This post was originally written and published in mid July 2016. I don’t write a lot about domestic abuse. There’s an element of shame. There’s also guilt. Guilt for putting my children through the abuse. Guilt that maybe part of it was my fault, and I deserved it. (It wasn’t! I didn’t!) I think I need to share more of my experience. If there is one person out there who is lost, afraid, hopeless and feeling like no one could understand, and my experiences can help them feel less alone…
I’ve been having nightmares. I’ve been feeling overwhelming anxiety. My pain level has been much higher and my temper has been shorter. The weather has been hotter than normal, and that adds to it, but that isn’t the problem. The problem is that I have PTSD.
I was married to an abusive alcoholic for 21 years. He had periods of sobriety lasting from a few days to his longest, eight years. He was the kindest, most generous, most loving person I’ve ever met. He was smart and funny and hard working. Until he took a drink. When he drank he was angry, hurtful, spiteful and mean. His abuse was rarely physical, he preferred emotional and psychological torture. He was the master of gaslighting and name calling. He wanted to argue at top volume for hours. If I went to another room, he followed. If I went to bed, he’d wake me up to yell at me.
When neighbors would call the police, their answer was always for me & my daughters to go stay at my mother’s house. He had no family or friends he could go to. And he couldn’t drive anyway because he was drunk.
July 2, 2008. I had injured my back doing laundry and couldn’t really move much. I was on the couch watching a movie with my younger daughter. Her sister, who was 7 months pregnant at the time, was at work. My husband decided it was time to start screaming at me. The police came and again we were sent to my mother’s house.
At this time I hadn’t gotten my SSDI. I had no income. I had no car. I was in pain physically, emotionally & mentally. My daughters & I decided we would not go back. We didn’t know where we would go or how we would support ourselves. We were afraid of him coming to wherever we went but we were ready to try.
I spent the next week trying to get cash aid and food stamps. My pregnant daughter did the same. We were bombarded with phone calls and drive bys from my husband. Until he crashed his truck. He was arrested for DUI & released 8 hours later. The truck was impounded. At least there would be no more drive bys.
He talked his parents into buying him a bus ticket back to Indiana. He wanted to see his family. That was the best thing that could’ve happened. On July 11, 2008 I met him at the bus station and helped him get his ticket. I waited until that bus pulled away.
The only way my daughters and I could really have room to try to rebuild our lives was for him to be 2000 miles away. He left a huge financial mess. He left a huge physical mess. But at least he was gone.
We looked over our shoulders for a long time. All three of us still deal with PTSD from the years of abuse. July is always hard. But at least we’re free now.
(Photo from Pixabay)