Kwin

I first met my ex boyfriend around 2010 at a bar out with my friends. We were at a mutual friend’s birthday party. He said I looked “bored” and asked me if I wanted a beer and although I hate beer, I said yes. We talked all night and he asked me if I wanted to go on a date. The next day I picked him up (he didn’t have a car) and we went out. I ended up going to his house the next day and met his mom. We went on a few more dates but after I finally “gave in” – it ended up being a “booty call” kind of thing. He wasn’t a relationship person, but I was. I would answer his phone calls at times and other times I would ignore them. I remember one night we were hanging out and he asked me for a massage. I was giving him a massage and my ring rubbed him hard and he flipped out. At that time, I left and we didn’t speak for weeks. I saw him at a bar and he left because I was talking to a guy.

A few months later, we started seriously seeing each other. I was staying at his house often and meeting all of his family members (who are all fantastic). He asked me to be his girlfriend not long after and I agreed. It was probably a month later he told me he loved me and I was unable to say it at that time. Eventually I did.

Red Flags

One night we were dog sitting for his brother. We were laying in bed and got into an argument and he kicked me off the bed with his feet. I remember sitting there thinking “did that really happen?”  After that, the abuse continued and got worse. I was told daily that I only needed him, my family didn’t care about me, my friends were only my friends because they had “pity” on me, I’d never be anyone without him and no one would ever love me except for him. I was isolated from all of my family and friends. There were multiple times I would try to hang out with friends or go to a friends wedding and he would hide my keys. We didn’t hang out with anyone but his family or friends. I would go months and months without seeing or talking to my family. I was told daily that my clothing choices were horrible and nothing looked good on me. Along with the daily verbal abuse there was physical abuse. Almost daily he would get mad at me and slap me in the face over and over, kick me, punch me in my head, arms and legs, grab my neck, and push me off the bed.  He threw me into walls, held me down and call me a psycho because I hated being held down and so on. This happened almost daily. I would go to work crying as these things happened a lot, as early as 7am.

I was told daily that I only needed him, my family didn’t care about me, my friends were only my friends because they had “pity” on me, I’d never be anyone without him and no one would ever love me except for him. I was isolated from all of my family and friends.

I always kept it to myself initially. I would put cover up over the bruises on my face, neck and ears. I always had bruises on my body. One day he threw me to the floor and I had multiple cuts above my eye as a result. I went to work the next day and the doctor I worked for asked me what happened. I told her I had a run in with the dog. Later that day my co worker asked the same question and I told her the same answer. After she walked away, I sat there by myself crying”. “How could I ever let my life turn out like this?” “How could I every let someone physically and verbally abuse me, let alone on a daily basis?” This went on daily for 2 years as we lived together with his mom. He was also a very big drinker and had a bad temper when he drank. There were nights I’d be driving and he would grab the steering wheel and steer us into oncoming traffic or into a pole because he thought it was “funny”.

Realization

I watched Dr. Phil almost daily. He had a special on domestic abuse as his wife was launching a domestic abuse app and project. He listed what domestic abuse was. I sat there thinking “why did I think this was any different?” I thought he did it because he loved me. I started googling domestic abuse signs (which I had them all). I even downloaded Dr. Phil’s wife’s app as it allowed you to put an emergency number in. If you pushed the button, it would alert that emergency person that you were in trouble. I finally started seeking out friends at work who I could trust and told them what was going on. A co worker of mine also printed out domestic abuse hotlines for me. I finally realized I needed to get out of this. I sought out a counselor who advised me domestic abuse was out of her expertise and referred me to someone else. I ended up finding someone on my own and only went to her a few times before I realized what I needed to do. If I wanted to get out of it, I had to make him think it was his idea and not mine. I ended up making it so he “broke up” with me. I acted like I was devastated and left. I moved out shortly after.

Words of Wisdom

Never let anyone make you think you’re not good enough. Always know you are amazing because you are! Never lose your identity to someone else. I started doubting who I was without him. This is your life, live it for you!

My life today

I have been in two relationships since then. I am now happily married to my best friend and having my first baby. My husband and I have our own lives, and a life together. He supports me in everything and I support him. We are in a partnership. The best thing I ever did was leave that situation and you can too! Please feel free to contact me.

The Challenge of Reaching Out

When I made the commitment to start blogging about domestic abuse and my experience, my main goal was to reach out to victims and families.  As I began coming up with a communication plan, I realized communicating with families and other loved ones surrounding the abused is easy.  Finding survivors would be reasonably challenging, but getting content in front of those who really need it would prove most challenging of all.  Why is this?

Abusers are masters at controlling the environment of their partners.  So much so, in fact, that the victim often is unaware that the environment is so closed off, and effectively the person closing the world off is the victim him or herself, as a result of coercion or determent.  Victims may be allowed to work, but only under certain circumstances.  They may appear to have one or two close friends (common, as we get into our twenties and thirties), but the reality is that even these relationships are controlled.  Looking back on my experience, I had a two people who I could talk to without hearing much grief…my sister-in-law, and my mother-in-law.  I had a few friends who were wives of my husband’s friends that I would see on occasion as well, when permitted, but primarily it was my in-laws who were my support.  I enjoyed the time I had with both of these women, but looking back, these relationships were contrived as well.  These were women who, in my husband’s eyes, lived the model of womanhood I was expected to uphold.  When he would make remarks around them about me that were in retrospect, extremely mean and abusive, they would brush it off as him being in a bad mood.  I remember clearly one time my mother-in-law asking me, “What would you do if your mom ever heard him talk to you like that?”.  I told her he never would.  He knew better.  But then again, how frequently did we see my mom…?

I was allowed to have Facebook, but no other type of social media.  I got in trouble several times for having “What’s App” on my phone, which he declared as an app to sneak off and talk to people so the conversations can’t be logged.  While that would have been a good idea, I suppose, I hadn’t thought of it.  I had downloaded it to talk to another (girl) friend of mine from work, who would travel frequently for recruitment, where wireless signals do not work.  He insisted that I was having lesbian relationships with any girl I happened to know.  Men were not an issue, because I wouldn’t dare try to befriend anyone of the opposite sex, but the few times I did add an old colleague or friend on Facebook, a fight ensued; I was accused of being unfaithful, and ultimately ended up removing them from my friends list.  He questioned every new person on my Facebook or in my phone, and any male co-workers I brought up in conversation, and insisted that I explain the details of our relationship, no matter how long it had been since we last spoke (friends from middle school perhaps).  It got to the point where I stopped accepting requests altogether, to save myself the stress this whole ordeal caused every time.

The people I did have in my life, (his sister-in-law and mother included) were often subject to demeaning ridicule behind our closed doors.  If I didn’t agree with him, a fight ensued and I would be named disloyal.  “Why do you give a sh-t about all these f-ing people”, he would say.  “What are they ever going to do for you?”  Ironically, in the interest of wanting to prove my loyalty and fidelity (and to save myself the aggravation associated with even showing interest in anything else), I found myself sometimes not even asking to do certain things that were outside of the allowed circle.  I missed baby showers, graduations, birthdays.  Days I can never get back with some people, unfortunately, I will never see again.  I’ll write more on this at a later time.

When the fights surrounding these types of things were over, life continued.  We would have a lovely day antiquing with his mom, or going apple picking.  We would play games and watch movies and eat munchies, all in the false comfort of home.  During this time, if I was spotted on my iPad or phone, I tended to get grief as well, so I tried to devote this time to being together.  After all, that is what a good wife does, right?

All of this to say, it is extremely hard to infiltrate the iron clad environment in which abusers contain victims.  That said, I knew that any support I opened up would need to be viewable, with the understanding that these people may not ever be able to comment, call, or interact.  If you have not been in a relationship like this before, pretend the victim is looking through a window from the confines of a locked house.  You have no way in, and the victim has no way out.  What do you do to convince this person that the world is actually warm and safe, that people are friendly and they will survive?  How do you further convince them they can thrive? How do you convey to him or her that some of the people he or she sees as happy outside, were actually once inside a locked house as well?  I view what I do in this abstract way.  What I hope to do is to be the person standing out there with a obtrusive, giant sign, that simply reads, “I was there, and now I’m happy…really happy.  You are strong, and you deserve all this happiness, too.”

In an effort to reach out, I have developed the Heroes Program.  Through this program, I hope to develop a library of survivor stories to serve as the light for those still searching for their way.  If you have a story to share, I cannot explain how much your anonymous sharing will do for those still stuck.