**Warning, this blog post contains the topics Emotional, Verbal, Physical and Sexual abuse**
“As a little girl I was scared of monsters.
My parents told me they didn’t exist
How I wish they would have told me the whole Truth
Monsters do exist, they’re just not hiding in closets”
The Oher Side of Beauty: Embracing God’s Vision for Love and True Worth
When you’re 18 you think you’re always right, you believe that since you are now an “adult” because you’re 18 that you can do anything, you know what’s best for you regardless of what anyone says. At 18, I thought I had found the love of my life. Everyone thought I was crazy, young, too stupid, and rushing into things but it didn’t matter what everyone said or what they thought, we got married. Within less than 6 months I realized maybe they were right.
Everything started off great, he was a fit, intelligent, seemingly kind boy in the military who promised me the world. I met him around November of 2007, my senior year in high school. He took me on the most wonderful dates, buying me sweet little things, opening doors, the usual when it comes to dating, a little over 2 months later, he proposed to me and I couldn’t have been happier. He showed no signs of aggression, never put me down. After we got married, we embarked on our adventure to a new life. We moved to Tacoma, Washington where he was stationed and started building our new home. For me, the transition was difficult, I missed my friends, my family. I never went to Camp, we never could really afford to vacation because of my dad’s health so for the first time in my life I was 2,000 miles away from home. The first time I was away from family, away from all those I loved and cared for.
Over time, the things I was promised slowly slipped away. The boy I fell in love with slowly slipped away. The abuse started slowly, first it was just verbal, nothing I could say or do was right. I wasn’t dressed good enough, my makeup wasn’t right, I needed to fix my appearance. I have always been a little heavier but now my weight was a problem (despite the weight he had gained, the muscle he had lost) despite the fact hat I had pretty much looked the same through out our entire relationship when it comes to my appearance, clothes, makeup, hair, weight hadn’t changed really but it was no longer good enough. It went from problems with my appearance to problems with things I did around the house, the cooking, the cleaning, was not good enough. I could never keep the house clean enough, I could never cook a meal that was good enough, there was always something that was wrong.
Naturally, over time I started to believe the things he said to me, that I was ugly, that I was worthless, that I could never really do anything right, and I was lucky for him to pick me. Believed the fact that no one else would want to be with me because I was tainted. Things slowly developed from words to worse. If dinner wasn’t made on time, or wasn’t hot enough, he began to hit me. It started with a slap, I remember the first time it happened like it was yesterday. As I was pulling out everything I needed to cook dinner, I realized I was missing some ingredients, it took longer than expected to get back from the store, so by the time I had really started to cook dinner, he was just getting home from work. According to him, he had had a rough day and his sergeant had really drilled into him so he was furious that dinner wasn’t made and on the table and it happened in an instant I didn’t see it coming, before I knew it his hand connected with my face.
I remember the hot stinging feeling on my cheek, the small amount of blood that dripped out of the side of my mouth. I was so stunned, I couldn’t believe that he had hit me. I didn’t know what to do, what to say or how to respond. He commanded me to hurry, continue cooking, finish dinner and just walked away like it was normal. Like I should accept it. 20 minutes later he came sulking into the kitchen, apologizing begging me to forgive him and I did.
As, things got worse it went from just a little slap to full on punches, once we were in town at the store and he realized people noticing the bruises on my face because the makeup wasn’t covering it and he got careful. He would be sure to hurt me in places people couldn’t see. The stomach, my legs or even pelvic area. It was at this point when he started being even more possessive, he would monitor my phone calls, who I was talking to and what I said to them. Everything was scripted. As time went on before I knew it, I went from hating him to also believing him. Believing I was worthless, that I deserved to be hit.
During this time, back at home my dad was getting even more sick, his liver was failing him even further. All I wanted was to go home and visit my family, but it wasn’t allowed. I wasn’t allowed to leave, he started taking my key’s with him, my phone with him, limiting everything I did. He said there was no way I could visit my family because he wasn’t going to let me go, he wasn’t going to let anyone find out about what he was doing to me and most importantly he wasn’t going to risk me leaving him. I begged and pleaded with him to try couples counseling, we went once and he decided it wasn’t for him, for us. If I threatened to leave him, things only got worse. He would threaten to kill me if I ever tried to leave him. To make things worse, throughout the abuse I naturally no longer wanted to be intimate with him, the thought of him made me cringe.
One night, the worst thing that I ever imagined happened, he had enough of me denying him. As my husband he said it didn’t matter if I said no, it didn’t matter if I didn’t want to because as my husband it was his right to do whatever he wanted, to get whatever he wanted. The more I fought back the worse it was for me. There where times when he would not only force me to have sex with him but with his friends. People I didn’t know, forcing themselves on me. If I fought back, if I screamed or said no it felt like they enjoyed it.
After this I decided to start following the “rules”. I did my best everyday to be the “perfect wife”. The abuse never let down, but I started accepting it. I stopped fighting back and began doing everything I could to make him happy, and over time I got some “privileges” back. Once I had gotten my phone, got my keys back I continued doing the best I could to keep him happy. Finally one day I got the courage to leave. I called my family, to tell them that it was over that I wanted to leave him. I wanted to come home. They asked why, they asked if he abused me, I said no. I didn’t want to talk about it. I remember being told; if I was brought home, that there was no going back. I was fine with that, for me it was over. For me it was over a long time ago and the time that I had been with him was only to survive.
When I got back from Washington to say I was troubled was the least of it. I couldn’t talk to anyone, I didn’t think they would understand where I was coming from. Mostly I didn’t talk about it because I was ashamed, I was embarrassed of what happened to me. To this day, really only my mom and my dad have an idea as to what happened to me. The only reason for that is several months after being home, several months after going out all of the time, drinking a lot of alcohol, and doing drugs to numb the pain, one night ended terribly. My cousin and I went to a party, little did she know was already drunk and high when we left. At this party I continued to heavily drink, and take pills to get rid of the pain. I was so intoxicated that it resulted in a physical fight with my cousin, loosing my phone, my wallet, my t-shirt, my shoes and even some hair extensions, I had to be tackled in the middle of the road just to be put into a car.
My dad came to pick me up, and I was so intoxicated that I let him have it, for every single thing I was ever angry with him for, any resentment I had; blaming him for me getting married, for the abuse that I endured. When I got home, I reeked of alcohol, but at this point started to sober up with black coffee and realized that shards of glass were in my feet from stepping on glass in the road. I broke down, I told my mom about the abuse, about him hitting me and I will never forget the heartbreaking I saw in her eyes. The next day we went to the Urgent care, got a banana bag and an STD and HIV testing done to make sure that physically I was ok.
It has taken me nearly 10 years to open up about what has happened to me. I don’t talk about the things that happened much, I don’t even like to think about it. For my family, or those in my close circle who read this, it is probably the first time they have heard the full story as to what happened to me in my marriage.
Looking back, I thought I was so in love, maybe I wasn’t in love, maybe I was just in love with the idea of love. There are a lot of things I look back at in regards to my marriage, things I wonder if I could have done differently, or better but in the end I have learned, I didn’t choose for him to abuse me, I didn’t ask for him to and even when I tried to “behave” as best as I could, it didn’t stop. I have learned that it isn’t my fault, even though I have difficulty accepting it at times. I know at the end of the day my decision to leave him was the right one, the safest option for me.
Through the therapy I am receiving now, for my Anxiety, Depression and PTSD, I am learning to accept what has happened to me, learning to deal with it. In the past 10 years I never went for any type of treatment, for the fear of being judged, and for the fear of just talking about it in general. Writing this post hasn’t been something easy. I have struggled with this post for the last week and a half. Struggled, with finding the right words to say. Struggled with the thought of sharing my story, with letting people know what has happened to me. For fear of sounding like a victim, for fear of people feeling sorry for me but today I realize that I am not a victim. I am a survivor. It doesn’t matter if I like it or not, this is my story. This is part of who I am, it makes me the person I’ve become.
There are so many people who have struggled with the same things that I have and are afraid; afraid to tell their story. So many people who are going through the same things that I went through and are afraid to leave, afraid to do something and maybe by reading this they can see that its ok to be strong, its not ok that these things are happening, no woman should go through what I went through and neither should any man because domestic violence isn’t just about a man abusing a woman, women can abuse men, men can abuse men and women can abuse women. Regardless of gender abuse is wrong. No human should go through what I went through. I am lucky that I got out alive, and my hope is that maybe this can help someone, maybe I can give someone courage to make the decision that I did or even help someone who has left and is afraid to talk about it.
There is so much shame directed to people who are abused. People who have been abused shouldn’t be shamed, its the abusers who should be. Living is easy when you’re eyes are closed and your mouth is shut, but we shouldn’t feel afraid to talk about our stories, we shouldn’t be afraid of what we’ve been through. The truth is we survived it. We should feel strength in that.
Personally, I still struggle every day in finding my strength. It isn’t easy, you question everyone and everything. I am fortunate enough to have a man in my life who has stepped up, shown me how a man should treat a woman but I still find myself questioning if I deserve it. I hope that one day I can truly believe that I deserve it. Until then I am going to continue embracing the life that I have, and live it to the best of my ability. I choose to work every day on improving myself, finding my inner strength, and I hope others like me do the same.
Thank you for reading my story.
From every wound there is a scar, from every scar there is a story, and that story says I survived but its the scars you can’t see that are the hardest to heal.