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When I was just 17, I "fell in love" for the first time. I was a very rebellious teen and although my folks didn't want me to, I moved in with him. Even before we moved in together though, he became abusive. Retrospectively, I know it started almost immediately but guys like him are subtile and until you know what you're looking at, it is easy to miss it until it's too late. It starts with harsh words "for my own good". "Go change that shirt, it looks awful on you." You change because you want to look pretty for him but it hurts and you begin to question your sense of style. So, from now on you say "Does this look ok?" and base your mood on what he says which is based on his mood and NOT how you look. You're changing who you are for him. You soon find that you're dressing ONLY in things that he approves of. You've given up your best friend because she doesn't like him and he says she's a bio tch and can't stand her. So you have the occasional phone call when he's not home. One day, you get in a fight and he pushes you. Immediately his eyes get all big and sorrowful and he grabs you and hugs you and tells you how sorry he is. I didn't mean to do that I am so sorry it's just that YOU GOT ME SO MAD WHEN YOU SAID____ At that moment, you just know it would kill him to lose you and after all, you were yelling at him and you both said some mean things so you know you shouldn't have said that. We completely disregard the fact that he pushed you and focus--as he wants you to--on what YOU said to PROVOKE HIM! We don't think about the fact that he has no impulse control if he can't even stop himself from reacting violently to something you say. We ignore the screaming warning siren inside our head that tells us that NORMAL GUYS DO NOT PUSH THEIR GIRLFRIEND/WIFE WHEN ANGERED!!!! Because we're in love and after all he said he was sorry! So, we let it go. The next time or the time after that or six months later or whenever, it isn't a push...it's a slap. The reaction is immediate. "OH baby I am sooo sorry! Oh honey I never meant to do that! Are you ok? OMG I can't believe I did that. I swear it will never happen again! I promise you! It's just that YOU SAID_____ AND I JUST GOT SO MAD!" Are we sensing a pattern here? You bet your sweet little buttocks we are! By this time he has you convinced that if YOU would only stop pissing him off so much, he would not have to hit you! THINK ABOUT THAT! You are now personally responsible for HIS actions and he takes NO BLAME in this whatsoever! Yeah he hit you but it was YOUR FAULT! Pretty soon the slaps become punches and the apologies become less and less heartfelt and more and more "It's your own f ing fault you stupid bi otch" We've now moved into the twilight zone where you are personally responsible for everything that goes wrong anywhere in the world. I once got beat up because his football team lost. The apologies stop and soon you're begging for him to forgive you for saying whatever you said or doing whatever you did. Then one night something tells you to wake up. You pretend to still be asleep, make your breathing heavy and maybe even snore a little. You crack your eyes open ever so slightly and see him standing over you with his shotgun. Your heart begins to race frantically and you are running through possible scenarios in your mind and thinking about how you're going to escape and cursing yourself for not getting out sooner because now, your life is in jeopardy. You're naked and it's the middle of the night but you vow that if he goes to aim that gun, you will roll off the bed and jump through the window even though you are 3 floors up because you know he's not going to miss. You watch him for a few minutes and it seems like an eternity. you're so tense you could scream but you don't dare move. He whispers "F it" and turns toward the closet where he keeps his guns. You thank God and breathe a sigh of relief and almost cry but you know better. He comes over to the bed again and pushes you. "get up" he tells you, "I want some" and you do what you do to survive because you want only that--to survive and you know that you cheated death tonight. To deny him now would be to give him a second chance so you pretend and you do what he wants even though it hurts because you cannot possibly feel anything but fear. You fake your way through it as you have so many other times before and tell him how much you love him and how good he is and how no one could ever be better because you KNOW what happens if you don't play the game right.
And believe it or not, I stayed a month longer after that night because I was so afraid of what he might do to me if I left. He had always told me if I tried to leave he would cut me up so bad and make it so no man would EVER want me again. Two months after I finally left, he married some girl he had probably been messing around with while we were together and two months after that he wound up in jail for cutting her face to shreds. Do I feel guilty about that? HeII yes I do! I should have had the SO B committed while I had the chance but that ugly little part of me that loves life and wants to live forever is saying "At least it wasn't me" I am not proud of that but I recognize it is a basic human instinct to survive. I vowed that I would NEVER be someone's punchng bag again. I told my ex when we first got together that if he EVER hit me, I would be gone and there would be no second chances. For 22 years his abuse stayed in the realm of control and manipulations and verbal. On that last night of our marriage he came home at 1:30 in the morning after drinking all day long and "wanted to talk". When I resisted the idea and suggested what he might do with the steel flashlight he was shining in my eyes, he began beating me with it. I've no doubt in my mind he would have beaten me half to death (if not all the way) if my then 14 yr old son had not come into the room and pulled him off. He then went after Steven. I pulled him off him and he came back on me and Steven pushed HIM against the wall and screamed at him "DAD! What the heII are you doing??" My ex then pushed him and said "If that's how it's going to be I will kill everyone in this f ing house!" and went into the kitchen where he opened the knife drawer and pulled out the butcher knife. My little girl, Tori was upstairs in her room sleeping. Steven slammed the doors and held them shut and screamed at me to call 911. I did and the whole time we waited for them, I had no idea what was happening to Tori but my mind had conjured up many horrifying scenarios. It seems like it took hours for them to come but it was probably about 4 or minutes. When we heard the doorbell, we opened the door and Steven let them in while I ran upstairs to find Tori. She slept with her blankets pulled over her head all the time back then and I called to her. She didn't move. I was so afraid to pull back the covers because I was afraid he had killed her. I did and she woke up. The whole time that was going on I had a cop screaming in my ear to tell him what had happened. I was unable to think about anything but my little girl. I finally told him that my husband had gone nuts and beat me up and threatened to kill us all. They searched the house and him and his car were gone. They stayed while we got some things together and left the house. I'd gotten clothes for the kids and Tori's insulin and needles (she's diabetic) but I hadn't gotten dressed or even remembered shoes for myself! LOL We drove to a La Quinta Inn just a few miles up the road (I chose it because it was tucked behind some buildings and easy to miss and I could hide the car in back. I walk into the lobby in my bathrobe, tearstained face and barefeet. I have a bump over my eye, both lips are busted open and swollen, I have bruises all up and down my arms and hands and all over my head and I am cradling my left hand because (I didn't know it at the time) he had broken my thumb. My hair hasn't been brushed and I have blood stains on my front of my robe because my mouth had been bleeding and I didn't really realize it. The front desk clerk looks at me and says "Can I help you?" Ok, duh...so I tell him I need a room but not sure for how long. "For how many?" Just me and my two kids. "DO YOU HAVE A RESERVATION?" LMAO I screamed at him "DO I LOOK LIKE I HAVE A F ING RESERVATION????"
IN the afternath of that night, my ex agreed to everything I wanted. He was ashamed of himself and so repentant. Once the reality of the divorce hit him (and I dropped the charges on him) he became a little less enthusiastic about giving me whatever I wanted but I still did get most of it. History changed once the divorce was final, though and he now refers to that night as "the night he slapped me"...whatever. When he was dating, one of the women he was seeing ran a background check on him and the domestic abuse report came up. She confronted him about it and he said I had made it all up. She didn't buy that story so she dumped him. He came to me after that happened and said "Do you see how you ruined my life?" LOL Some things never change! He never had taken responsibility for his actions and he never will. The only reason he said he did immediately after the fact was to ease his conscience and try to get me to drop the divorce action. Again...whatever. I meant what I told him in the beginning...NO SECOND CHANCES!
Thanks HOPE. Sometimes I do regret that I didn't press charges. The memories that he gave to my son will affect him for life and for either of the kids to have had to leave their homes in the middle of the night and to know that their dad beat up their mom...well that's not something ANY child should have to go through. He followed us down to Florida and lives here still. I have as little contact as possible with him but my kids talk to him often. None of them really "like him" but they love him only because he is their father. They will never respect him though because of that and so many other things he has done.
As far as my first abuser, I know he spent some time in jail from cutting up his wife's face but beyond that I have no idea. I lived in fear for so many years that he would find me--even after I got married--that I never even considered finding out where he was. I PRAY he is locked up forever but I also know what would have to have happened for that to take place and that scares me. I hope he just went off the deep end and they put him in a hospital and tossed the key. We all know what the chances of that is...
I really didn't post this to show what I have been through but more to illustrate that the little push or slap isn't going to stop at that. 99% of the time, once a line has been crossed in that area it will be crossed again and eventually will escallate to something more serious. Your number 1 rule on this matter should be just as mine is--NO SECOND CHANCES! You do NOT deserve to be hit, pushed, shoved, slapped, thrown, smacked, beaten, kicked or anything else like that! NO ONE DOES! If your husband or SO is physically abusing you, please call the National Abuse Hotline @ 1(800)799-SAFE or 1(800)799-7233. This is a 24 hour/2365 day a year hotline and they can direct you to shelters and other people who can help you to get out safely! You and your children deserve to be happy and safe.
Sounds familiar. Like the day he kicked my pillow...with my head resting on it. That was never his fault. Or the time he pinned me to the wall and tried to strangle me and threw me to the ground when I went to knee him. That was the day he refers to as "the day you tried to knee me in the balls". He still claims we were both violent because I tried to knee him in self defense to get away.
Oh and the verbal abuse. I dressed like he wanted, ditched my friends, had to choose between him or my family. I was "a fat slob", according to him. I have a hard time believing that I am pretty now.
I didn't see just how bad it really was until I walked away. I can't believe I stayed 4 years after he first kicked me.
After 4.5 years of being verbally and emotionally abused, my self esteem took a MAJOR hit. I hear what he said about me in my head. I have a hard time forgetting it all. But now, I find myself lashing out at him. When I get angry with him, I verbally abuse him. What I say is all the truth, but I aim to hurt him. Is this normal? Is it normal for an abuse victim to lash out at the abuser? Is this because I finally have nothing to lose when it comes to our marriage?
Sara, you're hurt. You've been betrayed emotionally over and over and abused verbally. Now that you are beginning to see that, you are reacting by lashing back at him. Deep down inside, you want to make HIM hurt. You want to show him how it feels...and a part of you wants to know you still matter enough to him to cause that hurt. Part of what is so devastating about many divorces is that one party feels less about the other party and unfortunately all too often it's the woman who feels more. When that happens we have a fundamental need to KNOW that we still have some impact on this man. No one wants to feel that sense of impotence. So we lash out. Or we do things that will "make him jealous". Something--ANYTHING just to get a reaction out of him and to know that it wasn't all a lie--we still do matter. What we forget is that although we very well may have that intended impact on him, he is just as capable as anyone else of hiding it and of lashing back at us. Thus starts that neverending verbal battle that so many divorcing couples go through. Ideally, both parties admit that they still have some feelings but that there is just too much water under the bridge to go on or that it just isn't enough to sustain the relationship. That's hard to do when you're the one being left. To do that, you'd have to put yourself in the position of complete vulnerability and that isn't something we can easily do once we've been hurt or rejected by someone. It also isn't advisable for your ego especially if you know he isn't going to give the marriage another chance. So, instead we lash out. It's our way of saying "You can't hurt me anymore because this is how I feel about you"--self defense. The alternative--showing how much it hurts and how we wish things were different--is just too painful. It's also payback for all those years that he made you feel "less than" you really are. Yeah, that may be childish but it's normal--I did it too. With my ex, he always had issues with his height. I happened to be taller than he was and although it bothered me a little, I always told him it didn't. Well wouldn't you know it...every guy I dated after the divorce happened to be well over 6' tall! LOL Tom is 6'2". And..you guessed it. Everytime I would tell him about someone I was dating, I'd say "Well let's see...he's really tall--6'3" and blah blah blah" LOL I knew it bothered him but I didn't care. I WANTED to hurt him! Of course, he did the same to me "She's really thin...only about 110 pounds." LOL We're more alike in that respect than I care to think. LOL
The thing about lashing back at him is that it doesn't usually make you feel good abotu yourself. At the time you may feel this sense of "YES!!!" but later on, you'll usually feel a bit of shame about how you acted. If it isn't making YOU feel good, then don't do it anymore. You've been made to feel bad long enough. If you resist the temptation to ZING him, I think you'll find that later on you feel good about yourself for having taken the higher road.
You've hit the nail on the head. After 4 years of being put down and told I am worthless, I finally said all I have been afraid to say. I finally told him what a horrible father I have always thought he was and how I HATED him for never keeping a job. I finally felt safe enough to yell it out on the phone. Although I feel better about finally saying what I have felt for so long, I was ashamed at how much I spewed at him. But I NEEDED to say it. I needed him to know. I needed him to HURT.