Please Share What Happened to You
I met my abusive husband at Ft Sam Houston, TX, in January of 1977. I was there for my medic training and when that was done, I was to go to Ft Beaumont in El Paso, TX for LPN training. My boyfriend and I had both joined the Army Reserve and were active duty for training before Christmas, 1976. When we were home on leave at Christmas I though sure I would get an engagement ring from my boyfriend – I didn’t. Fast forward to Ft Sam and I was out at the club with friends, and we met some guys and were talking and having a good time. One guy seemed to really like me, and we saw each other again and again and talked more. He was very charismatic and told me he would marry me and go to El Paso with me so I wouldn’t have to live in the barracks. I was almost 22 yrs. old by this time and hated living in the barracks with 48 other women sleeping in bunk beds. I was the only girl growing up and always had my own room. I also missed having any family around and really wanted someone in El Paso with me, so I took the abuser up on his offer. My current boyfriend received a “Dear John” letter, we had been together over 3 yrs.
When I wrote and told my mother this she told me I had to go to the chaplain and tell him I needed to go home immediately, and I wasn’t to get married in Texas. I ended up heading back to Pennsylvania with the abuser by way of his home in Arkansas. His mother bought him a car for us to drive to PA. Back in PA he got a job as an orderly at the local hospital and an apartment in town. I was not allowed to move in with him until we were married. My mother was very controlling and abusive to me all my life, some physical, mostly emotional.
Anyway, things were going okay, and wedding plans were made although my mother would not participate in any of the things mother normally do when their daughter gets married. She did not like the abuser and being a mother and grandmother now I understand that mothers know things kids don’t when they are “blinded by love”. We were married in July having arrived back in PA in March.
It was almost instantly after being married that the abuse started, he never touched me before the marriage. I was an EMT with the local ambulance and went on a call for a woman giving birth right around the corner from our apartment, when I got home, he was livid because I went out in a sundress with no bra, so he ripped the top of the sundress and made me stand in front of the window. Our apartment was right downtown in the business area. I also remember him being mad and hitting and kicking me, pushing me against the wall, and swinging his fist like he was going to punch my face but punched a hole in the wall right beside my face. He was always very careful to only hit my body, he even bit my feet.
During this time, my family was not talking to me and even invited my ex-boyfriend to a Labor Day picnic but not me and my husband. By Labor Day I was pretty sure I was pregnant because I desperately wanted to be a wife and mother. Everything that was going on in my life made me want to kill myself so I took a pack of pills that I had taken after I was rear-ended, the made me very sleepy then so I thought if I took all of them, I wouldn’t wake up again. My abuser took me to the ER, and it turns out they were just steroids.
The abuse continued, he quit his job at the hospital and got a job at Carpet Mart but was arrested for stealing the carpets. I thought I was being a good wife by standing by him during this time. I was still working, and he wasn’t. One time driving on Rt 30 a 4-lane divided highway he was mad about something and threw my gear shift into park while I was doing at least 60 miles per hour. Luckily, the car just shut off and I was able to drift to the side of the road. I ended up having to quit my job because of the abuse daily.
When I returned from the Army training, I went back to work selling insurance but had to quit that job because the abuser didn’t like me being around men. I started working in an office with just another woman but had to quit that when the abuse got too bad. When I tried to call for help during a beating, he ripped the phone off the wall. I was pregnant and due in April of 1978. One night I tried to run away, we lived on the 3rd floor of an old house, and he was chasing me down 3 flights of stairs when I was almost to the bottom, I missed a step and fell the rest of the way. The abuse started in July ’77 and ended November ’77.
I finally realized that I really needed to get away from him for the safety of my baby no matter how much he pleaded and cried and said he loved me and would stop hitting me. I told the abuser I just needed to out for a walk to clear my head after a beating and went to the police station. I didn’t want to go to my family because I felt stupid and they would say “I told you so”. The police chief knew my family very well and called them even though I didn’t want him to call. My dad came and got me right away and took me home. When we went back to the apartment to get my clothing the abuser tried to attack my dad and I had to run to get the police because my dad had him in a choke hold and his lips were turning blue. The police did come to the apartment and make him leave until I got my personal belongings out. My abuser continued to try and get me back, came to parents’ house, ripped off the screen door and back gate when he was told to get away.
The abuser continued to call and harass me, continued to come to my parents’ house until my brother game down the steps with one of my dad’s rifles. We came up with a plan to get him back to Arkansas. I pretended like I would go to Arkansas with him, but he had to go first. My Uncle took me and the abuser to the bus station and made sure he was on the bus to Arkansas. That ended the abuse, but he continued to call and try to get me to come back to him. If I hadn’t had family back in the ’70’s I probably would have continued to put up with abuse because there was nowhere for women to go. I still believe domestic violence is not taken seriously enough. Being a survivor, I know I never did anything to deserve the beatings and I understand women that turn to violence against the abuser, and they should not be held accountable because the abused person is not in their right mind.
How are you now?
I think I’m fine 45 yrs. later but I never had therapy. I do still feel stupid for what I did, that I couldn’t just go to El Paso by myself and be the adult I was supposed to be. The other girls from Lancaster were able to do it and became LPNs. I still wonder how different my life may have been if I hadn’t married the abuser. I recently found out that the abuser never stopped calling my family and sending letters. He wanted to see his son. I never named him as the father on the birth certificate and my husband adopted my son. That was only possible because the abuser would not pick up any certified mail because he knew there were warrants for his arrest in PA. I did file charges against him and never dropped them to this day. I never hid the fact from my son that he had a biological father, and my son has talked to him through Facebook. I’m thankful my son does not want to meet him.
What would you tell the world about Domestic Violence?
I would tell anyone today to LEAVE! Don’t stay because you’re pregnant or have children. Don’t stay because he insists, he “loves you” and will change, he won’t. There are shelters now to take women and children. Don’t stay in an abusive relationship a minute longer than you must leave as soon as the abusive behavior starts. Don’t think there is no one to help you, there is. Often people know a person is being abused but are afraid to interfere. If you are someone that suspects a person is being abused interfere! The abused person thinks no one cares or will help, show them you do!