Our wedding day was more like a funeral. I wore a gray dress & a black shawl. No romance or fanfare. We stood in front of the justice of the peace for a matter of 5 minutes, exchanged prewritten, heartless vows, & a cold kiss to seal the deal. I remember feeling like crying. I felt numb. So why did I go through with it? I felt sorry for him. Oddly enough, I thought I could save him. Even he claimed my presence in his life made him a better person. And I naively stumbled full throttle into a life I knew would not be completely fulfilling. All for the sake of keeping him happy. Sounds strange…even stranger to write it. But it’s true. We moved into a 1-bedroom house we rented. It did not take long after the unceremonious ceremony for me to see the real side of him; his core personality.
It started out seemingly innocent. The name-calling. Nothing crude…at first. Just enough to make me stop & wonder. He would shrug it off like a joke. The patronizing tone, though, would continue to escalate. He would chastise me like a child. And like a child, I would skulk & ponder what I could do to be better. That made him happy. So, a cycle very quickly started. Then life would get somewhat comfortable because I would learn his new rhythm & dance to a new tune. This went on for quite some time. Berating, chastising, patronizing and then acting as though everything was normal. My emotional confusion was his first target. My money was his next. He did it very casually. Hid a couple of bills until they were past due. Then his anger would escalate almost…and I repeat “almost”…to a violent crescendo. He would lash out verbally & then go silent. “I need to do the bills. From now on, you’ll give me your check. I’ll pay the bills & give you the rest of your money.” I fought that very hard, at first. When another bill went missing, I simply decided to pay it without the formal bill stub. He lashed out even harder at that. Calling me distrustful. It’s so hard to portray now the exact feelings & emotional turmoil he instilled. It’s been 4 years now since I decided to leave. Let me just say, he argued & lashed out until I finally gave in. My check was his. At that time, I decided giving him my money was so much better than listening to “his mouth.” I say it like that because I still refused to call it what it was…verbal & emotional abuse. I now know. Hindsight is 20/20.
So he had my money. He knew how to make me a placid wife. He knew how to make me go silent. He was happy, for a while, anyway.
This next part is still hard for me to talk about. The sexual abuse. It started when he would leave on a Friday night & not come back until Sunday morning. He told me I wasn’t doing anything to “keep him home.” My mind reeled. One can imagine the verbal argument that ensued. He would laugh. Patronizing tone always to follow. He stated I wasn’t satisfying him sexually. So…I gave everything at that point. My mind, my money, my body. He didn’t care if he physically hurt me. And I refused to see it as rape back then. But believe me. He raped me. More than once.
I shut down. I got so depressed, I literally didn’t talk. I hid inside myself. Then the day came that I found out I was pregnant. I actually thought that would wake him, so to speak. He did immediately start to treat me differently. He did everything for me. Everything. It was stifling, but he was staying home more.
Even during my pregnancy, though, he could not stop verbally attacking me. I had all ready decided at that point, that our marriage would not last. I planned. The thought of leaving liberated me. I chose not to leave while I was still pregnant so as not to cause any harm to this child I was carrying. I stayed calm through all the verbal onslaughts but my voice was starting to come back. I would calmly warn him that he could not keep treating me abusively.
Fast forward to the day when my son decided he was ready to be born. My husband unceremoniously dropped me off at the hospital where I labored by myself. I went into the hospital at 2 pm. My husband came back for the last 30 minutes of my labor. My son was born at 3:45 am July 23, 2010. My husband held him 10 minutes & then left again. Only this time, he didn’t return until the day I was discharged from the hospital.
The ride home was strange. He was erratic & very disjointed in his speech. Once home, my son began crying uncontrollably. Every effort I made to soothe him, made my husband lash out in a verbal tirade. He went outside to mow the lawn & I thought everything would be fine. My son immediately quieted down. He came back in & started yelling which woke my son up & his crying ensued all over again. I remember him standing over me. Threatening me. My son was in his bouncy seat screaming at the top of his little brand new lungs. I couldn’t get to him. I panicked. I screamed for my husband to just shut up. He swung his arm back & punched me in the chin. A smile on his face. I’ll never forget that. He then took the keys to my car & told me I wouldn’t be leaving.
It was like a bad dream. Everything was slow motion. I told him if just take myself & the baby to my Mom’s “Only for a little bit. Just a couple of days. I’m not leaving.” By some strange miracle, he believed me. I was getting the heck out of there and making sure my son was safe. I never had any intentions on coming back. And I never did.
I’ve blocked out the worst parts. My mind just won’t allow me to relive that hell. And that’s what it was. Hell. I contacted the states attorney’s office the day after leaving. I learned this was nothing new for my soon-to-be ex husband. I was the 3rd woman he had abused. The 3-strike rule is very much alive in my state. He was arrested & I had a good month to find the best attorney.
My ex husband is a narcissistic sociopathic abuser. He will do anything to win. Until he gets bored or finds a new & willing victim. We’re still fighting visitation rights. Ever since I left, my main priority has been to keep my son safe. I won full custody. My ex was restricted to supervised visits for 1 hour 1 day per week, which went on for almost 2 years. Now the visits are slowly going to my son spending the night with my ex in the near future. My ex is also a drug addict now & I’m doing everything I can to ensure the proper safety measures…mandatory drug tests once a month being the highest priority.
It’s been a long and arduous 4 years. I doubt my ex thought I would take it this far. The other 2 women before me didn’t take it anywhere near this level of security. Then again, they aren’t mothers, either.
People still ask me “How do you stay so strong.” To which I answer, “I have to. I’m not giving myself any other choice.”
Follow Kendra’s story here: Domestic Survivor
If you are interested in sharing your story here…please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org