Survivor Story: I Carefully Planned My Escape from My Abusive Ex-husband
Written by: BTSADV Survivor
As a 23-year-old single mother of two children, I was dating a guy whose birthday was a few days after mine. We began to have our parties together, and the third year we got crazy and decided to get married. I don’t know what I was thinking other than I really wanted to be a wife, and, frankly, I was not really happy that my high school sweetheart did not want to get married after six years and a baby together. I think I got married out of spite.
We ran off to Tahoe and got married. It was awful from the beginning. The morning we were to leave to get married, he came up missing for two hours. It turned out that he had gone to sleep with his ex-girlfriend one last time, but I didn’t find out until ten months later. When I confronted him later wanting an annulment, and when I was ready to leave him, that is the first time I found out about domestic violence.
I was hurt, pissed, and scared. This was only the beginning. He always apologized and promised he would not do it again, that he wouldn’t cheat, physically keep me from leaving, pull my hair, or hold his hand over my mouth. I always gave him another chance. The first time he hit me, he told me that his dad always hit his mom and he just didn’t know any better. He said he needed me to teach him, and I always thought I could change him.
He started to make comments like “If you love something set it free; if it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, hunt it down and kill it.” Of course, he would always say he was joking. However, in a fight, he always said, “You ain’t getting out of this without getting your ass beat.” He was 300 pounds to my 100 pounds. I was afraid one hit would kill me. Then what would happen to my boys?
I stayed, still hoping he would change his ways. Because I had nowhere to go, I once called my mom and asked if I could bring the boys and come live with her. She said I could have two days but could not stay any longer. Two days would only piss him off, so I stayed. We had had two boys after that.
Most of the time he reminded me that no one wants a girl with four kids, because that’s too much baggage. Still, I stayed. When his youngest was five years old, he got sick and was put on life support for thirty days. I stayed at the hospital with him the entire time. And it turns out that during that time, my husband was sleeping with his best friend’s sister. I developed PTSD from the stress of my baby’s illness. It led to severe depression, and my best friend – my only friend – told me I was too depressing to be around and that she would no longer come over.
After being diagnosed with PTSD and depression, I went to counseling. That counselor recommended marriage counseling. At the beginning of marriage counseling, they talk to each partner individually and then both together. After about five minutes at his appointment, he cussed them out and practically ripped the door off the wall. While I was at my appointment, she told me to get out of that marriage fast because it was dangerous. I told her that I had four boys (now ages 5,7, 12, and 13) and that I only had a high school education making $3.45 an hour. I also said that without his income from our trucking company, I could not make it.
She said I needed a plan, and suggested I start by getting back in school to educate myself. So, I tried. I went home and told him I wanted to go to college while the boys were in school, and he said he wouldn’t allow it.
When I returned for my next counseling appointment a week later, the receptionist said, “Sorry… it looks like your coverage has been canceled.” I had canceled out the insurance because he said they were giving me stupid ideas. This really opened my eyes. I decided then that she was right; I needed a plan to get out, but I decided to create my own.
I called my mom and asked if she would pay for my books and units for just two classes, and she agreed. Then, I went to a CB shop owned by an acquaintance who did not like my husband because he had slept with his girlfriend. I attempted to get a cell phone in my name using my credit. However, they still wanted a $200 deposit, and it was money that I didn’t have. The store owner knew something wasn’t right with our marriage and got me a cell phone in his name. I explained that I wanted to go to school and needed to dispatch the trucks by phone, but I wasn’t supposed to be going to school.
I called and set up call forwarding on my home phone, so if he called or dispatch called for a truck while I was at school, he would think I was at home. I excused myself to the bathroom whenever the phone rang.
The money was totally controlled as well, so I went to the card lock where our trucks were fueled and asked for my own card in the company name. He would never know as only one bill came for all the trucks and company vehicles.
Then I went and enrolled myself in school I began to study Administration of Justice. I went twice a week at first. We had a 27-foot trailer on the back of the five-acre property, and I kept my school books in there. I pretended to take up jogging, instead going to the back of the property to study. I got away with this for three semesters. One day, he walked into the trailer and found every book I ever needed for school, grades, and my school schedule for the next semester. He was an addict, so studying this subject made me a traitor in his eyes.
After two semesters, I added a third day of class to my schedule. I had gotten an internship with the auto theft task force, a multi-police agency, offered to me thru my teacher. Once a week I began working with police officers who began to see the signs of abuse. As friendships developed with my supervisor, officers, and detectives, I began to open up to them.
Then one day, I told them I had been hiding school from him and that he found out and wanted me to quit because he felt I was a traitor. I told him that I worked with officers and if they saw one more bruise on me, they would visit him. They did visit on behalf of his tenant who rented the mother-in-law quarters from him.
It was finally in the open, and our arguments grew worse because he wasn’t happy that I wouldn’t quit school, that I became more confident, or that I had back up from co-workers. Eventually, one thing led to another over my homework one night, and he pulled a rifle on me. My oldest son had just turned 18 weeks earlier and warned me that “He was a man now and the next time he got out of control, he would step in.” I begged him to let me handle things.
The rifle jammed, and my son knocked him out cold. I pack up my bags and kids, and we left him lying on the floor. The next day I hired one of my drivers to move the trailer I had been using to study to a local trailer park, and that’s where I lived for the next 18 months. I was so happy there honestly. I got two jobs to keep the kids in private school.
However, he made several attempts on my life. During the three years we spent going through court for the divorce and custody of the children, he stole my children time and time again. He also told a drug dealer that I ratted on him and asked him to have me ‘taken out’ so he could have the kids and not pay child support or alimony.
After two men attempted a kidnapping at a store, I was in fear for our lives. I moved away, but he continued to threaten to end my life. His threat was he would kill me then shoot himself. This story has many interesting events and failures of police departments, as I was told: “Until he does something, and I can prove it was him, they could do nothing.”
I went back to school, and that led to a job working for the courts; I could finally support myself and my children. He finally gave up when the kids turned about 16 or so. By this time, he had had a restraining order against him for several years. He said I would never amount to anything. Well, he was wrong. I went on to be a Legal Process Clerk for the courts, an EMT, and a volunteer firefighter on weekends and holidays. I guess he was wrong, but I always knew that. I did remarry a man who is an awesome example for my boys. It has been 15 wonderful years with him.
**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org, chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777, or send a private message through our Facebook page.
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