I am not crazy or unstable! 

                                                     I was abused and I am a survivor! 

A Story of Abuse and Survival!

Jane is not her real name but for safety, that is what I will call her. I met Jane through hope ministry.  I encourage the ladies to share their story to help other women out there to see that they are not alone.  They are not crazy and there is hope.  That is a tough thing for the ladies to do and it took Jane some time to be able to as well.  

 Domestic Violence can happen to anyone and no matter who you are, it can be very difficult to get out of that situation.  Jane is very brave and a great example of the power we have inside us if we just reach down and pull it out with God’s help.  When she sat in front of us in group and shared her story I did what I don’t get to do much in meeting a victim for the first time.  I encouraged her to be proud of herself.   She is brave and she is strong and she is no longer a victim, she is a SURVIVOR.  I hope her story becomes a source of hope for you.  It is lengthy but I encourage you to read it through to the end.  It is very difficult to share these stories in just a few words.  Jane’s story may very well be your story!  

Jane’s Story!

I had never experienced domestic violence in any previous relationship,or with my friends or even within my family. I am an educated woman and knew about warning signs and predictive behaviors relating to violence but when you fall in love with someone, something masks those red flags. 

 I only dated my soon to be ex-spouse for 3 months before we were engaged, then only engaged for an additional 4 months before we got married. It was not nearly enough time to test the relationship, nor to move out of the honeymoon phase to see his true self away from those intoxicating emotional feelings that come from being in love and in the beginning of a new relationship.

 He asked me to go to church on our first date so I thought he was a Godly man and would be a great man as a husband. I was impressed by him at first because he was attractive, hard working, respectful, interested in me, we had similar hobbies and wanted the same things in life. He was understanding and patient, in control of his emotions and seemed to have good advice when we talked about problems. 

 His church’s beliefs were different than mine. It was very male dominated where women did not hold a position within the church nor did they teach. Women were to be respectful to their spouse and were not to question the church’s practices or their significant other in public. Only in private with their spouse were they allowed to bring up such things. Women were to follow their spouse as the leader in the relationship.

 The very first warning signs in dating that he expressed were jealousy and control. He checked my text messages. He accused me of avoiding his phone calls or texts to put my friends first. I would check my phone to see what he was talking about but I never saw what he saw. In response, he “punished” me, as I called it, by not seeing me. He would say that if my friends were that important I could spend time with them then. It was very confusing and hurtful. I spent that time by myself instead of with friends because I was trying to make sense of it and didn’t want to tell my friends or family at this point. What would I say, that he was checking my phone? Of course I knew what they would say. That’s a bad sign or you need to break up with him. I made excuses that he just didn’t know me well enough yet, that the trust would develop in response to my loyal actions to him.

 While we were engaged, he began limiting time my with friends. I was already not seeing them as often because I was so in love with him that I wanted to spend all my time with him that I didn’t really even notice it. He was very good at manipulation and I was too blind to see it. My family was uneasy with him. He did not have a good first meeting with my dad. He didn’t like my sister. They expressed their concerns that it was going way too fast. They suggested we wait because there was no rush. I was just so excited to be in love and be getting married I couldn’t see or hear it all. I planned my wedding by myself and rarely asked for help from anyone because I wanted to be excited for my wedding. My sister and friends were hesitant and so I tried on my wedding dress with him instead of taking my family and friends to see it. I made the flower arrangements and my bouquet as well as the other decorations. It was a very lonely time for me. 

 Once married, he began asking me if I had cheated on him. He became so crazy about it, so paranoid. I got to the point one night when we were on our way to dinner that I didn’t even want to answer the question. I refused to answer and when I did he took it that I was just avoiding answering honestly. I had never seen him so angry. I was so scared. I told him to forget going to dinner because I was bawling and couldn’t relax at a restaurant. Instead of taking me back to our apartment, he drove to a secluded park. It was winter time and cold and dark. He kept asking me if I had cheated and he was so enraged that I got out of the car and started walking. I was so panicked. I called my mom, but didn’t call the police or any other family or friends. I didn’t want to get him in trouble, I just wanted to go where I was safe until he could get himself together and we could talk. He started driving past me slowly and watching me as I walked the sidewalk until I turned around and walked the other direction and he could turn the car around and try and catch up to me again. When my mom finally arrived a police officer pulled behind us but I told my mom I didn’t want him to get in trouble. Some how she was able to get the officer to leave. Against his wishes, I stayed the night with my mom. It took several days for us to get past that. I told my sister and she and my dad tried to come and get me to leave him, but I refused to leave him. My mom was not very helpful. She was more passive and didn’t want to lose contact with me, so she tried to be respectful and support him. 

 He started calling me at work and showing up at my work. If I didn’t answer the phone he accused me of being with another man. He would make me come outside to show him I was actually working. He would make sure my car was in the parking lot.

 I was not allowed to get together with my friends at night. I could no longer do dinner and a movie. I had to ask his permission before I did anything. If he didn’t approve of it, I did not go or if I did go, there were repercussions. He would ignore me and not talk to me. He would be gone from the house a lot. I eventually would apologize and admit he was right in order for him to be ok with me again. There were extreme arguments when I was invited to be a bridesmaid in my best friends wedding and was invited to the Bachelorette party and the Rehearsal Dinner. Obviously I wanted to attend but he couldn’t understand it. I went to support my friend but it was terrible at home with him. So much arguing. He would literally make me feel like a crazy person. After her wedding I lost touch with her and my other friends because it all had been so bad and awkward. He even put wedges between my family and I. I was not allowed to tell my family about his behavior. Once he found out I told my sister, he would not be around her family anymore. It made if very difficult because I wanted to tell someone what was going on, but I wanted my family to like him. I would have to go to family party’s without him and wasn’t allowed to stay very long. I felt very emotionally abused at this point. I had not opinion. My education was worthless. I couldn’t do anything right. Then I started gaining weight and that wasn’t easy with him. That became another argument. One argument got so bad I locked myself in the bathroom because I had become so emotional and he tried to kick in the bathroom door. I eventually unlocked the door before he broke it. He left an imprint of his back in the wall across from the door because he had hit it so hard trying to kick in the door. I was so scared that night.

He began manipulating me into doing sexual things I was uncomfortable with. I was on an anxiety medication and at night I was hard to wake up. Sometimes I would wake up to him doing the sexual things to me that I had told him I was uncomfortable with. I was so unhappy, so confused. He forced intercourse on me once the way that I didn’t want to do it. I called it rape when I thought about it in my head. I told him he didn’t respect me or my body. I tried bringing our christian faith into the conversation and for awhile it helped. He was apologetic in the beginning. He said he would never do it again, but he eventually did, almost daily. And at that time,when I talked to him about it, he was so good at talking that I would end up thinking I had done something wrong or that I wasn’t meeting a need. For a long time I made the excuse that it was a marital duty but I hated it.

It was not ok with him for me to talk to other males in public. I would get berated with questions once we were in private if I gave too much eye contact or spoke too much with a store associate, co-worker or even my brother-in-laws. I was expected to go do the exact errands I had told him and be back in the amount of time I estimated it would take, which was not very long. If I was late, he accused me of calling an ex-boyfriend to meet me at the store or of stopping to sleep with someone on the way home. He questioned me daily if I had cheated on him and even questioned if our child was really his. His definition of cheating was not just sex, but kissing, hugging or flirting. 

I practically begged him, but he refused to attend counseling with a professional or mentoring with church members. At first, I just thought it was a lack of communication skills or that we just needed to work out our different expectations we had coming into the marriage. I thought I just wasn’t explaining things in a way he could understand. I kept thinking if I could just explain it then it would make a difference in his suspicious, jealous and controlling behaviors. I was able to get him to go to 1 professional counselor but it was out of pocket and he refused to admit to any of his behaviors and blamed his frustration on missing his family. We never went back and he got very mad at me on the way home. We met for lunch with a couple from church in charge of their marriage mentorship program but he decided it was not right for us. I eventually called my mom as a third person to help mediate because she was the only family member he respected, but that ended up back firing on me. He would twist her words around and say she agreed with him and that I was wrong. 

I felt so alone. I felt so confused. I felt so desperate… I was fearful of what my future held and what was going to happen. I still had hope my marriage would work but didn’t know how to fix it. I started going along with his expectations. I lost my friends completely. I rarely saw my family. He was happier and there was less stress so then in a way I was happier. We talked about having a child and when I shared that with my family, they only showed concern instead of excitement. It was very lonely. After we were married 1 year, we got pregnant. When they were born, I chose to stay home with them. He started criticizing nearly everything I did. I couldn’t feed or diaper or bath the baby right. I gained a lot of weight and was very depressed. I was home in our 1 bedroom apartment, alone, with no friends. I couldn’t call my family. I was struggling keeping up with basic house chores or making dinner. I went to a Dr. and was put on an anti-depressant for postpartum depression. I was so sad that all the things I was excited for prior to marriage like, double dates with friends, big family get togethers, my children growing up with cousins, a happy marriage, etc. were all destroyed. 

 When we were dating he had mentioned moving out of state because that’s where he had lived before and his family was there. I was excited about that idea when we were dating and engaged but once he started talking about after we had a child I was scared. My family showed great concern. They were afraid of the isolation and his anger. My relationships with my family were broken so I decided to find the positives of moving and began focusing on that. We made a date for the move and got ready. He promised we could start over. We could make couple friends, attend a church and get involved, get out and do things as a family, and take trips on the weekends. I researched things in the area of where we would be moving and got myself ready for the move. 

It was so hard to tell my family goodbye. I knew I wouldn’t see them but once or twice a year. I was sad that my child wouldn’t have relationships with my family, that they would only know his family. Disappointment wasn’t a new feeling though,so I just pushed it to the side with everything else. 

Things got a lot worse in the 6 months after we moved out of state. Almost immediately, he made me start working with his sister’s family business and I provided transportation, toting our child along. We were up early in the morning and came home late at night. No routine. He left me at home alone with our child and chose to spend time with his family. He worked a lot. He went fishing after he got home from work. I was staying home with our child so we only had his income. We only had 1 car. Everything he promised, making friends, getting involved, starting over….he lied about. He began waking me every night to do sexual things to him. I was exhausted. Between waking up for him and for the baby I never slept. I was more depressed, more anxious, more stressed and even more alone. He started showing up at the house in the middle of the day when he was supposed to be working to make sure we were at the house. He increased his paranoid behavior about me cheating on him. I felt barely alive on the inside. I tried so hard to keep it together for my child. I tried so hard to get the chores done and have dinner ready. I felt like such a failure. I believed I was worthless, a terrible wife and a terrible mom. I felt I had nothing to offer or to give. 

About 6 months there, he tried to wake me for the sexual things he wanted. I refused and just clenched my body so I was stiff. He was so mad. He yelled at me to go sleep in the couch, and when I refused, he tried kicking me out of the bed with his feet. I fought so hard to stay in the bed and screamed at him. I told him he was crazy, that he can’t treat me that way, that it wasn’t normal what he was doing. I told him he had severe problems. He got his pillow and went down stairs without saying anything. All night I would drift off to sleep and then wake up suddenly watching the door. I was so scared he was going to come back and hurt me. That was a Friday. The next day I called my sister and told her what he had done and how bad it had gotten. She informed my dad and they encouraged me to go to the police. I felt so many mixed emotions. I didn’t want to leave my husband but I didn’t trust my husband anymore to keep me safe. He had lied to me, left me alone and was abusing me emotionally, sexually and now physically. We had been married 2-1/2 years now. Our child was just over 1 year old. I had made so many sacrifices for him, for our marriage. I had moved 13 hours away from my family in hopes that he would be happier and that we could be happier. There was so much to think about. We used to have a bad day and then several good days. Now they were all bad days. He had started cussing at me. Now he had physically hurt me along with forcing sexual things on me.

Saturday night we discussed it a little. He said he was sorry. We still slept separately. Sunday we spent the day together as a family and went to the park. I couldn’t get over what had happened. All I could do was cry. I kept wanting to bring it up again and ask why he did those things to me. He got frustrated and said if I just wanted to cry he would take me home. I tried to keep it together, but deep down I knew I was leaving, possibly the next day and so I was already ‘missing’ him and mourning. 

 Monday morning I went back and forth in my head whether I would leave or not. It was heart wrenching to think I was going to leave after everything we had been through and all that I had dealt with and how I had stuck it out. I loved him. I wanted to be married. I never wanted a divorce. All of our things were in this home. How could I take his child away from him? After he left for work I didn’t know what to do. I tried to put our child back down for a nap but they wouldn’t sleep. That’s when I got the courage to leave and drive to the police station. I was so afraid he would find me there. I made my report expecting them to say there’s not much they could do, but they escorted me to Project Safe based upon what I presented to them. I had to ask the officer after i finished my story, if in fact I was in a domestic violence relationship. He responded it was a textbook version. It was headed in a very bad direction and would only have gotten worse. At that point,he said, people either end up in the hospital or in the ground. At Project Safe, my parents were contacted and they purchased a taxi to the airport and a plane ticket home. I was allowed to go back to the apartment with a Project Safe escort and 2 Police officers waiting while I gathered a few things I had to have. I was so sick and nervous he would show up at the apartment that I couldn’t even think. I gathered birth certificates and social security cards, medicine, my purse and a few pairs of clothes for me and my child. That was it.  I left all the money in the bank and keys to the car. The whole time I couldn’t believe I was doing this. I felt so terrible that he would come home and we would just be gone. I kept asking the police what was going to happen. How could he just come home and everything would be there but his child and me? No one seemed to care about him and what he would be feeling. I gave one last look at my home, what had been my life and took a deep breath and turned around and left. About 1 hour later, the taxi then drove my child and I to the airport.  At this point he had gotten home from work and was looking for us. I was told not to answer the phone. At least not until I was at the airport but he kept calling and texting. I have never felt those emotions before. I literally was sick to my stomach. My hurt was hurting because of what he’d done, that I had left him but also for what he must be feeling.  I couldn’t stand it so I texted him simply that we had left but our child was safe. We nearly missed the plane but I remember feeling a rush of relief once the plane lifted off the ground knowing I was going back to my family, to what I knew and where I felt safe and where he could not get to me anymore. In less than 12 hours of reporting what had happened I had made it home to safety. With the help of police officers and people who care, I was able to get out, with my child. I am a survivor.

 Leaving him was the hardest thing I have ever done. No one made me leave. I had to make the choice myself. I had nothing left to wait for. No other things to try. The behavior escalated and I couldn’t do it anymore. I was afraid for my life. For how quickly things were escalating and how negative he had become, I truly thought he could kill me. I had great concern for my child. I knew he had no respect for me. No Love. I was a means to an end. Something of convenience for him. A type of property. I refused to make my child witness how he treated me or to see me so depressed that I could barely function. 

 Leaving was the hardest but also the best thing I have ever done. It took me a very long time to change my thinking, my self image, my confidence and feeling of self worth. It took months of weekly counseling to understand domestic violence and the abuser. I struggled with the idea that, He must be mentally ill because no sane person would make a choice to treat a person, especially someone they love with such disgust, hatred, and violence. I kept making excuses for why he acted that way. That will always be something I struggle with. The answer though is that men like him do it for convenience, because it’s easy and they can get what they want. It’s as simple as that for them. They are the epitome of selfishness. 

 Due to the complexities of being out of state, child custody, a protection order, etc. the divorce process has been complicated. I am indebted to my family financially for the legal fees, etc. I felt like such a burden when we arrived back. Every single thing that happened, my family warned me about before I left and now they were having to pay financially for my stubbornness. He chose to fight every possible thing, as I see it, to continue to control and punish me after leaving. I was granted a temporary protection order and primary custody of our child until all the specifics are settled in the court. He is allowed supervised visits for now with our child due to threatening 2 things to me. The first, that he would present me as too mentally ill to care for our child, which he did in fact attempt to do in court, lying under oath on the stand. He even called Child Protective Services and lied that I had abused and neglected our child so they would take them from me, but the findings were unsubstantiated (because they weren’t true). The second thing he threatened to me was that he would take and hide my child from me. That is what terrifies me the most.

In only 6 months after leaving, I have a full time job, a car, childcare, and a small apartment. I am supporting my child and I on my own income. I have the support of my family and I was able to mend my friendships. It’s not easy but it was the right thing to do. I see now that he may never have loved me. It’s very probable that he cheated on me. He also has shown he does not have much interest in having a relationship with our child. He chose to stay with his family instead of moving closer to where his child is. He has offered no support to our child, nor brought them any of their things that were left behind. He has only seen our child 4 times in 6 months. He has only offered a few clothes, diapers and wipes at those visits.

 I may never be in a relationship again and I am completely fine with that. My health and happiness are my focus now so that my child has someone to rely on and look up to in life. I am smart. I am strong. I am worthy. I am lovable. I am worth it. 

If you get anything from reading my story, let my experience prevent you from going through what I did. If you are dating someone like this, get out now. If you are married, there is a way out. It is never hopeless. Talk to someone. Get yourself the help you need. Don’t be stubborn like me. Listen to others. Learn from others experiences to save you hurt and heartache. You and I are worthy of more than this. I am a survivor. You are a survivor.

Thank you

 Peace and Blessings, 

Ruthie

 

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