People would always say, “I would never let anyone treat me like that.” They don’t realize abuse is not always just physical or outright verbal. Some abuse is more insidious and starts out slow, with continuous small indiscretions, until they program you to accept their bad behaviors. It’s punishing you with emotional distance, and making you feel unworthy, it’s slowly ignoring your wants and needs, making you feel unloved or unimportant. It’s a progressive manipulation, where you ultimately find yourself, wondering how you even got in that position.
When I started to write down what I would talk about in this post sometime last year. The facts and trauma that came up from the memories, are what pushed me, to find my faith again and get therapy for myself and my kids. This post helped me see how much help we really needed.
My youngest daughter Lydia was 5 years old when I found out I was pregnant for the third time. Like my two other girls, it was an unplanned pregnancy while on birth control. My girl’s father and I were living together. I was able to work 2, sometimes 3 different jobs at one point to get a home for my girls and I, I was fortunate to have family close by to help with the girls while I focused on getting us a home. It was small, not pricy, but it was new, it was clean and it was home. Eventually after a few discards and triangulations from their dad, things seemed to get better. I mean there was always devaluing, aggression and toxicity there but as any other abusive relationship, not all times were bad. He moved in, I fought it, Lord knows I fought it, but soon I would find out that my mistake was letting him step foot in the door to begin with. Once someone leaves a toothbrush on your property, and you’ve had involvement with them, they can claim it unless you go through the legal system to get them removed. I learned that, the hard way, Love makes us do crazy things.
Things were tolerable in the relationship. Life in general was about to knock me on my ass. My support system crumbled right before my eyes. My parents went through an ugly divorce, cousins that helped and cared for us moved away to find different roads of freedom for their family financially, and my Grandfather, the one who never faltered and my one reliable Father figure in life passed away. All in the span of about 3 years.
When I found out I was pregnant with my princess, I was healing life had taken me for a spin, I was also job hunting I was laid off and then 2 weeks later I found out I was pregnant! Oh yeah and it was twins! Fear set in instantly, I AM the head of household, there was a man by my side but I understood that jobs where hard to find and hard to keep for him. Why I stayed? I never understood myself until recently. Back to my worries for now. I am the head of household, and there is no way I am getting hired anywhere 4 months pregnant, plus I was so sick this pregnancy that I had 3 visits to the hospital for fluid intake because I couldn’t keep anything down. On top of that, my other two pregnancies had been so lonely that I didn’t look forward to feeling that vulnerable again. When my husband found out he was content. He had wanted us to try for another baby, he said he wanted us to have a good pregnancy together for a change, that just didn’t convince me though. When they told me I was pregnant, I was so scared I cried, I cried and I called my grandma. She was so happy to hear there was a baby coming, that her joy helped me see past the fear and realize how awesome this gift was. Oh yeah the twins, we went back for a third visit and the other twin had vanished. Only our princess remained, I never thought I would fear that she would slip through my fingers too.
After trying to find work and failing, I decided to go back to school. My husband was working somewhat and I was receiving unemployment and later disability so I decided at 7 months into my pregnancy to wait it out until after our daughter was born to look for work, and I started school. Then it began again, my husband was working massive amounts of overtime supposedly but never getting paid for it. It was always one excuse or another. “Oh they messed up on my check but they’re gonna pay me next week.” Then he started sending me love chain letters through texts with the numbers of other girls and names attached to the messages when forwarded, when I questioned him, he said it was his sister, but I wasn’t buying it. One late night when he got home from work, I confronted him because I found out he hadn’t been at work, my girls where sleeping in the other room, (or so I thought, I found out a few days ago they sadly where not). In that moment for the second time since our relationship started, he got so upset at me, that he choked me. This was the second time this had happened, the first time I didn’t fight back, I was in so much shock that any man would do that to me. After the shock passed, it broke me and in my broken moment, I went back to the abuser and now I found myself in the same exact situation but this time 7 months pregnant and with a little being inside of me to protect.
He pinned me against the wall by the throat with both hands until I couldn’t breath, when he let go and I tried to get up, he got in my face and screamed “hit me” “hit me” multiple times, and when I tell you that as soon as my breath stabilized I threw hands, I sure as hell threw hands. He came for my baby! If I can’t breath and she’s inside of me, she can’t breath. I threw hands until I couldn’t throw hands anymore and I ran downstairs to run to my Mom’s house that lived a few doors down at the time. When I ran downstairs, he threw me back in and slammed the door on my foot, my bottom hit the floor hard. He eventually left and I called the police. They came and because I had hit too, they were allowing us to remain in separate homes for the night. I argued that I had set up that home for my girls and I, and I paid for it, that’s when I learned, I had messed up from the beginning by allowing him to stay there, because I had my mom’s house to sleep in, he got to stay in my home with my girls and I had to sleep at my mom’s. Either way, I was glad to be away from him. In the morning, he started blowing up my phone with apologies, when I ignored it, he had my girls call me and tell me to come home and ask me why I had left them. I didn’t want to tell my girls what actually happened, they were so little, I didn’t want to damage them. My oldest daughter told me a few days ago that I didn’t have to say anything, they saw it all, then ran to their room an pretended to be asleep. Lydia was still little and she was attached to him so my heart ached when she would call me and tell me to come home. I let my girls go to school, I took myself on my own to the ER because my hips where in pain and I was spotting. I can not explain to you the feeling of relief when I heard my little girl seemed to be doing good. I sat in my car after that and I analyzed my situation. Lydia was the one that was the closests to my grandfather when he passed away and she took it so hard, and she was on the phone, begging me to come home and make her world whole again. On the other hand, he had put my little girl in danger, although, if I kept quiet she wouldn’t know that ever. Lydia would get what I thought she needed at the time, Abbey would come to the world with both her parents. He was making me feel guilty because I threw hands too, so that weighed heavy on me, I blamed myself. How did I allow myself to get to that point with someone I love. So, I decided to go home, by the time our girls got home from school, I was back home. I decided that if I was good, if I picked my battles, if I text and not talk maybe it could keep the temperament in our relationship down. Something in me activated that day though, my fight or flight mode was on, he may have hurt me, but I would defend my kids from him at all costs. I was there, even if just to defend my kids.
It’s crazy the way the abused mind works, I know now that nothing I did warranted what I was put through. I know now that keeping quiet or being good wouldn’t work because children aren’t born knowing that so at some point they would fall out of his line and problems will arise, I did promise myself to defend them from him at all costs. I know now that when defending your children all is fair, I know now that love doesn’t hurt and manipulate. The problem with my solution of enduring the abuse much longer was the abuse eventually hit my kids and it left me helpless. He would call the kids liars to cover up what he was doing. He would get upset at my girls and slap them and I would get frantic calls at work, our son was born with a cyclic vomiting syndrome, caused by migraines that are caused by anxiety, and everytime I was at work and my son would wake up with an episode, he would yell at him and call him a fucken idiot for throwing up when he couldn’t help it. When my daughters told me, I questioned him and he denied it, it took me hearing it while on the phone with them at work to believe it. When he started cheating, he excluded our daughter Abbey because she is older and more aware and she cried because she missed her daddy with him right in the same house. When she came to me and told me he told them not to call him while on trips with other women and I questioned him, he said she was lying on speaker phone and the look of disappointment and confusion in my little girls face broke my soul. When he would get upset at Lydia, he would call her a failure. When Hailee was cutting herself to feel something because of the abuse we were enduring and I found out and talked to her about it, he came out and gave her a knife and told her to cut herself right now. When Hailee called the suicide hotline a few years later, he went to the school and in front of staff screamed at her and told her that why was she calling them when there where people out there that really needed help. It left me, with the school districts down my back, multiple CPS calls because of his treatment of the children, multiple unknown abuse to my children that is now surfacing and now years of healing.
I am left with the task of repairing the damage, made not just to me but to them. Recently when my daughters called him out on his lies again, he stole money from them, took their little bit of belongings he had left and discarded them. My son has trouble respecting girls because he has seen his father get violent with his 16 year old daughter. He’s witnessed his dad call his Mom a bitch and then get in his sisters face and scream hit me until she swings.
Staying quiet and thinking maybe I’ll just change was not my answer. It turned me ugly, I blamed myself for throwing hands when he offended or got violent with my kids, and he fed off that guilt. The abuse continued always, always changing form, always evolving. A wise woman that is now helping me with my recovery, told me when I was feeling extremely defeated. You did what you had to do to protect your kids, when protecting your kids, all is fair. My tired soul thanks her.
As for my safety, my faith is strong and with more healing, and my amazing team of therapists I hope to heal the broken pieces of what was left. I no longer negotiate with terrorists. I prefer to do it all through the legal system now. I will never remain quiet again because in order for my kids to remain safe, I need eyes that love them helping me watch over them. With time comes healing.