I grew up in a small community in Northwest Arkansas. My life is a busy balance of family and friends, work and play, good times and bad.
Unfortunately, domestic abuse is more common than people want to admit. It can happen to anyone, male or female, at any given time in their life. I am sure everyone has heard the ads on television or on the radio that say “stop domestic abuse” and give a hotline number to call if you are being abused. Other than those ads, you rarely hear anything about domestic abuse. I hear ads about stopping child abuse and animal abuse all the time. I see celebrities speaking out to help those who cannot help themselves, but it is still very seldom that I hear domestic abuse mention. Unless it is someone famous that is the abused or abuser, then it is all over the tabloids. It is almost like domestic abuse is still a taboo subject that people are afraid to talk about because it might offend someone.
In high school, my group of friends would occasionally get on the subject of abuse and I always said “it won’t happen to me” because I knew the signs to watch for. Since then I have learned that domestic abuse is one of the types of situations that you can’t see because you are too close to what is happening. You’ve heard the saying “can’t see the forest for the trees” . . . that is often how it is with domestic abuse. There are also those people who can recognize that they are being abused but they refuse to admit that it is happening to them. Many people are ashamed to admit to being abused because of believing it is somehow their fault.
I never pictured myself being a motivation to other people but a friend pointed out to me that, even back in high school, I have the power to express emotions through my writing and poetry to the point where the reader can feel the same emotions. A few days ago I published a poem that I had written (My Way of Recovering) that touched on the abuse I went through but it did not go into great detail. Since then I have had family members and friends send me messages about how moving they found the poem because they too had been in an abusive relationship. This positive feedback has encouraged me to tell the story of the abuse I went through in my last relationship.
To some people, this article may seem like a rant about my ex – and I have to admit that part of it will probably be ranting – but the point of the article is to show the many types of abuse a person can suffer while being in a relationship. This article is also meant to encourage other people suffering from domestic abuse to seek help and to not be afraid to speak out.
The Beginning – How we met
In August 2005, I started delivering newspapers for the extra income. This is where I met my ex. He was helping his mother with her route. At the time, he claimed that he was working two full-time jobs along with helping his mom on her route. I didn’t see anything odd with that since I was working a full-time job, doing the newspaper route, and running my own web design business. He was always well dressed and seemed to have very good manners. He acted more mature than the other guys at the newspaper office and we became friends.
Super Bowl Sunday 2006, I was at work and received a text message from this guy wanting me to bet on who would win. I don’t follow sports so I didn’t even know who was playing. I agreed to the bet and was for the other team. The loser had to buy dinner and I knew at the point that win or lose, we were going out on a date. I had not been in a relationship for over 5 ½ years at that point, so I was lonely and that probably influenced my decision to get in to a relationship with him. I paid for dinner and we had a good time.
We started going out, I always ended up paying, and he started going with me on my paper route instead of helping his mother. He told me that he had to give up his jobs because he twisted his ankle really bad and was not able to do much walking for several days. I didn’t think much about it at the time because things like that can happen. I figured that he would get a job as soon as his ankle was better. Around mid to late April, I started staying with him at his mother’s house so that we could spend more time together between my jobs. I now realize that our relationship moved too fast from friendship to dating to more. By the end of May, we became engaged. I drained my savings and refinanced my truck loan so that we could move into our own place – renting a mobile home and buying all the stuff we needed.
Love Bites and Bruises
Shortly after getting our own place, he started giving me what he called “love bites”. I understand that a lot of couples will exchange gentle bites as a sign of affection or in the moments of passion. The big difference is that love bites should not leave a mark that last for more than an hour or two. The bites he gave me started off being fairly gentle but quickly turned worse. I would have bruises that would have perfect set of teeth prints and would take weeks or even months to heal. I could understand if it happened because he got carried away in a moment of passion, but most often these bites would happen while I was cooking, washing dishes, working on stuff for school, and just random times. He would walk up and bite me hard and say that he was just leaving his mark so other guys knew I was taken – that is normally what an engagement ring is for but it is hard to buy a ring when you are not working.
I would often avoid being around family and friends because of having these massive bruises on my neck and shoulders. The bruises would cover areas of skin larger than a softball. He was not real picky about where he left these love bites, most often they were on my neck, shoulders, arms, breast, stomach, back, and legs – pretty much everywhere except my hands and feet. These bruises were not the average bumped into something bruise that turns a blackish-brown and fades away within a day or two. These bruises were the type a person would get from a traumatic injury or a surgery. These bruises would cover every color in the rainbow – blue, black, purple, yellow, green, and red. He continued leaving these love bites until my mother threatened him . . . after that he would leave them where it wasn’t so visible.
Talking, Texting, and Internet Chat
During the first 1 ½ to 2 years of us living together, he continued to text and call his ex girlfriend – even after she got married to the guy she was cheating on him with. During our 4 years together, he had numerous female friends that he would talk to through phone calls, texting, and Internet chat rooms. While it was ok for him to be on his phone all the time, he would get really upset if I was talking/texting on the phone to family members or to my best friend.
At this point you are probably asking yourself – How is this
abuse? There is nothing wrong with a guy
having female friends and vice verse with ladies having male friends. The difference is in the emotional bond that
is created between a man and a woman when one or both of them are in a
committed relationship with someone else.
Often times, the emotional bond becomes an intimate bond – even if the
people are not having sex, they are sharing intimate details about each other
and their current relationships. I want to point out that having phone sex or chat room sex is
There are around 20 states that have laws against adultery, while some states
have what is known as “the home wrecker law” or alienation of affection laws. From what I could find on the Internet, these
are the seven states that still have the home wrecker laws - Hawaii, Illinois,
Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota and Utah. Basically what happens is that the man and
woman who are “friends” become so wrapped up in each other that they start
pushing away the person they are in a relationship with. Or they accuse the person they are in the
relationship with of cheating on them because they themselves have at least had
thoughts of cheating; some have crossed the line and cheated.
During the biggest part of our relationship, I was working anywhere from 2 to 4 jobs at the same time to pay our bills because he would not keep a job. The rare times that he did have a job, he would blow his paycheck and not help toward the bills. While working all these jobs, I barely had time to check my email and I had to put my web design business on hold. My boyfriend/fiancé/whatever you want to call him would accuse me of seeing other guys and he would get mad at me if he caught another man looking at me when we would go out. He often checked the call history and text messages on my phone to be sure I wasn’t flirting with another guy.
My ex was so attached to the girls he was texting that, while I was having a miscarriage, he wanted to take my truck to see one of the girls because she was having a bad day. It didn’t matter that I was having a miscarriage, or that I was still very depressed and suicidal from the previous miscarriage. He thought it was more important that he spend that time with the other woman. When I told him that he could not take my truck, he blew up at me – accused me of cheating on him and claiming that it wasn’t his baby so he didn’t care that I was losing it. Then he took off on foot to go hang out with his friends. This treatment leads me to the next section.
Verbal and Emotional
Verbal and emotional abuse is kind of self explanatory. Any time you use words as a weapon to hurt or belittle your partner (or child), it is considered verbal abuse. I know that just about everyone will slip from time to time and say something mean just to hurt the other person – this is usually done out of anger or because the person has said or done something to hurt you first. It is human nature to strike back when you feel threatened or you are hurt. It becomes abuse when it happens over and over, or for reasons that are not your fault. Having a bad day is no reason to yell, cuss, scream, or belittle your partner.
In my relationship, I was the one working the long hours. I would come home between jobs to find him sitting on his butt playing video games or playing on the computer. The house wouldn’t be clean, the cats needed food, there would be dirty clothes all over the house because he would take stuff off and drop it wherever, and there would be a sink full of dirty dishes because he would have his friends over to eat while I was working . . . but there was nothing left for me to eat. If I asked him to help around the house, his reply was too often “Suck my d***” or “kiss my a**”. Then he would yell at me, claiming that the house being messy was my fault because I should be a better housekeeper. I would end up spending the time between jobs trying to pick up the house and not get around to eating anything.
My ex would go with me on the paper route to make sure I wasn’t flirting with another guy at the newspaper office, and then he would either sleep or be texting other girls while I delivered the papers. Accusing your partner of having an affair without proof – or just because you are thinking about having one – is a form of verbal and emotional abuse. This links back to the previous section but also leads me into the next section.
When someone mentions sexual abuse, most people think rape, but there are other ways to sexual abuse someone. It is ok for a guy to walk up to his girlfriend/wife and gently rub her breasts or butt – when they are not in public – but when a guy walk up and grabs a handful and squeezes to the point that it hurts and/or leaves marks on the girl – that is considered abuse! I never could get my ex to understand that a guy does not do that to the woman he loves. When a guy does that to a woman in public, not only is it abuse, it is also very degrading and embarrassing for the female. For the guy to say “these are mine” in a very loud voice as he is squeezing the sensitive flesh does NOT make it ok. At no point does the woman’s flesh become his property – with or without a ring!
Another form of sexual abuse that my ex enjoyed was making sex hurt. As you may have guessed from the previous sections, my ex enjoyed inflicting pain and he would figure out ways to cause me pain while having intercourse. In the early years of our relationship, this was not an issue but after the 2 year mark and as my ex put on more weight, it because a common occurrence. This part is hard to tell without being too descriptive so I will try to keep it very general. It is common for a woman to have certain positions in which she is not comfortable or it just doesn’t feel good. This was not the case in my relationship. My ex would be forceful, putting pressure on the wrong places, being very rough, and continue until I would cry out in pain – this often left me bleeding and very sore for days. This was with me still working 2 jobs and him sitting at home on his butt. I believe this behavior is the cause of at least 2 if not 3 of the miscarriages that I suffered. Sex quickly became very unenjoyable and I no longer was interested.
No matter how long the couple have been in a relationship, if at any point one person says no to sex – if they are not in the mood, don’t feel well, or whatever the reason – and the other person forces intercourse it is considered RAPE! It doesn’t matter if you are married, engaged, or have been living together for 20+ years – no is still NO. And yes, guys can be raped too, it is just not heard of as often as females being raped. When you hold a person down, undress them against their will, and have intercourse with that person, it is rape. My ex refused to accept no for an answer, even when it was because of my health. After my last miscarriage, I had a lot of female issues that included a lot of pain and bleeding. That didn’t stop him from taking what he wanted. I ended up having to have surgery to remove the buildup of tissue from the miscarriages and was under doctor’s orders of no sex for at least a month after the surgery . . . but that didn’t stop him. This added complications to the healing process, more pain, and I ended up having to quit working for a couple of months because my health problems were so bad.
At this point any other readers are thinking – if this guy was this mean, why didn’t you just leave him? Getting away from an abusive partner is never easy. All of the verbal and emotional abuse basically makes the abused partner believe that it is happening to them because of something they did wrong, something they said, or something they did not do but should have done. Many times all of the abuse leaves the person very depressed to the point that he or she doesn’t care what happens to them anymore. The abusers often make death threats to the abused or threaten the children, family, or other loved ones of the abused person.
“If you ever leave me, I will find you and kill you!”
“If I can’t have you, no one will!”
“I will hunt you down like the pig you are!”
“No one would want you so I will just kill you when I am done with you.”
Yes, those were all phrases I was told by my ex, and more. At first he said it jokingly, and then as the abuse got worse, he became more serious about it . . . even going into detail of how he would kill me. When I reached the level of depression to where I didn’t care what happened and stopped reacting to his threats, he started making threats against my cats. I have no children so my cats are my babies. That was the final straw.
Fighting Back - Finding Freedom!
I can’t recall the exact moment that I started fighting back. I know that at random times I would get tired of being hit and I would hit back. I know that hitting back is not the answer but it would make the abuse stop for a couple days. After being evicted for the 3rd time because of his refusal to work, I ended up moving back to my parents’ place and living in a RV next to their house in August 2009. At first, he lived with me and the abuse continued. I told him that he would have to get and keep a job in order to live there. After about a month he still had not even show an effort to get a job so I kicked him out. He moved in with his godfather but still spent a lot of time with me in the RV. The periods of time when he was not around allowed me to see how abusive he was. I ended up breaking off the engagement at the end of April 2010. When he tried to scare me with the death threats, I reminded him that I am a better shot with a gun and that I can use a knife as well. This article didn’t even touch on all the times he put his family before me even though they would not help us out when we needed help, or all of the times he would take/steal things I bought and give to his mother or to the girls he had texting relationships with.
In the year+ since I broke up with him, I have searched the Internet and listened to several motivational speakers. I have come to an understanding that the abuse was not my fault but I do not call myself a victim. I have learned to believe in myself and to find strength within myself. I have learned that while his words had the power to hurt, my words have the power to heal and to help. My wings may be broken but I have found a new way to fly.
My advice to anyone who finds themselves in an abusive relationship, seek help! I know how hard it is to make that first move . . . that first cry for help, but it may save your life in the end. Seek out family and friends that you trust to help. See if you can stay with someone for a little while . . . at least until the abuser has had some time to cool off. Be sure to remain with other people. Very few abusers will go to the extreme of trying to kill their victim for leaving – but those who might try are even less likely if you are with other people. If you don’t have friends of family who can help, find a local shelter for abuse victims or seek help from a local church.
It will take time to heal. It has been over a year for me and I still have so much fear that I have not been able to move forward in a relationship. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can start recovering.
For those who would like to help a friend or family member who is in an abusive relationship, be gentle. Remember that person probably thinks that the abuse is their fault or that they deserve it. Offer to help but don’t try to force the person to accept the help. Never mention the abuse when the abuser is close. NEVER confront the abuser because the person being abused will suffer for it.
My Broken Wings Taught Me To Fly!
Reach Out For Help!
Shannon on July 24, 2011:
Once again you are awesome! This did not sound like a how to one would find on eHow. I don't think it sounded like a rant about your ex, then again anytime one speaks out on things such as this you will have those that feel it is a rant depending on their mindset and view points. You need to write an e-book.
Jo on July 24, 2011:
We are not 'victims' of abuse... we are 'SURVIVERS'! Always remember that 'what doesn't break you makes you stronger!' Great article, Manda.