Domestic Violence Awareness Month: From One Who Lived It

Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeImages.com

Thirty-eight years ago today, I married the man who would become my abuser. He had already altered the trajectory of my life, and our short, three-year marriage would continue to shift my life path in ways unimaginable. I usually try to ignore the date on this day, but October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

In keeping with the mission of this blog, I decided to confront the day differently, to share what I’ve written on domestic violence. Today, the links are in purple, the color we wear to remember those who suffer, suffered, or died at the hands of an abuser.

I doubt you can stomach all of these in one sitting, but if you want to know more about a serious topic in today’s world, any of these posts can be enlightening.

I pray that you will find a way to help someone in this situation. No one should live in fear of their family members or loved ones.

Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeImages.com

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Navigating Mountains and Valleys in Life

Mountains and valleys

© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

If you’ve been following my story, then you’ve met me in my teen years and walked with me through teen pregnancy, teen marriage, domestic violence, divorce, single parenting and all of the trials and blessings that came from those experiences.

These events occurred so many years ago that it doesn’t even feel like my story anymore. It’s my distant past, not my present or future. Not to say I haven’t had my share of trials and hardships since. There have been mountain and valley experiences, but a strong faith in God helped me navigate the valleys.

Faith can help you turn mountains into mole hills Click to Tweet. In other words, I went through the fire and became stronger and more able to withstand what the world threw at me.

See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
    I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
Isaiah 4:10

What Were My Afflictions?

Disappearing Children

My ex disappeared with the children after an altercation where his own father called the police and reported him abusing our daughter. Luckily, he returned with the kids on Sunday, but we spent the entire weekend worrying about their safety and whether they would return. As horrible as this event was, it gave us the fuel to fight his visitation rights.

A Legal System with Issues

The investigator who arrested my ex on charges of criminal domestic violence asked the judge to cancel his visitation until the hearing. The judge agreed, but by the time my ex appeared before a judge, a different one presided over the hearing where he was charged.  That judge refused to order him to stop visitation until the court date.  Still, the investigator took him aside and advised him not to see the children.

A No-Win Decision

Did he listen to the investigator?  Of course not. While we waited for our case to go to court, I found myself weighing the options of what might happen if I refused him his visitation weekends.  To the average person, the answer was obvious—don’t let them go—but it wasn’t that simple. My attorney advised me that if I allowed him his visitation, I could be cited for negligence by the courts and possibly lose custody.  If I denied him visitation, I could be charged with contempt of court, arrested, put in jail for disobeying a court order, and lose my children.

Defensive Tactics

So I faced a catch-22 decision. No one should have to make that decision, but I did. I denied him his visitation. Each time his weekend rolled around, he attempted to get the children. To prevent the school from having to deal with his requests to pick them up (something they legally couldn’t deny him), I began picking them up from school early on those days.

He caught on and tried sending his current wife to the school even earlier. For some reason, I anticipated his move and got there right before she did.

My Daughter as Witness

The day of the hearing, our oldest daughter testified against her father.  The guardian ad litem stood between her and her father, so he couldn’t intimidate her by staring at her.  Her attorney did not give her the same understanding.  She was twelve years old.  The hearing left all of us drained, but he lost his visitation rights.

Employment Ups and Downs

During the months between the altercation and hearing, I lost my job. I found another one quickly, but that employer didn’t want to give me the whole day off for the hearing. She couldn’t believe the hearing would last more than an hour.  It lasted all day and almost went into a second day. My job involved speaking to businesses, organizations, and churches about protecting yourself from a crime. Here I was dealing with a very personal crime against my children, and she booked me to speak to a group that night. I made it, while my children went home with my mother and my father went with me. It wasn’t right, but that’s the hand dealt to me that day.

Refined Silver (Blessings)

Not everything during that period was bad.

  • My oldest daughter got a part in a huge production of The Nutcracker. The dance troupe she performed with was the best one in the upstate, so this was a huge honor.
  • My second daughter did NOT have to testify against her father.  I’m glad, but she was upset about it.  She wanted to participate, too.
  • I bought a house!
  • I started dating a wonderful man whom I later married. With him, I gained three more children to my family.
  • My experiences all added to my ability to reach people with my crime prevention messages and later created the opportunity for me to work with single mothers through a welfare-to-work training program.
  • My children and I grew very close to my parents.
  • In all that happened, the church stood by us and cared for us.

In each life, we will have mountains and valleys. Although we don’t love the valleys, we aren’t meant to live on a mountaintop Click to Tweet where the view is amazing, but it’s cold and windy, and offers no life-giving resources like water. We must move off the mountain and experience the valleys. Life can be good on the downhill and uphill trek if we rely on God to guide us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does the Abuse Stop After Divorce?

© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

When I divorced my husband on the grounds of physical cruelty (what the courts called domestic violence at the time), I thought I was free. The abuse would stop.

Physically, the abuse did stop, but abusers do not let go easily. When you have children with the abuser, they have an easy way into your life…even if they move on and find another victim for their abusive behavior. You escaped, and they can’t stand that loss of control.

Still, close to twelve years after my divorce, I stared in shock at my boss when he said to me, “Diane tells me your husband still abuses you.”

“No he doesn’t.”

I couldn’t believe that anyone who knew me would ever say or think that.  I had never let him touch me again. In fact, just three years earlier, he had lost all visitation rights with our children.  In the past few months, he had regained some rights, but he would never have the access the courts had given him during our divorce.

Looking back now, I realize he did abuse me , just through different means.

I recall one incident where he got angry at me over the phone.  I had learned to hang up when this happened, separate myself from him. He didn’t stop calling. This was before Caller ID, so I answered once before I realized what he was up to.  I hung up again, and the phone started ringing almost immediately. I had to leave the apartment to get away from it.

When I lived in Atlanta, he refused to set a specific time to return with the kids on his visitation weekends. I knew approximately when they would arrive but not exactly. When I suggested a set time, he became verbally abusive.

He, often, found ways to ridicule and harass me during the few moments he’d be at my door dropping off the kids or picking them up. I have no idea how many times I called the police because he would not leave. Of course, once I called the police, he would leave before they arrived.

So, twelve years after my divorce, I was still dealing with his abusive nature, but I didn’t see myself as abused.  Why?  Because I never let him get the upper hand.  He tried. He wanted it, but I stayed firm in my stance against his attempts to control me.  In my mind, I wasn’t giving in to his tactics, so I was winning.

 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

I stood strong. I did not let myself fear him or be discouraged by him.  I trusted in a better “man” than him, I trusted in God and chose not to be the victim anymore.  For me, the abuse had stopped.

 

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