I couldn’t believe it. He shoved me while I tried to comfort our crying baby. His anger, only witnessed once towards his father, now boiled over at me. Why? The baby bumped her head on the floor when I laid her down on her blanket. As I tried to comfort her, he went ballistic.
The moment it happened, I scooped her up and headed for the rocker in her room, trying to calm her cries. She wasn’t hurt, just startled. At least at first. I’m sure her crying lasted much longer because he kept shoving me and yelling at me. How do you comfort a baby when you’re under attack yourself? She was my first priority. I reached the rocker and started rocking her, hoping he would leave us alone. He didn’t. He proceeded to kick me in the legs.
Somewhere, in the recesses of my mind, I was in shock. Why would he act this way? He was angry that the baby was hurt, yet his actions could cause her greater injury than a simple bump on the head. Unbelievable. And he was hitting me. I couldn’t believe it. The man who once told me any man who would hit a woman was a coward had just become that coward.
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. I John 3:18
Did he love me? He said he did, but as this marriage continued, he rarely showed it. I wish I could tell you I left, but he had managed to alienate me from my family by then. Where was I to go?
There were many more occurrences. One time he came after me with a butcher knife. I screamed, “Don’t kill me.”
For some reason, he never hit me that time. He only threatened me with the knife. His outburst was long over when the police showed up a couple of hours later. A neighbor heard my cry and reported it. If he’d wanted to kill me, I’d have been long gone by then. Since I hadn’t been hit that time, there were no bruises, no blood. I was too frightened to tell them what had happened. If it took them two hours to come to my aid, how were they going to protect me from him?
Years later, I learned that my decision to not say anything was grounded in some hard truths. Most women, at the time. who reported domestic violence couldn’t escape. Their abuser often tracked them down, and the situation became even more dire. Many states have Order of Protection laws now, but back then, the only protection an abuse victim could get was a restraining order. Do you know what happens if someone violates a restraining order? A court date is set, usually months later, to “discipline” the violator. Not much protection, is it? With the Order of Protection, the abuser can be arrested and detained. This option didn’t exist, yet. Another option that didn’t exist at the time was the polices’ ability to arrest the abuser on charges of Criminal Domestic Violence. This avoids forcing the victim to press charges. Many abusers manage to get their “loved ones” to drop the charges out of fear, so many never served time for their crimes. I’m glad this is available today. I wish it had been back then.
My darkest days began with this first occurrence. If a man gets away with it once, he does it again, and again, and again. Over time the violence becomes worse, more dangerous. For me, it was the most frightening experience ever, and I had just fought through a disease that came close to killing me. I didn’t grow up in this kind of environment. Unlike many abused women, this family dynamic was foreign to me.
I was well out of my element.
What advice would you have given me back then?