Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Behind Closed Doors - story of the escape from a lifetime of abuse Part 4

A  Woodlands resident’s story of abuse continued…., part 4conclusion and advice
Later on, I discovered two things about my reality. One, my kids knew about the abuse all along, and two, they didn’t care at all about that kind of quality of life. They would have eaten peanut butter sandwiches so we could all be free of him. The glass I was looking through was contorted, telling me lies, twisting the facts in my head.
Even though I grew up in violence and knew what violence looked like, I had repeated experiences, even after years of counseling.  Most often, no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. From the outside looking in, everything looks so grand. One day while golfing with some friends at the club, the wife of our friend commented that my husband was always so sweet and kind. She asked, “Is he always in a good mood?!” I remember replying “not always”.
There were times I wanted to shout out to everyone that I needed help, but I knew they would never believe me. He was too outwardly gallant and aristocratic. Yet at the same time, I felt so ashamed that I had let this happen to me again. After crawling out from under the rock of my past, I still let it happen.
Thing is, when being abused for your whole life, there is self de-valuing that takes place psychologically. I didn’t think I deserved to be beaten, raped, molested, or assaulted, but I also didn’t believe that I was too good for it, if you know what I mean. It wasn’t like abuse, pain and suffering were surprises. I knew of them. They were familiar. I didn’t resist, but I did not invite it.
When I left my abuser, I was working for a local company making $30,000 a year. I was scared out of my mind to live on my own, but I knew I had to leave. I did not know how I was going to manage, but I knew there was no other choice.
The night I left he was on a rampage - yelling, cursing, and literally jumping up and down like the Tazmanian Devil. I remember opening the door to go upstairs to collect my kids, but being surprised to see them already sitting on the coach with their backpacks packed. All I said was, “let’s go”. Ironically, it was the week of Valentine’s Day. We stayed in a hotel for two weeks while I sorted things out. I bought big red velvet candy boxes for my kids who were then 15 and 16. I had never felt so free and so safe in all my life.
If you see yourself somewhere in this story, my message to you: there is a way out and there is life on the other side. Life won’t be without struggle, but it is your struggle not something imposed on you. There is something so empowering about getting your legs again to stand on your own. Overcoming these trials will make you stronger.
There is nothing on this earth more precious that waking up in quiet and harmonious surroundings. There is no one yelling at me. There is no one threatening me. There is no one degrading me or pulling my hair out or cursing me. To tag a well-known commercial:  Waking up in sheer peace and comfort: Priceless.
If I had stayed, he would not have killed me, but my spirit would have been a stiffened corpse. My spirit was parched of sweetness and hope. While preparing for work, I would fix my hair and let out a laborious sigh. I never even noticed that until one day.  I just realized that I was sighing like I had a stack of bricks on my chest. I remember thinking - this is crazy! Leaving that craziness would come shortly thereafter.
I have read that the same biochemical reaction occurs inside when one is both excited and frightened. I was afraid to focus on the excitement of living my life. Yet I also realized that I was surrounded by friends who wanted to help me. It was important that I allowed that to happen. They did help me. Moreover, I realized that it feels good, comforting and even a relief to accept help from friends. I was loved more than I ever realized. I am ever so grateful to myself for deciding to go with the advice of my friends.
The adage is that life is too short. Being on the other side of all that abuse, now I can say “indeed, life is too short to live it in violence”. If this is where you are, begin making your plans. Make copies of all important documents and give to a friend or family member. Stash money away so you have something of your own when you leave. Have a plan of where you will go and have a bag packed with essentials so you can leave quickly in the night if you have to. Create code words or phrases with your friends or family so they know when you need help. Mainly, find the love that you are craving inside yourself and let that love give you the confidence to live a life free of abuse and violence, pain and suffering.
You are worth the freedom from pain whether it is emotional or physical. In my opinion, verbal abuse is far worse than physical. As infinite as the brain is, we cannot muster or recreate the pain we have suffered. But a hurtful word is easy to access. Pain runs deep in the psyche of our soul.
Validation may never come from your abuser, but you will feel validated when on your own, living life on your terms, free of violence and safe from harm. Let peace validate you!
The victim of this story is of course the author. She lives right here among us in this little town we call The Woodlands. She is someone’s neighbor; now free from the abuse she has suffered from so many sources. Her story may be unique, but there are countless similar stories everywhere. This is the second story of a multi-part series on abuse behind closed doors. Let others know about this and the other articles published or to be published. Everyone deserves the right to be free from abusive behaviors and to have peace in their lives. Your feedback is appreciated by myself and the victim at IndianSpringsGuy@sbcglobal.net or preferably as a comment on this posting. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Behind Closed Doors - story of the escape from a lifetime of abuse Part 3

A  Woodlands resident’s story of abuse continued…. part 3… the second husband
An opportunity to free myself from the past and the abusive behaviors of others came sometime later. I took an offer for radio broadcast syndication to a national audience, a lecture series. That I continued Monday thru Friday during drive-time radio for six years. That is when I met my husband. I really craved a loving marriage in my life.
He was wealthy and belonged to the country club. He drove a Mercedes and had all the comfortable trappings of life. Inside though, I did not feel totally comfortable around him. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I just did not feel “at one” with him. My friends thought I was crazy and told me that I should press on with him, because he was “such a great catch”. This would be his third marriage and my second.
Five years into the marriage, on Valentine’s Day, he had his first outburst. Life had been practically bliss for us, but things were to change. I remember him taking his bare hands and shredding a thick cable-knit sweater off my body. Literally a pool of yarn surrounded my feet. I picked up the yarn and put it in a plastic bag and hid it from him for two years. Every so often I would go look in the bag to remind myself that indeed, that really did happen. Yet I remained in denial.
Looking back, there had been early signs that he had abusive tendencies. There were times where he had grabbed my arm or verbally manipulated me. Once he even said he hated my name. But with all the adornments of that life and in my own “hope for love”, I decided to continue forward with our marriage. The day we were married, I became violently ill. On the way to the chapel he had to pull over many times for me. Inside I was fighting this. How in the world did I ignore all that? The hope for love, the desire to have a relationship and to be married were all so overpowering that I wore blinders to even his most obvious transgressions.
I stayed another five years and endured untold violence, although none of my neighbors knew or suspected what was going on behind our closed doors. My own children did not know. Most of the abuse was inflicted while they were at school or over at a friend’s house. My hair had been pulled out so much that even I have to wear extensions to fill in the back spaces of my head.
Through the years I tried to get help for him. I thought he was severely depressed. That might have been the case, but still there was no excuse for what he was doing to me in our home. After a year from the Valentine’s Day incident, he finally saw a psychiatrist or in reality, what I would characterize as just a pill-mill. He simply gave him drugs as “treatment”. Unfortunately, the drugs he prescribed simply worsened his mania. My home became a fiery hell.
I stayed three additional years because of finances, my children’s school, our social network and a million other excuses. When in such a situation, one’s thinking is not altogether clear. Writing everything here now seems so neat, tidy and easy to discern. I ask myself, “Who would stay in such conditions?” There are many reasons why women stay in abusive situations. If they leave, then the abuser could have weekly visitations with the children, unsupervised by the victim. Their kids would be at risk. For me, my kids were accustomed to a prosperous life. I felt like I could not afford them that kind of life. Instead, I felt shameful that I could not provide them what they needed by myself. But the range of excuses is long and riddled with emotional holes. Some women feel intense responsibility while others feel a religious commitment or the requirement to raise a child with two parents no matter what. I suppose I did feel somewhat disloyal in wanting to leave him; after all, hadn’t he given our family five years of bliss? He provided well for us all. My children lacked nothing. So when the tide turned, I felt guilty even thinking of leaving him. I felt I was abandoning him. There is no past gift, memory or relationship that can substantiate violent and abusive behavior. If no counseling is sought, then one must leave!
To be continued ….

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Behind Closed Doors - story of the escape from a lifetime of abuse Part 2

A  Woodlands resident’s story of abuse continued…., part 2the first summer
For the first summer, I went to work for an insurance company in Houston. I rented my own apartment, bought my own car and felt so incredibly independent. Most of all, I separated myself from that ever-present pain. I was free. But this was only a brief respite.
My boss, who was thirty-five, took a liking to me. I was eighteen. We began “dating”, or at least I thought that was what we were doing. He was a Michael Douglas look-a-like. I was mesmerized that someone so good looking and successful wanted to enjoy my company. I could hardly believe he was interested in me, which should have been a warning sign.
He tried to advance me at work. He registered me for an insurance class to be held at a local high school. The day I went to turn in my paperwork for registration, there was a note on the bungalow out back stating the office staff was out to lunch. I decided just to wait for their return. Three young men, not students, were walking in the back area of the campus near the bungalow where I sat perched, waiting for them to return.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw the three men approaching me. I got a very uneasy feeling. They began to taunt me, speaking in both English and Spanish. They picked at me, and then rough-handled me. That afternoon I was gang-raped in broad daylight and left catatonic and naked as the young men fled. Pain and abuse had followed me from my childhood. I found myself now thinking that I was never going to be free of them. They were following me everywhere I went!
After collecting my clothes and searching for a pay phone, I called my boss to come rescue me. He seemed legitimately upset. Hanging up the phone, I remember thinking - I am so blessed to have him. I waited for him to show up, which he did in quick order. He took me to his house where I showered while he made me some instant chicken noodle soup. I remember sitting on a bar stool, wrapped in a towel partaking of that soup, feeling warm and nurtured. He came around the bar from the kitchen, kissed me and then jerked off my towel. He raped me right there on the kitchen floor. Afterwards, he slipped on his shoes, threw down a $20 and told me he was going grocery shopping. “Be gone when I get back!”
I called a cab.
Being that pain, abuse and sheer ugliness were the norms in my life, I actually went to work the next day. I said good morning to my boss and got him his coffee. He was stupefied to see me. At lunch that day, I walked off my job to never return.
To be continued ….

Behind Closed Doors - story of the escape from a lifetime of abuse Part 1

This true story is authored by a woman with extensive experience as a victim of abuse. She lives right here among us in this little town we call The Woodlands. She is someone’s neighbor. I hope you see as I did, when I first heard her story, her profound lessons for all of us, and you too will have empathy for those around you who suffer as she did. You can learn what can be and take precautions to not let this happen to you or your loved ones. For those currently suffering from repeated abuse, she will also provide you her advice on escaping the terrible emotional consequences and the jaws of imprisonment by an abuser… Part 1 ….from childhood …    
I have a domestic violence story to tell, not graphically to raise the hairs on your head, but to share my life so others can see a beacon of hope in theirs and to enlighten whoever will listen to what criminal experiences some people face behind closed doors. This is about me but for you. Violence in the home can occur to a person of any affluence. I have learned that it can happen to an educated or uneducated person. Awareness can be beneficial to prevent loved ones from being a victim or recover from being a victim of abuse. 
I suppose what I want most to convey to you is that one is never too smart or too experienced to not be a victim of domestic violence. I also acknowledge that the person who reads this is most likely someone with their own story of violence and abuse. Perhaps my story will help serve to validate their experience or help them escape from theirs.
It started very early in my life. I grew up as the middle child in an abusive home. We were a family of five. My two sisters somehow escaped the range of violence I experienced, but none of us were left unscathed by the abuse in our home.
Our parents were hard-core alcoholics, meaning they drank until they both fought like animals and then eventually passed out. Our house was known as “that house” with “those people”. Our reputation for both violence and weekly police visits were well known in our neighborhood. 
I have come to understand that there are various types of abuse including sexual, physical, emotional, verbal, and probably others. There seems to be no limit to what one human being can inflict upon another. I believe that I have experienced the entire range of abuse. Starting at age three, my Uncle frequently molested me for three years. That is a very long time for a child. He lived in my home. When I turned sixteen, my dentist molested me. Having settled the resultant court case, my parents bought a sailboat and cases of Cutty Sark Scotch. You get the picture. I suffered but got no compensation of my own.  My parents confiscated those funds. There was no validation for me in this. In effect, the dentist bought my silence, and my parents made off with the loot.
At home, I was treated differently than my sisters. My fate was to be abused in many other ways as well.  While my sisters were treated with respectable living accommodations, I slept on an army cot until I left home after graduation. Both of my sisters had beautiful bedroom suits. I was humiliated, beaten and verbally assaulted throughout my childhood years. I grew up thinking I was a piece of trash, completely unlovable. I mean, if my own parents didn’t love me, then who could?
More often than not, I was not allowed to eat at the family dinner table. I remember many evenings eating cold Veg-All out of a can. One outlet for establishing my self-value began as a sophomore in high school.  Every evening I cleaned a 50,000 square foot office building. I was a janitor although I never told a soul. Still I felt empowered by earning my own money. So it was a double-edged sword. I loved empowerment, but the shame of what I did diminished my self-confidence. My life was consistently clouded in shame. In fact, when I made the Dean’s List in college and was gifted an academic scholarship, I actually went to the Dean’s office to give the scholarship back. I told the Dean I didn’t deserve it, even though I was working full-time to afford night school. Thank God he took the time to explain to me that my 4.0 GPA earned me the right to receive such a blessing.
I had experienced all the pain and suffering that I could stand and was looking forward to living life on my own terms. I moved out of my house three days after graduation.
To be continued ….