Today my #BeReal guest is Dawn (HardlyBored).
I have spent the last few weeks thinking about the future. Mostly because I have been sick. This is not the first time in my life I have wondered if I will have a future.
The first time I was 18 and my “husband” had just choked me nearly unconscious. Two weeks after our son was born I had told him I was too tired to have sex. That was also the first night he raped me. The next morning I found him standing over our son, crying. He turned and hugged me. He then told me that he loved us, and how sorry he was. He vowed to me it wouldn’t happen again. I wanted so badly to believe him, so I did. I loved him. We all make mistakes. Right?! However, it wasn’t the last time.
That was just the first of many scary nights. Nights where I wasn’t sure I would see the sunrise. There was always something that would set him off; I was slow getting home from work, or I didn’t make what he wanted for dinner. He would always end up saying he was sorry. He would be sweet, kind, and loving for a few days and then it would start again.
The only thing that changed after the first event was that it always became my fault. He would say things like, “I am sorry I lost my temper, but you shouldn’t have done (fill in the blank).” I would try not to do whatever that thing was again but every time there was some new reason.
He was a master at hiding it too. He never left marks. He never did anything where others could see or hear him. As this continued for over a year I would feel more and more like I deserved his abuse. I would repeat to myself “If only I were better he wouldn’t have to do these things to me.” I even convinced myself I was lucky to have him.
Some part of me didn’t believe I deserved the abuse though. After a particularly bad night I started watching for a chance to get away. Finally, he had gone to spend time with a friend and left me home with the baby. I had no money, no ID (he took it when I was sleeping), and no way to leave. But I did have a phone. I called my parents and begged them to save me. I loaded as much as I could into their car and went home with them.
However, after a couple of days I went back. He called to tell me his family was full of lawyers (which is true) and that they could get him off for any charge, including killing me and my family in order to get his son back. I believed him. So I went back. Their lives were more important than mine. I knew I couldn’t defend myself much less defend them. I knew when I got into his car that there was a damn good chance I wouldn’t leave him again unless I was in a body bag.
The abuse escalated. He always kept me in sight. I was either getting yelled at or hit for everything I did. But he was less careful. The verbal abuse became acceptable in front of others and at night, when nobody else was around, he hit hard enough to leave marks. There weren’t many nights I didn’t dreamed of leaving. I just wanted to take my son and find somewhere safe to just be a mom to my beautiful, smiling baby boy. These thought were short lived though.
If I looked even a little happy my husband would get really bad. Those nights I realized I had no future. One day he would kill me and probably get away with it. He would then be the sole caregiver to my son but at least he didn’t abuse him.
Then one day or son was sick and had been crying. My husband picked him up and threw him into his crib. He hit his head and kept screaming so my husband left the house to escape the noise. I held my son, calmed his tears, and cried so hard.
It was that moment I decided the only way I could insure my son’s future was to leave. Shortly after this incident my husband got a job. He was away for hours each day. He had a predictable schedule and after a few weeks on the job I finally got the nerve to leave. Again, I called my parents. This time I didn’t go back.
When he realized I was gone he called them. He yelled and screamed and I hung up on him. For weeks he continued his abuse, via phone. He parked outside their house watching and waiting to get me alone. Every time I told him I was never coming back.
One day my parents went to work and he came banging on the door and screaming for me to open it. I refused to let him in and had started to walk away to call the police when he came crashing through the door. He slammed me against a wall and grabbed my son. He dragged him, screaming, out of the house by one arm and threw him into the back of his car and sped away.
Two days later I went into a protected shelter for abused women. One of those shelters with a hidden address. I worked with children’s services and told them everything. Eventually he agreed to meet my parents in a public place so they could make sure my son was okay. Child services was there and saw obvious signs of abuse. They immediately threatened my husband with charges if he didn’t allow them to take my baby into custody.
My son spent the next week in foster care while I sat in a shelter crying and begging them to, at the very least, let me see him. My husband had alleged I was the abuser. It took some time but the truth came out and my baby was returned. I still spent months hiding. From the shelter I stayed with friends, slept on couches, and eventually back to my parent’s home. Eventually, I got a gun and worked on feeling safe again.
I hardly slept for the next two years because every noise had me looking over my shoulder. Even today, more than twenty years later, I still wake up shaking and thinking he is near.
The divorce happened. I got custody. I grew. I healed. I even found someone who could love me though I felt broken. I had 4 more beautiful boys and although life got better I didn’t. It took many years and so much patience from those who loved me for me to believe I was more than what he did to me.
I began to see I was more than the abuse, the rape, and the brain washing. I deserved to be happy no matter what he said.
I remember all those nights I had wished someone would save me. I wished one of the neighbors would have called the police.
No one did.
So I saved myself.
Dawn lives in rural Texas with 5 boys, 3 cats, and her wonderful husband. She has been blogging about autism, food and depression for a while as HardlyBored. Her passions are her boys, proving gluten free doesn’t mean flavor free, laughter, reading, teaching, and gaming. You can find her at http://www.hardlybored.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/hardlybored