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…..so, 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.
EDIT: SORRY TO BREAK IN ON MAMA’S POST, JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW THAT WE ARE EXPERIENCING SOME TECHNICAL SHIT WITH THE BLOG. POSTS ARE SHOWING AS PAGE NOT AVAILABLE. I HAVE CONTACTED WORDPRESS AND THEY ARE LOOKING INTO IT SO IF SOMETHING IS MISSING CHECK BACK LATER AND IT WILL PROBABLY REAPPEAR. SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE