Adding My Voice: My story of Domestic Abuse

I never do this. I never talk about this part of my life. I don’t talk about it for various reasons: shame, fear of relapse, fear of nightmares, reliving it. Mostly? It’s just hard to talk about it. Really hard.

So here it is, today I add my voice to the UNsilence. 

My name is Danielle, and I am an abuse survivor.

I could talk about the abuse I survived through as a child, but I won’t. I’ve dealt with it, mostly.

I could talk about the boy in High School who sexually assaulted me, and got away with it because he was the a “good student”, and I was “the rebel”. As if attendance was any indicator of whether a man would take advantage of a woman. I still remember the sick smirk he wore, as I shook ashamed, from across the table.

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Image Credit: Dualdflipflop

But I write this post with someone specific in mind. I come out of this self-induced silence for her. She needs to hear my story, so she can know why I truly am so angry with her. She needs to know how I am devastated by her actions, and why I struggle to support her right now. I need her to know what abuse looks like, real, true, terrible abuse. She needs to know what a monster really looks like. She needs to see it so she can see why I am so insulted by her behavior, by her insinuations, and why I feel sick that I helped her. Something I wish I didn’t even have to say.  I love her desperately, but I wish to convey to her how very different our situations are. How they are light years apart, and she should be grateful for that. Terribly grateful.

Anger can be a powerful motivator, but when used to gain power over someone else, to ruin or destroy their life, it’s nothing but a destructive force. It can work against you. It can make you do things you never thought you would, and most importantly, it can cause devastating consequences to those around you. Even those who hurt you, if only for a moment. Anger has it’s place, but it can blind us, and cause us to see things that were not really there. It can cause us to make split second decisions that will impact others and ourselves forever.

I know this because I lived with a man who used his anger as power. I lived with his anger, and his destruction as if they were separate entities. His hatred and self-loathing. He painted me the color purple with his anger and rage.

For the first time in my life, I’ll share my story. It’s not the full story, for I fear completely breaking myself in two if I was to share all of the horror that was involved in this relationship.This is just a small glimpse of what my life was like as an abused woman, a victim of such horrendous actions. I warn anyone who reads, it’s explicit. It’s raw, and it’s not easy to read. It could act as a trigger for anyone who has suffered abuse. Please read with caution. I don’t share this lightly. Mom, you may not want to read this at all.

It wasn’t easy to write.

This sort of violence, the kind that you will find described below, should never exist. Ever. Hesitantly, I add my voice to those who have been abused, broken and wrecked by an abuser. I cry with you, and I comfort you. I am scared with you. We are not alone, and we are better than our abusers. If you are still in an abusive relationship, you can get out. There is help. And many who will help. I am one of too many woman who stayed too long, and I was lucky to get out when I did. So lucky.

You are better, you deserve better. You are not alone.

This was my nightmare.

***********

When I married The Ex, I knew he had a temper. I had seen it in the few months we were dating. I’d make a comment, he’d grab me, furious, and almost shake me. My heart would stop, and the intelligent woman within me would say, “What are you doing? Get out of this, AND now”.

But I was desperate for love. I was desperate to be cared for. Even if I was walking into the opposite of both of those things.

He proposed, I was lost. I said yes.
I wanted love. Even if it came at a cost.

As I walked down the aisle, I envisioned myself, not in a happy ending, but with bruises on my face. I knew what I was walking to. A life of shame, a life of sadness; but I believed I deserved nothing more. Furthermore, I was convincing myself I could change this. Change him, and I would be the hero. I would change it.

Sadly, I knew I wouldn’t change it. I knew I was making the biggest mistake of my life.

Three days after our wedding, he threw me against the door in our bedroom when I refused to have sex with him. When I tried to escape, he grabbed me by my neck, and showed me how powerful he was. I remember feeling every muscle in my body fight him, I remember the feeling of submitting when I realized I was completely powerless.  He held me above him, with both hands, and laughed in my face. He said I was a slut, and I would always be, and it was my duty to give him what he wanted.

I crumpled on the floor, and somehow managed to crawl to our bathroom, then lock the door. I curled up in a ball, hysterically crying, as silently as I could. I wouldn’t let him know how horrified I was. He pounded on the door for 3 hours, calling me names I won’t rewrite, and then he relented for the moment.  I slept on the floor, on the cold bathroom floor, crying in my sleep.

This was only the beginning. I hoped that it would be the last time, but it was not.
There were weeks in between that incident and the next.

The next time, he had found out I had told my best friend about him hurting me weeks prior.
I ended up with a bruise across my rib cage for three weeks. It was massive, indescribably massive. I didn’t sleep at night because it hurt to move. When I went to the doctor for pain killers, I lied about being unable to sleep claiming I must have insomnia. Instead, I got sleeping pills; they were my only escape from the pain, and from the nightmares. Occasionally, I would take them during the day, before he’d come home. I felt safer in my medicated haze.

I never spoke another word to any person about his abuse again. I feared, legitimately, that he might kill me. His rage was bigger than me, and I wasn’t about to play Russian Roulette with my life. To this day, even as I write this, I am shaking in fear.  Legitimate, heart pounding fear. Obviously, I’m safe now, but I am still scared… no, terrified.  I still dream of waking up with him standing over me, with a sick, disgusting grin on his face, with plans to destroy my dignity further. My insomnia started with him, and it still lingers. I sleep with the door closed, and sleep lightly, as to wake if someone was to enter. No one can touch me while I sleep. I cannot have sex in certain positions. I cannot be backed up against a wall, I cannot be hugged from behind. I cannot have anyone touch my neck, or my face. It has made my intimate relationship with The Hubby, a complete struggle at the best of times.

He broke me then, and the scars of his “love” still leave me breathless.

The abuse continued for months, and I started drinking. I jumped around from job to job. At one job, one I loved, I bent over and someone saw a bruise across my back. I lied about it. When they saw a new one two weeks later, the questions came with fury. I quit that job. I knew what happened when others found out, and the fear of him finding out that someone else knew, was bigger than worrying about money. Saving my life was more important than paying the rent.

His family blamed me, and I’m sure they still do. He was a master manipulator, and he played that role like the beast he was. He convinced everyone that I was a disaster; and to an extent, I absolutely was. But he made me that way. He liked me that way. He could exercise his power on me, over me. He had successfully removed my friends, he had isolated me so that he was my only outside point of contact. I was terrified of making new friends.

During this time, I wrote a lot, I had an online blog. It was my safety net. It was my safe place. One night, after a rather awful physical fight, he gave the link to his family. I had nothing left. No privacy, nothing to call my own. He had stripped me of all my dignity, and got some sort of sick high from it.

I stopped writing about real things that day.

I hated him, I hated him.

One Saturday night, we had come home from a church function. As we walked in the door, he pushed me up against our linen closet door, and told me that god had instructed him that we were to have children, but only after I had performed various, indescribable sexual acts. I refused. He laughed and told me that I was defying god, and my husband. I refused again.

He punched me in the stomach and told me that if I refused to have children with him, he would make it so I couldn’t ever have any children. After I fell to the floor, he pulled me, by my hair to our bedroom, and proceeded to rape me. Over and over, while he laughed at my tears and protests.

That was the night I became an atheist.

Our relationship continued. On the outside, I was smiling. I started wearing more make up. I dressed in layers. I spent more time online. I spent more time at work, I would take overtime. I would fake work shifts just to get out of the house, and would literally sit in the car, at a local lake for 5 hours, planning my getaway. Truth is, I felt trapped. I saw no safe way out. No one had saved me from abuse in my childhood. Everyone was congratulating him on being such a good husband, and chastising me for being such a horrible wife. I had no one.

And my life was slowly draining from my body.

This was a truly dark time for me. I thought about suicide daily. I didn’t plan to leave him, leaving him would mean I would still live with these scars. Leaving him would mean that there was a chance he could hurt me further. The only way out, I saw, was to end my life. The only way to stop this abuse, was for me to disappear. To end my life. I was depressed. I was miserable. And I hated myself more than I had ever hated myself in my life. He had successfully taken the bright, beautiful, intelligent girl I was, and turned her into a self-loathing, ugly, sad creature who felt she deserved less than the mold on the ground.

The last time I slept in the same room as him was the night he threw a chair at me. I was sitting in our living room, I remember the television was blaring in the background.  I had corrected him about a word he used and instantly regretted it. I saw the rage flash in his eyes. He told me he was sick of me acting like I was smarter than him, because I was not. He told me that women like me deserved to be in shackles, and have their mouth taped shut. His anger progressed, and I sat in my seat, stuck. If I moved, he would act. I was paralyzed with analyzing how I could get out of  the way of his rage. As I said nothing, his anger only grew. It only got bigger, and suddenly, a voice in my head screamed, “You need to get out of this room, this house, anything, you need to leave. You won’t survive this if you don’t.”

Tears running down my face, his words ringing in my ear, I pulled myself up off our couch, and began to slowly move. He demanded to know what I was doing. I had planned to get dressed. I told him. He laughed and made a sexual joke. I felt like vomiting. I kept walking to the kitchen. Then I heard his rage switch. It switched from the maniacal ring, to real legitimate I might just kill you anger. As I turned, I saw him reach for an antique chair, and within moments, he had lunged it at me. It missed me by inches.

I remember this moment vividly. I remember watching it sail by my face. I remember the breeze it made. I remember looking at the counter, and seeing  my keys, my cell and my wallet miraculously piled together. I glanced back at him, the rage flashing in his eyes. I sobbed inwardly, grabbed my stuff, and ran faster than I had before.

He managed to bring me home with false promises, and epic lies. I bought them all. I just wanted to believe that this could end, and that I would finally get some rest.

That was not the last time he abused me. I went back, and it was more of the same. I’d love to say that this was the night I physically left; it’s not. It is the night I emotionally checked out. The next 6 months of our relationship are hazy for me. I don’t remember them at all, and probably for good reason. I don’t want to, because it was that bad.

One night, I had planned to go out with my friends. Something that was abnormal for me. I stood in the doorway of our computer room. I silently watched him as he chatted with another woman, thee one I was certain he was having a relationship with. Something that bothered me, and didn’t bother me all at once. I said to him,  “I’m going out. Don’t wait up. .” He looked at me, his face heavy with brutality.  He asked who I was going out with, and I said, “Friends. All girls”. It was a lie, there would be a mix of both. He turned to me, and said, “Have fun. Love you”. I clenched my teeth, and I said, “No, you do not” through my pursed lips.

That night, I partied as hard as I could. That night, he had sex with that girl, and then disappeared. When I came home, he was gone. I never saw him again, literally. All of our decisions regarding our relationship were made through emails. I saw an opportunity, and I ran with it.

Him having sex with another woman was a form of abuse, but it was also the key to my freedom. Most women would want to do terrible things to that woman. If I ever met her, I would thank her profusely. She brought me to safety.

I ended it. He played victim, and made me look like I was the callous bitch who didn’t want to fix her marriage. His friends attacked me. His family made damn sure I was painted as a psychotic woman who didn’t realize what she had. I didn’t care. I was free.

He is, my definition, of a monster. He is not any of those variety of names you can call your ex (although they do fit), he is by all rights, and purposes, a monster. He took my innocence, my love, and my life, and he tore it to shreds. He broke me from the woman I was, and turned me into a woman who was scared of life, of living and of trusting. He used me, he abused me, and he enjoyed it. He enjoyed my tears, my fear, and my utter devastation. It’s been years since we’ve been together, and I have never shared these stories with anyone.

Why? Because of fear.

I never went to the cops, because I feared for my life. I wanted to be done with him. I never wanted revenge, that would mean that I would continue to play his lousy game. I never played games; games got me in trouble. When I got out, I wanted my freedom. I wanted as clean of a cut from him as I could possibly get. No mess, no legal bullshit, just freedom. I walked out, trying to slam that proverbial door shut as hard I could. I worked on barricading it. Truly, separating myself from him was all I wanted.

He changed me, completely. Forever.

Somehow, I picked up the pieces. Somehow, I went from the battered woman that I was, to the survivor. Somehow I managed to take this terrible experience and mold it into making me better. Better for having experienced this, stronger, more compassionate. Somehow, I managed to pick myself up, and walk away, heal that shattered, broken woman within me.

I am better. Mostly. I am still wounded, and there are parts of me that will likely never recover from this experience. Today, I can say, I escaped a real life monster. Not just a clueless idiot, but a real monster who destroyed me from the inside out.

This is my story. This is my voice.
I was a victim of domestic abuse, and rape.
I survived.

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9 thoughts on “Adding My Voice: My story of Domestic Abuse

  1. I had no idea you were ever in such a situation, but I am glad that you have a loving family and beautiful children now and hope you continue to heal from your past. I'm just on the other end of town if you need support, I spend my days nursing a baby so you're always welcome. And I know you know I'm thinking it so there's no point in pretending I'm not (I hate when people do that… no point in being fake!!), but I always did wonder why you became an atheist and I do hope that part of your experience can be healed someday as well. I am also glad that your past experiences have made you a better person, instead of letting them destroy you, and even though you still have a long road ahead of you to overcome it, you will be so much stronger and so much more empathetic through it all. Thanks for sharing real things, you will help so many people because of it, I'm sure.

    (And also, because I haven't experienced this myself, please let me know if any of my comments were insensitive, because it would be unintentional and I would like to know how not to be an unintentional jerk in the future!)

  2. Even though I've never met you, I am proud of you for sharing your story, and for surviving. I'm so happy you've found love and happiness, but obviously the scars run deep, as anything horrific would. I really don't know what else to say, I just wanted to let you know I appreciate your story.

  3. It was courageous of you to share this story. I'm sorry that you went through so much pain. Putting the words down you have exercised your own powerful, empowered self. And someone out there will undoubtedly read what you have written and source their courage from yours. *hugs*

  4. So sorry you had to live through this, Danielle! Those words I just wrote seem inadequate. I HATE that you had to live through this, and I HATE this happens to so many others as well.

  5. I am too, but I am glad I can share it. As weird as that sounds. I'm happy that I have the ability to put it into words so I can share it and help others talk about domestic violence.

  6. I am glad you have that ability, too! I shared this post several places because I thought “somebody might need to read this.” Not thinking of anyone specific. Just feeling that I wanted to get it “out there.”

  7. I agree. I've shared it as many times as I can, just in case. I'm still shocked by how many people reach out and tell me their story after they read this.

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