Happily Free

happily free

 

picture it & write # 37; Why

– bath ..
by ~aida-julia

I ran the heavy wet cloth over my shoulders. The water, although once scalding hot, had turned lukewarm. Scattered droplets on my body cooled within seconds. I was only delaying the inevitable and yet it took an hour for me to finish my bath. I didn’t want to face what was to come. I wanted the seconds to suspend themselves. Despite all my desires to halt time, it continued on, unperturbed. My life was about to be changed forever, whether for better or worse, and there was nothing I could do about it.

 Ermisenda Alvarez

http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/__picture-it-write-37/

Silence of Shame

Dark Times and Long Roads Back From Abuse

* image source: fanpop.com

*

  I wanted to talk tonight about the life of a woman who is verbally, physically, mentally, or sexually abused.

  I’m not really sure that I understand a great deal about the psychological aspects of this from a technical standpoint nor the jargon they use to describe all of this.  I don’t have any training in psychology or counseling.  I am just talking from the other side of the coin, the abused woman’s perspective.

I’m not sure how I ever ended up being with such a monster as the one I was with, but I do have some thoughts about all this and conclusions that I have reached about my life back then since I am now far removed from it and have a wonderful, truly loving husband that has shown me what a woman is supposed to be treated like.  

I call Mark my “gentle giant”, partly because he towers over me by 7 or 8 inches and partly because that is what he’s like personality wise.  He is gentle, kind, thoughtful, caring, solicitous, etc.  but don’t anybody try to hurt me, Sara or one of his daughters ’cause then you’d have a grizzly bear on your hands.  He is extremely protective of his “girls”, as a man should be.  Mark would rather die than ever raise his hand to a woman or child.  When I asked him to start giving me my MS shots, his response to me was, “I can’t do it, babe, ’cause they hurt you and I just can’t be the cause of any pain to you!”  It took me a long time to convince him to do for me.  It actually came to the point of me sitting one night for an hour trying to give myself the shot and not being able to do it (mental block) and having no other choice but for him to step in and do it for me.

Since I have been online writing this blog, I have “met” several woman who suffered some sort of abuse or all of it.  Some of them are okay now and some still are dealing with the effects of it.  It is heartbreaking to me to see these women still suffering torment, as if they didn’t deserve to recover their lives and become the person they truly are and not what they have been told there were.  

Abuser do that to you, they systematically program you.  They tirade at you for hours on end telling you how worthless you are, trash, dirt, sluts, whores, disgusting, hated by everybody, liars, cheats, etc.  Over time, you start break down.  Your self-esteem goes (however much you had of it in the first place) and then after a little more time, you start believing them.  You feel that you are unlovable, that no one in the world other than them would love you, etc.

They program loyalty into you, their brand of it anyway.  They tell you over and over again what it means to be loyal.  Nothing inside this house ever leaves it.  You never talk about yourself to anyone because people can’t be trusted (which does have a lot of truth in it but not in the way they mean it).  

They systematically start eliminating all threats to their control over you.  They make you alienate friends who might give you strength to stand up to them, family members and relatives are the next to go.  When they are done, they can be assured that you have nowhere to go and, therefore, you can’t leave them.

Life for the abused is a vicious cycle that never ends.  They abuse you, then you get what is termed as “the honeymoon period” where they tell you how sorry they are, beg you to stay, say that it was your fault really but they forgive you and ask you to forgive them.  They shift their guilt onto your shoulders and somehow convince you that they are right.  That will usually only last for about a month or two until the verbal abuse starts up again.  That will build and build in intensity until the full-out rage stage takes over and they hit you.  Then the cycle renews itself.

I used to think to myself, “If I’m such a slut, if I’m all of these things you say I am, then what are you doing with me?”  But they keep you so confused in your mind and emotions that you never get any length of time to realize things for what they truly are, insane.

By now, everyone has heard of “battered woman syndrome” where the woman ends up killing their abuser.  Well, I came within milliseconds of doing that myself on three separate occasions.  I just wanted him to shut up forever, I wanted to be free and didn’t think that there was any other way for me to do it.  Of course I didn’t, the angel that guards me must have been whispering in my ear “don’t do it, you’ll never be able to live with yourself if you do, that’s Sara’s dad and you can’t let her grown up with you in prison for killing her dad” and stuff like that…  

To be continued tomorrow

Where Did I Go? – Part Eight

(image source: google.com/images)

*

After Susan got inside the shelter and met with an intake counselor, she was shown to her room.  They weren’t all full, so she had a room to herself.  Not sure if that was good or bad though because she spent the majority of the first couple days alone, crying and verging on depression.

The worst part of it all was not having her children there with her.  On the second day there, she called the police and asked if they would escort her to go retrieve her children.  When she heard the answer to her request, she burst out into uncontrollable tears.  

The current state law, as explained to her, was that the parent who was in possession of the children was the custodial parent until a judge ruled on it.  Therefore, the police said that they could not go with her to enforce removal of the children from their father without a court order.

Susan walked around in a fog for the next 24 hours and then she got angry.  She spoke to the legal liaison for the shelter about the situation.  After a lengthy conversation on the matter, the woman informed her that, since it was a common law marriage, which weren’t legally recognized in their state, and Jason had never established paternity for the children, he had no rights to them.  Susan was the sole custodial parent in the courts eyes and if he refused to give them to her, he could technically be charged with kidnapping.

Susan was ecstatic!  She immediately called the police station and asked to speak with one of the officers that she’d previously spoken with.  After explaining the circumstances and legalities to him, he told her that he needed to speak with his Commander and would call her right back.

So she waited by the phone in the office of the shelter.  Fifteen minutes turned into twenty, and then thirty.  Her stomach was churning.  “What could be taking him so long?”, she asked herself.

The counselor on duty at the time did her best to keep her calm.  After forty minutes had passed, she told Susan, “A police cruiser just pulled up outside.  That must be him to get you, they didn’t radio in a drop off.”

Susan quickly walked to the entrance door and waited for her to buzz the locks.  Once she heard the click and was given the okay, she opened the door and got the biggest shock and surprise of her life.

The police officer was holding her youngest child in his arms with the other two in tow.  “You went and got them for me?!” she exclaimed through her tears.  The children were all screaming at once, “Mommy, mommy!!  We rode in the police car!”  They were instantly kissing and hugging, amid the tears.

Susan stood back up and looked at the officer saying, “I can’t tell you how grateful I am for you doing this.  You are an angel!  Thank you so very much!”

He expressed his concerns over taking her there to get them and what it might instigate.  Therefore, he had decided that it might go over better if he went by himself.  He stated that Jason was quite irritated but didn’t give him too much problem after that. 

The kids had been fed and bathed already.  So there was nothing left to do in preparation for bedtime.  That left them with plenty time for hugs, kisses and snuggling…

Teresa Marie 1/28/12 ©

 

 

Where Did I Go? – Part Seven

(image source: google.com/images)

*

The sound of voices snapped Susan back to the present.  She could hear Mary and the policeman talking.  Running the water in the sink, she splashed some cold water on her face, dried it with a towel and unlocked the door.

Taking in a deep breath, knees wobbling, Susan exited the bathroom and walked into the living room where her mother was standing with the officer.  He turned to her and spoke, “Are you ready?”

“Yes,” she replied nervously, “but you will have to follow me ’cause I have to drop the car off somewhere for Jason to pick it up.  It’s not in my name and I don’t want him filing theft charges against me.”

With that being said, she turned to hug her mother goodbye.  “Call me when you get settled in and let me know what the set up is and if I come there to see you or you can leave with me or whatever their rules are.”

“I will, mom.  Thanks for always being here for me.  Where’s dad?”

“He is downstairs.”

Susan turned to the officer saying, “I’ll be right back!” and proceeded to run down to the basement to tell her father she was leaving.  “I’m going to the shelter, dad.”

“Okay, best place for you right now.”

“I love you,” she said and bent to kiss him on the cheek.

“Ditto,” was his usual response and today was no different.  He was still hurt though, she could see it in his eyes, but no time to worry about that right now.  Those wounds would have plenty of time to heal in the coming months, after he was sure that she was not going back.

As Susan walked back up the stairs, she started thinking about work again.  Since the day with the black eye, more and more had been discussed between her and Jim.  She knew that he would be proud of her once he found out that she had actually done what she said she was going to do.

The officer followed her to a location close to her house where she got out of the car, leaving the keys in it, and got into the squad car.  They drove the dozen or so city blocks to the shelter in quiet conversation.  He explained to her what the police procedures were concerning the shelter, how they would give her a 911 cell phone to use for emergencies outside of it, and about the 15 minute intervals that a cruiser was scheduled to pass by it and check the perimeter.  He explained that they had an 8 foot privacy fence around the back where the play yard was, camera’s mounted on every corner and a panic button linked directly to the police station.

By the time they arrived, Susan felt much calmer.  She was very appreciative for the officer’s concise description of what she could expect.  It had kept her mind off of what she was doing and made her feel assured that she would be safe.

Pulling up in front of the shelter the officer radioed in that he was dropping her off and would be inside for a few minutes.  Then he faced Susan, “It will get hectic when we get in there so just let me say here that I wish you all the luck in the world and to tell you that you are doing the right thing.  No man has the right to hit you, EVER!”

She looked at his young, baby face and thought it sweet of him to say so.  “Thanks” she said

“Ready then?”

“As much as I’m gonna be.”

“Okay, stay in the car until I come around to get you.”

Susan did as she was told and, all at once, her stomach began to turn over and a wave of nausea hit her…

Teresa Marie  1/27/12 ©

 

 

Where Did I Go? – Part Six

(image source: google.com/images)

*

Susan put her hands up to cover her face while shaking her head back and forth.  She was mortified, humiliated and utterly broken by having to admit to her boss that she was not the all together person that she played up to be.

Just having to deal with him knowing the truth was almost enough to push Susan over the edge.

Jim put his hand on her shoulder saying, “Come on, let’s go in the conference room so nobody sees you crying or the whole office will know something is up and the rumor mill will be buzzing by noon!”

With that, Susan allowed Jim to gently guide her into a room further up the hall.  When she sat down, barely able to get herself under control, she stammered out, “Y-you p-p-rob-bably just l-l-lost all r-res-respect for m-m-m-e didn’t you?”

The shock immediately showed on his face.  “Are you kidding?!  Susan, let me tell you something, maybe it will help.  You know already that I have the utmost respect for you.  Your job should be done by two people, not just one, and yet you do all by yourself.  You work with efficiency, clear more paperwork in one day than anyone I have ever seen before, making very few if any errors, even amid a multitude of interruptions throughout the day and, what’s truly amazing, you do it all without complaining.  You handle people with respect, kindness and always smile at everyone.  There is not one person that has ever come to me to complain about your attitude nor performance.  Your job alone is an enormous amount of stress. 

“I also know that Jason is not working right now and you are the sole supporter of your family.  Being fully aware of what your hourly pay is, I am quite certain that is a huge struggle as well.

“Then two weeks ago you come to me with that request to alter you working hours and have to confess the reason why it needs to be done.  It had to have been hard to admit that you were in trouble for writing some checks that bounced and then you couldn’t cover them, had to go to court and were ordered to do community service.  I thought it was admireable that you were going to do it at a homeless shelter.  It seemed fitting to me that you would choose something that was a service to others.  That is why I so quickly agreed to do that.

“So, stress of the job alone is enough to deal with but then you were working from 7 pm to 7 am at the shelter before coming in here at 8 am to do your job.  How much sleep each night did you get in the last three days?”

“Maybe four hours,” Susan replied.

“Okay then, for the last three days you have worked 19 – 20 hours daily which was a monumental task in itself and now I find out that you were doing all of that with the additional stress and pressure of living with an abusive husband!  Are you kidding me?  I now have more respect and admiration for you than ever before!”

At that, Susan buried her face in her hands again as she burst out with more deep sobbing.  A flood of emotions washed over her; embarrassment, relief, shame, guilt, pride, pain and also anger.  As she cried, Jim patted her shoulder gently.  She had always thought he seemed like a sweet guy, 10 years her junior, and today he confirmed it was true.

What he had said to her, which she knew was the truth and not something just thrown out to pacify her, began to make her feel better than she had in a very long time.

As her sobbing started to subside, Jim began to talk once more.  “Okay, I won’t call the police this time but if you ever walk in here looking like that again, I won’t hesitate to do it for one second.  So you hear me?”

Susan removed her hands from her face and nodded afirmatively.

“Now, as for that bastard, what are you going to do?  As just another person, not your boss, I am afraid for you being there with him.  You know that you have to get away from him don’t you?”…

Teresa Marie 1/25/12 ©

Where Did I Go? – Part Five

(image source: google.com/images)

*

After she answered all the the officer’s questions, Susan felt like she was going to be sick.  Her nerves were shot.  She was trembling so hard you’d have thought that she was standing outside naked in sub-zero weather

And that is exactly how she felt, naked!  Susan had never gone this far before.  She knew that it was her first step to total and final freedom.  There was no going back now.

She told the officer that she needed to use the restroom before they left.  Once the door was closed, Susan crumpled to the floor and hot tears were streaming from her eyes as she gulped in huge sobs so that her mother wouldn’t hear her loosing it.  She didn’t want to stress her out any more than she already was.

Susan knew that Mary would be thinking all sorts of worrisome thoughts right about now.  Such as; “Are the kids safe with him?  Why didn’t she do this in a way she could have left with them?  Will he come after her?  Where is she going to go when she gets out of the shelter and how long are they going to let her stay there anyway?”

She could be sure that’s what she was thinking because she was doing the exact same thing herself.  They thought alike in a lot of ways even if they were so very different in many more.  

So she prayed, “Lord, give me the strength I need to make it through the next couple of days!  Please help me calm myself, give me Your peace, let me know that everything will be okay, send Your angels to protect me right now ’cause you know I’m gonna need it!  Please don’t let him kill me.  Please protect the children, Lord, I beg You!!  Please, please, Lord, …”

All at once, the uncontrollable shaking stopped and she was calmer.  Susan could deal with the slight tremble she now had, that was just her body physically reacting to the enormous stress she was under, that made perfect sense.  At least her spirit was calm.  She got what she had asked for.  

As Susan gathered herself together and stood up, there came a knock at the door and Mary’s voice quietly asking, “Are you okay in there?  Do you need anything?”  She must have seen how whiter her face was when she had gotten up from the table.

“Yeah, mom, tell the officer to just give me one more second, will ya’ please?” Susan told her mother.

“Sure, but are you gonna be alright?”  She said that she would and heard Mary’s footsteps walking away.  At that moment her mind flashed to the conversation that she had with her boss just a month prior when she had walked into the office with a huge, nasty black eye.

Susan had told her co-workers that her youngest daughter had been jumping up and down as she was bending over to pick her up and the top of her head had struck Susan squarely on the cheekbone causing the black eye to immediately form.  They all thought nothing to the contrary.  She had never spoke at work about Jason’s fits of rage or abuse.  As far as they all knew, he was a great guy.

But her boss was another thing.  Being a man who drove a motorcycle with affiliation tags to some of the local clubs, he looked like someone who had probably been in a few bar brawls in his day.  Once Jim took one look at her, he called her out in the hall.  As soon as she closed the door behind her he asked, “Who the hell gave you that black eye and you’d better not tell me it was your husband!!”  At which point Susan burst into tears.

“Why don’t you leave him?!!  I never thought of you as the type of woman who would let a man hit her, ever!!!  I’m going to call the police right now.” And then he turned to walk back into the office.

“Please, no,” she begged him, “don’t, wait..”

“Give me one good reason not to!”

“You don’t understand.  He is an avid hunter.  He has guns.  I envision him sitting on a rooftop somewhere just waiting his chance to shoot me from a hiding place and getting away with it!  He’s been threatening to do it for months now…”

Teresa Marie  1/24/12  ©

Where Did I Go? – Part Four

 

(image source: google.com/images)

*

Once the dispatcher answered the call, Susan was transferred to speak to another person.

After explaining what she wanted, to be able to go to the shelter, the officer on the line said they would dispatch a squad car to her mother’s house to make a report and then transport her to the Woman’s Shelter.

While Susan waited for the next nerve wracking 20 minutes, since it was not an emergency they seemed to be taking forever to get there, her father entered the kitchen with a look of mild surprise and a little more than doubt in his eyes.  

Susan wasn’t positive but thought she saw traces of disappointment mixed with relief in them.

“Hi dad,” she said as she stood up to hug her father, “are you surprised to see me?”

“Yeah, alive anyway.  Welcome home girl!”  Susan’s dad was a man of few words unless they were pulled from him in the course of a question and answer conversation.  Still, though he said nothing more than that, she was sure that she had hurt him just as much as she had her mom.

Now that was a whole other story there concerning her mother.  She had no qualms about saying just how she felt, sometimes with words that were carelessly chosen that left Susan with deep wounds.  It was not that she thought her mom meant to do it intentionally, maybe it was just how she was raised.  Her mother came from a very large family, 14 children to be exact, and grew up during the end of the depression years.

They raised chickens for eggs and meat, gardened and canned all their own canned goods, bartered and traded, etc.  And with all those children, Susan felt sure, living in close quarters, there were probably times that her grandmother was short on patience and time to worry about hurt feelings as well.

After she sat back down at the table, her dad got his cup of coffee fixed and took his seat as well.  “So what are doing?  You have a game plan?  Where are your kids?”  He had only seen her two oldest children and, other than a few pictures, not the baby.

Susan proceed to tell him what had happened thus far and what her intentions were.  “Sounds like you’ve thought this out.  Are you gone for good this time?  Sure you won’t go back? “

“No, dad, I won’t go back ever again!,” she answered, “If I did that, I feel certain that you two would see me in a coffin the next time.  Jason’s been threatening to kill me for about the last three or four months straight and I believe that he will do it too!  He said that he’s just trying to figure out how to do it without getting caught so that he can get ‘all my money’.”

“That bastard!” he replied.

“Robert!” her mother said from the sink where she was standing.

“Well he is!”, he shot back at her with a scowl on his face, “He should have been dead a long time ago.”

At that moment there was a knock on the door.  Being more like a rap than a knock, Susan knew instantly that the police had arrived.  Her mother went to answer it.  She was grateful that the conversation had taken up her waiting time and she had not had to think of what she was about to do.

It was going to take every ounce of inner-strength that she could muster to “betray” Jason.  It was something that he had drilled into her head for 15 years, loyalty – “nothing that goes on in the home is ever told outside of it” was like the mantra of her life with him.

An officer walked into the kitchen with her mother and began by saying, “What can I do for you?  Dispatch said that you wanted to make a report of domestic violence and go to the shelter?”

She could barely get the words out, “Yes…”

Teresa Marie  1/23/12 ©

 

Where Did I Go? – Part Three

(image source: photobucket.com)

*

“Hurry up, let’s get inside!  By now Jason knows that I didn’t go to work.  Where’s Dad?”

“He isn’t awake yet.  He had a hard time sleeping last night and was up and down at least a half-dozen times I think.”

Susan couldn’t seem to quit shaking, or crying, nor could she say “I’m so sorry!” enough times.

“What are you going to do now?” her mother asked.

“I was going to go to the Battered Women’s Shelter, I think.  That’s probably the safest place for me right now.  Besides that, they will probably help me get counseling so that I can strengthen my resolve to never go back there.” she answered.  “I don’t know what the procedure is to get placed in there though.  I thought I would come here and we could look up the number and call.”

At that point Susan’s mother arose from the kitchen table where they were sitting and grabbed the phone book.  As she did Susan thought, “Lord, help me!  I can’t do this without You!!”  Her mother turned around and handed her the book.  

“Do you have any clothes to change into?” she asked.

“No.  I couldn’t take anything with me or he would have been suspicious.  All I have is the uniform on my back.”

“Well, at least the people at work won’t know that you are wearing the same clothes every day!” her mother exclaimed trying to lighten the tension.  “I’ll go get you something else to wear.  Will you need shoes too?”

“Yes, please.  Some tennis shoes would be fine, mom.  Thanks.”

With that, Susan started looking for the phone number to the shelter.  Once she located it, Susan picked up the phone with a trembling hand and dialed it.  The lady who answered was very pleasant-sounding and explained to her that she would need to make a police report and then have the officer bring her to the shelter.  That was the only way that she could get in.

After Susan hung up the phone, her mother walked back into the room and asked, “What did they say?”

As she proceeded to explain their procedures to her mother as Susan’s trembling went into high gear.  She was shaking so badly that she could barely take a sip of the coffee that her mother had fixed for her when she had first arrived.

“Are you alright?”, she asked.

“This is going to make him a whole lot angrier than just me leaving when I report him to the police.  What if he goes off the deep end and really kills me for it?  What will happen to the kids?”, Susan asked her mother as she burst out crying once more.

“Don’t worry about that right now.  You have to do it, Susan.  If anything happens to you and they don’t catch him for it, I promise that we’ll hire an attorney and fight for custody of your children.  Have some faith in God!  You have to believe that He will protect you.  But right now you have to call the police.”

“Okay,” Susan replied, “hand me the phone again.”  With that she dialed 911 and waited for the dispatcher to answer as her knee rapidly bounced up and down…

Teresa Marie  1/21/12 ©