I am a victim of domestic violence and almost every form of intimate partner abuse that you can name.
Through my therapy, I have heard of “White Knight Syndrome.” This is when a person has a naturally good nature and wants to protect people in danger and people in need. My ex knew that I was an instinctively good person and would help those that I could, the elderly lady that fell off a bus, the disabled man that asked for help to get up the stairs, someone being attacked on the street, a victim of domestic violence, a victim of rape.
She knew, and she took advantage of it. She claimed she was raped one night. She claimed that someone was bullying her because she was a woman. She said that she was unfairly sacked because her boss was racist. She would say anything she could to try and get a reaction out of me, anything to prove to herself that she had control over me by having me fix whatever problem she created.
If I didn’t beat up the rapist, she would say I was controlling.
If I didn’t side with her against her bullying friend, she would say I wasn’t letting her go out.
If I didn’t have a go at her boss for being racist, I was called the racist.
None of this added up to me. Her friends would call me and say I should let her go out, even though she was out with them every week. My friends started threatening to beat me up for something I apparantly did to her whilst I was at work. People started threatening me and attacking me all the time. When I’d ask her if she knew what was happening, she’d deny it.
This is where I knew she was lying.
Not once, not ever, in all times I was beaten did I get a hug, or a kiss, or any empathy, sympathy, or pity from her. When I walked in with my leg nearly broken, she shrugged it off. I went to the hospital alone. When I was threatened, she would just turn the other way and go back to watching something on TV. I gave up telling her. I would either be ignored, or worse, she would deliberately walk away and call me weak for being upset, depressed, down, low.
I was more scared of telling her that I was battered with a pole through fear that this would give her satisfaction. I was terrified of telling her that someone nearly broke my leg. Instead, I told her I fell over. I kept hiding the injuries caused by what she was doing to me. I was hiding the number of times she’d had me battered for something as simple as asking her to sweep up whilst I cooked and cleaned the dishes.
Now when someone tells me that they have been raped, I worry that they might be lying, and I’m going to be manipulated again. I worry I will find myself stuck in a place where I know my heart tells me to protect this person, but my mind is telling me to keep myself safe.
For a very long time, I was running from pillar to post trying to protect the person that I loved, without destroying my own life. I eventually started letting the police deal with it.
That’s when the truth came out.
She wasn’t raped. She arranged to meet up with him because I wasn’t dominant enough.
She wasn’t wrongfully sacked by a racist boss. She had her final disciplinary action because she refused to do her job countless times, and she damaged clients’ property.
She wasn’t being bullied. She wanted to hide the fact that she had stolen money.
The list goes on and on.
Anyone can be in danger of false accusations. The people like me who have suffered forced penetration (that’s what they call it when a man is drugged and raped by a woman) don’t come forward until it’s too late. None of us have the courage to face disbelief from others for what we have suffered.
To all the women out there who are victims of rape, I am sorry for you all.
To all the men who are victims of domestic violence, I am sorry for you all.
I know how hard it is to fear disbelief because I have faced disbelief.
I have had to relive my abuse over and over again with every time I tell someone what happened. Over and over again, I feel scared that the person I’m telling is going to point at me, laugh at me. I’m scared that they will disbelieve me even, when shown the evidence, even when hearing the truth from my abuser, even after becoming a victim of it themselves.
You have broken my heart;
you have cut me to the bone;
you have stabbed me in the back;
you have endangered my children;
you have stolen from me;
you have threatened to kill me and it seems every time we talk you spew out nothing but lies.
I failed you. As the person who brought you into this world, it was my convoluted job to make you appropriate for society.
If you had been an only child, would it have been different? If you had been an only child, would I have given you more leeway so I did not sacrifice your siblings humiliation, safety and discontent?
We moved for you. It was the area, the neighborhood, the school, the doctors. I did everything and gave all in hope that the problem wasn’t really you.
Doctors, therapists, counselors, hospitals; things a mother should never have to say about her child, I said.
In the end, I failed you.
For many years, I was a mighty warrior set out to ensure your health and happiness, but you broke my spirit and I gave up. I want so badly to let you in, but the price is so high and I am emotionally bankrupt.
You deserved a stronger mother, one who could stay in the fight, one who could be more understanding, one who could battle for more than 19 years. I am so sorry you ended up with me, who tried to make you fit in a cookie-cutter mold. I still have no clue what kind of mom could have helped you.
It wasn’t me.
I battled uphill to mend my broken life while trying to protect yours. The spiraling, all-consuming, soul-sucking, constantly being kicked and punched, that was all beyond me.
I’m sorry I am so broken and weak that I can’t afford to be hurt again. Everyone in your world has disconnected over the years in the simple and often subconscious act of self-preservation. But in everyone’s life, there should be at least one constant, one person you know will always be there. You don’t even have that.
I hurt you.
I insulted you.
I embarrassed you.
I punished you.
I hospitalized you.
I let you down.
I lied to you.
I threatened you.
I had you arrested.
I closed my door to you.
I laughed at you.
I walked away….
I didn’t ever deserve you, and you certainly didn’t deserve me.
I dread the day, but I know it is coming. The day when she asks why she doesn’t know her grandpa, or if mommy has a daddy, or why grandpa doesn’t talk to mommy but he does talk to her uncle, or why grandpa doesn’t want to know her or love her. It is coming.
It would be so much easier to tell her he was dead. I wish I could say that were true. If it weren’t for the fact that he is still very much a part of my brother’s life, and the likelihood of her knowing that he does exist is high, I might have no qualms lying to her and telling her that grandpa is dead and gone. Because he is dead to me.
It will be six years in January since we spoke.
The angry phone call that started with me announcing our engagement and ended with him telling me “good luck with the rest of your life” was the last time I could feel the hate in his voice vibrating through my bones. After telling me he could never be happy for me and reminding me what a huge failure I was for marrying someone who doesn’t hunt or watch NASCAR or eat meat and has tattoos, the phone clicked and I knew that would be the last time I spoke to him.
At four months pregnant, I mulled over the idea of informing him about his future grandchild. I decided to do the responsible thing and write him a letter and tell him he is welcome to know future baby if he so chooses. Why I offered such a gracious peace offering to him is beyond me now. A month passed with no response and I assumed he just didn’t give a shit, which, he obviously did not.
When I received his three-page hate-letter, my heart stopped in my chest. All air escaped my lungs. The words I was reading were piercing, deliberate, familiar –filled with hate and such inconvenience– the way I felt my entire childhood under his rule. The words and filth and lies he wrote made me grateful to no longer know him. It made me realize that even though the choices I had made were difficult to make, and the process of breaking generational cycles felt like trying to run a marathon underwater, no one is destined for a life reflective of the one from which they came.
It really solidified the choices in life that I had made up to that point and showed me that I truly have been, and always will be, a better person than he could ever dream of becoming.
I know the day is coming, the day she asks who her grandpa is. If he isn’t dead by then, my only wish is to handle that conversation with truth, grace and compassion like a champ, in a way he never could.
Being denied the love and tenderness of a mother lead us to want something we can never have.
This is her story:
Some people should never be allowed to have children. Carol is one of those people. One of my earliest memories is her visiting me at my grandmother’s house during her lunch break at work when I was 3 or 4.
When it was time for her to leave, I would cry uncontrollably, begging her to stay and grabbing at her clothes as if I could stop her from leaving by sheer force of will. Inevitably, she’d go and I’d be left there with my heart broken until the next day when she’d come and start the process over again.
Eventually she stopped coming.
Eventually I got used to it.
In time, I came to accept that our relationship would never be as I wanted it to be.
She calls me a cold-hearted bitch (which is ironic, considering) and I very well may be – where she’s concerned, at least – but if I am, it’s an act of self-preservation; building a wall to keep the thing that hurt me the most out.
It works, or at least I thought it did. Two sentences in a romance novel:
“She hugged her tight, patted her hair and guided her to a kitchen chair. Within minutes her hands were wrapped around a mug of her mothers coffee.”
Punched in the face by experiences I’ll never have and opportunities I missed, suddenly I’m 4 years old again, laying on my grandmother’s floor, desperate for affection and love from someone incapable of giving it.
A childhood steeped in hatred and abuse can threaten to break us.
And yet, we go on:
I was six months old when I was beaten the first time.
This beating required an Emergency Room visit. When you are beaten from such a young age, you learn that your body has no boundaries, you are not entitled to safety.
I was molested before six years old, my mother witnessed this at bath times…and did nothing. I was raped from six to eight years of age. Mom reminds me, regularly, that she was a victim, too. Therefore, I do not have permission to blame her for these things.
Back then, violence was a multiple days a week occurrence. Dad was quiet most of the time. And then, without rhyme or reason that I could detect (and I tried to identify the cause, to stop it), BLAM! Heaven forbid we did a normal kid thing that was bad.
Nighttime was parent fighting time. From my bed, I could hear the screaming, Mom crying. I could hear bodies tumbling and grunting, from him reaching for her and hitting her. He would rape her. He would break furniture on her.
By the time I was six until I was eight, he stayed in the guest room on a frequent basis. EVERY night he was in that room, I was too. I got to hear graphic details of Vietnam, before the touching and raping.
When Dad moved into his own home, this decreased to weekends.
But then Mom started. She was depressed and suicidal. She couldn’t handle our noise, our needs, or even us asking for permission to do things. She would strike out, smack us with books, knock our knees with her foot, pushing us away in frustration.
When our bodies were dirty, she would bathe us. She washed my vagina so hard, her nails or the edge of the washcloth would leave slices in my labia. She would pinch between my toes, hard enough to hurt. We had to “get the dirt out.”
Dad ran off when I was eight. Counselors had identified that I was suicidal; what he had done to me. He was confronted and fled to avoid prosecution.
By the time I was nine, Mom had started studying the Holocaust. We were made to watch documentaries with gruesome footage of violence. We had to see pictures of the piles of dead bodies.
We went to museums to meet Holocaust survivors, to hear their stories. The same graphic documentary pictures were always hanging on of the walls.
There were never other children to find, to play. We had to stay by Mom’s side, to witness these things.
We were not permitted anger, or to be sad. No tears, no screaming. We could smile. Or, we could be quiet.
When encouraged, we could explore mud puddles or play on the beach and laugh and giggle with Mom. There were the good times.
We’d always been very poor – with Dad around we were poor, but always had food. After he left, we’d have times of hunger. No food, or too little. I would dish out more to my sister first. Then Mom. Sometimes, I would sacrifice my food so that they could get more. I had become the family cook by the time I was nine. I cleaned. I helped with my sister’s homework. I helped with Mom’s college homework. I was an A-student on my own studies.
Mom used a wooden spoon to spank us. She hit so hard, she would crack handles. We had bruises and welts in the perfect shape of a spoon head on our bottoms and thighs. Sitting in a wooden chair at school was uncomfortable.
When she smacked our heads with her open hand, she would hit our ears. The ringing would startle me.
Her verbal abuse was astounding, sharp and biting. She told me that I was so annoying that it drove her to drink. (Subtext: Daddy was an alcoholic because of you, and I drink because of you too.)
All of these things struggled to silence me, shame me, and remove my human dignity. All of these things demonstrated that I had no rights.
And yet, I persist.
I’ve never written for a blog. I mean, I tweet, but to share something so insanely personal? I can’t believe I’m doing this…but then hell, the guy with one ball had the courage to tell his story, so surely I can muster up the courage to tell mine! Single-jingle, you’ve inspired me! Well, okay, that’s a half-truth. Aunt Becky inspires me too; and can I say that I secretly want to be her when I grow up? (ed note: *blushes*)
I know you may be shocked with the title of this. I mean, come on, what parent would ever admit that they would give back their precious little heathens?
I am an eternal optimist. My glass is always almost-full & I can always find something positive in every person and situation. I am the oldest of six children, raised in a home that cherishes family. My parents are both alive and still married. My mother’s parents were married for 68 years and they raised eighteen children. My grandmother died first and when she did, my dear grandfather told me that he would die from a broken heart; and he did, six weeks later.
So, when my ex-husband (the charmer that he is) and I divorced almost nine years ago I was the second one in my mother’s entire family to divorce. As painful as the divorce was, little did I know that I would experience a pain so great, and so severe, that it would cause me to question my very existence.
My ex told me on 9-11 that he wanted a divorce; that he had never loved me. Great, gee thanks you asshole. He was psychologically and verbally abusive for most of our marriage. He wasn’t like that when we dated, or even for the first two years that we were married.
Honestly, it was as if a light-switch had been flipped the day we brought our daughter home from the hospital. He was angry with me because I was giving our newborn too much attention. WHAT?!? Are you fucking serious?? Yes, he was. That started the downward spiral of our marriage. He would tell me to do something, but when I did what he asked, he yelled at me because I either didn’t do it exactly as he thought I should, or he denied ever asking me to do it in the first place. In a nutshell, he expected me to play ball but kept changing the rules of the game without telling me.
I decided that I didn’t want our daughter thinking that our marriage was the example she should use as a basis for her future relationships. I knew our marriage wouldn’t last, but I had to wait for the right time. During our separation we worked with a child psychologist negotiating our co-parenting plan. Afterward, the psychologist told me that she believed that he was a sociopath. Perfect…and I have a child with this guy.
The first three years after we were divorced weren’t bad. We actually got along well and cooperated. Don’t get me wrong – the guy was still an asshole and thought he could/should control me, but I guess he was just less of an asshole. Well, that lasted until he met and married his current wife. Now, I’m not blaming her, but she certainly hasn’t told him to straighten his shit up. In fact, I believe that the two of them feed off one another.
You see, as parents, we all know that kids naturally try to pit us against one another, right? Well, it can be even worse with children of divorce. As soon as these two yahoos got together, they began telling my daughter what a terrible mother I am and how I must not love her because I don’t do this, or a I don’t do that. Step-monster has told my daughter that she thinks I’m a bitch; they both told my daughter that they think I dress funny, I’m stupid, I’m fat, I talk funny, etc…the list goes on and on.
I share this with you for you two reasons:
1.) If you’re a parent and pulling this bullshit – STOP THE SHIT NOW! You think you’re hurting your ex, but really what you’re doing is demoralizing and destroying your child. My divorce attorney said to us (before he would take my case), “it’s not divorce that screws up the kids, it’s the parents.” That was the smartest thing that man ever said.
2.) When I divorced, I made a promise to my daughter that she would never know exactly how I feel about her father; that while I may not agree with what he does, what he says, or how he lives his life, I would demand that she respect him as her father. I’m not perfect but I’ve done a pretty good job of this. I think I’ve called him an asshole a couple of times, immediately realized what I had done and asked her for her forgiveness.
Last July, after picking up my 13-year old daughter from an extended weekend with her father and step-family, she got angry with me and became belligerent and uncontrollable on our way home. I will say right here that I believe in corporal punishment, but only when it’s used sparingly. There are just some kids that need a good swat on the behind – mine being one of them.
So, I did what many parents have done and will continue to do and that was to swat (there IS a difference between a swat, a spanking, and a beating) her.
It was done to get her attention and only after I had pulled over on the side of the road in an effort to calm her down and talk through why she was so angry. I swatted her on the leg – she was wearing shorts – there was no redness, no mark, no nothing. That night she was hugs & kisses begging to do ‘girls night’ (girls night consists of us hanging out doing whatever she wants to do & always ends up with us giggling and snuggling in bed).
The next day she went back to her dad’s and thus began my personal journey in hell.
My beautiful, precious daughter accused me of beating her. Yes, beating her. I’ve never even kicked a dog, how could I beat my child? I may have had visions of killing severely maiming my ex, but I could never intentionally harm my child. Because my ex never questions anything that our daughter says and wants so badly to believe that I am the bitch that has made his life hell (it couldn’t possibly be because HE’S made his life what it is today), he believed her and hot-lined me.
Then, he took her to a therapist (which may just be the smartest thing the asshole ever did), and the therapist hot-lined me. It was at this point that I suddenly realized that if my daughter was so willing to make these false accusations against me, what would she say about my husband, her step-father? I emailed her father and suggested that until our daughter have several therapy sessions and we figure out what’s going on, that I thought it best that she stay with him. And there she has remained.
Working with the division of family services, or children’s division (whatever clever name your state has given it), is akin to having your annual exam (ladies) and inviting everyone in to see your vagina. They invade every freaking part of your life. Fortunately for me, the caseworker I was assigned to work with was thoughtful and compassionate.
I spoke with her on the phone and she explained to me that I was being accused of physically abusing my daughter. I felt as if I had been kicked in the stomach. I wanted to vomit. How could the child I so dearly love and would give my very life for say such monstrous things?
The only logical, rational reason I could come up with was that she was being influenced by her father and step-monster.
The case worker then proceeded to tell me that after her interview with my daughter and her father, she had decided not to interview me. Her conclusion: “This is not a case of abuse or neglect, but a custody issue and I am closing the case.” Thank God – what a relief!
My hell isn’t over. I haven’t seen or talked to my daughter in over three months. While I retain joint physical and legal custody of my daughter, I don’t want her here if she doesn’t want to be here. Do you know the story of Solomon? If not, look it up…you’ll understand me.
So, why do I not want to be a mother?
The pain I have experienced over the last three months is so intense that there are many, many days that I just don’t feel like I can go on. I have been rejected. Repudiated by my own daughter. She won’t return my calls; won’t respond to texts or emails; won’t have anything to do with me. I sit down every Sunday and hand-write her a letter updating her on what’s happening in our family. I tell her about Buddy, the family dog she left behind and how he lays down in front of her door almost every day waiting for her to come home; I tell her about her new cousin Ainsley that has a hemangioma on her eyelid and may go blind; I tell her that all of her aunts, uncles and cousins ask about her every time I see them. I also tell her that we love her and miss her.
What I don’t tell her about is the intense sadness and pain my husband and I have inside as a result of what’s been happening. I struggle most days just to get out of bed. I don’t want to go to work, I don’t want to do the things I used to love doing, I just don’t want to do anything, or be anywhere. I cried everyday for two months. There are still days when all I do is sit with a box of Kleenex and cry all day. Seriously. All day. I hate coming home – because it reminds me of her. But where else would I go? Dying seems like an attractive alternative sometimes, but then I realize that would give my ex too much pleasure. Fuck him.
I don’t want to write to her anymore. In fact, I don’t want to be a mother anymore. There’s just too much heartache and pain. Where the hell is the reward? She doesn’t respond to any of my communications, so why keep up the charade?
Through this experience I am learning what it truly means to love another human being. To be able to look past the faults of another and still love them with all your heart and soul is an incredible place to be. I’m also learning what it means to forgive. Not to just say “I forgive you,” but to really feel it in your heart.
Wait, wait, wait a minute! I’m not forgiving that son-of-a-bitch father of hers, not sure that I will ever be at a point where I can forgive him for what he’s doing to her. I’m working on forgiving her. I realize that this isn’t all her…she’s torn. She is a true ‘daddy’s girl’ and adores her father. However, she needs to bear some responsibility in this. I have to believe that as she grows and matures she’ll realize what she’s done and she’ll be embarrassed and will regret her actions.
I’ve also learned that to be rejected by one’s child is perhaps one of the most painful experiences, other than the death of a child, that a parent can ever experience. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. I tried that…there’s this guy that I really can’t stand, yet I pray that he never experiences the pain and agony I live with every day.
What do I say when people ask how my daughter is; how is she liking the 8th grade; how is she doing in school; what sports is she playing this year? Uh, hell if I know. Call her father. I’ve moved all of her pictures from public viewing at home – it’s just too painful. I put away all of her personal belongings in her bathroom and have redecorated it…again, too painful to see her stuff. Her bedroom door is closed and I haven’t been in there for two months. Too painful. When I go in there I am reminded of all of the love and the fun that we shared together. I am also reminded that she’s not here.
For all you out there that are divorced with children, please let this be an example of what NOT to do and remember what my attorney said, “it’s not divorce that screws up the kids, it’s the parents.” Your children deserve the best of what you have and that includes treating your ex with kindness, compassion, and respect.
I will see her for the first time next week in a joint therapy session. I’m sure it’s going to be awkward and I expect her to be cold and distant. I am going to do my best not to cry. I’m going in armed with drugs. Buspar and I have become very close friends in the last couple of months.
In my heart, my hope is that next week will be the beginning of the end of my personal journey to hell.