I think I was “living with him” at that time. Yeah, you’re not supposed to have civilian, unmarried, members of the opposite sex living in the dorms, but I was there regardless of the rules. He could have got into trouble if his roommate didn’t cover for him all the time. Anyone catch this as a warning sign? Good job. Many abusers adopt the attitude that they are above reproach, rules don’t apply to them, and they can do whatever they want.

He was smoking what is called, “Spice”, synthetic marijuana which is very bad for you (see article below). At the time, it wouldn’t show up in a drug test, so he would smoke it in his dorm room. I just thought it was so stupid to risk smoking that on base. I didn’t like it, but I justified his usage for getting kicked out and feeling bad about it, so I let it be.

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http://spiceaddictionsupport.org/what-is-spice/

When we moved to Big City, we started hanging out with his friends a lot, who were all heavy pot smokers. Some of them did heavier drugs like cocaine and ecstasy. He admitted to using those in his past, but the only drug I was aware of him using while we were together was marijuana and spice. Now, with the recent push for legalization of marijuana, a lot of people don’t see this as a big deal. Okay, maybe marijuana isn’t as bad as everyone thinks, maybe it is. I’m not here to judge, criticize, take sides, none of that. He abused this drug, abused our relationship and physically abused me while high so in the context of this post, I am against it. Don’t take offense.

A typical night at the beginning of our relationship would consist of dinner together, maybe some T.V., video games, something out on the town. We switched it up. Pretty normal stuff. But once we moved to Big City and started hanging out with his friends, it became all about getting high. One of his friends built a shack in his parents back yard. He was 26. And basically lived in this thing. I mean, it was kinda cool if you were in middle school, but at 26? The group of his friends always hung out in this shack in the summer, or in the garage in the winter. I hated it. We’d sit around watching stupid T.V. shows, while they passed a joint and snacked like they’d never heard of potato chips before. I wanted to be out doing things. I had just moved to Big City for crying out loud, and I wanted to see the city! But, he constantly put weed and his friends over me.

It got to the point where I just refused to go out with him. Instead of spending time with me, he’d just leave me at home (home was his mother’s house) and would be out until between two and four in the morning. He wouldn’t call to tell me when he’d be home and his phone would always be dead or turned off. I would wait up, worried sick. If I was ever out late, even if it was for work, he’d yell and threaten to make me quit my job or stop hanging out with certain friends, but it was okay if he did it.

Because of his drug usage, he was in and out of jobs. The longest job he held was six months. We were together for seven years. He talked and talked about wanting to be a police officer, and had every opportunity to have a good police officer job. It was practically handed to him because his father was a police officer and could help get him on. We were really struggling with money, and all he had to do is stop smoking. He made it 30 days, the time it takes to be clean, but a few days before the test, he smoked. Failed the test. Didn’t get the job. We desperately needed him to have that job. This joblessness and lack of support of their partner is a tactic that abusers use against their partners, even if they can come up with every excuse in the book. They are completely selfish.

Now I will jump ahead four or five years into our relationship and after we were married. After I went full time in the military, we moved to another state but it was only three hours from where we had lived in Big City. I hoped that getting him that far away from his friends would keep him from doing drugs so he could get a better job. Instead, when we were still very tight on money because I alone was supporting us and he couldn’t get a good job (didn’t try is probably more accurate), he’d spend all of our gas money to drive to Big City to buy weed, spending around $150 at a time. He didn’t seem to care that we could barely buy groceries that month, he just had to have it.

Jump ahead again to about a year ago. When we moved back to where I am from, he hated not having his access to marijuana. He was miserable. The abuse got really bad during this time. He choked me at least once a week for a month. He would be quicker to lose his temper, he’d throw things at me. He would say how much he hated my state and all of it’s “stupid liquor laws”,  and the “Mormons”. He would threaten to leave me and go back to Big City. He would make me feel horrible about taking him away from where he grew up just because I wanted to be closer to my family (Crazy, right? Abusers never care about double standards). He would pull my hair, slap me, punch me, kick me out of the car just like that time when we were dating, etc. But, his main, “go-to” form of abuse was CHOKING me.

The abuse was so bad that I thought the only way to stop it was that I had to find him a dealer. He told me I had better find one. He made threats about what he would do if I didn’t. I knew of a guy from high school that smoked, and he was able to direct me to a dealer. This is another warning sign that I didn’t know about that is common among abusers: getting their victim to do things for them that are illegal.

Did it solve my problem? Once DVP had his high, things calmed down a bit, but not much. The next issue was that now he would stay up late every single night and never wanted to have sex, because he was always high. We never went to bed together. I rarely got the intimacy I needed from my husband, and my already low sense of self worth was plunging deeper and deeper down the drain.

Finally, fast forward to five months ago on the occasion of our daughter’s birth. I don’t want to go into much detail on this event because that is a whole story deserving a post all its own, but here is the nutshell version relating to the topic of drugs: The second day after giving birth, the day we were supposed to bring Baby home from the hospital, he got kicked out of the hospital by security for abusing me. He didn’t care that the nurses could hear- what did he think was going to happen?! When they moved me to a different room for security, they cleaned out the other room and found a marijuana pipe and weed that he had left behind. I had no idea. Later I realized that he had kept coming up with stupid reasons to go to the store (that should have tipped me off because he normally would never go to the store for himself, he would always make me go, or his mom) so that must have been when he’d go smoke. The hospital said that only I could report the physical abuse to the police, but that the hospital would report the drugs regardless of what I chose to do for myself. So in the end, along with several other convictions, he received a Class B Misdemeanor for possession of marijuana and now has to be clean for a year. Maybe that is a small win for me for all the times he lost a job or neglected me or abused me because of his stupid drugs.

In closing, let me clarify: Does marijuana, alcohol, or other drugs CAUSE abuse? No. Do all abusers use drugs or excessive alcohol? No. Is it more common that men who are drug/alcohol abusers will also abuse their partners? Yes. They often go together. Drug usage can make the abuser more irritable when they’re not high, increasing the risk of abuse. And if drugs/alcohol are a focus and a frequent habit, then at the very least there isn’t much room for a happy, balanced relationship to exist, but at most it can make them worse and even get you killed! It’s the truth. Don’t put up with it, no matter how infrequent or under control he thinks it is. Nothing good comes from using drugs- just look at all the famous people in Hollywood that have been ruined by it or killed by it. It happens all the time. Why risk it?

Stay safe,

Amanda

 

How Does He Treat His Mother?

Before I begin, I want to welcome all my new followers, and to say THANK YOU to all the support, kind words, and friendships I have received over the last 24 hours. I love you all, and I hope you will find strength as we journey together.

It is really hard to decide what to write about next. I just have so much to say.  I left off writing about moving to Big City. I will dive into this subject more in a future post, but my mother-in-law was just as bad, if not worse, with emotionally abusing me (Please remember that my intention is NOT to bash or degrade them. I’m simply trying to convey what happened so others can learn the signs). When we were about 500 miles away from Big City, she called (I’m going to use DVP for domestic violence perpetrator from now on) DVP to tell him that we wouldn’t be able to stay with her for a few days because she was thinking about divorcing her third husband, and didn’t want us around with all the fighting going on. That’s a great first impression for someone you’re about to live with for the foreseeable future (and a warning sign I missed!).

When we did finally move in with her (they didn’t get a divorce), things were okay for a few days. But, I started to see just how dysfunctional DVP’s relationship with his mother was. In normal family relationships, it isn’t uncommon for children to argue with their parents. It happens. Especially in those teen years! However, the arguing that happened between DVP and XMIL (ex-mother-in-law) was far from common. It was EXPLOSIVE. The entire house suffered when they fought. It was a two-way street: He was extremely disrespectful, and she was extremely stubborn (for lack of a better word).

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They would fight over the smallest things, like him playing video games too much (another form of abuse, but more on that later), to debating about politics. I never understood why they would debate so much over politics. They usually shared the same view, but if DVP said anything somewhat different than her beliefs, she’d argue the death out of it, even when what he was saying was almost exactly what she was arguing. The fights would get so bad that he would end up calling her bitch, cunt, and whore (I apologize if I offend anyone, but it needs to be said). Both of them would talk over each other, make silly noises while plugging their ears so they couldn’t hear what the other was saying. She’d tell him things like, “I don’t know how you became so ignorant when I raised you differently”, or “You must get that from your dad”, and “What is WRONG with you?”.

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Her husband also did not like DVP. Because of this, he spoke maybe five words to me the entire five years we lived in Big City. I’m not even kidding. He loved XBIL (ex-brother-in-law) and his then girlfriend. He would buy them things, talk to them (it is sad that I even have to clarify that), watch television with them. But never, ever with me or DVP. XMIL said it was because he can’t stand how DVP treated her and me, but why exclude me? It was like I didn’t exist to him. I would pass by numerous times a day while he watched T.V. to get to the kitchen and I felt like a ghost passing through.

I want you to understand that she wasn’t all bad all the time. She did a lot for me. We had a good relationship for a long time, though I didn’t recognize her abuse until towards the end. She would listen to me sob when DVP hurt me. The most confusing thing though was that she would take my side while listening to me talk about how her son hurt me, and say things like, “I wouldn’t blame you if you left him!”, and then later deny that anything ever happened between me and her son. She would eventually even tell me that I was the one to blame, that I was at least partly to blame for his abuse. I’ll get to that later. But the most infuriating thing was that she would constantly degrade and bash her son to me. When we would be in the “honeymoon phase” of the abuse cycle, I hated hearing what she had to say about him. His mother should not be telling his wife all of these things. She should be confiding in a friend or other relative if she wanted to gripe about him. Sadly, I felt like I had to side with her too, just like I had to side with DVP because of the backlash I would get if I disagreed with her or stood up for him (she was using the same domineering and fear tactics that he was using. More signs).

So why tell you all of this? Well, have you heard the saying, “Watch how he treats his mom, because that’s how he’ll treat you”? It is 100% accurate, and a warning sign of abuse if he treats his mom in any of the ways I described above. Her treatment of him (and me eventually) is just as much of a sign of emotional and verbal abuse as his. Please, please, please, don’t take it lightly. If his family doesn’t get along with each other, or doesn’t get along with your significant other, there is always an underlying reason. Do not dismiss it. And trust your gut! I will say this often, but I mean it. Your intuition is there to save you. Every horrible name he called her, he called me, and worse. The way she would treat him in arguments, he would treat me. I could see it clear as day. When he’d yell or argue at me in those ways, it was as if she was yelling at me. The disrespect he had for her was hard for me to comprehend, and I didn’t understand that I was being disrespected as well.

Please tell me how I can help you! I have a long, long list of topics to write about, and telling you my entire story will take time. If you need to hear about something, let me know. I’m also looking for stories to share of other victim’s abuse for a later post, so if you feel comfortable, please let me know.

Stay safe,

Amanda