Nine years outside of myself

I just watched a portion of Montel, something I usually don't do. Most of those shows have turned into nothing but trash and so I avoid them, but today for some reason I landed on it and it was a subject very close to my heart so I stayed there for a little while. It was on a woman who was living with domestic violence. She eventually divorced the man and then he came back into her life more evil than ever and she ended up killing him before he could kill her or her family. Wow. I'm shaking just thinking about it. That hits so close to home it's scary. Most of the time it's actually surreal more than scary.

That whole situation seems so far removed from who I am...and who I've always seen myself as. From New Years of 1994 to December 18, 2002...just shy of nine years...I was removed from myself. I lived a life of sadness and terror merely existing, never living. Every minute of every day I walked on eggshells wondering what the next thing was that he was going to use against me. I had no friends left. They had either gotten tired of the situation and didn't "approve" and moved on, or he chased them all away. I never saw most of my family for the same reasons. Plus I was so embarrassed. So ashamed. How in the world could I, Veronica, be in an abusive relationship??? How could I be so afraid of leaving that I would rather stay and put up with it? Watching this woman on Montel I had such a sympathy for her because he kept asking her that over and over again. Why didn't you just leave? And she said words that he didn't understand, but I did.... WHERE DO YOU GO?

She said "how do you leave when it just means that he'll follow you?" I knew exactly what she meant. If I had left, he would've followed me. Actually, I did leave. And he did follow me. When I was in nursing school I had a huge test coming up and the only one in my study group that was willing to be around my psychotic husband was my friend Scott. He was so loyal to me and I will never forget him. Anyways, he had come over to study with me and the evil one was cool for about the first hour, maybe. Then he started coming in and out of the living room, pacing. I could tell he was escalating but I was trying to be nonchalant about it. Well, he ended up coming in and throwing a chair across the room and getting in Scott's face while he sat on the couch "Far be it from me to think that a man can have his wife to himself in his own home!!! Are you fucking her??? Is she a whore??? I bet she sucks your dick good doesn't she??? You're in my house you might as well fuck her right in front of me!!!" Scott politely excused himself and that was the last time one of my friends came over. I left him that night after he verbally abused me for hours and then punched me in the face. And he did exactly what I was afraid he'd do. He followed me. I was at my parents house and he kept coming around, sometimes politely...sometimes pounding on every door and window they had trying to get in the house and screaming obscenities and threats.

My stepdad and I got into an argument over it at one point and he told me to get out. When I refused to go because I told him that I had nowhwere to go but back to the evil one unless I literally lived on the streets (because he had the cars), he called the police and had them "remove me" from his home. I had to throw the belongings of myself and my children into garbage bags while the officers watched and escorted me out. And I had to go back. I had no one. My mom left my stepdad for almost a year because of that and I didn't speak to him for a good two years.

I survived the beatings, screaming, insults, threats, etc. on a daily basis because honestly I had no idea where to go or what to do. Every time he would beat me and he would go to jail I would beg someone from Genesis House (the local battered womens shelter) for help and they would say "well, if it happens again then it will be a felony and he'll be in prison and you won't have to worry about it. Until then try to find family who will help you." What a joke. I had no family to help and everytime he'd do it again they would drop at least one of the previous charges in a plea bargain to prevent it from moving to a felony he never did get anything more than probation. The horrible thing is that during this whole ordeal I kept lying to myself saying "but he really is a good dad." I have to say that I believed it too. I know, I know...hind sight is 20/20 but at the time I believed it. When he went to jail for hurting Courtney one of the things that infuriated me the most was that we had trouble getting high bail for him because he "really didn't have any prior charges." WHAT??? ARE YOU F***ING KIDDING ME??? Because of all the times they threw out his charges in a plea bargain it looked like he had never done anything. That broke my heart. I didn't matter. According to them nothing ever happened. That time I was trying to call 911 and he grabbed the receiver and started bashing my face with it until there was blood everywhere? Never happened? The time he smashed my head into the wall over and over until I had a concussion and then choked me until I was unconscious? Never happened. When he twisted my arm so bad he nearly broke it and had to have it in a sling for over a week? Never happened. And that was to the courts. What about the time I would only meet him in a public place to return his things because I was trying to break up with him. When he went to use the restroom I ran out of the restaurant to try to escape and he saw me and chased me down the road trying to run me off the road and pointing a gun at me...I ran to my pastors house for the middle of the night banging on his door and him telling me "he just really loves you and is afraid of losing you"? Never happened...he'd still smile at him and shake his hand every Sunday. My neighbors after seeing him throw my 200 pound body across the room like a rag doll and beat the hell out of you think they helped? No, never happened. His entire family every time he'd go to jail for domestic violence? Nope, must've been my fault. I know as a healthier individual at this point that it was no ones responsibility but my own...I know. But it's really hard to help yourself when you feel that you have no one. Absolutely no support system and you're faced with the prospect of living on the street with four babies and STILL having to run for your life because he WILL come after you. WHERE DO YOU GO? WHAT DO YOU DO?

Well, personally I did the only thing I knew how to do...I prayed. Fervently. I started praying for God to "deliver me from this man. However you have to do it...cure him, kill him, kill me... I don't care...just please Lord, deliver me from this man." He did and my heart still breaks when I think about how. I am, and probably will be all the days of my life, so sad and guilt-ridden over the fact that my child had to be hurt to get me out of there. No matter how much the Holy Spirit works with me over this issue I just don't know how to lay down that guilt.

I know this is nothing new to anyone who knows me, it's something I've spoken about many times. What this Montel show got me thinking about today, however, is WHAT DO I DO WHEN HE GETS OUT OF PRISON? My Pollyana self wants to say "oh it'll be fine. He'll have had many years to change and get over it." But my gut tells me just the opposite...and I know that I need to listen to that. One thing that I have come to know is that people like "him" don't change. No they don't. Once an abuser, always an abuser. He never has had any sense of boundaries or appropriateness and I have no doubt that he will try to find me and get in contact with me. And I have no doubt that he will try to find my children. Yes, MY children. And God help him if he does. I was always just as hard-headed and strong-minded as I am now and wasn't afraid to tell him what I though and also to stand up to him. If he was "man enough" to hit a girl then he was going to do it with her standing nose to nose with him...I would not cower from him. But I WAS afraid to leave.

I remember as a young mother living in that situation wondering if he'd ever kill me and then praying so hard that God would never let him kill me when my children were tiny. I was so afraid to leave them. Who would take care of them? And I was the person who loved them more than anyone...if I died young they would never remember me. This show today has me thinking about what will happen when he gets out though. I know that's not until 2011, but it's never too early to start thinking about it. I can run. I can move. I can have a different name. But what if he finds me. What if he shows up at my door one day? I have a feeling it would be more like I turn around in a store to find him standing there because he'd be the kind of person to follow or stalk me. What would happen? Well, just like that woman on tv today I think it would come down to kill or be killed. I'm not afraid anymore...not to leave. Don't get me wrong...I hope it never comes to that. By that point I hope to be happily in a relationship somewhere growing old with someone preparing to see grandbabies and all the good stuff that comes with that season of my life. But what if? I may not be afraid anymore, but I am wiser. And he's not getting near us again. My children will be protected even if they're fifty years old.
If I leave my children with nothing else in this world I want it to be the knowledge that they have a mother that fought for them since the moment of their conceptions. I single-handedly raised them (even when there was supposedly was a man in the picture) and that I loved them each with a love like they will never again know in this lifetime. I believed them when they trusted in me, I protected them fiercely and loyally. Most importantly, I want them to know that they have a mother that would fight for them...die for the drop of a hat. I almost have and I still will.