Stories of Strength & Courage

A space for women to share their stories of strength and courage when leaving an abusive relationship. Please email me if you would like to share yours too.

Name:

A woman who managed to find the strength and courage to leave a verbally abusive relationship. Please email me at nikki@emich.net if you would like to share your story.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Story #1

From http://www.dadirtylaundry.blogspot.com/ Dirty Birdie. An amazing story. The links at the bottom are incredibley helpful too.

My relationship with "Tom" started when I was 15 and he was 24. I was an easy target. Young girl with family issues, rebellious, independant, niave, believing she's a lot older and wiser than she actually is. He didn't have to work hard to ensnare me, I swam right into the net. As the years went by the shift was so gradual, so subtle I had no idea what was going on. It started off with alienation of my family. If I had a small disagreement with my parents he would fan the flames, building distrust and resentment. Then the humiliation started, he would constantly let me know how lucky I was to have him and how I better be careful or he would leave me some day. By the time Tom was done reprogramming me I was convinced that I was worthless without him, that no one would ever want me again and that I would die alone. I was obsessed with his happiness. If he wasn't happy it was my fault and I had to fix it. He used sex and verbal abuse to destroy my self esteem.

*This is where I get really personal so if you aren't comfortable or openminded enough to read what I have to write don't go any further.* Sex with Tom was a one way street, it was all about me pleasing him and at all times I had to behave as though what he wanted to do to me waspleasurable. It wasn't. You have to understand, Tom was my first, I had noidea what "making love" was about. Sure I'd gone through sex education butthey don't talk about the emotional aspects of sex, about reciprocation, respect and boundaries. He broke my boundaries on a regular basis. If he wanted me to do something I wasn't comfortable doing he would let me know how lousy a lover I was and how if I wouldn't do it he would find someone who would. He forced me to watch hard core pornography with him and act out specific scenes, scenarios and fantasies. Did he tie me down? No he didn'thave to, I was emotionally strapped, I was desperate to make him happy even if I had to be miserable. He even wanted to "share" me with one of his friends. Do you believe that shit? Ironically enough he liked to be dominated. He made me tie him down and perform acts of sexual humiliation toward him. I hated it. Every second I spent "pleasing" him I felt like a cheap whore. I would cry, silently, ashamed and scared and desperate. Henever held me down and forced me to do anything, but I felt raped just the same, forced to perform acts of sexual degradation that left me broken, humiliated and bruised not to the bone, but to the core of my very being. I hated him for it, I hate him for it still. He ruined love making for me, I will never be the same despite the fact that my now husband couldn't be more wonderful, tender, kind and loving.The domination didn't stop with sex, it permiated our relationship. If I made a mistake he would call me stupid. God forbid I ever stood up to him when he treated me badly he'd tell me I was such a fucking bitch and he couldn't believe he married me. He was miserable and suicidal and it was all my fault because I was a lousy wife, a lousy lover, a lousy housekeeper. I was just a fat, stupid, bitch who couldn't satisfy his needs and made himmiserable. After a while I stopped crying, I wasn't allowed to cry, I wasn't allowed to have any feelings at all. If I cried he would tell me "Oh quit"or "I don't want to hear it." He invalidated every feeling I ever had,including my love for him.I remember one day he told me to stop telling him I loved him because he wassick of hearing it. Or the morning I was cooking him breakfast in my lacy panties, trying to be sexy and fun. The french toast popped and grease gotsprayed all over my stomach, as I ran from the kitchen to hose my stomach with cold water all I heard from the kitchen was "You're burning the fucking toast!" One night upon coming home from work we got into yet another fight about how the house was so dirty and how I needed to be a better housekeeper, at one point Tom, screaming about how he hated his life and everything in it grabbed a knife from the butcher block and threatened to kill himself right then and there. I left him the next day but came back a week later after he promised to go to a therapist. He went to three sessions then quit. I kept going for a while, until he made it impossible for me to go.I worked out, I tried to eat healthy, I lost some weight, but it wasn'tenough. (Note: I was only a size 10, granted I wasn't a super model but I was by NO MEANS fat) Nothing was ever enough. I was stuck in an endless cycle of trying to fix myself in order to make him happy. The "cycle ofviolence" <http://www.domesticviolence.org/cycle.html> continued over andover again. Let me explain that.The cycle of violence is how abusive relationships generally progress. There are three/four sections to the cycle, which is really more like a circle looping and repeating; the buildup, the blow out and the honeymoon. Duringthe honeymoon the abuser is loving, supportive, kind, things go smoothly in the relationship, times are good and the "victim" lets down their guard, maybe the abuser has finally changed, maybe they are finally happy. It's not meant to be. The build up begins. The abuser gradually gets more irritable, frustrated, and verbal. Then the blowout. In worst case scenario the abuserbecomes physically violent pummeling the object of his/her rage out of frustration and anger that really has nothing to do with the victim. Tom never reached this point, I left before it got this bad, but he wasn't far off, I honestly believe that had I stayed 6 months to a year longer the abuse would have graduated from verbal to physical. Tom never hit me, hedidn't have to, to be honest. He was a verbal pugilist like you wouldn'tbelieve. The things that came out of his mouth cut me to the core, destroying my sense of self. He was a master manipulator. The things he said to me were so horrible, so painful to hear that at one point I started fighting back just to tempt him. I WANTED him to hit me, I want him to beat the shit out of me just so he would shut up and leave me alone. I was convinced that if he just hit me, it would get the rage out of his system faster. I was holding out for the honeymoon, knowing that once the storm passed I would have a few weeks of peace. Not only that but hitting left bruises, bruises people could see, bruises people understand. Although I knew what he was doing was wrong, no one ever talked to women about emotional abuse, the guy was just an asshole. No abuse was physical, that was a justifiable reason to leave your husband. I needed him to hit me so I could show the world he was an abuser and I could leave him fair and square. God that sounds pathetic, even now. I'm still so ashamed of myself. I LET this man do these things to me. I allowed him to treat me like shit, I ALLOWED him to sexually humilate me and turn me into his own personal fuck doll. I know what you are thinking, that's insane. My friend, you have no idea how insane it is to be in the middle of all that chaos, I can't begin to describe to you the mental breakdown that happens in an abusive relationship. You can empathize all you want, but you will thankfully, never understand. In the last 6 months of our relationship I became suicidal. I was still convinced that I would spend the rest of my life alone if I left him. I was a fat, stupid, lazy, ugly, used up bitch and no man would want me. I was circling the drain. After 6 1/2 years I had become hollow and numb inside.The day of redeption happened one morning when I woke up and he had left for"work." I lay there in bed, lacking any motivation to get out of bed and actually do anything. What was the point? I was just going through themotions with no emotion. As I lay in bed I asked myself one question, "10 years from now, do I want to wake up in the same bed, with the same man, only maybe now we have kids and he's abusing them too, OR do I want to take a chance and get out now. I may spend the rest of my life alone, but maybe just maybe, I'll be happy anyway." I decided to be alone for the rest of my life if that's what it took to get away from him. That's when I went back to school to finish my degree and started playing racquetball 3 times a week. I was strengthening my body and my mind. I was gearing up for the great confrontation, the escape. The day I left was far less dramatic. I was at work and feeling very tired and sickly. I left early, around 2:00. I called Tom and told him I was coming home but to not come home early, I needed some time to myself, I wasn't feeling well and just wanted to be alone. He agreed to stay away and give me time to myself. Not 30 minutes after I got home he walked through the door. "I thought you might like to have the dog with you so I came by to drop himoff." (Note: he had just bought me this dog as a very early birthday gift after YEARS of begging for a dog, bribery and guilt much??) I burst into tears and told him I was done. I couldn't do this anymore and that I wanted a divorce. I was scared shitless and torn to pieces. He looked at me stunned, and as I got up off the couch to grab my car keys and my dog, I took one last look back at the man I had once loved so very very much. Hewas on his knees, sobbing into his hands, and I felt sorry for him. It still hurts, damn him, it still hurts to have that image in my head. I loved him so completely and all he had to do was love me back and treat me right. I would have given him the world. He tried to get me back for years. I got love notes, flowers, promises, the works. But it was too late, there was nothing left. I don't want people to feel bad for me. DON'T. I made my bed and I lied in it for a good long time. But I got myself out. I picked myself and got thehell outta that bad bad marriage. You wanna do something for me? Remember my story. Check out the links below. Educate yourself on abusive relationships. Donate to a local women's shelter, they need clothes, cell phones, money,volunteers. Talk to your daughters about emotional abuse, how it starts, what to look for. Open a dialoge, don't let them get sucked in. Don't blame the victim, you have no idea how rare it is for victims to muster the courage to escape. I'm an exception to the rule. If you think someone you love is being abused try to start a conversation with them, be supportive, offer to help. Most victims don't reach out for help because they are too ashamed. Those who do have the courage to escape need your help to put their lives back together, help them.

But don't feel sorry for me, I'm free..

You are not crazy <http://www.youarenotcrazy.com/>
More about Emotional Abuse <http://eqi.org/eabuse1.htm>
*More about the Cycle of Violence <http://www.edvp.org/AboutDV/cycle.htm>
*Signs and Symptons of Emotional Abuse<http://www.lilaclane.com/relationships/emotional-abuse/>