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Friday, July 29, 2011

Getting Out – The Aftermath

Right after I left the house, I met up with Anna’s husband and we all agreed to go to dinner. Anna had gifts for the kids, and we all ate and tried to act like things were normal, even though they were far from it.  I was worried and tired. At some point the kids asked where Daddy was, and I told them he was on a trip. I contacted Kimberly and told her we were on our way. I told the kids we were going on a sleepover at Kimberly’s house. After we got there, I settled the kids in watching some TV to relax and wrote this email to my immediate family.

Subject:

All,

I have filed for a divorce and have had Brad removed from the house with a protective order. I am OK – am staying somewhere else tonight. 

It has been the most difficult decision of my life. He has been repeatedly verbally abusive and sometimes physically abusive to me alone and in front of the kids. He keeps promising to change, but it has not happened. It has taken a long time for me to give up hope that he will change, but I am finally at that point.

It has steadily gotten worse over time and Monday night he picked up the kids unexpectedly because I was not answering the phone to listen to him rant and rave about what is wrong with me and how I have to change to make the relationship work. I was afraid to go home, but I had to, and luckily nothing happened that night because I apologized to him to get him to calm down. I decided I cannot live like this anymore.

So I started all of the proceedings on Tuesday.

I have a new cell phone for now that he does not know about 999 999 9999. I am going to bed now, but will contact you all on Friday.

Love to all,
Isabelle


I knew they would be supportive, but it was still very difficult to write. It seemed so final. I thought that they might feel betrayed that I had not told them what was going on earlier.  The kids and I spent a very sleepless night.  Three of us, transplanted all of a sudden, and all the new toys! The next day, Friday, I took the kids to daycare. I was very nervous Brad might try to intercept me at drop off or pick-up, so I dropped the kids of much later in the morning than normal, while watching out for his car.

I went hesitantly back to my house, sent an email to my boss saying that I had a family emergency and was taking the day off. I contacted a locksmith to change the locks. Brad had given the constable his house key, but I could not be sure he did not have another one. While waiting for the locksmith, I contacted a security firm to come activate the alarm system that was with the house when we bought it, but they could not come out until Saturday.

Then the phone calls from my family started coming in. They were all very supportive and offered help if I needed it. I was anxious the whole time and kept looking out the window for Brad’s car. It was nerve-wracking. After the locks were changed, I grabbed a few things from the house and went to the store to get some cheap curtains to cover the big picture window. The last thing I needed was Brad lurking and looking.  I picked the kids up early from daycare and got some takeout food. We went back to Kimberly’s house and chilled out.  Another somewhat sleepless night. Saturday morning, armed with coffee, I took the kids to a drop-in child care facility that they had been to before, and went back to the house to meet the alarm guy.  Again, I was nervous and constantly checking out the window for signs of Brad.

After the alarm guy left and I'd hung the curtains, I picked up the kids and went back to Kimberly’s house. This was Saturday, and for the first time since Thursday night, Cassie asked where Daddy was. The truth was - I had no idea. I told them he was still on a trip. They accepted this without question. We ate dinner at a restaurant for a break, but it was very stressful for me being out with them. Starting this weekend and for the next five or six months, I was constantly looking over my shoulder for Brad. I saw his car everywhere, or so it seemed. I had no idea where he was or what he was doing. We slept a little better Saturday night because we were all exhausted.

We agreed to do something together with Anna and her kids on Sunday for a little normalcy. Before we left Kimberly’s, I had packed the car. I was pretty sure that it was time to get them home and back into their own beds before school and work on Monday. Armed with even more coffee, we went to the zoo. It was nice for the kids to do something fun, and I felt comfortable enough that I thought going home would be okay. I knew I was taking a risk, but I felt with hyper-vigilance and the new locks, it would probably be fine. Luckily it was.

One of the most stressful things about this weekend was the not knowing. Not knowing where Brad was, not knowing what he was doing, not knowing how mad he was that I had use the ‘big guns’ against his specific orders. I was plagued with doubt about that decision. What if it made him even madder? What if he tries to take the kids? What if he tries to kill me? The worry was endless. I kept the protective order with me at all times. I had no doubt I had to leave him and that the time was right, I was just unsure if there might have been a better way that would have made him less angry.

Bottom line, I was stressed beyond belief, but I kept going because I had to; making decisions the best I could and moving forward. I was very fortunate to have such good friends helping me, and such a supportive family, it made all the difference in the world.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Getting Out - The Escape

I went home after apologizing for something I did not do, just to keep the peace, and tried to act as normal as possible, but I knew the next day I was going to call my lawyer and file for divorce. I went in to work the next morning, which was a Tuesday, and called the lawyer’s office as soon as it was open. They agreed to see me around lunch time. We discussed options and decided it was best to bring out the ‘big guns’ and get a protective order and have him forcibly removed from the house. I just did not think I could live somewhere else for weeks, or that he would ever leave gracefully if we tried just filing for divorce without the protective order.  I could not take the risk of what he might do, after all of his threats. So I filled out some paperwork and they started the wheels in motion;  we might have him out as soon as the next day. They asked me to create list of the worst abusive events. It was not difficult at all, since I had my journals. I cannot stress enough how helpful it was to have them. Not only did it validate that I was doing the right thing as I was reading through, but it gave me specifics to use as ammunition. I also forwarded them the pictures I had taken on my phone of the bruises on my arms.

I talked to my friend Anna and told her what I was doing, I told my friend Kimberly at work what I was doing. They were both very supportive and offered any help necessary. Kimberly said I could stay with her, if need be, but I thought I would be ok in the house, since Brad would be gone. I did not dare tell anyone in my family in case Brad called them. It would be extremely awkward and I thought he might catch on something was wrong.

That evening on Tuesday I left work a little early and went to get another cell phone. I planned to turn mine off as soon as the papers were served to Brad. I kept the new phone in a slightly hidden compartment in the trunk of my car, but I was still a little anxious he might find it and start asking questions. Again, I went home that evening trying to act normal, which was very difficult. It was like being in the twilight zone, talking about what we might do over the weekend, soccer games, birthday parties, etc. It was torture. 

Wednesday I went in to work and again had to go back to the lawyers at lunchtime to sign my affidavit of abuse that was created from my journal entries. I was worried Brad might see me, the lawyer was close to our neighborhood, not close to my work. I would have no good explanation if he happened to see my car, but I tried not to worry about that and did what had to be done. At that point they were still deciding when we’d have the paperwork done and get him out, it might have even been Wednesday evening . I had been on pins and needles since Tuesday, not know exactly when we’d get it done. I could barely concentrate at work and was just going through the motions.

It was finally decided we’d go to court first thing Thursday morning with the affidavit and the temporary protective order and have what’s called an ex parte hearing where I would talk to the judge and he would sign an order preventing Brad from contacting me or the children until another hearing could be held with Brad in attendance in a few weeks. He was also going to be ordered to vacate the house. So everything was in order, we’d go to court Thursday morning, the judge would hopefully agree to the protective order and Brad would be out Thursday night. As I drove home that Wednesday evening, knowing I was spending my last night in this horrible situation, I started having chest pains due to anxiety. I knew I had to act like nothing was wrong, I knew I was going against his wishes by having him kicked out and a protective order enforced, I knew nothing would ever be the same again. I was scared, but I never wavered because I knew I could not live like this anymore.

Thursday morning I got up and got dressed for work and said goodbye to the kids and Brad, knowing this was the last time I would seem him until the hearing in a few weeks. I was very nervous driving to the court; I went the long way to get on the highway just in case he saw me and wondered why I did not appear to be headed to work. He usually left right after I did to take the kids to school. I met my lawyer at the courthouse and we found a judge to hear my case.

I was worried the judge would look at the affidavit of abuse and ask me why I had not left sooner; it did look pretty horrible from an objective point of view. When we went before the judge, he asked me if everything in the affidavit was true and to state any incidents that were particularly bad. I, of course, mentioned this one. I was crying as I explained it. He asked me if Brad had access to money and a place to stay. I stated that he had an AMEX card in his name and a bankcard in my name. I told him that Brad did not really have any friends in town, but could go to a hotel. The judge agreed to the protective order and the first hurdle was out of the way. I went in to work and tried to get some work done.

Next we had to wait on finding someone to serve the paperwork. While that was going on, I updated the facilities manager at my office building because Brad was not to come to my work, or to the children’s school due to the protective order. I was worried he might come to confront me at work or damage my car in the parking lot. I cried in front of the facilities manager, she was the first ‘outsider’ I had talked to about it and I was very emotional. The facilities manager agreed to let me park in a closer spot and alerted her security staff to the situation. They asked for a photo and description of Brad. It was surreal, telling these relative strangers personal details of my life, but I had to so I could feel somewhat safe.

I got a call from a county constable. He was going to serve the papers to Brad today. Again, this was so surreal. He asked “Are there any weapons in the house?” “How do you think he will act, will he be aggressive?” And I had to provide another description and another photo to the constable. It was all so out of the realm of anything I’d ever had to deal with before, I had no idea what to expect. The constable recommended I not spend the night at home, so I told Kimberly I’d take her up on the offer of staying with her for a few nights, but now I’d have to pack a bag. The constable said I could do that after Brad had left. Somewhere in this time frame Brad called to ask what I wanted for dinner, not unusual at all, but it was so hard to act normal. I was a nervous wreck.   I wanted to say “you won’t be home for dinner, so it doesn’t matter”, but I didn’t.

The constable and I had arranged that I’d pick up the kids early and then meet him and a deputy around the corner from my house. I’d lead him there and verify Brad’s car was home, and then drive away. He’d knock on the door and serve the papers, giving Brad 15 minutes to pack a bag. That was the plan, but of course, plans often go awry. 

I went to get the kids at about 4pm and told the director of the daycare the situation, because Brad was not to come back there at all while the protective order was in force. Again, I cried when I explained it to the director and to the kids’ teachers. My emotions were so raw. I pulled myself together and took the kids to Wal-Mart to by some new DVD’s while I waited for it to be time to meet the constable. Anna’s husband was on alert, too. He was going to be hanging out in the neighborhood in case I needed anything.

In the parking lot of Wal-Mart, my phone lit up. Brad was repeatedly calling. I finally answered and he sort of frantically asked “do you have the kids?” He had uncharacteristically gone to pick them up at daycare and found they were not there. I guess he vaguely thought maybe they’d been kidnapped? When I said I did have them, he said “Does this mean we are getting divorced?” Very astute of him, actually. I said “Yes”, and I told him to go to the house. He was supposed to be at home, he was always, always at home at this time. We could not serve the papers if we did not know where he was. I called the constable in a panic and tried to explain what had happened, I was obviously distraught and not communicating clearly. He had to ask “Who has the kids?” When I said I did, he assured me it would be fine and we’d figure it out. So I went to the neighborhood to meet him and the deputy and formulate another plan.

I met the constable and the deputy and it was decided I would drive by the house and see if Brad’s car was there. It was not. I had turned my old phone off and was only communicating on the new one, so I had no idea if Brad had called. We went to the house together and I let them in so they could search the house to see if he was actually there or not. I waited out front for what seemed like and interminable amount of time as they searched. I was trying to answer the kids’ questions as vaguely as possible. “The policemen are helping mommy.”  They were gone so long, I started thinking they had found him and had him cornered somewhere, threatening suicide or something. It was not out of the question, he had threatened suicide at least three times before. Finally, they emerged with nothing to report. The house was ‘clear’. As we were discussing what to do next, I saw Brad’s car come around the corner. I told the constable that it was him and he told me to get into my car quickly and drive away. So I did. 

I went around the corner, waiting. Again trying to be vague with the children about why we were just sitting on a residential street doing nothing. After what seemed like a really long time, the constable called and told me that a workman was there at the house for a check. He had done some work that morning and Brad had not paid him. How bizarre is this? So I told the constable to have the workman meet me at the bottom of the hill. I gave him a check, got his number and told him he’d be dealing with me from now on. Another long wait. Finally the constable called and told me Brad had packed a bag and left. The deputy had followed just to make sure he’d gotten out of the neighborhood. I went back to the house and brought the kids in while I packed a bag. I thanked the constable, locked the door, and left.

Just a little over 72 hours since I made the decision and it was done. I was relieved, nauseous and scared all at the same time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Getting Out - The Decision

In early January, I sent this email to my friend Anna and my work friend Kimberly, whom I had started to confide in.


Subject: Stuff

I want to thank you both for listening and being supportive. I need you to help me hold myself accountable.

Brad is going to the orientation for anger management today and he committed this morning that he understands he gets way too mad about little stuff and that it has to stop immediately. He’s agreed that part of Luke’s issues in school are related to things at home and that the kids are the number one priority. He had an epiphany yesterday apparently because his cousin is getting divorced in a similar situation where the wife is the volatile one.

He’s agreed to walk away ‘gracefully’ if we cannot make this work this time. I told him I was prepared to go the difficult way with restraining order, etc if not.

I am writing this down to make it real.

This is the LAST TIME I’m going to try with him. One more bad incident, and I’m going to file for divorce with or without his cooperation – the back and forth is killing me and the kids.

He seems completely rational, open, and willing to change right now, but I’ve heard this before – mostly in the last few months – and it’s never stuck. I don’t know if he can really change or change enough because some of his issues are very deep-seated and he loses control so quickly. I cannot live constantly on eggshells hoping nothing bad will happen.

The unfortunate part is that statistically speaking he’s unlikely to change.

If we have another bad incident –

- I will need strength to file for divorce and to keep saying ‘no’ to reconciliation requests which will be inevitable.

- So if something bad happens I will let you know and I need your help in assuring me that I am doing the right thing for myself and the kids because he can be very convincing when he says he will change.

This link does a pretty good job of explaining what I am dealing with.
http://www.womansdivorce.com/abusive-relationships.html

Again – thanks for all of your support and help.

Isabelle


It was just a matter of time. I felt bad about leaving him in the middle of his real estate class because I knew if I did, he would stop going and get depressed and stay unemployed indefinitely. I also felt bad that he had finally agreed to go to the battering intervention / anger management program, and now I was going to leave him, but it was truly too little too late. He actually became slightly worse in some respects because now he had this attitude of “I’m trying, I’m changing, and you’re not”. He was very condescending about the whole process. After about 6 classes in the program, here was his version of “better”.

02/1/10 Monday PM – 4,5 mad because I said he was being a little over-protective about school pickup, said my ego was the problem, insisted I agree – called me b***t, c**t, told me we should file for divorce - threatened to throw glass at wall, would not stop arguing, blocked my way, very controlling and condescending, followed me around to keep arguing

02/02/10 Tuesday PM – 4 – said “negative b***h c**t needs to go away”, insists I have to stop being critical for this to work , mad because I said “it’s hard to believe sometimes” when he asked if I knew he loved me deep down, very condescending and demanding, told me I am a bad mother

02/04/10 Thursday PM – 4- mad about needing “TLC”, asked when we would have sex again and I said I needed baby steps first, condescending, would not stop talking about it, said he does not like me as a person because I am too negative and that I have to agree to be positive so he can change, called me b***h, c**t - said no one would love me and that he doesn’t want kids to turn out like me.

02/05/10 Friday PM – 4,5 – mad about sex, said he was lonely, did not like my response, would not stop in front of Luke, told me I was evil, mean – trying to beat him down, blocked my way , trapped me in bathroom

02/06/10 Saturday AM – 5 – still mad from before, said we could divorce, but I’d have to go to his apartment when it was his turn with the kids, says he would take my money in divorce, says he has a girlfriend, threatened to hit me, says I have to lower my defenses and not say anything negative

He’s now trying some sort of negotiation. He’s mentioned divorce several times and even thought about it to the point that he thinks we’ll trade houses for time with the kids. The kids will stay at ‘our’ house and he’ll have an apartment that he’ll live in, and I’ll stay in his apartment and he’ll come back to the house when it’s his turn for visitation. Really? I told him I would never agree to that. 

On February 9th, I sent this email to Anna.


Subject: Hey There

Thanks for your calls.

I'm still really struggling with when to actually file and move out. We had a talk not quite three weeks ago and agreed to take it on a week by week basis. The first two weeks were terrible - we did not go more than two days without a fight. Things have been calm since this Saturday afternoon, but I'm afraid it's just a matter of time. He knows he cannot touch me, but the other verbal bad stuff has not really gotten much better.

He says he can change and the classes have made a difference in his understanding of what he is doing wrong, but it's probably too little, too late. I know it's stupid, but I feel like I owe him some sort of a chance to prove he can change, for the kids, but I don't really believe it. He may get 65% better, but that's not enough for me.

Deep down, I know I have to do it, but at some level I feel sorry for him even though he brought it on himself. It's going to be very hard for me to crash his world - it shouldn't be based on what he's done, but it is. I think that is one of the reasons Michael hung on so long, avoiding the pain of having to tell me and hoping I would figure it out - I understand that now more than I did at the time.

I will give you a call soon. 

Isabelle
ps. this account is 'safe' – Brad knows nothing about it.

And then twice in the next four days he threatened suicide, among other things.


02/10/10 Wednesday PM – 5 – said I have to agree to let him have sex with other women if I won’t take care of him, called me b***h, c**t, said I deserved to be cheated on, demanded I go back upstairs to talk to him, blocked my way, I said I want divorce, he threatened suicide, to take my money, told him I would call police if he threatened me, he said “I wouldn’t threaten, I would just do it”, begged for another chance 

02/14/10 Sunday all day – 3 – wants to know when I will “come back”, threatened suicide, picked on me about remote, about leaving to go to Barnes and Noble, told Cassie we would all “go away” if she did not take her shoes off. Told Cassie he would make Luke “go away” if she did not stay in bed , very snippy and emotional all day 

That last one still disturbs me. Telling Cassie anyone would “go away” because she did not put her shoes on or go to bed is inexcusable. She was three. It’s verbal abuse plan and simple. Then two days later, there is another ‘day from hell’ where he argues morning, noon and night, the only difference is he does not actually physically touch me.

02/16/10 Thursday AM – 3- keeps asking about sex and wants me to come towards him in “inches” – says I am stubborn, ran out to car very angry when I did not answer phone, did calm down, told me to cheat on him so I realize what I am missing with him

02/16/10 Tuesday PM – 4,5 – said f**k you on phone when I said I was not playing games, insists he has changed and is doing what I want, so I have to do what he wants, much screaming and yelling, trying to get “closer”, very condescending and demanding

02/16/10 Tuesday PM – 4 – said he is trying to get closer, wanted kudos for not cheating and for stopping doing some of the bad stuff – would not stop talking about it, insists I “come back” to him and give him a real chance, said he does not like me, says I have to try to talk calmly and walk out of the room without saying my opinion.

So he wants me to give him ‘kudos’ for not physically hurting me? I think not. Last time I checked that was a right, not a privilege. It just shows how distorted his view of reality is. And lastly, the deciding moment.

Sunday night he had been mad and physically intimidating.

02/21/10 Sunday PM – 5 – mad because he thought I was arguing about making him “feel special” – I listened to him tell me what’s wrong with me and then tried to walk away. He said f**k you and followed me, threatened to leave, to cheat, blocked my way, said I have to hear his point of view before I go to bed

And then on Monday, we had been fighting on the phone off and on all day. He was insistent that it made him mad when I had any slight physical reaction to his behavior, eye rolling, etc and that if I would just stop doing it, he would be able to stop being abusive. Classic blame and denial.

02/22/10 Monday afternoon – 5 – mad because I said he needs to stop doing his stuff so I won’t physically react, called numerous times and insisted I have to change and that I am abusive, said “this will go on until midnight unless you apologize sincerely and agree to change” 

I decided to get the kids and go to a hotel, he was not getting better, I was very upset, and I could tell he was very angry. I was afraid what would happen if I went home.   He meant it when he said "this will go on until midnight".   

I always picked up the kids from daycare, unless I had some work event, which was very rare. At about 4:30pm, he called from home and had the kids with him, he put them on the phone to say ‘hi’. I felt sick to my stomach. I’m pretty sure he sensed I might have another plan, because he’d never done anything like that before. I think it was a veiled threat, as in “I’ve got the kids, ha,ha”. I’ll never know for sure.

I went into Kimberly’s office crying. I told her - this is it, I’m done with him. I can’t keep living like this. I was scared to death and yet I had to go home, I could not leave the kids with him. I had to swallow my pride and apologize, even though I was not wrong, just to keep the peace. I apologized on the phone and went home knowing I was going to file for divorce as soon as possible.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Getting Out - The Preparation

January started off like this.

01/03/10 Sunday PM – 5+ - mad because I was “snippy”, would not let me leave room or stop arguing insisted I admit that I was “wrong” for not communicating how I felt when he asked me if I needed space – threw drink at me and I fell and hit my elbow hard, Cassie was there, came in to finish argument when I was putting Cassie down and would not leave, insisted we finish, lectured and talked and would not let me go to sleep – threatened to kill me if we divorce

01/04/10 Monday AM – 4,5 told me he was still angry because I would not listen, told me I was a horrible, rude person and that I do not take responsibility for my actions, accidentally hit me really hard in the face when he was trying to get the coffee out of my hand


01/05/10 Tuesday PM – 5+ - mad about sex, mad about email I send about how to handle Luke’s lying, called me a b***h several times in front of kids. Threatened to kill me in front of Cassie, told me he hated me, I was ugly, didn’t know why he ever married me or had sex with me. Threatened to hit me if I got off the bed – put his hand on my mouth, kept me from putting Cassie to bed for 20-25 minutes, would not let me go to sleep, forced me to apologize for being wrong and for not doing what I agreed to about the email for lying, threatened to take kids away

Obviously Brad was not going to go quietly. Right after this, he started the batterers’ intervention program and I was very torn. On the one hand, I was done. I wanted him gone. On the other hand, if he could be ‘fixed’, I thought it might be better for the kids, even if it was not better for me. I knew he would be a jerk to be divorced from, and I felt like I had to give him a chance, even if I did not want to. 

Also, he had finally agreed to get back to work after more than two years with zero income. He was going to class to become a real estate agent; and, he started paying lip service to modifying his behavior and being less abusive. It was clear-cut to him that touching me violently was not acceptable. But he did not really understand that the verbal abuse was wrong, or even what it was, and still continued to physically intimidate me and threaten physical violence.

01/11/10 Monday PM – 4,5 mad about sex and because I said I felt uncomfortable with the two incidents over the weekend, very angry, called me c**t, b***h, threatened to hit me, told me he wold cheat if I did not agree to what he wanted with sex, said he does not like me and does not want to be with me

So he said he does not like me and does not want to be with me, and yet he does not want to get divorced, and says he will kill me to prevent it. Hmm. I even said I one point that I was having a hard time getting energetic about fixing a relationship with a man that had told me in no uncertain terms that he did not want to be with me. He didn’t get it.

He sort of tried, and thought he was being ‘nicer’ because he had not physically touched me, but then he got really mad again. (This was after three sessions of the battering prevention program.)

01/20/11 Wednesday – 3,4 Said I was “distant”, threatened to throw chair, very demanding and demeaning, would not let me leave room, called me a b***h . Mad later because I did not totally agree with Luke plan – called me an idiot and immature, kept going on about ‘distance’ and said I was being a b***h and had to be nice to him, said “old Brad is back

I love it. “Old Brad is back.” He had tried for less than two weeks. At this point I had set up an appointment with a lawyer to explore my options and he found out somehow, from checking my cell phone records, I think. It was horrible and precipitated the next violent incident.

01/22/10 Friday PM - 5+ - held me down, held me against bookcase – would not let me leave, threw snuff can at me, very demeaning and condescending, threatened to hit me, kill me, mad about lawyer

"Old Brad" was indeed back.  He never really left. Sometime around here I got a separate email account that he knew nothing about, and I got a post office box as well. I figured I might need to send bills or lawyer documents there. Luckily, I already had a separate bank account that my paycheck went to, and that he did not have access to.

I also went to see a lawyer for the second time to explore my options. They were basically:

1) Leave him, file for divorce, and stay somewhere else until a 'temporary orders' hearing could be held, after which I would probably be allowed to live in the house with the kids and he would effectively be ‘kicked out’ until the final divorce decree. It might take two or three weeks before the temporary orders hearing could be held.

2) Bring out the big guns. Get a protective order based on his abusive behavior and have him forcibly removed from the house until the temporary orders hearing could be held.

I didn’t like either of my options.  I started looking on the Internet for places to stay, hotels or temporary apartments. They all seemed prohibitively expensive and not nice for the kids. Bringing out the big guns was equally unappealing because Brad had repeatedly told me he wanted an ‘uncontested divorce’ and ‘no restraining orders’. He said he would go quietly if I cooperated and we agreed to the divorce terms nicely, but if I played hard ball and got a restraining order, he would try to take the kids and all my money. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. His behavior was clearly manipulative, and I did not know how seriously to take his threats, but I had to assume the worst and decide what to do. My vague plan was to come home from work in the middle of the day and pack, and leave when he was in class. This was the first opportunity, in two years, that I would be able to know he was not at home.

He knew he was not supposed to hurt me physically, but he truly did not understand what all he was doing wrong. Three days in a row at the end of the month:

01/26/10 Tuesday PM – 1,2 said I was rude because I did not thank him after he helped me with Luke, later said I did not listen and did not answer his questions or communicate effectively because of email I sent, very condescending about how I could talk, said I have two chances to answer correctly and the third time I get condescending whether I like it or not, says we’ll get divorced if he can’t express how he feels, raised voice

01/27/10 Wednesday PM – 5 – mad because I said yesterday was not a “good day”, would not let me leave room, threatened to throw a glass at floor, trapped me in laundry room, insisted he was right about email and that I was condescending on Tuesday, followed me around and would not let me go to sleep

01/28/10 Thursday AM - - 2 – said we could get divorced, but he wanted sex every day for 2-3 weeks, insisted he was right and I was wrong


So he threatened to throw a glass on the floor, instead of at me. He honestly thought this was progress. The one good side effect of the battering intervention program was that for the hour and a half he was there, I could relax. Not worrying about a fight starting, not worrying about him calling me to argue with me or accuse me of something. For a few moments I was truly happy to be at home spending time with my kids. This in and of itself was a pretty big eye-opener for me. I finally realized what a horrible burden it was to be married to him.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Year in Review 2009

As I read through my journal for 2009, it struck me just how much Brad projected onto me. I was wrong, I was cheating, I was lying, I was rude, I was immature, I couldn’t communicate, I was mean, I was controlling, I was abusive, and most importantly, I have to change. It never stopped. This article is a very good example of what living with Brad was like. Two sections I particularly like in this respect:

"It is almost impossible to describe the feeling of confusion that the victim of Narcissistic abuse feels when they not only have to endure the abuse, but be accused of being the abuser as well. It is like falling down the rabbit hole, where up is down and right is wrong."

"There are many examples of this type of behavior in the Narcissistic relationship, but none so egregious as the treatment of the battered wife, who is constantly told that the reason for her punishment is some imagined transgression. The batterer could not possibly take responsibility for his anger, because that would be admitting error."

One of his favorite phrases was “just listen to my words.” I’m not exactly sure what he meant, but I think the point was that I was not to try to interpret what he said and answer the question exactly as stated. The problem was his questions were often nonsensical, or were traps. He would get mad and rant and rave if I did not answer correctly, and tell me how I was wrong and it would all be good if I would change, and I had to apologize and promise not to do it again, ad infinitum.

It’s very hard to be quiet and listen to this type of stuff over and over and over again. I’m not proud that I occasionally screamed back at him, but I am proud that I never lashed out physically or verbally at him. Everything I screamed back at him was factual, like “I ALREADY ANSWERED YOUR QUESTION!” I would sometimes leave and drive around the block to get away, I was often crying, but I could never stay away for long because of the kids. I did not trust him with them.  He would obsessively call my phone when I was gone until I answered. When I answered the phone, the verbal abuse and threats continued. It was a no win situation for me.

Was Brad paranoid, narcissistic, bi-polar, borderline personality, a sex addict? Some combination thereof? I’m going with at least three of the five. But by the end of the year I realized it didn’t really matter. He was dangerous to me and to my children and I had to get out.

The single worst violent incident occurred in June and I kept coming back to that over and over in my mind. Any time he would be nice, I would think “but what about the time you tried to kill me?” I could not let it go, and that was a good thing. By November, with so many violent days in a row, I knew I had to do something. I had to get out safely, I could not take his death threats lightly. So I started thinking about the best way to leave.

I just wanted him to leave gracefully, but I was pretty sure that would never happen. He kept saying that we would have to get divorced. Then I would tell him to go ahead and leave. He never did, though, because it was all a bluff on his part. He threatened me with divorce because he thought I did not want it, but he was wrong.  He had an image in his mind of the perfect family and thought that if I would just do what he wanted, it would all be better. All of his tactics were designed to make me feel bad enough about myself that I would feel I had to stay with him. He never thought I’d have the nerve to leave him, but he was wrong. Even though I didn’t really want to break up the family, I realized over the course of this year that it was unavoidable. He got more abusive as he sensed he was losing control and I was slipping away, and he thought that would work, but he was wrong.

Friday, July 22, 2011

It’s all my fault

Even Brad knew that something had to change; he knew we could not continue like this. Sometime in late November we started seeing a counselor together, which I’ve often read is completely wrong for an abusive marriage. The abuser acts charming and tries to turn the therapist against his victim, or gets angrier at the victim for what was said in the session and the victim pays for it later at home. It was pretty much torture for me at first, because I had to act like I wanted to patch things up, but I really did not. I had one foot out the door and was just trying to get through the holidays.

We went to the counselor and discussed some milestones. For the next week no violence, or threats of violence, and we were not to talk about anything that might upset either of us, except during our sessions.  She also got him to agree to go to a battering intervention program at a local shelter. And he said he would leave the house if he felt too angry to control himself.   She agreed with me (yeah) that I should not have sex with him while he was still abusive. That did not sit well with Brad at all. I was just so glad to feel vindicated that his behavior and attitudes were all wrong.

In spite of his heightened awareness, there were still several incidents. On December 3rd he was supposed to go to his first session at the battering intervention program, and I think it was weighing heavily on him; he didn’t really want to go. He was having some physical complaint that he said at one point was a kidney stone, but also tried to blame it on me by saying he had some sexually transmitted disease that I had given him. This is how it unfolded.

12/02/09 Wednesday PM – 4 – after lunch – mad I did not tell him I would be in meetings all day - went to lunch with others and I think he was jealous. Later started conversation about my lack of passion and lack of willingness to change my behavior and give him what he wants – accused me of cheating, giving him an STD, told him we should not talk about it, but he insisted, called me a c**t, I left, he called and I let him rant, insisted I need to commit, insisted I was cheating, told me he would cheat if I did not meet his demands, told kids I was a bad person, told me he wished I died in the snowstorm Friday evening

12/03/09 Thursday afternoon/PM – 5+ - still mad from Wednesday, mad about lunch and that I did not properly admit my guilt, told me he had to vent and I had to listen – told me not to come home because I would not say what he wanted sincerely – when I came home he was still very mad, insisted on talking about it - trapped me in master closet - shoved me after grabbing my arm really hardyelled b***h at Cassie and told her to go away because he had me trapped in the closet – told kids he was going to beat me and that they would see blood, would not go to hotel as I asked, I did not call 911 because he was hurting from a kidney stone 

What a joke that kidney stone was. In reviewing the medical records later online, I could find no evidence that he had been to a doctor. He told me he went to a doctor that day, and that he had been given some mediation. I know now it was all a lie. I don’t doubt he was in some pain, but it was more likely emotional pain and not physical pain. He couldn’t face his demons at the batterers’ program.

For the next 10 days there was no actual violence, but he continued to focus on what I had to do to change. Here are some choice items:

said we’d have to get divorced if I won’t got to therapy to fix my “issues”
says I keep ‘making excuses’ when I’m wrong
told Cassie to tell me to stop fighting and that it’s all my fault
says I focus on the past, we have to focus on the future
told me I have to change how I give directions so he won’t get mad


 And then this:

12/15/09 Tuesday AM – 5+ - still mad from before, told me I had to agree to let him cheat or give him what he wants or divorce, threatened to hit me, trapped me in laundry room, shoved me, told me to call 911 because there was going to be blood, threatened to kill me, told me we would do 1 year without sex and that is was his idea

Right back to his old tricks. Even the therapy itself became an issue, he was upset about what I brought up in front of the counselor and later he threatened not to go. One time he even started verbally abusing me in front of the counselor and she had to stop him. The real problem was he kept focusing on what I had to change to make things better, not on what he had to change

12/19/09 Saturday afternoon – 4 - mad because I brought up that I felt defensive when he called me at the gym and asked “where are you?”, “where did you go?” – his answer was very flippant, then he demanded an apology for bringing it up those things in front of counselor, even though he said I did not communicate enough about my feelings – said he did not care about my feelings – called me a b***h, said I was playing victim when I tried to leave - called me later and insisted I apologize

12/30/09 Wednesday - 4,5 – mad about sex – says I’m playing a “game” and that I did not “act” like I wanted it yesterday when he insisted we have sex, he begged and I let him, but did not show enough emotion, yelled and told me I have to do what he wants , told me he does not care about me, very condescending and demeaning during the conversation, says he will cheat if I don’t agree to his demands, said “shut up b***h” on the phone – told me I deserved it because I won’t engage or talk to him, insists I have to tell him what he is waiting for, says I will be sorry when this does not work, insists I’m “playing games”, - later at home said he did not like me because I would not ‘listen’ and that I only wanted things my way – said he would not help with kids – made snide remarks about me to Luke – told me he is not going to therapy


His behavior towards the kids is reprehensible and his attitude that he somehow gets out of any kid duty unless I do what he wants is completely ridiculous.  In his mind, however, it makes perfect sense.

Overall, I suppose there was less actual violence in December. But there was still a lot of intimidation and no real attitude change on his part. It was still all my fault, and if I would just change the way he wanted it would be all good.   

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

November from Hell

Brad often threatened to divorce me and apparently I brought it up in late October in the midst of an argument with the following results.

10/29/09 Thursday PM – 5+ - mad because I would not agree to sex 3 times a week, I told him I want DV and he got very angry – shoved me in chest, twisted and held my wrist, shoved me into refrigerator, threw phone to keep me from calling 911, begged me to forgive him, said I had to give regular sex and everything will be fine 

Perhaps he sensed I was really serious this time about divorce and that’s what precipitated the most consistently violent period in our marriage.  Perhaps it was because I had told him (at his suggestion) that I wanted to go 30 days without incident before resuming our sexual relationship. I’ll never know for sure.  The following excerpt is every entry from my journal for this six day period in early November.

11/02/09 Monday PM – 5+ - mad because I did not act agreeable enough when I said “we can do it” when he asked about sex that I had said we could do today (I had agreed on Sunday) called me the worst f***ing wife ever in front of kids when I said that. Continued to fight and insist that I not show my true feelings about sex – would not stop talking about it when I asked him to, would not let me leave room, threatened to cheat, told me I was cheating, insisted I change clothes to prevent being ‘sexy’ if I was not going to give him sex – choked me

11/03/09 Tuesday AM – 5+ - choked me when I said we would have to divorce, was mean before that and said I deserved to be treated mean if I would not have sex for 30 days

11/03/09 Tuesday PM- 5+ - still mad, told me he had a date with lady at tanning place on his birthday – slapped me and pushed me against counter in kids bathroom because he thought I was ‘lying’ when I said he shoved me earlier in our bedroom – Cassie saw it, keeps insisting I agree to 3 or 4 times a week after the 30 days is up, or keeps pushing for him to be able to go ‘outside’ since I won’t meet his needs

11/04/09 Wednesday PM – 5+ hit me in head because I said divorce after he threatened to cheat because I would not give him sex for 30 days, basically threatened, manipulated and bullied me until I agreed to give up on the 30 days, would not leave room or let me call 911 – kids saw a lot of the arguing, he would not stop – told me “you have to give an answer before I will stop” told me I have to commit to treating him like a man and be a woman for him or he will cheat, threatened to kill me, get custody of kids, half my money



11/05/09 Thursday - 5 – mad about therapy - he threatened me that I cannot go to therapy myself – we have to go together or get divorced and I would not answer, told me I don’t make commitments, argued all the way home in the car, said I have to say “yes or no” when he asks me to go to therapy – forced me to agree to ‘be in charge’ and have him submit to me – says he has to know where he stands and I have to tell him what to do

11/06/09 Friday – 5+ - said I was ‘distant’ when I was sitting on couch – that I had to commit to him – long argument would not let me go to sleep, choked me, hit me really hard in the head, left bruise on my chest, threatened to cheat if I don’t take care of his needs

11/07/09 Saturday – 4- said he just wants to feel special, would not let me put kids to bed, threatened to cheat – would not accept my agreements, kept insisting I had not agreed to anything, went on for hours, yelled and called me b***h, c**t, told me I was the reason none of my previous relationships worked out

Note how it seems to get worse when I mention divorce. It’s like he sees it slipping away and so he gets more aggressive to prevent the inevitable (at least in his mind). At this point I decided to see a therapist because I was so stressed from dealing with him, I felt like I was going crazy.  I had to have some rational person validate my thoughts and feelings.   He was very threatened by this because he assumed the therapist would encourage me to leave. He insisted we go together and my heart sank. But I had to agree, because I was not quite yet ready to leave.

The next incident was pivotal in giving me the courage I needed.

11/10/09 Tuesday – drive home – 5+ told me I had to agree to sex or living like brother and sister or I should not come home, told me I had to agree or we’d have a huge fight in front of the kids Later at home –still insisting either he could get a girlfriend or I need to agree to sex 3-4 times a week, very manipulative and mean, called me a wh**e and a sl*t in front of the kids and told them to call me that - threatened to sue me for everything in divorce, threatened to beat me, grabbed my arms really hard and twisted, left marks and bruises - would not let me call 911 – threw phone away outside

I was humiliated, this was the first time and only time I had to specifically dress to cover up bruises. I took pictures of the fingernail marks and bruises in the bathroom at work. I had finally gathered some real evidence.  I felt that I needed the ammunition for the divorce. All my journal entries, copies of emails, and these photos clearly painted the picture of the type of man he was.

My mom was coming for Thanksgiving, so I felt I had to stick it out a little longer. There was another rash of violence right before her visit.

11/19/09 Thursday PM – 5+ - mad about sleeping together, says he never felt welcome and it was because of my books, insisted ‘listen’ to him – would not let me walk away – threatened to beat me in front of Cassie, told me to get up on the landing ‘like a dog’ – told me he would kill me when I said ‘yes’ when he asked if I wanted a divorce, kids there, told me I should leave and he would stay with kids – would not stop arguing, came into kids rooms at bedtime to continue argument, grabbed me hard to get me inside when I went outside, went outside twice and he begged me to come inside – put hands around my throat as well -kids were there – told me I have to keep my voice down- insisted on talking for almost another hour, even though I was sick and wanted to go to bed, says I never make commitments and that I have to

11/21/09 Saturday night – 5+ -snippy all day, choked me, threatened to beat me and kill me, kids were there, mad because I ‘showed’ a negative feeling – I thought he was being demeaning and apparently rolled my eyes, accused me of being ‘mean’ and insisted I admit it so I could ‘grow’, threw food and insisted I clean it up because he hates me so much

11/22/09 Sunday – 5+ - snippy all day about trust and would not cleanup mess - mad because I asked him “why didn’t you let Luke read?” – insisted I was wrong, would not stop fighting, called me c**t, wh**e in front of kids, shoved me and it pushed Cassie down, choked me, told me he would beat me, kill me, would not let me leave room, told kids they were stupid and I that I thought they were stupid, mad I went to dinner without him even though I had invited him


The journal entries are factual and accurate, but they cannot possibly depict how it felt to live with him. These arguments would go on for hours, he would follow me around to argue with me, he would trap me in a room by blocking my way, he would not let me talk. I had to sit there, or stand there and listen to him rant and yell, tell me how terrible I was, call me names, while somehow trying to protect my kids from seeing or hearing the worst of it. 

He was allowed to do and say horrible things to me, but if I rolled my eyes, or said "I don't feel close right now" - I was being mean and abusive to him.  The rules were completely different.    If I tried to explain my point of view, he got angry and yelled more. If I tried to get around him, he would push me back or worse. He weighed twice what I did, there was no way I could fight back. I couldn’t even call 911 because he would prevent me from getting to the phone.

I occasionally screamed back at him (no particular words, just screaming) because I literally felt like my head was going to explode with all of his circular logic and his refusal to stop arguing. When I’d apologize or agree to something for the tenth time and he would not stop asking the same question, I had to do something. Then he’d get even more mad and say I was being abusive to him. Can you imagine? This is called crazy making – and it works.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How could you?

One of the things I really struggle with in my mind to this day is how Brad could let his behavior affect the kids. He verbally abused, threatened, and physically hurt me in front of them. He was meaner to them when he was mad at me. He threatened to do things to them to get me to cooperate. He would say to me that we should not fight in front of them, and yet it he did it all the time. He would not even stop fighting so I could give them a bath or put them to bed. He might let me get the process started, but he would constantly interrupt to argue with me. As a result, the kids often went to bed two hours late and were wild at bedtime. I’m just going to list these entries below without commentary because I think they speak for themselves.

05/17/09 PM 4,5+ - mad because told him not to say “show me your boobs” in front of the kids – told me he would beat the kids if I left, told me he would kill me, said he would get the house

05/19/09 PM continued – 5 – mad because I did not re-text to say I was not quite leaving from the restaurant, cussed and yelled at me all the way home on the phone – told me to go talk in the bedroom because he did not want the kids to see him killing their mother- finally agreed to be ‘nice’ if I would just appreciate him

07/13/09 – Monday PM – 5+ mad because Cassie interrupted sex, told me I did not appreciate him trying to please me, yelled, cussed wh**e, b***h, c**t in front of kids, would not stop – blocked my way, pushed me down in bedroom, threatened to hit me w/bowl and hand, shoved me in hallway between kids rooms, told me he would cheat and that I could cheat, accused me of cheating, would not let me put kids to bed, said he would not help unless I apologized

07/22/09 Wednesday – 5+ - mad because he thought I would not have sex – brooded all day – accused me of cheating – would not answer phone all day – strangled me in front of Cassie- threatened to kill me several times - does not want divorce, wants me to forgive the past – agreed to no sex for a while then asked for sex, would not stop talking or let me give the kids a bath or feed them 



08/17/09 Monday PM – 5+ - mad because I said “so what’s your story, do you want to do this or not” about sex – then said I thought he had been disgruntled all day – threatened to kill me twice in front of the kids, threatened to beat me and Luke if I wouldn’t listenthreatened to put the kids outside if I did not listen, told me I have to take responsibility for my actions, shoved me hard in front of kids because I tried to walk away

09/30/09 Wednesday PM – 5+ - repeatedly called until I answered, threatened to take kids to CA, threatened to beat me to death, take all my money, the house, make kids hate me, told me I have to be nice to him or don’t come home

10/01/09 Thursday PM – 5+ - mad because I would not agree to sex more than twice a week once we’re ‘better’ – insisted I answer the question about whether I would make sue rot initiate and give him back the same TLC. Insisted I answer him and threatened me when I did not. Threatened to beat me, would not let me leave the room, shoved me – I told him to let me get by – but he would not – I felt trapped. Kids were there for part, shouted very loud at Luke because he asked him 3 times to come downstairs and he did not- Luke cried for quite a while and was scared, Brad did it because he was mad at me – insisted I agree to give him the same TLC as he gives me

10/04/09 Sunday – 5++ - mad because I would not ‘use different words’ to tell him how I was going to change in the future, would not stop arguing, told kids I was a b***h and immature, shoved me down on bean bag to pull my pants off – shoved me against the door, cornered me in the kitchen, Cassie was crying, Luke was crying, followed me to bedroom so I would ‘just answer his questions’ – shoved me on bed later, told me I have to change and make love to him more than once a week, I have to make him not ‘regret’ because of him not being Michael (ex boyfriend), went on for hours, kept coming in to bath with kids and Cassie’s room and Luke’s room when I was reading

10/08/09 Thursday PM – 5+ - mad because I would not answer his question/demand about how I was going to make him feel special – went on for hours –would not let me start bath -insisted on coming into Luke’s room, shoved me and yelled in front of kids, insists he will stop acting bad, but I have to stop physically reacting to his behaviors – that’s what “sets him off”

10/29/09 Thursday AM – 2- still mad because I won’t commit to sex, called Cassie a b***h when she spilled her food and said it was ok to call her that because I was a b***h too, because I would not give him sex


It's so horrible that it's almost unbelievable. Surely no father would ever do or say these things. And yet, it's all true. It's textbook manipulative, abusive behaviour. He always thought and still thinks he's a wonderful father and that he would never hurt the kids. My answer: you already have.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The second time I tried to leave

With Brad there was a definite pattern. If he was mad in the morning, and still mad in the afternoon (usually on the phone when I was at work), he would be furious by the evening and things would get violent.

The two days below clearly show this pattern.

July 20th 
07/20/09 – Monday - AM – 2- mad because I said I wanted to reach a happy medium on sex – threatened to cheat, not have sex, said I was bitchy and immature and it’s no wonder all of my ex’s cheated

07/20/09 – Monday noon – 4,5 – still mad from earlier, accused me of cheating, told me he didn’t care about me and that he would cheat, insisted I take a lie detector test to prove I have not cheated, very demeaning and disrespectful - told me to shut up and that I was a terrible person, lots of shouting

07/20/09 PM – Monday – 5+ still mad – insists I admit that I started the argument, say everything he said after I started it does not matter, threatened to beat me to death and they’d “find my body in a pipeline” if we got divorced, said we cannot get divorced, said he would have lots of other lovers and that I would eventually realize what I was missing with sex, accused me of cheating, lots of cussing c**t, b***h, wh**e, told me I was a terrible person 


Note how he mentions where they will find my body and that we cannot get divorced– these are both huge red flags, indicating men that have a higher likelihood of killing their partners.   (The references to tanning below only make sense if you know that it was the spray-on tanning and you can’t sweat, ie: no sex, for six hours afterwards or it gets uneven.)

August 5th 
08/05/09 Wednesday AM – 2 - mad because I wanted to wait one more day for sex, he ‘gave’ me last night and expected it tonight, told me I have to have sex and that I cannot go tan, yelled in front of the kids about how I lie and don’t communicate, told me I have never changed anything and that I have to apologize and change, said I should communicate how I feel more

08/05/09 Wednesday AM and afternoon – 4 – mad from before because I don’t take responsibility, wants me to apologize, cussed, yelled – threatened to destroy my clothes if I go tan, called incessantly when I was trying to work and did not want to talk

08/05/09 Wednesday PM – 5+ - still mad – yanked me by the arm in front of kids, said I looked old and was ugly, shoved me, then shoved me against door really hard and hurt my neck and back, told me I have to listen to him rant and tell me what’s wrong with me first – then maybe he’ll lower his voice , wants to move forward, asked for sex, but I said no


So later in August when I saw the same pattern building up, I went ahead and came home but was planning to make an escape later. He frequently went upstairs, so I thought I could pack a suitcase and get out quietly.

08/31/09 Monday AM – 4 – mad because I asked him about Cassie’s clothes – very demanding and demeaning and insisted I was ‘wrong’ the way I brought it up

08/31/09 Monday PM – 5 – yelled and cussed because I told him what I did was only a little bit “wrong” re nagging, told me not to come home – much shouting and ‘shut up’,' f**k you', etc.

08/31/09 Monday PM – 5 – yelled and cussed at me all the way home (on the phone) about how wrong I was and how I need to change – I finally agreed to come home, then left and went to a hotel – he was still sleeping 


I came home and he was asleep (passed out) upstairs. I had kept the bag of toiletries I bought the first time I left hidden in my closet. I grabbed that and packed some work clothes, and some clothes and toys for the kids, and told them we were going on an adventure. I loaded them into the car, went to the grocery store for some supplies, and checked into a hotel. I was going to get the kids settled and then call my family to let them know I was leaving him.  I was 10 minutes away from freedom. Then he called.

After much discussion, promising, and begging on his part, I agreed to come home the next day after work. There were a few minor agreements in the meantime and then three weeks later, he was right back at it.

09/18/09 Friday Afternoon – 5+ - mad because I walked away while he was talking to go get a package from my mom, I apologized right away for being rude when he confronted me – would not take my apology and kept saying how I would say the next day that I was not wrong – very demeaning –brought up the day before and the ketchup again. I raised my voice and was having a fit because he would not let it go and would not accept my apology – cleaners were there – threatened to hit me and kill me if I did not be quiet, held me down on the bed

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Big One

It was June, it was very hot, and Brad was really ramping up his anger about sex. For the rest of the year more than half our arguments were about sex; including this one, the single worst incident of our marriage.

It started because I had planned to take the next Friday off and he asked if we could have sex three times that day. I brought up that he had said he would ‘back down’ on the sex because he wanted me to want it as well. He got mad right away and would not accept any of my apologies because I had apparently agreed not to bring up the fact that he had agreed to back down on the sex. (I made a lot of agreements to get him to stop arguing and there is no way I could remember them all, nor could he. I’m sure he made up a lot of my agreements after the fact. ) He made me apologize eight or nine times and still wouldn’t accept it. He threatened to hit me, would not let me leave the room and called me a c**t and a b***h. He put his hands around my throat. He would not give up fighting, he told me I was a terrible lover and no one would want me. It obviously did not occur to him that simultaneously asking for sex three times in one day while telling me I am a terrible lover are at odds with each other.

The next morning June 18th it continued while I was trying to get ready for work. I apologized again but when I did not offer sex that morning, he got mad and it started all over again. He threw me on the bed, pushed me down to keep me there so he could rant and rave. He shouted and yelled “f**k off” to Cassie and made her cry. I was heartbroken as I left for work.

I had texted him earlier in the day, not sure what about, but just as I was leaving work he called to say he did not understand my text. From what I remember and the lack of entries in my journal during that day, I think it had been radio silence on his part. He did that sometimes after a bad fight - he’d go to one extreme or the other. Constantly calling or no contact whatsoever, in either case he was often drinking. As I was driving home that evening he was very mean on the phone, told me he would kill me, and told me not to come home if I was not going to make him feel ‘special’ when I got home. I went to get the kids at daycare and was very unsure of what was waiting for me at home.

When I drove up he came menacingly out to the car and when I got out with my computer and purse, he shoved me out in front of the house. When I went inside to put my stuff down he got worse. The kids were still in the hot car without air conditioning. He shoved me when I got inside. He was so angry already that I tried to call 911, but he threw the phone across the room to keep me from calling. He strangled me really hard, as hard as he ever had, and I was truly terrified. He then wrestled me to the ground, twisting my knee and sat on me and would not let me get up, he was ranting and raving and said we would not get divorced, he would kill me first. He would not go get kids out of car and would not let me do it. I was screaming at him to let me get the kids before they died in the heat and he finally let me get Luke inside. I took my cell phone and tried to call Brad’s best friend. I went outside to the car with Cassie in it and tried to drive away, but he ran out and pounded on the door and opened it up. He took my cell phone and threatened to throw it on the roof.

Finally I got Cassie inside as well, and later that evening he said he would kill himself in 30 days and it would be all over if I just agreed to ‘make him feel special’ for those 30 days. So his plan was I would make him feel ‘special’ for 30 days as his dying wish of sorts, and then he would kill himself. Of course, I did not agree, so he backed it off to five days. I still would not agree.   We had company coming the next day, so I stayed.

Because of this violence, my knee hurt for a week and it hurt to swallow for almost two weeks. He did seem a bit ‘better’ for a couple of days after this, like maybe he realized he had crossed a line and even apologized a few days later when I winced with my knee getting out of the car. But he couldn’t hang on to it. A few months later when I brought it up, he did not remember it. Probably because, to him, it blurred with all of the other incidents. To me, however, was quite a different story. I still vividly remember it and I never felt the same about him after that. I completely quit trying to make it work and was really just biding time until I could work up the nerve to leave. I could never forgive him, he almost killed me. Any other person who had done that to me would be in jail, and still, it took me eight more months to leave.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Just so tired

Things continued to get worse.  During a twenty-day time frame in April, every single incident was threatening or violent.  (Back story on the tummy tuck incident -  I had been to see a plastic surgeon about correcting some scarring due to the difficult birth with Cassie and the doctor recommended a tummy tuck. I did not follow through with anything.)

04/07/09 PM – 5+ - mad because I said “I think” when he asked a question about what the kids were watching, lectured on and on about how that was not an answer, then I was a bit snippy in saying that the kids already had eaten enough, cussed yelled, threatened to beat me, throw me out a window, threatened divorce and I said ok – told me that I would regret – said I have to change, grabbed me around neck, earlier – threw me down on bed – half joking, insisted on sex to “connect” again

04/12/09 Sunday afternoon – 5 – mad because I was not positive about sex – had already had sex twice on Sunday (plus Thurs, Fri, Sat night) – told me he wanted a girlfriend, threatened divorce, threatened to hit, made negative comments in front of kids, I drove around the block

04/17/09 PM – 5+ - mad because I expressed my feelings about how he treats me and the kids when he opened up to me, said I should just have shut up because he was trying to communicate, wanted me to admit I was wrong – threatened to hit, kill, divorce, said he would get half, held me down and put his hand over my mouth – 2+ hours

04/21/09 PM – 5+ - mad because I did not answer question, about sex directly, I hedged and said I’ll try, got very manipulative and controlling, would not listen to my answer, called me a b***h, c**t, told me I deserved to be cheated on because I don’t answer questions, picked me up and threw me on bed when I said I answered how I thought he wanted me to - blamed me for starting and not admitting I was wrong

04/27/09 Monday – 5+ - got very mad when discussing tummy tuck – very against it and was manipulative and controlling in giving his ‘opinion’, said he would take the kids I had had surgery, would not let me leave the room, threatened to hit me, pushed me against the wall and hurt my arm/back – says I was wrong to ask his opinion if I would not accept it, admits he should not have pushed me, but says I would have stopped it earlier by not arguing with him about the tummy tuck and accepting his opinion


At this point I began to have some debilitating tiredness. I would sit in the car after work, barely able to keep my eyes open, in tears at the thought of having to drive home. It’s no wonder, when you understand what I had to look forward to. I went to the doctor and they ran a bunch of tests. I was very distressed  to find out I was healthy and that there was nothing wrong with me. I was really hoping I was anemic, or something. Something that they could fix. Deep down I knew that living with him was probably most of the problem and that I was, in reality, mildly depressed. Who wouldn’t be under the circumstances? Even my ‘condition’ was the cause of several arguments as below.

05/15/09 Friday AM – 2 – mad because I am tired – said last night I have to be positive about sex today since I ‘got out of it’ last night from being so tired. Says he going to get a girlfriend. Very snippy all last night about sex. -4 - Yelled and mad because I am not ‘positive’ – shouting and manipulative

05/15/09 Friday PM 5+ - mad because I did not act happy when I came home, threatened me with a knife – choked me- kids were there – went on for hours – told him to leave – said he would kill me

05/29/09 PM – 5 – mad because I told him stress/depression was probably the cause of my fatigue, said I was blaming it all on him, I tried to tell him he needed professional help - he agreed to be “nice” if I reward him with sex at the end of the day for being “good”

06/07/09 PM – Sunday – 3 – mad because I did not want to have sex again, I told him I would later earlier in the day – we did have sex in AM, but I did not keep my promise that night because I was really tired and depressed, he keeps looking for things outside himself to be the cause of my depression and tiredness - told me he’d give me a gun so I could shoot myself


Isn’t that last one nice? He told me he’d give me a gun so I could shoot myself.   I eventually came out of the tiredness, I'm not exactly sure why.  Maybe the vitamins helped, maybe my resolve to leave got stronger, I'm not sure.  There is no doubt in my mind the next incident played a big part in that resolve.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tactics

After reviewing my journal for this next year, I noticed two things, my entries got a lot longer and things really were getting worse, it was not just my imagination. Sixteen of the forty-one incidents in the first three months of 2009 had either physical violence, or threats of physical violence. This does quite give an accurate picture, though, because each incident had the potential to get completely out of control and become violent. There was no rhyme or reason, so as soon as something started, I always thought “oh, no, here we go again”.  I was relieved if it ended with only a few angry and controlling statements from Brad. I considered that a "success".

In the example below he had told me how to make popcorn in the microwave (as if I don’t know) and he was controlling about it. I was annoyed at his controlling instructions, so apparently I sat down with an attitude. Here is what happened:

01/08/09 Thursday PM - 5+ - mad because I sat down with a ‘fit’ after he ‘told’ me how to make popcorn, threatened divorce, threatened to kill me when I told him to move out, pulled my hair, would not give up argument and let me walk away – some in front of kids, told Luke I was a sl*t, called me a wh**e, c**t

Notice, I did not actually say anything to him about how I felt, all I did was have some negative body language and the end result was he pulled my hair, intimidated me and threatened to kill me.  This was fairly typical of what might happen once something started.

The tactics of the abuser include:
Dominance
Humiliation
Threats
Intimidation
Isolation
Denial and Blame

Brad used the first four in this instance because of how I sat down after he was controlling. This shows how the reality for them is so out of whack with our reality. They don’t see anything wrong with their behavior and feel completely justified in what they are doing. Brad was big into the denial and blame. Here are several examples from early this year where he blames me for his bad behavior and/or says I have to change. This was a constant theme of his.

01/23/09 Monday AM – 3 – asked if I want a divorce because I was acting distant, told me I was the fuse for his bomb and I have to make changes so he won’t get so mad, I have to treat him with respect

02/12/09 Thursday PM – 5 – mad because I told him he yelled too loud for no reason at the kids – pushed it back at me saying if I would yell more and discipline them that he would not have to. Told me I was wrong and a terrible mother because I don’t discipline the kids. Threatened to hit me, raised his hand to me, told me he was going to ‘come over this banister’ if I did not come closer to listen to him yell, mad because I was ‘throwing a fit’ by leave the room in a ‘huff’

03/02/09 PM – 5+ - mad because I would not put sexy clothes on that I agreed to, accused me of cheating, told me I could not go to happy hour tonight, I screamed – he threatened to hit me and threw stuff at me – put a pillow over my head – still mad next AM – all my fault because I don’t live up to my agreements


Later 03/18/09 Wednesday – 5+ - mad because I asked Cassie about stairs on new bed, told me I was ‘wrong’, said he was really mad because I just sat there with dinner instead of supporting him, very manipulative and controlling, threatened to hit / kill me – threatened to divorce and have restraining order against me, kids were there, would not let me put them to bed, would not help, kicked TV tray, which hit my head, put pillows over my face, told me I had to change


It really is unbelievable, and yet somehow in their reality it all makes sense.  What they don't know is that even if you could change it would not help, because they are not consistent in their own minds.  What they want from you constantly changes and they will always find something to get mad about.   I've often wondered if they are so angry because they are controlling, or if they are controlling because they are so angry.   It doesn't really matter, of course, because either way it's not okay.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Year in Review 2008

This year was quite a journey.  I went from being verbally abused to being physically abused.   I called 911 for the first time in my life.  I went to a hotel with my kids because I was afraid of my husband.   These are things that should have never happened, and yet I know in some respects I was fortunate. Fortunate I have a mobile phone, a car and a job. Fortunate I have enough money to buy essentials at Walmart and spend the night at a hotel.  Fortunate a friend was there to help me and support me in my decision not to go home.   Fortunate I did not believe all the terrible things he said about me.  A lot of abused women have none of these advantages and I cannot even imagine how much more trapped they must feel.   Living like this is a terrible and isolating experience.  My family had no idea.  My work friends had no idea.  Only my friend Anna knew some of it and she did not know how bad and frequent the abuse was.  She was very helpful and supportive and continues to be.  

I still struggle with why I was not able to leave him at the end of this year.  I remember telling Anna that I couldn’t take it anymore and that I would leave him after the holidays.  It didn’t happen and I don’t exactly know why.  I guess I was just not ready give up on trying to “fix” him, so he could become a good husband and father.   He did so many things that were so obviously not okay.  I felt if somehow I could explain it to him, or get him into therapy and they would explain it to him, that he would understand.   I thought, “Surely he will eventually see reason and realize what he has been doing is wrong and stop doing it.”  I just could not fathom that he would never see it.   I would have glimmers of hope, where he would seem to understand that hurting me was not right;  but it never lasted, sometimes not even a few minutes. The longest it lasted was probably half a day.  Then his pervasive abusive beliefs would take over again and we were right back where we started.  

Based on my journal, there were 127 incidents in 2008.  In 51 of them he was either physically intimidating, threatening, or outright violent.   This is staggering when you think about it. There is not a single month without a violent incident.   I started keeping the journal to find a pattern.  But the only real pattern is the pattern of abuse.  It’s all very typical of these types of personalities.  I’m sure there are psychological reasons for this, but I find it eerie how similar the behaviors are amongst these abusive and controlling men.  It’s like there’s a handbook “How to be Abusive 101” that they’ve all memorized.  I know it's not really funny, but sometimes it helps me to inject humor into the situation. 

What I think is important in the future to help stop the abuse is to get more people to understand this pattern.  Most people’s idea of domestic violence is a black eye.  I never had a black eye, and only a handful of times were there actual bruises, but it was severe domestic violence nonetheless.  The intimidating, manipulative, demeaning, isolating behaviors combined with the denial of them and blaming you for them are what make it so dreadful.    Perhaps if more people understood the pattern, they would be able to get out of the relationship sooner, or encourage a friend get out.  

I did make some emotional progress this year towards ending the relationship by spending the night away, calling 911, and I even saw a lawyer once to understand my options .   It would be more than a year before I would finally get out, but my strength was building and that is what’s important.   Just as the abuse was a process and not an event, the leaving him was a process as well.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Never enough

For Brad, sex was an absolute right.  He felt he deserved it any time he wanted it. He truly wanted sex every day, multiple times – before work, when I got home from work, and later in the evening would have been his ideal scenario. This obviously caused a lot of conflict because I was essentially always mad at him for the way he treated me and rarely wanted to have sex.  Plus I was tired all the time from working full time, taking care of all the kids’ needs, and frequently staying up late fighting with him because he would not let me go to sleep.     

Here are some of the things he would say frequently:
·         Show me your boobs  (often in front of the kids)
·         You should initiate sex more often, I shouldn’t have to beg
·         You don’t show any passion
·         You’re acting distant
·         You don’t “open up” during sex  (I still don’t know what this means)
·         You’re always making up excuses so you don’t have to have sex 
·         Did anyone flirt with you or look at your breasts today?
·         You don’t make me feel ‘special’

He had a lot of strange theories and concepts related to sex. Since we did not have the amount of sex he wanted, he was always trying to make ‘deals’ with me for a certain number of times a day, or a week.   Sometimes I would make these deals just to be able to go to sleep or to stop the fight.  And if he asked for sex and I turned him down, for whatever reason, I ‘owed’ it to him later and I had to be appreciative that he ‘let me out of it’ or he would get angry.   
He had this concept that he wanted to do something with me that ‘no one else had’, that was ‘only his’.  This was part of his needing to feel special, I suppose.  He was often coming up with things he wanted to try including threesomes, mutual masturbation, tying me up during sex, and other things that I had never participated in, and that he tried to talk me into.  It never worked, but that did not stop him from trying and fighting about it a lot. 
He also wanted to engage in sexual activities when the kids were there, I resisted as they got older and older, but it made him really mad, he said they were too young to understand and remember.  When we were behind closed doors, he would not stop or cover-up if they came in the room, he would insist in ‘finishing’ and I would be powerless to stop him. 
All of these are examples of sexual abuse in a relationship.  Do I think he ever truly raped me? No, but I had a lot of coerced sex, he made me feel helpless and ashamed, and I came to loath his touch. 
Below is a sampling of the journal entries that show just how disturbing his attitudes were and how they led to violence.
6/3/08 Tuesday AM – 5 – mad when I confronted him about some things he said, said I was distant and mean, wouldn’t let me leave for work, almost hit me, kids were there, I think he was mad because I did not have sex with him the night before because I was exhausted, told me he hoped I died
06/07/08 Saturday – 5+ - mad all day, had sex twice, but he freaked out when I said I would not masturbate in front of him, grabbed me, said he would kill me, told me I should be a lesbian, that I was a terrible lover, etc
07/21/08 Monday – 5 – on phone – mad because I planned days off of work and did not communicate effectively that one of those days was ‘his’ day to have sex all day – told me he would come to work and I would not talk to him – hung up on him several times  - told me he would beat me to death – told me he wanted 100% or 0% of kids – told me not to come home
08/03/08 PM – 4,5 – still mad about morning, mad because I had and ‘attitude’ when we were having sex and when he asked me why I said it was because of the argument in the morning, threatened to hit me, called me a c**t, b***h, wh**e, told me I was  a terrible person for not initiating sex and that I never tried.  Told me I had 3 days to make a change and start showing passion or he was going to start having sex outside the relationship
08/04/08 AM – 3,4 -  still mad, threatened to have sex outside the relationship, told me I had to change, and that it was all under my control, if I made him feel special he would not abuse me
08/28/08 Thursday AM – 3- got mad because I would not show my boobs on demand – I had previously agreed to randomly do it without him asking – says I lied since I didn’t do it (note: he was right about that, I had no intention of doing it) – I was screaming a lot because he threatened to get a girlfriend and not let me see the kids
08/28/08 Thursday PM – 5+ – still mad from AM, made me apologize for not appreciating him – threatened to kill me, raised his hand and chased me around the room, kids were both there, tore my shirt, said it was ‘sexual’ not a violent move
11/20/08 Thursday PM - 4,5 – mad about sex – he made a rude remark and said he had to force himself to have sex with me so I wouldn’t let him, threw valet across the room – asked me if I wanted a divorce and I said yes, called me a wh**e, lots of yelling
12/20/08 Saturday PM – 5+ - mad because I did not want to have sex after my sister’s wedding, says I did not ‘nicely’ say no – tried to choke me in the bathroom of the hotel, all four kids (note: my nephews were staying in our room) were in the room
Early on I did try to be a more willing partner, but towards the end I pretty much gave up and just endured it when I had too.  I got to the point where I felt surprised that other women actually wanted to have sex with their husbands.  I just could not relate anymore.  Sometimes now I get mad at myself for trying at all. It was all wasted energy.  He didn’t deserve any of it.