When we met 13 years ago, he was quiet and shy, and had a stare that was unexplainable to me at the time, but today, I know that stare all too well.
I was 26. I had a great job. I still lived at home with great parents that have now been married for 47 years, and a sister that I always admired.
When we started dating, people would tell me stories about him, most were not good, but I chose to overlook those warning signs because he seemed nice to me. Eventually we got engaged, during which time I moved in with him and bought a house.
Before I knew it, I realized that so much of my life had changed since he entered it. I was becoming more and more isolated, but I didn't even recognize the tactics. All of a sudden, the job that I had for 11 years was now a "problem". My parents, who I had always been close with, were now a "problem". My best friend (and I had always kept few close friends rather than many acquaintances), was no longer there.
I remember him becoming, what I referred to as, "frustrated". He would scream and yell at me, and when I was 5 months pregnant with our oldest, he put me out on the side of the road and my sister had to come get me.
Around this same time, he started the business, and though the business took off, the fights continued to get worse.
At the time, we had a family member stay with our daughter during the work day. But after about a year, that family member stopped keeping her because they were tired of being treated badly by him.
He was always very verbally abusive, but would then make it up with "I'm sorry".
By the time our second child came along, we had a friend who kept the kids during the day. There were times our friend witnessed him biting me, while holding the baby. And I went to the hospital several times, for a broken hand, when he squeezed it too hard and for two black eyes when he hit me so hard on the forehead.
He always had an excuse. Tomorrow will be better. It's the drugs. He's just stressed.
I ended up losing my job, as it is unfortunately too common for victims of domestic violence. He just told me, "stay home, you'll be fine". I stayed home, but I was far from fine. The verbal abuse got worse, and he kicked me and broke my taillbone. Too often, our neighbor would tell me that she hated the way he screamed at me. He called me names in front of our children. And throughout it all, I would just make an excuse for him.
I continued to strive for the "perfect family". On the outside, it was perfect, but no one knew the reality of how many times I had my nose broken from being backhanded while driving down the road, or how many times I had been punched in the arm.
Then I got pregnant with the twins. I was put on bed rest at 27 weeks until they were born at 33 weeks. He loved hunting, so we moved to the country and we had many hunting dogs. One day he came with a load of dog food (30 or more bags), in which I was expected to help unload. My parents were actually at our house and my dad came out and said "What are you doing? You still have stiches and could die!" My husband t told my dad, "If she can't hold her load, she needs to get out". I was then forced to tell my parents to leave, and when they did, he beat me.
As time went on, I learned about his unfaithfulness with multiple women. But if I questioned him, he beat me.
If dinner wasn't "perfect" or if the house wasn't "perfect", he beat me.
I went to counseling, but he never would.
He started pulling guns on me. He called me names. He hit me on an every-other-day basis, to the point I was so sore that I could barely move, but I had to press on. All of this happened in front of our four children.
I got pregnant with our fifth child, the youngest, and he said it's because "my lazy ass just didn't want to work". I worked every day. We did nothing together...he always said he was too embarrassed to take me out in public.
When I was 5 months pregnant with my daughter, I went to Publix to get him a sub for dinner. That night is when he "lost it" because the bread was white instead of wheat.
That night, he took my phone from me. But the next day when he was gone, I finally found the strength to call the police. I initially called just to get the police report and then planned to file for divorce, but I knew that wouldn't "fix" him. I knew he would just apologize and go right back to what he was doing. I knew that this was my chance to make a change...............
Today, he is in jail serving a 20 year sentence and we have gotten divorced. I am proud of where I am today and if I can help just one person, I will.