Mama Speaks-True Battered Wives

I was only twenty…my husband just a year older.  We both had high school diplomas, he was in the Air Force, and because I had become pregnant, I was released from my 4-year contract with the Air Force, so, I was unemployed.  We were both E-2s at the time, base pay was a little over $300 a month for each of us but our salary had effectively just been cut in half.  The payment on our trailer was $75 a month, plus lot rent and utilities.  We had a newer model Ford Pinto, but the first month after I got out of the Air Force, we fell behind on the $100 payment, we never got caught up and it was eventually repossessed…, my husband, JT, bought an old beat up Mercury with what little savings we had.  I remember praying that the baby would wait to be born until after the 15th (payday) because we couldn’t afford the $7 that the Base Hospital demanded for our co-pay when the baby was born.

My husband started beating on me in June…the first month that we had to try to survive without my paycheck. I’m sure that the pressure of a new baby and an unemployed wife was VERY stressful for JT.  Trouble started with physical abuse; pushing, shoving, yelling and screaming.  That escalated into beatings…he hit me, violently and repeatedly.  I had bruises and swelling, he would at times choke me till I was unconscious.  I remember one time, he  only let go because his little brother pulled him off of me…the result of that action was that JT turned on his brother and beat him badly, busting his lip and bruising his face.  JT even been hit and kicked me after he threw me into a wall or threw me onto the floor…I was 8 months pregnant…and he was wearing his steel-toed combat boots. JT was an unpredictable, violent man.  His threats and “warning” gestures often blossomed into me becoming his personal punching bag. He threw many things at me, whatever was near, and at hand.  He usually punched me in the face, head or stomach, and he expected me to just accept his actions.  

 After his anger faded, and he was able to see what he had done, he expressed remorse.  I always got “I’m sorry, but …”  “I’m sorry BUT you make me do this, I don’t WANT to, you MAKE me!”  Or “I’m sorry BUT if only you didn’t (…..,) then I wouldn’t have to hit you!” Or “This is your fault, I just LOVE you so much, and you make me so mad!”  And, then always The Promise “I promise to never do that again.” (And it always happened again…)

Garth Brooks has a song with the lyric “sometimes we fight just so we can make up…”  JT was “sweet” and it was his sweetness that came into play (when we eventually made up) that kept me from leaving.  There was always the hope that THIS time really WAS the last time…that he would keep his promise.  His “sweet days” lasted about as long as the bruises did.  It seemed as long as there were bruises or a swollen cheek or a busted lip that there would be no beatings, but, it seemed like only the visible effects would curtail his anger with me.  The “good days” we’re wonderful.  He would hold me and hug me.  He would buy me flowers…he even remembered that my favorites were tulips and daffodils.  He might even bring a box of my favorite candy!  When I was pregnant, he even would massage my back or rub my aching feet!  The “good days” allowed me to not think about solutions to the problem…  A year after my son was born, my dad and only sister were killed in an auto accident. And suddenly, my options to act were very limited.  I had to look for the good each day because there were no other alternatives.  I had nowhere to run to, no one to depend on.  I had no job and no money.

I was slapped or punched for a variety of things; disagreeing about politics, for not wanting to attend his Evangelical Church, for swearing, for crying, and for not wanting to have intercourse. I was berated and threatened for not doing something he told me do, when he had a bad day (or a good day!) or for not vacuuming the carpet before he got home from work.  I was beaten after telling him that I didn’t like that he had visited a prostitute when he was TDY in Korea.  And once he forced me out of the car in one of the most dangerous areas of Montgomery, Alabama and then drove off and left me standing on the sidewalk (because I said that “when our child marries” that I didn’t care what their fiancee’s ethnic background was, that our son could marry ANY person he wanted to marry!)  He left me in that ugly area for about 30 minutes (to teach me a “lesson”)…but when he came back to pick me up (yes, I got into the car because I was frightened!) he asked if I had “learned my lesson”?  I waited till he had driven to a better area before I said “What I learned is that YOU are a bigoted ASShole!” (which I knew I would pay for later, because he HATED when I “got uppity”!). 

Before my dad was killed, I called him and said “Daddy, JT is BEATING me!”  My dad responded with “What did you do to deserve it?”  When I talked to our Pastor, he told me that “wives are meant to “obey their husbands, and then THEY answer to God” and that I needed to be more “supportive and understanding” of my husband’s insecurities.”  “forgive him as Jesus forgives you,” he said. 

We finally were permitted to move our trailer onto the base, where we didn’t have to pay lot rent, but the trailer park was next to the minimum security federal prison.  The result was that the Security Police could arrive within a few minutes when called (on the outside chance that one of the prison inmates were being naughty) but their attitude regarding spousal abuse was not “helpful”, they basically stood in front of the trailer with my husband and discussed cars or football, then left.  During the years I was married to JT, I was the most “accident” prone and clumsy woman in history; I “accidentally” walked into more doors, had more “auto accidents” and more “dental procedures” all of which caused me to have black eyes or swollen jaws! I remember calling my neighbor, and asking if my son and I could come over for a while, I needed to “get out of the house” until my husband “calmed down”…she said “oh, sure!”…but before I could grab my keys and a diaper bag, she called back and said that her husband didn’t think it was a “good idea for (them) to get in the middle of a “family tiff”, and he didn’t want me to come over.  (Do I need to mention that I didn’t feel that I could discuss the issue with JT’s Mother?)

I FELT abandoned, I FELT that no matter WHO I talked to, they blamed me!  I FELT that no one believed me and that I could not depend on any outside help or resource.  Help did not exist.

When you are facing no alternatives, you succumb to depression and self loathing.  I knew that I HAD to pull myself together–not just for my own safety and well being, but my SON’s safety, too!  There were no Women’s Shelters back then…no “family guidance agencies”, and back then (early 70s)  only CRAZY people went to see a Therapist. 

I realized just how bad it was, and how important it was for me to find a solution when, one day, after my son witnessed his father beating me, the moment his dad left the house, my son ran to me just as fast as his little 2 and 1/2 year old legs could go…he put his arms around my neck and patted my back with his tiny hands and repeated back to me the same words I had been saying to him…his little boy voice reassured me “It will be okay Mommie, it’s okay…”

I came to the realization that abusers will strike out when they WANT to  and for whatever reason they have at the moment. I realized that I did not MAKE him do ANYTHING, he made the choice for all of his actions.  He alone was responsible. I was his excuse, not his reason.

I knew that I had to get out. The fear of having nowhere to go, the fear of being alone and on my own with no emotional or financial support was overwhelming.  I had to find a way to support myself and my son, I had to find a safe environment for my son to grow up to be a good, logical and kind man. 

No one “deserves” a life of abuse and  every child deserves a loving home where s/he is loved, wanted and cherished.  A life without fear.

This has a happy ending…my ex-husband and I divorced.  When our marriage ended, I promised myself that I would never be in another relationship that included physical or emotional abuse; and I’ve kept that promise.  I will not try to convince you that it was easy, because it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  No, I don’t “hate” my ex-husband, not only is he a different man now than he once was, but I’ve discovered that hate is a powerful poison that destroys the person carrying it. I’ve also learned that there is a difference between “surviving” and “thriving”…I believe I am thriving, I’m LIVING my life fully, without regrets…(and no, I don’t pimp any stinking “survivor” t-shirts!)

I would be pleased to talk with anyone who needs a little bit of emotional support if they are trying to escape an abusive relationshp….I wish the best of life to each of you….you are all a part of my family and I’ll be forever grateful for the love and encouragement you all give.



18 Responses to Mama Speaks-True Battered Wives

  1. Lori g says:

    That sucks mama, but you’ve come out with flying colors. I’m in a wonderful 35 year old relationship and have 4 wonderful adult children. I was almost gang raped in high school. My boyfriend thought it was ok to pass me around to his drunk friends. I don’t know how I screamed and kicked enough to get out. I decided not to even look at a guy unless he treated me like a queen. Moral of the story is that we can overcome and not let this ruin us. This is the worst punishment we can give our abusers

    • Mama Via says:

      Lori, you have my deepest understanding and sympathy. I was G/R when I was 12 (at knife point) by 3 of my step brothers “pals”…I wasn’t very loud back then…I’ve learned to be much more vocal …
      Congrats & mazel tov on a wonderful, fulfilling partnership! Papa and I are celebrating almost 10 years together now…3 married…and he is my very own Prince Charming! I adore my DH…I would not change a moment of my life…because every decision, every act made me who I am and brought me to this moment! I’ve often wondered if I had not had these experiences, would I value how wonderful my DH is? Would I take him for granted like his “entitled” x-wife? He loves that I’m “down to earth” and intelligent and don’t need “things” to make me feel good about myself…a lot of that is due to my many experiences…my Degree from University of Hard Knocks…it also helps me understand others better! Thank you for sharing something so intimate!

  2. Mama Via says:

    I hope this wasn’t too “Debbie Downer” for y’all…kelly is MUCH funnier than Mama! Wishing everyone a wonderful Monday

  3. Mags Vazquez says:

    So sad to read the abuse you endured ,when you were married, to bad society didn’t see the real problem

    • Mama Via says:

      Mags- thankfully, society has changed a LOT in the past 45-50 years…doctors, psychologists and even clergy are “required reporters” now…and best of all, children are not slaves any more…there are rules for working conditions (the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory disaster will never happen again, thank goodness!) (it’s those derned LUBERALS!)

  4. TrulyUSA says:

    Mama, I wish I had known you then, I would have kicked his ass for you. One time my son’s father was drunk and trying to get into the house so he could pound on me (also pregnant). He was coming through the screen window head first and I was calling the police. I hit him repeatedly on the head with the telephone and blood was everywhere. He ran away, the cops took me to the hospital because my blood pressure was too high and unsafe for the baby, and they came back and took him away. There was a black cop that came that night, and after the baby was born he would stop by to see us. That man was the best cop I ever knew. I still think about him, and how kind he was to us.

    • Mama Via says:

      May the Grand Architect watch over him, keep him safe and protect that wonderful officer! I wish I had known YOU then, too honey!

      I was a dinky little thing…5’2″ almost…and 105 pounds (before pregnancy)…at the end of the marriage, I taunted him (cuz I had enough…figured if I was gonna get beat, might as well give him a REAL reason). I asked…”now, doesn’t it make you feel really big and manly? You at 6’4″…And close to 200 pounds, beating on – woman a foot shorter and 100 pounds lighter?” I was MOUTHY THAT time….

      May you always be safe and feel loved…I’m sorry you endured that….

      • TrulyUSA says:

        You endured much worse, Mama. I was 5’9″ of home grown farm girl, and I had a lot of strength and when I got mad you could see it in my eyes – crazy gonna beat your ass eyes — I’ve backed more than one man down, of course, keeping a baseball bat handy always helped! What are they going to say? My girlfriend beat me up? Nope I’ve got no patience for that crap and if you’re gonna swing at me you better kill me because I’m coming back at you and somebody’s going down, me or you, at that point it didn’t matter. I’m so happy you found your husband and have a loving son who listens to his Mama. I finally married at age 55! He’s the sweetest gentlest soul I’ve ever known which is the only reason I married him.

      • Mama Via says:

        I married MY Prince Charming when I was 58! The best thing I’ve ever done for myself! I’m so very blessed!

  5. Linda says:

    I know this story well, and during the time when no help was available, no shelters, no police, nothing. You saved yourself because of your son, as I did because of my children, even though walking into the unknown is so scary, and it is such a dangerous time when they find out that shit is not going to fly. Congrats to you – a fellow survivor!

    • Mama Via says:

      Thank you Linda, for your comment and for sharing your “secret life” too…we are stronger for it! Our Queen is also a survivor, she gives all of us strength too! Big hugs!!

  6. Twister says:

    OK Mama that was powerful. Damit anyway. That hit close to home for me and I don’t like to go there. I was 6 months pregnant when boom, kicked in the stomach. I was terrified, how dare he put our precious baby in danger. The baby was born just fine as was the second one. The abuse continued. Lots of black eyes, busted lips, smothered with pillows. Man, could I ever come up with excuses for his behavior. I did tell a few people. No help there, just stop irritating him. I told his mother, bad idea. Ya know her son was always polite and it was my fault. Yeah right. I didn’t know how to get out, no job, no money. When the boys were 3 and 5 I realized I could live like this forever, but I could not let my babies grow up around this. I filed for divorce and endured one last burst of anger. That was it, I haven’t been hit since.
    Things worked out amazingly well after that. I got the first job I applied for. A good job too, I was there 27 years. Raised the boys and they were good boys. They are now good men, good husbands and dads.
    I never remarried. Got close, but always eventually backed away. Don’t really know why and don’t care. I’ve had a wonderful life, still close to family and a few ladies that I can call friends. I worked hard and recently retired with a comfortable income. Yay me!
    Yeah Mama, you hit a nerve here, I didn’t know I’d end up telling you my life story. Love you and everyone at RBMD’s no kill shelter!

    • Mama Via says:

      Big hugs, twister….I had a different blog written…but had a huge “push” that “someone” needed to know she wasn’t alone, the only one, so, hijacked my own post to say it…I’m glad that you added your story, too…one voice is a solo…many voices= a choir. (Of angels!) I hope that we all gave strength to someone who needed it…we all know how hard it is to walk away…..

      Much love…thank you for the comment!

      • reallybigmeandog says:

        Mama, I wasn’t going to comment on this blog because truthfully it brought all the why’s right back in my face. Why did I marry him, why did I stay after he put a shotgun to my head, why did I go to a shelter and then go back, why did I take all those endless beatings, why did I let my child see that. Just fucking why. I am not unintelligent, I knew I would eventually end up dead, I guess it was that terror, that I would die and he would have my son to do with whatever he wanted that finally made me act. Why does the justice system suck so bad; that is actually rhetorical they can only act on what is reported and it took me years to report. I’m so proud of all of you here, that you had the fortitude, that you realized that your children could not be around that, that you made lives. I am in awe of all of you, every single one.

      • Mama Via says:

        You know, of course, that all of US are in awe of YOU! You didn’t give up as easily as I did, you saw avenues that I never thought about…and yet…in spite of your “whys”…you are pulling it together every day, just a wee bit more! I am so proud of you…you are keeping your humor, and leading us all to new plateaus! You are a wonderful lady…and we all love you, Kelly!

      • TrulyUSA says:

        Kelly, all of us have lots more stories than we shared, none of us took it one time only and left. We all had the same issues, breaking away, coming back together, hoping for change that wasn’t going to come, refusing to realize that we could not make this work, that he did not love us as much as we loved him, the uncertainty of raising a child alone. The important part is that we all survived and moved on, and we can still love and cherish others! Now THAT is called WINNING!

  7. Love and admiration to all you strong courageous ladies who lived through and survived such horrors. Blessings to you!

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