Breaking the Silence, Part 2

This is the story of my escape from domestic violence. If you have not yet read part one, please click here to read the story to learn how this all began.

domestic-violence

My Story (Continued): Sleeping With the Enemy

I moved in soon after, and I immediately began to see the problems I had been trying my best to ignore. He did find another job quickly, as he told me he would. However, I came across termination paperwork from his previous job. He didn’t quit; he was fired. I asked him why he lied, but he got angry at me for questioning him. He said that he really did quit, but that the manager was a friend and keyed it in as a termination so that he could collect unemployment benefits. Once again, I believed him. I wish I could tell you that lying to me was the extent of his abuse, but then I would be the liar. No, it was much worse. He began limiting my contact with the outside world. He was allowed to have friends, but I was not. I had a cell phone because I had one from before the marriage, but he would not allow a home phone or internet service. I wasn’t allowed to make friends at work or in the neighborhood. He never once allowed me to find a new church, despite all his promises that he would. When grocery shopping needed to be done, we did it together or he went out to do it on his own. When we would argue, I was never allowed to storm out, but he would leave and disappear for hours on end. Sometimes he would stay gone until the next day, but I was never permitted to know where he was. I believed he was cheating on me, but I did not have the proof to back up those suspicions. He abused his dog. I witnessed him punch and kick her when he was angry. I once watched him grow so violently angry at the dog for eating the cat’s food that he choked her, then held her by the neck and beat her head against the bedroom wall. In my fear, I did nothing to protect that poor animal. At this time he had not yet put his hands on me in a harmful way, but he put his fists through walls and cupboards, slammed doors, threw things, and would scream at me and say things I would never dream of repeating. His favorite attack was against my Christianity. “You call yourself a Christian, but a good Christian wife would never ______.” (Fill in the blank with anything I ever did that displeased him, such as suggest something for dinner that he did not want, come home 3 minutes late from work, call my aunt on the phone and tell her about something he had done, etc.) I believe he liked to use that attack on me because it would reduce me to tears every time. He seemed to enjoy breaking my spirit.

It did not end there. In addition to everything else, he also did drugs, smoked and drank alcohol. One afternoon I had to stop by home during the middle of my work shift, which was not something I commonly did. I arrived and found him with a bag of drugs on the coffee table (I think it was marijuana, but I don’t know enough about drugs to know for sure). He was alone, but insisted had had a friend over, and the friend must have gone left it behind. He swore up and down that the drugs were not his, thought it certainly appeared that he was caught red handed. I often smelled cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana on him when he would return from spending time with his friend.

Another way he managed to control me was through our finances. Money would disappear and bills would go unpaid. We had our water shut off more than once due to non payment. One one occasion, after getting an eviction notice, my aunt ended up paying our rent that was very behind (though I was never told how far behind it was). I was never allowed to know where the money was going, and that included my own paychecks. I was no longer believing his lies, but I was trapped. I was too scared to leave. Not only was I scared of the violent anger I had witnessed in this man, but I also thought I had nowhere to go. I was an adult, and had entered the marriage of my own free will. How could I turn and run away just because things weren’t going as I had planned? I also had my marriage vows to consider. I wanted so much to work through the problems and just be a normal, happy, newly-married couple.

The last way in which he abused me is the part that’s hardest for me to talk about. He was sexually abusive. He was obsessed with pornography. He also seemed to get a certain enjoyment out of forcing situations upon me which were demeaning and made me horribly unhappy. As a very conservative Christian woman, I cannot bring myself to go into a great deal of detail on this, but suffice it to say that sexual abuse/control was a powerful weapon at his disposal, and he had no qualms about using it.

Changing of the Tides

It didn’t take long for me to become pregnant. That news came as quite a shock to me because I had been actively trying to avoid it. I was so scared that he would be angry that I threw the pregnancy test out in the apartment complex dumpster where he would never find it. I didn’t know how I was going to tell him. Little did I know that the opportunity was going to present itself that very night. Once again we were fighting, but that night he became angrier than ever before. He pulled off his wedding ring, threw it at me, and told me to leave. (The fight was because I had pleaded with him to work on his anger.) He told me to pack my things and get out. I am not sure if he actually would have let me go when it came to it, but in that moment I genuinely believed I was being kicked out of my home and had nowhere to go. Frightened though I was, I told him about the pregnancy. Wow, what a change I saw in him in an instant. He suddenly became so gentle and loving. He told me how sorry he was and assured me that everything would be okay. Here was the man I had known before we were married. He was finally back, and all it took was having a child together! I was blissfully happy, and so was he. Everything was becoming just as I had dreamed it would.

Unfortunately, the happiness was short-lived. Within a matter of days he was back to his old self. I had become so sure he was cheating on me, but I needed proof. I did something that was not in my nature to do. I picked up his phone and called his voicemail, and there it was; I had been right all along. All the pieces of the puzzle were coming together, and I realized I no longer trusted anything my husband told me. After that, I got up the courage and called his ex-wife and asked her what had really happened in their marriage. I needed to know the truth, once and for all. She told me everything, and the story was so much like my own. Not surprisingly, it was nothing like the lies he told me about the crazy ex-wife who kept his son from him by telling all sorts of untrue stories about him to a judge who bought it hook, line and sinker. My worst fear of all was realized when she told me that although he did not start out as physically abusive, in time he had begun hitting her. I knew then and there that any man who was capable of hurting a helpless dog and a woman pregnant with his own child was capable of harming anyone. I became so scared for myself and the new life that was growing inside me. That was the day I began plotting my escape. I was not going to stand by and allow this man to hurt my child. Protectiveness of my baby began to give me strength that I had not had before. I called credit card companies and had him removed from my credit cards. I tried to put some money aside in the hopes that he would not notice. My plan was to return to my aunt. (I knew then she would help me, especially since I was pregnant.) I tried to leave him once but I went back – as is common for domestic violence victims. It’s not easy to work up the courage to leave and stay gone.

The day I left for good stands out in my memory as one of the most frightening days of my life. I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember clearly that he became more violently angry that day than he had ever been before. He grabbed anything within his reach to throw at me: a box of soda cans, unopened cans of soda, shoes, even the coffee table. He tried to force me into the bedroom to keep me from leaving, but I fought back and tried to get away from him. He tried to slam the door on me and the doorknob hit my pregnant stomach so hard that it actually left a bruise. I ran into the closet and hid to call 911. I had just long enough to give them our address and beg for help before he was back in the bedroom again.

His demeanor had changed. Here was the tender and loving husband again, begging me to come out of the closet. I did as he asked, but I was in tears and scared half to death. He took me to the bed and sat me down, asking me why I was so upset. It was as though the man sitting next to me had no idea what had happened a few minutes before. He was forcing me to kiss him, demanding me to calm down and trust that he loved me and everything would be okay. I asked him to stop, but he kept going. The next thing I knew, he had me pinned down on the bed and was forcing himself on me, completely deaf to my hysterical pleadings for him to stop. I thank the Lord above that the police knocked on the door before he was able to fully undress me. He answered the door perfectly cool and calm, and tried to convince the two officers that it was all a big misunderstanding. Looking back, I wish I had showed them the marks on my stomach and insisted that the police arrest him then and there, but at the time I was a frightened 22-year-old who wanted nothing more than to escape. I let the officers leave without filing a report, but I did at least have the foresight to ask them to escort me to my car so that I could get safely away. I didn’t care about fighting back or making sure he got what he rightfully deserved; all I cared about was protecting myself and the baby. I left with my car, my cat, and all the clothing I could carry in my arms. I drove straight to my aunt’s home a couple of hours away. I was able to return a week or so later with my aunt and a police officer to retrieve some of my belongings, but I had to leave my job behind (which also meant that I lost my health insurance while pregnant) and I lost the majority of everything I had worked for in my young life.

Even after all of that, I still tried to fix our marriage. I did everything I could to honor the marriage vows I had taken with him. I told him that I would stay married to him if he agreed to go to counseling, but I refused to move back in with him again until I felt safe. He went to exactly one counseling session. The pastor of the church I had grown up in asked me to step out of the room while he spoke with my ex-husband before beginning the counseling session. A little while later, my ex stormed out the church and refused to ever return to counseling again. To this day, I still have no idea what was said that made him so angry. I finally filed for divorce when I realized it was over.

It did not end there, however.

Click here for the last post in this series where I share how the story ended, and to learn about where my life is today.

Breaking the Silence, Part 1

Many people do not know that I was married once before – and of those who do know, fewer still know much about the marriage other than the fact that it was short. I do not avoid speaking about that year of my life because it causes me pain to do so; I avoid talking about it because I don’t want to make others uncomfortable. It’s been nearly a decade since it all happened, and as the years have passed I have witnessed far too many around me go through similar or far worse experiences. The time has come to break the silence. I apologize in advance if this post makes you uncomfortable, but perhaps we all need to be made uncomfortable from time to time in order to wake us up to what is going on all around us. It should not be taboo. It should be talked about not in whispers, but in shouts loud enough for the whole world to hear. Today, once and for all, I am screaming:

stop-domestic-violence

My Story: The Cycle of Abuse Begins

I suppose it all began long before I met my ex-husband. In hindsight, I realize that it probably began when I was a very little girl. I was raised in an abusive home. I can remember abuse from as far back as my earliest memories. My father abused my mother. He controlled her every move. He would not allow her to have friends. He limited her contact with the outside world. He hit her, and far worse. He also abused me, as well as my older brother (fortunately for my brother, he doesn’t remember much, if anything). My father abused everyone around him, really. I know he had enemies who were looking for him. I remember a time when we had to crawl past the windows of the house and couldn’t have any lights on because we were hiding from one of the many people looking for him. I couldn’t have been much older than 3 or 4 when that happened. I remember times when I heard my mother crying after he had hurt her. I remember screaming and shouting. There are also lots of things I don’t remember, but that have left their mark nonetheless. Thirty years later, I still bear a scar across my nose and one eye from the time that he threw me across the room and I fell onto a cup that had been left on the floor. It broke, and I had glass shards in my eye. I have been told it’s a miracle that I even have vision in that eye. I was two when it happened. He hurt me sexually, too. Eventually, he ended up in prison for attempted murder after he shot his friend in the back while the man stood in his garage, unaware that my father was there. I still remember the night he was arrested. I was sent to the neighbor’s house and she closed her curtains, but I peeked outside and saw cop cars all around. I was very confused and frightened.

Unfortunately, the abuse did not end there, but it did change a little. It came from other family members, and it became more verbal. I remember being told I was ugly, that my hair was a rat’s nest, that I was stupid and that I would never amount to anything. I was abandoned and left with family who really didn’t want the responsibility of raising another generation of children. And in time, more physical abuse came. I was beaten with a wooden paddle with holes drilled to reduce wind resistance thereby increasing pain. I remember a time when I actually had welts on my bottom from that paddle and it was painful to sit. I won’t say I was an easy child or undeserving of discipline, but who can expect an angel of a child after all I had been through?

When I was 10, I moved in with my aunt who never once lifted a hand to me. I thank God every day for sending me to her. Unfortunately, for all her love and patience with me, she could not protect me from my own past. It took a very long time for me to heal, and during that healing time my father was released from prison and for a time came back into my life. I witnessed and experienced more abuse from him, and to this day I believe he is responsible for my grandfather’s rapid decline in health and subsequent death after my father punched him in a fit of rage. I had been told more than once not to speak when he was like that, but one day he demanded answers from me. I do not recall now what he was asking me, but I was trying to remain silent as I had been told. He picked me up off the couch by my shirt and violently shook me, screaming at me that I answer him. My grandfather stepped in to defend me, and my father turned on him and hit him, hard. My grandpa was already weak from emphysema. He was on oxygen 24/7, and it didn’t take much to tire him. Being attacked by my father was too much for him, and he was hospitalized after the attack. He never made it out of the hospital, and even though it’s been 17 years since he died I still miss him more than words can say.

At 14 years old, I was finally free from abuse. I healed and forgave – or at least I thought I did. I was pretty much a normal, happy teenager, except for the whole looking-for-love-from-boys-because-I-never-knew-the-love-of-a-father part. I bounced from one relationship to another, never going long without a boyfriend because I could not bear to be without that attention I craved so desperately. I didn’t understand it then; all I knew was that I needed the affirmation that came from having a male love me (or, what I thought was love).

Ignoring the Red Flags

Given my history, it’s not surprising that I ended up marrying the first guy who hinted at the idea, especially after I had been previously engaged to another young man who cheated on me. All I wanted was someone who was going to love me and not hurt me. When I met my ex-husband, I fell immediately for his charms. He somehow managed to always say exactly what I wanted to hear. I said I was a Christian, and he stated he was raised Catholic but that he identified more with Christianity. He liked baseball, but when I said I was a NASCAR fan, suddenly he announced that he was a NASCAR fan too and gave up his Yankees obsession. I wanted a family, and he was a family man. I believed every lie he told me about himself, probably because I wanted to believe him. I wanted someone who was family-oriented, who would give me the life I had always dreamed of but had never known. I wanted to be a wife and a mother and to give them everything I never had as a child. He said he wanted a wife and children. It was perfection. Okay, so he was married before. No biggie, we all have a past, right? He said his ex was crazy and made up all sorts of lies to take his son (who was then just 7 years old) away from him. I believed it. I mean, there are lots of guys out there with crazy exes. He had recently moved from New York to be closer to his son, so obviously he was a stellar dad, and wasn’t that just what I was looking for?

Just weeks after meeting, I was talking to him on the phone and told him that I had had a dream where he proposed and I said yes, which I told him was crazy because we had only known one another such a short time! His response? He suggested that we should do just what I had dreamed. I fought the idea at first, but he pushed and kept at it until I agreed, and honestly it didn’t take much cajoling because I was already desperately longing to fill the huge hole left in my heart by my own parents. We were married immediately after. I should have trusted my gut when I had a panic attack the night before the wedding. I called and asked him to wait and give me some more time, but he cried and told me how much he needed me and he couldn’t bear life without me. This should have been a huge red flag, but I felt so guilty for making him feel that way. Clearly, it was my fault. I had allowed him to hope for marriage, and there I was on the eve of the wedding trying to call it off and shattering his dreams. I agreed to go on with the wedding as planned. He was happy, so I was happy.

Looking back, another red flag leading up to the wedding was that he suddenly announced that he had quit his job. How on earth could I marry someone who was unemployed? My retail salary couldn’t get us by! (And better yet, why would he quit his job knowing he was about to take on the responsibility of a wife? Too bad I didn’t have the foresight to ask that question.) He assured me it was okay, that he always found a job quickly, and that he had a little money put away that would help us get by. I trusted him when he told me everything would be okay. Because of job circumstances and getting married so quickly, I was unable to move in with him right away. I had to get a job transfer and that took a little while to make happen. While waiting, I drove down to visit him (at the time he lived in San Diego and I lived in the LA area). When I was gone, he would be very moody. He would yell and become abusively angry, saying the most horrendous things to me. He would always apologize afterward. He told me it was because he couldn’t handle having his wife so far away from him, and promised that things would get better once I moved in.

Click here to continue reading the story.

This Christian’s Response to the Oklahoma Devil Worshipper’s Satanic “Black Mass” Ceremony

Today, I watched an interview of a satan worshipper and self-professed satanic “pope” on ABC News’ website. If you can handle the deeply disturbing content and images, you can view the video here.

This is alarming to me on so many levels. First, there’s the obvious: this man, a registered sex offender, is calling himself a spiritual leader and performing rituals in worship of evil incarnate. I have read and seen worse, and I can pretty much guarantee they have performed worse, but naturally they have to tame it down for the TV audience.

Then there’s the more subtle message from the Catholic side of things. When the arch bishop says “they believe the powers they are invoking are real,” he is sadly mistaken. People, demonic powers are real (Revelation 16:14), and we are plainly told in scripture to stay far, far away from them (Leviticus 19:31,Deuteronomy 7:25, Deuteronomy 18:10-11). Demons are powerful and we should be careful not to mess with them or take lightly their power (Acts 19:13-16).

I also have a bit of an issue with ABC calling the members of the Catholic church “Christians,” when we know full well that they are two different religions. This reporter refers more than once to “freedom of religion” and talks about how all religions are embraced here in America. Brothers and sisters, do not be deceived. This reporter is (perhaps unknowingly) part of a dark force at work to desensitize us to blatant evil – and it’s working. We’re told to be tolerant of this, and to simply look the other way if we don’t like it. The people who did show up to protest were painted in the video as a bunch of religious loons, perhaps not far off from members of Westboro Baptist Church. The general view of Bible-believing Christians today, perpetuated by Hollywood and the mainstream media, is that we’re religious zealots and fanatics that should be ignored, or worse yet, altogether silenced. That will not stop me. I will keep fighting to spread God’s truth, even if Satan does have control of the media and has the world believing that I am a nutcase.

There’s one more thing from this video that I feel the need to bring attention to. If you listen to some of this man’s “prayers” you can clearly hear him say, “Keep us from the righteous.” He knows that Christians are righteous. He knows full well what he is dabbling in, and he delights in it. Let’s be under no delusion; this man is not sick in the head, nor is he in need of a psychiatrist as some commenters have suggested. This man knows full well whom he is serving, and he knows he’s headed to hell.

Christian warriors, let’s unite in prayer. Let’s take a stand for Christ. I’ve read Revelation and I know God wins in the end, but Satan is going to try and take as many souls with him as he can until that glorious day. We need to share the truth of God’s joyously freeing salvation, and pray without ceasing for the lost. Our job is to spread the message of salvation. As depressing and disheartening as it can be to see such evil all around us, we must remain firm in our calling. It is not our strength but the Lord’s that keeps us going.

2timothy417

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:2-5

I Could Never Homeschool My Kid(s)

“I don’t know how you homeschool moms do it; I could never homeschool my kids.”

As one of “those homeschool moms,” this is something I hear a lot, and the more times I hear it the more it gets under my skin. I feel like that statement makes us sound like either a bunch of weirdos, or super-human mothers who possess some level of talent that normal mothers are lacking, when in fact neither of those assertions are true. The time has come for me to set the record straight.

First of all, homeschooling parents are not weirdos. We are parents just like you who love our kids and want what’s best them. We have all arrived at the decision to homeschool by way of different paths. Some choose homeschool because their children have a special need that cannot be met in traditional school environments. Some choose homeschooling for medical or religious reasons. There are some families that do not live in a good school district, and its safer for them to educate their children at home. Some families find themselves traveling or moving a lot because of a job, and strategically homeschooling makes more sense rather than constantly uprooting their children and transferring them from one school to another. The list of reasons goes on and on. I believe the same can be said of parents who choose to send their children to a public/private/charter school. I’m certain that the list of reasons parents choose to send their kids to school is just as extensive as the list of reasons why homeschoolers choose to teach their kids at home.

That brings me to my next point: we are not Super Parents. We do not have a special gift of patience that allows us to be around our children 24/7 without ever losing our temper. We all have moments when we question our decision to homeschool. We all worry and have anxiety sometimes. There is absolutely nothing that I go through as a homeschool mom that is unique to any other parent on the face of the earth. Home educators do their best to teach their kids the same way all parents have been teaching their children from the moment they were born. It is for this reason that I believe that all parents are capable of homeschooling. When people tell me that they could never homeschool because they butt heads with their kids too much, I literally laugh out loud. I butt heads with my oldest on pretty much a daily basis, but that doesn’t prevent me from being able to homeschool! Some say they could never do it because they can’t afford homeschooling, but there are more than enough free resources out there that it can easily be done for less than what most parents spend on school supplies and a new school wardrobe each year. (If you’re interested, I address a lot more of the “reasons why I could never homeschool” here.)

So, let’s all be honest with one another, shall we? When you say you could never homeschool your children, let’s be real and admit that what you’re really saying is that you don’t want to homeschool. Not being able to do something and not wanting to do something are two very different things.

If you have any inclination whatsoever to educate your children at home, then I promise you that you are already equipped with everything you need to do it, and to do it well! 

And for a little humor, I am including my all-time favorite homeschool meme. I love it because it’s just about the closest thing to reality in this house. Enjoy! 🙂

hsmeme

20 Things I’ve Learned Since Moving to North Carolina

We’ve lived in North Carolina for just over two years now, and I must say it’s proven to be quite the education! Here’s a list of some of the things I’ve learned since moving here:

1) “Bless your heart” does not mean what it means everywhere else. If someone says “bless your heart” where I come from, it’s an expression of endearment or sympathy; in NC, it’s a euphemism for calling you an idiot.

2) Barbecue is not barbecue in NC. When I think of barbecue, I imagine meat smothered in barbecue sauce. Here, it’s meat marinated in vinegar, and it takes an acquired taste to enjoy it. (I still have not acquired that taste, by the way.)

3) Bojangles is to North Carolinians as In ‘n’ Out is to Californians.

4) Sweet tea is everywhere and at every event, and if you announce that you don’t like it, people will stare at you like you have two heads. (True story.)

5) North Carolinians can handle rain, hail, hurricanes, tornadoes, you name it, but when a little bit of snow touches the ground (or even has the remotest possibility of falling), the whole state shuts down and everyone turns into doomsday preppers.

6) They take their Wolfpack vs Tar Heels and rivalriy very seriously, and it’s probably best to play the part of Switzerland and stay neutral unless you’re willing to defend to the death your college team of choice.

7) “Pig pickin'” is actually a thing. They literally cook a whole pig right in front of you and then you get to go pick off the pieces you want. Trust me, it’s way more disgusting to see than you can possibly imagine.

8) The drivers here are just as aggressive as California or New York drivers. Probably because half the population moved here from California or New York.

9) I had no idea what a tobacco plant looked like until I moved here.

10) You’re not a true North Carolinian until you’ve been to the fair.

11) People here call winter hats toboggans, and they don’t believe you when you try to tell them that a toboggan is actually a sled.

12) You’ve never known true heat until you’ve lived through a North Carolina summer.

13) The bugs here are out. of. control. Signing up for a quarterly pest control service is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.

14) If someone asks you to cut off the light, they’re asking you to turn the light switch off. Don’t get out a pair of scissors. Likewise, when you’re told to mash a button, you’re meant to press it. No kitchen utensils needed.

15) Despite the southern stereotypes, most people I know prefer Target to Wal-Mart, but good ol’ Wally World is still very popular.

16) Speaking of Wal-Mart, “goin’ Wal-Martin'” is actually a thing.

17) North Carolinians have a museum for everything. Seriously.

18) Fayetteville is to North Carolina as Compton is to California.

19) If you ask a local how far away something/someplace is, odds are they’ll give you the distance in minutes rather than miles.

20) If you’ve ever wanted to live in a place where people are as friendly as they were in Mayberry, where complete strangers wave to you and you’re welcomed to your new neighborhood with plates full of baked goodies, then North Carolina is the place for you!

When you’re from the west coast, moving to North Carolina is rather like moving to another country – but it’s the most beautiful, friendly, fun and welcoming country I’ve ever been, and I have no regrets about becoming a NC transplant. 🙂 home