Breaking the Silence of Domestic Violence—Into the Light
Last Thursday, Drew Peterson was convicted for the murder of Kathleen Savio. Women around the nation have reached out to me to tell THEIR stories of the violence they’ve suffered at the hands of their intimate partners. It is my goal to help set them free and countless others free by posting their stories here on my blog all week. Here is the first:
After rushing into marriage things were ok, not great but we decided to make things work. There were times when we had fun, usually around friends. And especially in the beginning, we made a consorted effort to have a good relationship.
Issues arose very early. We would have a great day, and in the middle somewhere, we would have a conversation and when my opinion differed I would hear things like, “Now, I think less of you.” The remarks were sharp and at first, far between. Most of our issues were about his actions. He had blatant disregard for rules at his place of employment, and in our home- spending most of his time out with friends or playing video games. Refusing to watch the children. He refused to acknowledge birthdays and anniversaries, and never gave gifts. On our wedding day, he never once commented nor complimented, in fact- he put me down. He hated for me to wear makeup, cut my hair or have a hobby. I decided I could handle the disrespect and simply turned inward more and more- until things digressed.
The abuse turned from verbal and mental to physical- short hard pushes against my shoulders, knocking me down. Threats. Typical threats of suicide, divorce, violence. I said I would leave if it got much worse. But my threats were half empty so his got worse- fueling the dysfunction. He made sure to only push me, hold me down or back me in a corner yelling, “I won’t hit you but if I do, it’ll be in the f***ing face so you’ll remember it.”
Most of our arguments centered around money or sex. I didn’t want to be with someone who has hurt me, that spiraled out of control, culminating in several violent outbursts and attempts to force a physical relationship. I lost self confidence, grew really thin and sick and lashed out- reacting very ungracefully. I was borderline anorexic and looking for love outside of my marriage. I had swelling and bruising from being pushed and pulled- which I hid from my friends. Finally, after a few years and a particularly violent episode I left. After being thrown around, kneeled on, held down and groped-I fought my way out of my own home- he took my keys, my phone, my shoes, my coat and I ran.
The church we attended at the time took him in. I received no phone calls, no visits. No one asked if I was ok, or why I had an order of protection. I received notes on christian notecards- written elegantly, misquoting scripture, saying I should “lay down my life for my children and go back to my husband.” I was told, “You’re wrong and you’re going to hell for it.” Thankfully, although I am very full of past mistakes and sin myself, I have studied scripture and was able to see through the lies. I had friends who left me and some who stood behind me and reassured me. They said even though they hadn’t seen the confident part of me in a while- it was in there and they loved me.
Years later, I have custody and he has visitation. Hes undergone counseling and admitted to some of the abuse. Daily I deal with the ramifications of the abuse although I refuse to live as a victim, but as a survivor. I fight and sometimes lose to the voice in my own mind that tells me I’m not going to be loved or that I’m hard to love. The voice that rings through saying his words “You’re not going to make it, you’re unintelligent, no one will employ you, no one will take you in and no one can love you.” After a few years of nightly crawling under my covers and begging God for peace- I have more peace than anxiety- much more. And I fight off those words less and less.
If you’re in an abusive relationship, know this:
God does not require you to stay. You are strong and I’ll help you, Neil will help you. Call Neil and get a copy of Time’s Up, by Susan Murphy-Milano. I have peace and you can and will have it too.