Walking Away From Abuse

My father took this picture three years after I walked away from domestic violence.

How much of my life with domestic violence do my readers need to know?

As I mentioned last week, dragging these events out of my past  hurts.  To write them, I must revisit a time when life suffocated me, when hope disappeared, when I gave up on my dreams.  Unlike many of the women I’ve met with similar circumstances , I’ve healed.  I don’t dwell in these dark memories.

I moved on and returned to the person I was before him.

No.  That’s wrong.  I never regained that person.  I became someone different.  Someone new.  Someone independent and determined to get back the life once promised her by her parents.  Someone determined to prove to him I wasn’t the weakling he tried to make me.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  2 Cor. 5:17

 

It didn’t happen fast, but through my faith and the love of my family, I found healing.  I don’t live or crouch in the shadow.  I became a new creation.

People tell me my story helps others, so rather than recount every occurrence of abuse, I’ll share a few episodes to give you an idea of what I lived through and found the faith and strength to walk away from.

If any of these strike a note of familiarity within you, I pray you re-read the Bible verse and the paragraph above it in this post.  If I can step out of that life and walk with God to create a new one, you can, too.

My domestic violence highlight reel:

  • He refused to take a call from his employer.  When I hung up the phone, I hurried back to the kitchen because I didn’t want to burn dinner.  He asked what his boss said. I didn’t answer fast enough.  He backed me into a corner, screaming at me, and … that’s where my memory dies.  Everything else from that day is scrambled.  I eventually figured out that when he hit me, my head slammed into some overhanging cabinets.  The doctor called it temporary amnesia.

 

  • He got angry at our daughter when she was about nine months old and picked her up and popped her bottom.  His mother and I told him to stop, that a baby doesn’t understand.  Every time we said stop, he popped the baby’s bottom again claiming the diaper padded her, so she didn’t feel pain.  Neither of us could get near him to take the baby away. His mother kept fussing at him.  Each time she fussed, he popped the baby. While she begged him to stop, I begged her to stop.

 

  • My mother invited us to Thanksgiving dinner.  We accepted, but on the morning of Thanksgiving he said we weren’t going.  I pointed out we wouldn’t have a Thanksgiving meal if we didn’t go.  He got angry because I had not planned to cook a turkey that day. We went, but he made us return home once we finished our meal.

 

  • He got angry and banged his fist on the wall so hard that a clock fell off the wall and shattered around our six month old daughter who was laying on the floor.  Somehow, she wasn’t hurt.

 

  • I came home from the grocery store.  He decided to help (shocker) put the groceries away, but he wanted to stand at the table and THROW the canned food at me.  Our children–by then we had two toddlers–sat in the floor of our small kitchen.  I worried they might get hit by a can and asked him to not throw them.  He hurled each can at me, shouting because I’d told him what to do. I grabbed the kids and rushed around the corner to hide until he had thrown everything across the room.

 

  • We went for a ride in the car.  At one point, I leaned into the back seat to check on them and realized the radio was too loud.  I asked him to turn it down.  He started yelling and hitting me for telling him what to do.  My children clung to my hands, crying.  Should I yank free from them or hold their hands and stay in his line of fire?  I stayed in his line of fire because my children screamed louder when I tried to pull away.  He drove down a deserted, dirt road and told me he was going to kill me and leave my body to rot in the woods.

So, there you have it: a highlight reel of my four years of marriage to an abuser.

Don’t ask why I stayed.  Be glad I left.  Most women never leave.  They fear their abuser more when they can’t see what he’s doing.

Have you ever tried to help an abuse victim and failed?  Share your story here, and let’s find a way to help the victim.

 

 

 

 

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13 thoughts on “Walking Away From Abuse

  1. Oh, Barbara, just that little glimpse into your previous life is horrible. So grateful your family helped you get back on your feet. You had to work hard to move on, but you did it. I tried to help a neighbor but it was difficult. She hid it from me and stayed with him for a long time. One day she came screaming into my house (the front door wasn’t locked), running from him. Police came, he went to jail. When he got out she let him come right back home. She left once and somehow in the court mediation proceedings HE ended up with the house, she ended up with the kids in a shelter. Finally that got switched up, but before she got out of the parking lot he cried his way back into the house. Finally she escaped and never went back. Her life has been kind of a train wreck since, but she’s stayed away from abusers. I think.

    • Valerie, I recall you telling me about this woman. It’s heartbreaking, to say the least. Abusers have power over their victims because they have managed to brainwash them. Plus, once we get past the blow up, it’s shameful to admit you stayed in a situation like that. Rather than admit that, they go back. In some cases, it’s a way to say the abuse didn’t really happen.

  2. And now I am so very, very glad that I know you. You are one brave woman for telling this story. I used to run the playgroup in a shelter for abused women. It was wonderful and heartbreaking. So many of the women went back to their husbands…

    • Barbara, God bless you for working in a shelter! There are not enough of these havens available to women. I didn’t know of any when I went through this. Yes, many go back to their husbands. I will talk a little more about that part in my next post.

  3. Thank you for sharing. You are right, we are not the same after abuse. I walked away after two black eyes, a broken collarbone, and 8 stitches in my head. His mother had the nerve to command me to tell people who asked that I was in a car accident. I was treatened. At one point I was told that he could hire someone at any time to have me knocked off. For 5 years after I left, I feared being followed. I didn’t see it till later but God was showing me that he was protecting me by little things and loving people he brought into my life. Anyway, thank you for your bravery to speak out loud. There is life after abuse.

    • Linda, I’m sorry you went through what you did. I know the fear. I know the lying to cover up the bruises, etc. You are right, though, God does put loving people in our lives to help us move on.

  4. Barbara you know my story yes putting it down in writing is hard but if just one person is helped it s all worth the effort. May God s grace be with you as you share your story I dont think I could ever do what you do that I have so many snippets in my mind just like yours . Its amazing.

  5. Pingback: The Long-term Effects of Domestic Violence – The Workbench of Faith

  6. Pingback: October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month – The Workbench of Faith

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