I know you are asking, why in the world didn’t you simply walk away? Why didn’t you tell someone? Friends, parents, the police? I asked myself that many times when I was finally out of the situation. I also realize clearly now why people sometimes fracture their personalities to cope with situations. Sometimes you have to become a different person because your life depends on it. Hopefully, this narrative will make it a bit clearer why people who are in abusive situations don’t simply leave.
You have to understand that I loved this man. I felt like he was my soul mate. I had myself convinced of this. He was fun to be around, charming and he never met a stranger. He worked hard at any job he held and in school was doing his best to get a degree and find a good career. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that he had been exposed to the effects of alcohol and had most likely watched his Mom be abused for some time in his life. I am not making excuses for him or his actions but I do understand now years later what the driving force was behind it.
He was in town now so we spent what time we could together around my work schedule and our respective school schedules. We had a few more incidents that occurred which were much the same as before. I soon recognized one pattern of when his stress level was high, he would tend to lose control. I quickly learned to retreat to my dorm when stress levels were elevated to reduce the amount of exposure I had to these types of incidents.
When you hear things over and over again like a broken record, they often become your reality even if the actual facts are not true. Throughout the year my friend base reduced to nil and I even became more isolated from my family as well. If my family truly loved me I wouldn’t have to work as hard as I did, this said when I was tired and frustrated by something from my job. This only increased my frustration level with my parents now ‘making me work.’ Deep down I knew this not to be true. I had worked since I was a teen to pay for some expenses. My parents were teaching me the hard lesson of what you have to do to manage your own finances. However, this fact soon became after listening to his commiserating mantra, that my family didn’t care as much about me as he did. Soon my entire life outside school and work, revolved around him.
Moving in together seemed like the next logical step to take. I was moving out of the dorm and needed to live with someone. I really had no girl friends to speak of to consider. His roommates were graduating. My parents didn’t believe in people living together before marriage so they refused to offer any type of financial support which actually in effect furthered what he had been telling me and making that more true in my eyes. I really believed that my parents didn’t care enough to help me. His gradual brainwashing all this time now had me manipulated exactly where he wanted me to be.
One day I came home from work and he was so excited. He had purchased a shar pei puppy. These are the dogs that are all wrinkled on the face. She was so ugly she was adorable. She had the sweetest personality as well. Being a puppy, of course there was training involved. At first he was really great with her. She was very responsive and you could tell he really loved her. As a puppy, they have to be taught to go outside to do their business and not to chew on furniture, blinds or shoes. This is all normal training for a dog. However, with the day to day living and watching his stress level change, I began to see worrisome habits beginning.
His temper would flare and I now had nowhere to run. Neither did the dog. Unfortunately she bore the brunt of a lot of his temper. He would hit the door and I would watch the dog. I could tell by her reaction what mood he was in. If it was foul she would be cowering and I would make myself small and quiet to not draw attention. We would both try to stay out of his way until the mood would pass. There were times his tone was so menacing the dog would lose control of her bowels before he would even come close to her. Of course this would enrage him further. I am not sure he ever put two and two together to realize that his aura was the causation. I am very ashamed to say I watched the dog take much of the abuse. I didn’t speak up only because I was so afraid that if I did, it was going to be me instead of her. It was truly an awful situation.
A few more choking incidents happened when the dog apparently wouldn’t satisfy his anger flare up. We had been through one semester and were well into the next one and I knew deep down that he had serious anger management issues. The only time I attempted to bring it up, it started an argument so I dropped it quickly. As I watched abuse heaped on the dog for the smallest thing, I had one of my most chilling thoughts yet. What would he do to our children for doing small silly things as children are often wont to do. That was probably my first rational thought about ending the entire situation. However, we had a few months more on a lease to go through before I could consider leaving. So this thought lingered in the back of my mind waiting to be acted upon.
I went through the motions for the next few weeks, worried that he would see this newfound idea in the back of my head. Little did I know what the monster was actually capable of or that the worst was yet to come.
This blog series is from my personal experience recounting my side of an abusive situation. It is my hope that it will raise awareness and educate others about what this side of the relationship looks and feels like. It is a situation that I never thought I’d be in as a smart girl turning into a woman. I was salutatorian of my high school class. This type of thing can happen to anyone. It can blindside you and make you feel like you are literally nothing. Some people never recover fully from the events. I was lucky and can share my story in the hope that it will help others.