But He Loves Me

Please welcome Alicia Benton from Imperfectly Perfect with a story of surviving domestic violence. It was originally published on Black Box Warnings, but since that site is gone, we’re reposting it here.

Trigger warning: this post talks about domestic violence. This is not an easy post to read, but it’s an important one and there is a happy ending since she’s still here to talk about it.


He is screaming at me so close to my face that I can feel his spit. I close my eyes and hold my breath.

He is wrapping his hands around my neck and squeezing tighter and tighter. I start to see spots.

He is grabbing my hair and shoving my head in the toilet. I try not to breathe, but I have to gasp for air.

He pulls the car over to the side of the road and demands that I get out. When I refuse, he comes around to the passenger side and yanks me out, leaving me standing alone on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with no money or ID.

He is tearing everything in my purse into shreds. I watch helplessly as my social security card, driver’s license, and photos of my babies float to the floor in hundreds of pieces.

He is cutting into tiny scraps all the homemade Mother’s Day and birthday cards I’ve collected from my babies since they were born.

He is breaking my cell phone into two pieces, ensuring I can never use it again.

He rips every signature from my high school yearbooks. I can only vaguely remember the memories my friends have written so fondly about.

He is bleaching all of my clothes in the bath tub. I panic inside, wondering what I’ll wear to work the next day.

He is burning the boys’ clothes in the fireplace in the living room. The boys don’t dare ask what’s going on.

He is shattering my camera into pieces, stomping on it after it smashes on the concrete.

He throws the kitten across the room and into the brick wall on the fireplace. It immediately begins to bleed profusely from the nose.

He tears the boys’ homework into tiny scraps the second they complete it.

He punches my car windshield in a fit of rage. My heart feels like the shattered glass, spreading over every inch.

Source: Madrid Law

Source: Madrid Law

But, despite all this, he loves me… He tells me how sorry he is – how it’s my fault that he loses his temper so often. I made a stupid decision that wasn’t good for our family. He can’t bear the thought of living without the boys and me. He promises that he’ll never put his hands on me or the kids again. All those times were mistakes. I’m the mother of his children and his wife. He loves me.

I stay. For years and years, I stay.

I’m scared of him. Terrified to leave.

If I leave him, he’ll find us. He’ll kill me, or worse, them. Or he’ll kidnap them, and I’ll never see them again. I can’t live without them.

How will I afford to raise two boys on my own? How will I work and pay for daycare?

Where will I go? Who will take in three extra people when they have families of their own to raise and support?

What decent man will ever want me – a 21-year-old girl with a two-year-old and an infant?

How will I ever swallow my pride and tell my daddy that he was right and that I had made one terrible decision after another?

How will it look if I get a divorce and have two young children? Divorce is bad, right?

What if I really am the problem, and I keep provoking him?

What if he really is sorry and will never lay his hands on me again? Will I be throwing away a potentially great marriage?

All boys need their dad, right? How will I ever successfully raise two young men without their father in their lives?

What if the fear that consumes my life is a healthy fear and proof that no one will ever love me as much as he does?

What if he really does love me, and I just have no idea what love is?

What if he really does love me?

Yes, these are really the thoughts that tormented me every single day of my 14-year relationship with my first husband. I was stuck – with no end in sight – in a vicious cycle. I was going crazy… I was literally going crazy.

I had myself convinced that he really loved me and was simply scared of losing the boys and me. I just knew that my family was no good for me and if they really loved me as much as he did, that they would support us and our relationship.

genuinely believed him every time he swore to never put his hands on me again.

To protect him, I made all the excuses you’ve heard on TV: “I fell down the stairs.” “My son accidentally head-butted me.” “He threw something at me to catch, but I missed it, and it hit me in my face.” “Oh, it was definitely an accident.” “He didn’t mean it.” “But I made him mad.” “Oh, I don’t know where that bruise came from.”

The list could go on, but the point is that I covered for him every time. I even ended up in the emergency room once and lied to the doctors, even when they were quite sure I was being abused. But I refused to budge. I wouldn’t give him up.

Source: Wynn & Wynn

Source: Wynn & Wynn

Why?

FEAR, plain and simple.

Fear of his rage and temper. Fear of being alone. Fear of being judged. FEAR.

I thought I was alone. I thought no one would understand what I was going through day-in and day-out.

For any of you ladies (or men, I suppose) who are in the same type of situation, please listen and hear me when I say this:

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

You don’t need to be abused. You don’t need to be manipulated. You don’t need to be controlled.

Please, if you shrug off every other sentence in this post, just understand this:

You are NOT alone.

Don’t stay silent any longer. You are valuable, and you are loved. No matter what you’ve done, you will never ever deserve to be abused. Speak out. Get help.

You can start here:

HELPGUIDE.org

THE HOTLINE

Womenshealth.gov

Every lie – whether mine or his – that I believed, turned out to be just that… a LIE. I met a wonderful man who loves me and my kids. I can take care of my kids on my own. I am successfully raising two handsome, respectful young men. My family does love and support me. And most importantly – I will never be alone.

Remember, you are loved, and you never deserve to be abused. Stop the cycle.

Source: Dr. Phil

Source: Dr. Phil

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14 thoughts on “But He Loves Me

  1. Thank you for sharing this. There is still so much stigma and shame put on those who are in DV situations, male or female, that misinformation and judgment still occurs. Every story told may be the one that helps someone else know there is hope and there are options.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this here. I hope your story reaches every woman or man that needs to hear it. I hope it presses them to speak up, and more importantly leave.

    My mother was beaten by my stepfather and he almost killed her when she was pregnant with my younger sister. It is so important that everyone leave these situations.

    I admire your strength & courage.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The very title of this chilled me. For over 20 years I’ve been hearing one of my dearest friends say “But I love him.” The abuse started before their wedding day and continues but she won’t leave him. She said she would rather kill herself and make it look like an accident so that he can collect the insurance – she’d rather do that then leave him. Many of her friends have left her because they hate him. Her family hates him. My husband hates him. All of the other husbands hate him. I have spent long nights listening to the stories she tells but she no longer tells me. She hides it all and I hear it second hand. We’ve known each other 50 years, since before we started kindergarten. She is like family. I’ll forward this blog post in hope that it gets through to someone, anyone, and whoever she is will get the courage together and know that there is no shame in leaving. The universe and all that is good is behind her and her kids cheering them on with love and dignity.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s so amazing the nonsense we think and the ridiculous things we can convince ourselves to be true when we’re in that situation. I stayed for 8 years. Eight miserable years of physical and emotional torture. I’m so glad we both got out and we’re here to talk about it. Thanks for sharing your story, Alicia. It just might help someone.

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  5. Thank you for sharing. Your story is almost identical to my first marriage, both in what took place ad well as how I responded. Like you it took me 14 years to remove myself and my two children from the horror that loomed and took place behind our Brady Bunch image. I have never stopped being mad at myself for waiting too long. So I say to anyone who is going through this DO NOT WAIT…NOTHING WILL CHANGR even if he does love you in his twisted version of love.

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  6. Thank you for sharing. Your story is almost identical to my first marriage, both in what took place as well as how I responded. Like you it took me 14 years to remove myself and my two children from the horror that loomed and took place behind our Brady Bunch image. I have never stopped being mad at myself for waiting too long. So I say to anyone who is going through this DO NOT WAIT…NOTHING WILL CHANGR even if he does love you in his twisted version of love.

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  7. Amazing, insightful and inspiring – these are the words that came to me when I finished reading this post, Alicia. There are so many people who blame a woman for staying in situations like this, but they have to understand you don’t marry a monster. You don’t walk down the aisle with a man who is banging your head against his fist. The changes come slowly at first and there is so much doubt, disappointment and confusion that, before you know it, you’re in the thick of the nightmare. ‘Hope’ was once a wonderful thing, but it becomes a serious flaw in your life. You constantly live with the hope that things will improve. You live in the hope that he’s in a good mood today and you stay quiet if he’s not because it’ll be your fault if ‘something happens.’
    Another thing people don’t understand is that there are also good times. You don’t spend every minute of every day being beaten, so again you live with the hope that the good times will continue – but they never do, and again, hope rears it’s ugly head and tells you there’s another good day just around the corner.

    Your story is amazing and I’m so glad you’re happy now. You are a true survivor xxxxx

    Like

  8. The details are uncomfortable and sad and I’m glad you shared them, because … they’re uncomfortable and sad.

    Each of us lies in relationships, to ourselves. Some get mixed in with reality. Some become turning points. Some change us, and some even can kill us. We have to recognize this. We have to find a way to see it and walk away from it, or help a friend to walk away.

    That you found love is awesome, but the part I will pull away with and hope my three daughters understand is that you found a way to stop the lies. We’re blessed that you’ve shared it!

    Like

  9. Thank you for sharing this, Alicia. I was in a marriage that didn’t work for me for eight long years. I was miserable but I stayed because divorce wasn’t an option. In India, if you’re divorced, you’re ‘second hand’ and ‘nobody wants you’; it’s probably your fault if the marriage didn’t work. I realized soon enough that I had to stop thinking about others and do what was right for me. When I moved out, I met more people like me – and the support and kindness was overwhelming. That is when I felt that I wasn’t alone. That feeling is so liberating!

    Like

  10. It blows my mind that there are so many of us who suffer varying degrees of such a messed up thing. I am so happy you found your courage, your worth, your security and happiness, your love.

    Like

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