33 years ago, August 30, I was assaulted by my husband and sent to
the hospital. I have had 33 years to relive and heal from that abuse.
I thought I was a survivor, instead I have been a victim, living a half
life in a world of subconscious pain and accumulation of unpleasant,
frightening and unvented experiences.
I thought I have been creating a life that looks reconciled and healed
on the outside. Seething underneath the surface of my skin however,
has been the memories and feelings of anger, fear, sadness, rage,
disbelief, grief, and shame. The silence without words of expression
and release that hold these memories and feelings, has becomes a
purgatory I have been living in.
That night in August changed my life forever. How I lived is by the
grace of God and the miracle of sound, the word. When he jumped
on top of me, gouging at my eyes, grabbing my head and repeatedly
bashing it into the rocks lining our patio, the only thing I could hear
within my soul was to literally submit to each blow without resistance.
I knew in my heart that each blow was deadly, to wait and to pray for
a moment to break free. Which did come as he grabbed a handful of
my long hair pulling me up off the ground and wildly jerking me
around till I could feel the hair pulling out of my head. Then I heard
the word, scream! I did as if on command. The scream startled him
out of his frenzy and he let go. I ran.
I ran to our neighbors for help. They could see my eyes already
blackening, the tennis ball size bald spot at the back of my head, the
shoe that was missing from my foot that was lost in the struggle, my fear,
my pain, yet they sat in shocked disbelief because I had spoken to no
one about the abuse I had been receiving for three years.
I’ll never forget the look of their disbelief, their confusion. I never
thought to call the police. At the hospital having my hand examined to
see if it was sprained or broken, the nurses saw and guessed my state.
I never admitted to being beaten. Discreetly they offered me a pamphlet
on domestic violence and told me about restraining orders and safe houses.
Days later I was able to escape with my nine month old daughter to a
safe house. I filed a restraining order with the mistaken feeling of guilt,
like I was doing something wrong by filing an order against my husband.
Throughout the marriage I felt guilty if I challenged him or spoke up,
if I wasn’t doing enough to fix what didn’t feel right.
Restraining orders I learned are not helpful if you live in a city or state
where the legislators do not back the legislation. After appearing in
court and witnessing the judge slap my husband’s hand when he
answered “yes” to the question of whether he understood that beating
your wife is not the right thing to do, and after subsequent court
appearances for continued abusive behavior; I left the state to seek help
and safety elsewhere.
Eleven months later I was called back to the state to settle the matter
in court. While away my husband had file papers against me for
kidnapping even though I had full custody of my daughter when I left.
My daughter was taken away. I was arrested, handcuffed, put in leg irons
and sent to jail. It took eight months and supervised visitation to get my
daughter back. The charges were dropped when the judge finally found
out the truth of the matter.
I’ve worked tirelessly these past many years to heal the pain, frustration,
fear, anger and shame of not knowing the signs and allowing abuse.
I have fooled myself into believing I have learned the importance of
words and expression of feelings. That I have created a safe environment
of growth and well-being for both my daughter and I.
I bought a house and rebuilt my life. Everything on the outside of what
I can see around me looks so good. Yet there is an underlying unrest,
an inability to trust the world at large that I am worthy of being believed,
to trust myself, to feel wholly safe. These feelings have colored my world.
I wear a mask of seeming success while covering up what is hidden inside.
I thought I am a survivor only to discover I am a victim. I wanted, needed,
looked for vindication out there in the world of people and things. Now
I know that vindication comes from within the day I believe in the truth
of my experience enough to tell my story. On this day I cease living
between fact and fiction