My first experience with domestic violence was not at all what I expected. I was two years out of high school. We were young and he made me smile. He always came by my job and laughed for a bit and we ended up going out. I spent a lot of time at his house but he never came over to mine. Not sure if that was because my dad was with the police or if he just did not feel the need to. One day, I was sitting in his room and he begged me to get him a pair of tennis shoes I knew I could not afford. No matter what I told him he kept telling me if I loved him I would get them. I went to the shoe store the next day and purchased the shoes only to discover that he took the shoes back to get the money. I was furious and broke up with him. He showed up that night with a stuffed animal signing beneath my window. Pissed my dad off. He looked so sad, I took him back. He was upset because I would not sleep with him. He never said anything. The next day there it was, he was walking down he street with another girl like they were boyfriend/girlfriend. I followed him with my friend in the car. When we got to the end of the street she must have said something that triggered him to ball his fists and start hitting her. I feared for her and went to stop the fight. Before I knew it, I saw white light and a pain I never experienced before as I fell to the ground. When the light cleared, all i saw was fists coming at my face. I could hear my friend screaming and others standing around before Big Byron pulled him off. He was still swinging even then. I got up, got in my car and fumbled for the keys. He jumped on the hood of my car. I think I drove halfway to the hospital with him on the hood of my vehicle before my friend convinced me to stop and let him off so I would not get arrested. No words for about 48 hours. I was two or three hits away from a busted eye socket and broken jaw. I stayed with my friend for a week only able to sleep sitting up. When I finally got the nerve to go to my Dad, I was wearing sunglasses. He took them off and immediately got in his vehicle but only to write it all down and then go to court and watch him go to jail on a completely unrelated offense. I ended up meeting his wife years later in my national guard unit. I came to find out nothing changed. She called me one day, and that was the only call. He hit her with the phone I don’t know what happened after that.
I married at 25. It was hard because I was pregnant first. I wasn’t quite sure how to tell my mom. I brought flowers and a card because I knew I could write better than I would form verbally. My mother yelled at me and my then fiance right outside the church door. It was beyond embarrassing and I was so glad that no one was there to witness it. She did not speak to me the rest of the day.
The marriage seemed to be all that it was supposed to be. I had a home, kids, a job and in-laws that I loved being around and spending time with. Where it went south I’m not sure. My then husband started staying out, long hours. Getting dressed up to go who knows where and always spending hours at the downstairs neighbors house. It started to get worse when I went to go and help my sister-in-law and I got a frantic call from my kids that my son was bleeding everywhere after jumping off the sofa. Where was my husband? I did not want him to go to the hospital with me, I could do it myself. He was dressed in the leather jacket I brought for his birthday, going to the strip club. Then I discovered the nights out were with her. She even had nerve to call my home and try to degrade me while my husband laughed in the background. I had had enough. I wanted out. I left and spent one night at a bus stop around the corner from what was my home with my two babies wrapped up in every blanket I could find. I then spent three days in a homeless shelter. Not sure where my next shower or meal was coming from because I refused to leave my kids. Things got ugly. I tried going back and taking the jacket back I purchased, he refused and we ended up on the floor. I was screaming and he tried to put a pillow over my face to stop the screaming. My eyes were wide, scared. Finally we separated and he left. That is when I started coming home from work with a 40 oz beer every night. Something to ease the pain. It just kept getting worse. He wasn’t working and I was stressed. I wanted out. We fought. We fought to the point that when I said I was leaving he would run around and have his friends come by and call me all sorts of names I never heard before. I sought comfort elsewhere, it did not work. He would drive me to work and as I got out of the car he would yell out “my wife is a slut” until I was out of earshot. Then there was the nights of forced sex. Not love like it should be. Trying to pack up putting my stuff in plastic bags, he wouldn’t move, it got ugly again. I picked up a beer bottle to defend myself. I was ready to swing but was held back. He accused me of many things and had people follow me everywhere. He would not help me with anything. He withheld food, money, tried taking the alternator cap off the engine, calling me names….the list goes on. Fast forward to divorce court. I had my best friend with me for support and the person I was seeing while separated. It was so tense that you could see the air in the court room. As we walked out, fists started to swing and I was ushered out. As I got in the car with my so called new man, he grabbed me and said since you wanna be with him so bad let me take you home and he drove me to my old home. I rolled right back into the same situation.
The new man gave me everything I could ever want. I never had to want for anything. He would go to the store with me and everything. Conversations where strange though. After 3 or 4 dates he started asking me when I was going to start paying his way. I brushed it off. We moved in together and things seemed great until he started accusing me of not knowing how to please a man. Telling me that I did not know how to be a woman if I could not please him. The comments, the remarks, separating me from my kids. Getting upset when I would try go to my mothers. But he still proposed and I still accepted. Then came the day I was just not happy with my weight. I went to Jenny Craig and he came with me and sat in on my one on one session. As I put my program together he went over to the counselor and said will this work for her? She said as long as she is committed she will do fine. He said, she is just too fat, I’m not sure she can do anything right anyway. I was flabbergasted. He would buy me clothes and tell me this is what he wanted to see me in and then tell me I looked like a well dressed whale in them. He purchased one yellow outfit that I fell in love with and when I put it on for church he told me I looked like a big yellow canary and that he would not be seen with me dressed as such. I think i left him three times. The second time, I was suffering with migraines and had prescription medication to help me sleep. I was getting so tired of the remarks that I took the whole bottle and left a message saying I only wanted to sleep not realizing I was on the road to suicide. I had not showered in a week, and to make matters worse he told me the only way he would take me back is if I crawled. One night we argued so bad I said I did not wan to be married to him. He said to give him the ring. I started to take it off, he said I was not moving fast enough and pulled out a hunting knife and gave me 15 seconds to take it off or he was cutting the ring and the finger off. He did everything to make me second guess myself as a woman and a mother. The next day, I moved out took everything. He found me walking to the metro one day. He did his best to remind me that I belonged to him. I told him he was full of BS. He said I can knock you out . I looked him in the eye and said swing, get it over with so you can feel better but I’m done! And I was.
I was young, naive and had nowhere to turn. I kept finding myself in the same scenario. I was verbally, mentally and even physically abused in each and every situation. I only gave you the outline of each scenario. I experienced stalking, low self esteem, wanting to give up my kids, no help from family. My family told me in every situation that I brought it on myself and that no man treats a woman he loves that way.
I tell my story to let you know that though I was only black and blue once, I suffered in silence because I believed I was not worthy of love or myself. I made my stance and refused to turn back. My situation has many more stories to it but the end is the same…I got away. I was alone, scared, defeated and downcast and I made it a point to turn it around. I got help. It was a long road back but I traveled it her to tell you, it is not your fault. You are worthy of you and you deserved to be loved.
You to can help support the fight against Domestic Violence by attending this event, donating and learning the signs. Contact email@example.com for further event info. Event takes place November 7th, 2015 from 6-10pm. This event supports The House of Ruth and the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence.