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.
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.
I 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.
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:
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.