Every now and then I will write back and forth with the same person, eventually we begin emailing and then that person and their stories really finds it’s way deep in to my soul. I started a new post today so that like you have done with many other women here you can help me to support Faith as we will call her, read her story, she is still in the abuse and hasn’t found the right time or strength to leave. Help me to support her where she is today, don’t judge and just be here for you like you already are for so many.
Her email is as follows:
My name is xxxx but when I posted my comment on your blog I used the name “Faith”. This is a safe email to email to. After reading some of your current blogs, I wanted to write you with my story. I am sure its a story you have heard too many times, but like I said in my previous comment, I am not usually a person to share much but have realized that now is the time to have the support needed to get through the stuff that I am dealing with.
I read Ettienne’s story and even though I may not be where she is yet, I wanted her to know that her strength has given people courage to go on another day knowing that there is hope.
I have been married for 9 years. After nine years I wish I could say that they have been the best nine years of my life but I cant. Now all I can say is that I have become a victim of abuse.
It started in the beginning when before my husband and I were married he cheated on me. I was so upset but he was sorry and I thought I could change him and so I stayed. We were married. In the beginning things were fine. We had jobs, trying to start a family, and we were normal. But things changed quickly. I found that my husband had a temper. In the beginning it was never physical but always emotional. Pretty soon yelling, screaming, name calling, belittling became almost a constant. Within the first 2 years of our marriage my husband had affair number 2. By the time I found out about the affair, I was pregnant with our first child. With being busy awaiting the birth of our child, I had seem what I thought was forgetting about the affair but really was just me not dealing and sweeping it under the rug. Before I knew it the birth of our first son came. Even though we now were a family, the emotional abuse just continued. Over the years the emotional abuse has gotten worse. There were times that I thought to myself, how could one person say such hurtful things to another person, and on top of that say these things to a person they are suppose to love? It also amazes me that he knows exactly what to say to hurt me the most. You dont forget get the things he says. I always told my self that they were just words, and when the fight ended and the tears stopped, I would forget…..but you never forget.
Over the years we had 2 more sons. I now have 3 wonderful boys and that is the reason I am still here. Also within these years my husband had 5 more affairs. I know what most people are saying because the people in my life that do know my story have said this to me, after emotional abuse and all these affairs, why are you still there? I could never answer them, or if I did I said it was for my children. Over these years and having someone yelling at you everyday and telling you that you are worthless, you start to believe it. There were many times that the yelling and fighting and throwing things would last hours and result in me in a corner crying till I couldn’t shed another tear.
Things starting getting worse over a year ago. The fights that would usually just be screaming, yelling, name calling etc…now became shoving, pushing, grabbing, tossed around and occasionally a slap or punch that would maybe leave a bruise. In the spring of last year I found out that my husband had an affair with my best friend. I was beyond devastated. I couldn’t believe that now not only had the trust of my husband went out the door, I couldn’t even trust my friend. After I found out about the affair is when the physical abuse got worse. I was a mess. I was sad and all I could do was cry. I did what I could to pick myself up and carry on especially for my children but inside I was hurting. It eventually got to the point that when I couldn’t deal, I would cut. By fall and into winter the abuse was almost a weekly thing.
I thought that I was hiding the fact that the abuse was going on from my children because a majority of the time the abuse would happen after they were in bed or when they weren’t home. But children know more than you know. After I changed jobs, the abuse got worse. Soon the bruises that were just once in a while were there constantly. I have been punched, slapped, kicked, shoved, and have things done that I would of never thought would happen to me. But they have. I am now at a point in my life where I know that I need to get out and make a change. What I am struggling with now is the fact that I am now trying to deal with 12 years of abuse and affairs. The things that I have swept under the rug are now the things that haunt me. I am sad, tired, beat down, angry and frustrated. I feel like I have nothing left. I get up everyday and live for my children but I am not living for me. I know that after all of this I have allowed this to affect me to a point that I cant even think that I am a good person. This I don’t want. I feel completely alone. Even though I have some of the most amazing friends that someone could ask for, I still feel alone. I have now come to a point where I have realized what is happening and it took me to realize that when I looked in the mirror and saw myself covered in bruises.
I want to make a change and make it for me and my children but don’t know where to start. Am I afraid to leave? Yes a little. My husband has told me that I am not leaving. I know that he wouldn’t do anything crazy, but I think its more that I lack the strength and courage and self worth to walk out and say that I can do this on my own and you cant do this to me anymore. Over the last couple of weeks, due to some intervention of my best friend, the physical abuse has stopped. But I can only guess that this wont be permanent. My husband says now that he wants to change and make this work but how can I consider that after all this man has put me through??? And I have a hard time putting the past behind me due to me hurting so bad. Also even though the physical abuse has stopped the emotional abuse hasn’t. So why do I stay and do I go? I know that it is time to make a change for me and my children. I just don’t know where to start and am looking for that support to find my starting place.
To Ettienne, I commend you. You are amazing to have the strength and courage to walk away and say what is happening to me isn’t right and I wont take it any longer. I know that the blog said to share your story about how to stay strong after abuse but I wanted to share my story with you and others to let you know that its people like you showing people like me that we can do it, and that there is hope. Her sharing her strength will giver other the courage they need to leave and take a stand as well.
To Rebecca, I thank you for your story and your website. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be sharing my story and finally getting the support that I need to make a change in my life. I hope that this may help someone or show someone that they are not the only one out there going through this. I hope that we can stay in touch through email as I need so much support and sometimes a listening ear. Sometimes you can have all the friends in the world but only sometimes other people who have been where you are can only understand. Please feel free to email me here as I have mad sure that it is safe. I would still not like to use my real name. Also please feel free to post any of this email on your blog as I want to be able to let others know they are not alone and thank Ettienne for being strong and standing up for what is right.
My email back to Faith:
I was cleaning up some emails and came across yours. I had prayed I had already responded but cannot see that I did so please forgive me. I read your email when it came in and when I read it again today it made me think of a post I added just the other day. You may like it at https://thelaststraw.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/facing-yourself-in-the-mirror-after-domestic-violence/
It was heart breaking to read all that you are going through. I just posted today to another woman in the same house just like yours. I wish I had all the right things to tell you to make it all better. If I had all the money in the world I would jet you off to a safe place for you and your family.
I know you know, you must leave. From all that you have said there is no safety and security there. You also do not need to justify to a single soul why you have stayed. It is not their place to ask. I pray though that you find the means to leave or get him out. You must make that decision, do I stay or do I risk my children standing at my coffin because I was too late in leaving?
I don’t say that to be harsh but too often I am writing to families of the daughter that wanted to leave but didn’t and is no remembered with a picture on the wall and little children that will never know their mother. Don’t let that be you.
Email received: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 10:16 AM
I am writing to you today as this past week has been a rough week for me and I am really struggling. My hunch was right and even though the hitting had stopped for a while, it now has started again. Last week there was a death in the family and due to that I paid for it in the long run. My husband lost his father, which was rough for him but as a result of that I paid a huge price. He claimed that I was not supportive enough and that I am not the wife that I should be. One night last week he got mad at me for I say no reason but what I mentioned before and I got punched, kicked, dragged around and my face forced to the ground and it went from there. I managed to make it thru the week but I am struggling. I know what needs to be done and taking those steps this week. I am seeing a lawyer and trying to change the locks. But I am a mess. I somehow think that maybe I deserve this? Maybe I am doing something wrong. A part of me knows that this is not true but I think that he has beat this into me for so long I have allowed myself to believe it. I want to just crawl in a whole and not come out but I know that I cant do that. I am trying to pick myself up every day and make it one day at a time. Thank you for listening, needed a ear today.
Response email: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 12:54 PM
I am here for you Faith. Never, ever think for a moment that any of this is your fault or that you deserve it. That is what he is doing to brainwash you to justify what he does to you. It breaks my heart to get your email, it really does. I know how afraid you are at this moment and I wish that I could wrap my arms around you and tell you that everything will be okay. You know that if you do stay, you may someday die. I don’t want to be the one that writes the story of your demise; I want to hear good stories of how you made it through all of this and finally had the life you deserve. Living in abuse like you are is all consuming and makes it impossible to think of anything else.
I am not sure what your plans are, will you have him removed? If so I urge you to get a restraining order since he has been so physically abusive. Make sure you do have the locks changed and put metal bars the length of sliding doors and such. Keep your phone with you and make sure to call the domestic violence support to see if they can council you over the hump and to keep you safe.
Take one step at a time; get out of there as soon as you can. He needs someone to take his anger out on and you won! After some time alone you will come to realize this, one thing at a time. You are in my thoughts and prayers today. Be strong and keep writing. I will post on the blog as others are going through the same exact day you are, trying to leave the abuse. We will support you the best we can.
Love & Peace,
Email received: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 1:33 AM
Tonight as I stood in the mirror and looked….tears running down a scared face, welts that sting, and bruises that seem to never go away….I have realized that I am in the fight of my life.
Tonight…another altercation, more tears, and more pain. I am trying to stay strong. I have realized that after tonight, I cant leave on my own and I am going to have to have authority help. During the altercation my husband told me that if I called the authorities I would be sorry. So I now know that its going to take just more than me walking out the door. Its going to take me, and a parade of cops.
I just cant take anymore. I saw a lawyer last week. He gave me a list of things I need to do to start protecting me and the kids, and the information I need to start this process. I am very scared. I know leaving is the right things to do, but why do I feel so damn gulity? But you are right living like this will eventually kill me. I just wish the feelings of doubt, scared, being alone, angry, sad and frustrated would let me go to make this easier on me. I feel so worthless and ashamed…..
Response email: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 10:42 AM
I wish I had some magic words to tell you like don’t feel guilty, he doesn’t, don’t be scared, don’t worry everything will be fine. I felt the same way and had to involve the police too by having him removed. I felt guilty for he could not drive, had no place to go and his family was an hour away. That was not my concern today for a man that was trying to kill me. The focus had to be put back to my safety and my son.
He was removed, called his family and was gone. For the first time I could let out the breath I had been holding in for months.
Someone from domestic violence hotline will be a support for you, call them when you need to, they understand.
Every abuser eventually threatens that if you involve the police they will kill you…. Isn’t that what he is doing now.
I tried to imagine being lowered in a casket in the ground and my son knowing he would be left with this horrible man. It helped me to make the right choices.
I cannot tell you that nothing will happen if you try to leave, but I can promise you, you will die a horrible death if you stayed. You can come back from all of this, but only if you are alive to try.
Email me for strength. I wish that there was more that I could do for you as I know how you are feeling at this time. You will be on my mind all day today. Please keep in touch. Everyone at The-LastStraw has been where you are and are there with you today.
Extra love and big hugs,
Response email: Tuesday, June 25, 2010 1:47 AM (the following was a response emailed to me for the post below
Thank you for sharing your story with me. To know that there is people supporting me and has been where I am means alot.
I have lived and am living your story every day. I too have stayed for reasons sometimes I cant believe I am telling myself. Some days I had to convince myself to stay, to go home. I have NOT forgiven my husband for anything. I have not forgiven him for the affairs, for the emotional/verbal abuse, and I have not forgiven him for the physical abuse. I am sure that sometime in my life I may forgive him, and maybe not forgiving him has caused me more anger, but how can you forgive someone who has done such horrible things to you? I may forgive someday but I will never forget.
Like you my husband has totally brainwashed me. Over the last 10 years I have allowed him to call me every name in the book, tell me that I am a fat, lazy, and bad wife and mother etc…He has said things to me that has hurt my soul and things I couldnt believe that one person could say to another. Sometimes I dont know what is worse, the emotional/verbal abuse or the physical abuse. EVERY time my husband and I fight it starts with yelling and screaming and then the hitting comes and then afterwards is when he tells me how much of a horrible, worthless human being I am. He belittles me and makes me feel like I dont exist.
Like you I have given my everything to him. I have given him 3 children. I have never left him (yet), I have never cheated. I have supported him, cared for him, loved him and gave my life up for him. I cant say that I have never called him a bad name cause I have but I have supported and cared for his family too. His mom is elderly and I have helped take care of her and his dad also up until the time of his death. But nothing is ever enough. Even when I was there for him in the hardest time of his life, losing his dad, he said I was not supportive of him and because that is what he thought I was beaten for it. I am not appreciated and not supported by him at all…and yet…and havent figured it out why yet….I stayed.
My husband threatens all the time that if I leave I will pay. If I leave he will kill himself or that somehow I am going to be the one who broke up this marriage and left it all behind because I am selfish. I know that part of it is my fault because when he cheated the first time I should of left, when I was being screamed at in the corner I should of left, and when I was being beaten in front of my children I should of left…..and I didnt. I thought maybe if I stay, if I love him enough he will change. But he wont! I know that now. But by staying I feel like I have given him permission to keep doing this because he knows that I have stayed.
As the tears start, I wish I could tell you and Rebecca that I am on my way to freedom….but I am not. I have lost myself and feel worthless and ashamed. I am scared and hurt and so beat down that somedays I dont know if I will see that light at the end of the tunnel. But I have 3 amazing sons that I refuse to let grow up and learn this and watch it happen. I dont want them scared anylonger. I am trying my damnest to stand up and say…you cant do this any longer. I commend you for saying this is it and hope that you have left and realized that you are NOT worthless and your one strong woman for beating this.
I know that soon my day is coming. I pray everyday that I can keep that focus. Keep being strong. If there is anything I can do please let me know.
Rebecca, thank you for sharing this with me and thank you for your support…some days its all I have.
June 29, 2010 1:42 AM
I am writing tonight because the last week has been a rough one. Not sleeping well and has just been rough all around.
I feel completely lost….and not sure where to turn, I feel alone and scared. I am not myself and havent been for a long time. I am not sure if everything is just hitting me know or what it is.
How do/did you make it through everyday???……
July 4, 2010 3:07PM
Sorry took so long to respond.
Not sleeping well is definitely adding to your depression, but with all that is going on it only makes sense.
I don’t know how I made it through every day. I was living in shear fear all of the time and constant anxiety. I prayed a lot that this was not how I was going to die. I begged God to kill him for I felt I would never have the strength to leave, had all the how would I survive stuff and would he kill me if the police were called? Finally I knew I would die and nothing else seemed to matter.
Writing in a journal helped me, I had to hide it under the mattress for he would read it and ridicule me with it then destroy it.
I too was so alone and had no one to confide in. Do you have anytime to yourself during the day? Is he on top of you 24/7? Can you leave the house for small bits just to breathe? Can you go sit in a church just to feel safe for a minute?
I wish I could make you leave, I really do.
Be honest, what is keeping you from leaving?
Can he be removed?
Do you have any income?
If he is removed and put in jail, you would get a protective order keeping him away, hopefully.
Do you have somewhere that you and your family could go?
I urge you, when you can so start a journal and write your escape plan. You know that you must leave but it is so overwhelming to think of. Take baby steps. In your ideal situation, how would things go? Would you call the police and have him arrested, then get a restraining order so he can’t come near the home? Would you then file for welfare and food stamps to get by? Would you change the locks, bar the windows? Seriously, write down step by step, this will give you back some control or at least the feeling of it.
Call the abuse hotline if this is something you have access to, it will be an ear for you.
You MUST start planning to leave now … you can’t put if off any longer from what you tell me. I will be fearful if I were suddenly not hearing from you, worried you are dead. You are worth more than that Tish, make you important, for you and your children are all that matters.
You are in my heart and prayers always, I hope you know that.
Domestic Abuse resources by state: http://womenslaw.org/gethelp.php
The following was copied from: http://www.abanet.org/tips/dvsafety.html it will provide you with great resources/tips to leave
Safety Tips For You And Your Family
IF YOU ARE IN DANGER, CALL 911
or your local police emergency number
To find out about help in your area, call:
National Domestic Violence Hotline:
Whether or not you feel able to leave an abuser,
there are things you can do to make yourself and your family safer.
IN AN EMERGENCY
If you are at home & you are being threatened or attacked:
- Stay away from the kitchen (the abuser can find weapons, like knives, there)
- Stay away from bathrooms, closets or small spaces where the abuser can trap you
- Get to a room with a door or window to escape
- Get to a room with a phone to call for help; lock the abuser outside if you can
- Call 911 (or your local emergency number) right away for help; get the dispatcher’s name
- Think about a neighbor or friend you can run to for help
- If a police officer comes, tell him/her what happened; get his/her name & badge number
- Get medical help if you are hurt
- Take pictures of bruises or injuries
- Call a domestic violence program or shelter (some are listed here); ask them to help you make a safety plan
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AT HOME
- Learn where to get help; memorize emergency phone numbers
- Keep a phone in a room you can lock from the inside; if you can, get a cellular phone that you keep with you at all times
- If the abuser has moved out, change the locks on your door; get locks on the windows
- Plan an escape route out of your home; teach it to your children
- Think about where you would go if you need to escape
- Ask your neighbors to call the police if they see the abuser at your house; make a signal for them to call the police, for example, if the phone rings twice, a shade is pulled down or a light is on
- Pack a bag with important things you’d need if you had to leave quickly; put it in a safe place, or give it to a friend or relative you trust
- Include cash, car keys & important information such as: court papers, passport or birth certificates, medical records & medicines, immigration papers
- Get an unlisted phone number
- Block caller ID
- Use an answering machine; screen the calls
- Take a good self-defense course
HOW TO MAKE YOUR CHILDREN SAFER
- Teach them not to get in the middle of a fight, even if they want to help
- Teach them how to get to safety, to call 911, to give your address & phone number to the police
- Teach them who to call for help
- Tell them to stay out of the kitchen
- Give the principal at school or the daycare center a copy of your court order; tell them not to release your children to anyone without talking to you first; use a password so they can be sure it is you on the phone; give them a photo of the abuser
- Make sure the children know who to tell at school if they see the abuser
- Make sure that the school knows not to give your address or phone number to ANYONE
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF OUTSIDE THE HOME
- Change your regular travel habits
- Try to get rides with different people
- Shop and bank in a different place
- Cancel any bank accounts or credit cards you shared; open new accounts at a different bank
- Keep your court order and emergency numbers with you at all times
- Keep a cell phone & program it to 911 (or other emergency number)
HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF SAFER AT WORK
- Keep a copy of your court order at work
- Give a picture of the abuser to security and friends at work
- Tell your supervisors – see if they can make it harder for the abuser to find you
- Don’t go to lunch alone
- Ask a security guard to walk you to your car or to the bus
- If the abuser calls you at work, save voice mail and save e-mail
- Your employer may be able to help you find community resources
USING THE LAW TO HELP YOU
Protection or Restraining Orders
- Ask your local domestic violence program who can help you get a civil protection order and who can help you with criminal prosecution
- Ask for help in finding a lawyer
In most places, the judge can:
- Order the abuser to stay away from you or your children
- Order the abuser to leave your home
- Give you temporary custody of your children & order the abuser to pay you temporary child support
- Order the police to come to your home while the abuser picks up personal belongings
- Give you possession of the car, furniture and other belongings
- Order the abuser to go to a batterers intervention program
- Order the abuser not to call you at work
- Order the abuser to give guns to the police
If you are worried about any of the following, make sure you:
- Show the judge any pictures of your injuries
- Tell the judge that you do not feel safe if the abuser comes to your home to pick up the children to visit with them
- Ask the judge to order the abuser to pick up and return the children at the police station or some other safe place
- Ask that any visits the abuser is permitted are at very specific times so the police will know by reading the court order if the abuser is there at the wrong time
- Tell the judge if the abuser has harmed or threatened the children; ask that visits be supervised; think about who could do that for you
- Get a certified copy of the court order
- Keep the court order with you at all times
- Show the prosecutor your court orders
- Show the prosecutor medical records about your injuries or pictures if you have them
- Tell the prosecutor the name of anyone who is helping you (a victim advocate or a lawyer)
- Tell the prosecutor about any witnesses to injuries or abuse
- Ask the prosecutor to notify you ahead of time if the abuser is getting out of jail
BE SAFE AT THE COURTHOUSE
- Sit as far away from the abuser as you can; you don’t have to look at or talk to the abuser; you don’t have to talk to the abuser’s family or friends if they are there
- Bring a friend or relative with you to wait until your case is heard
- Tell a bailiff or sheriff that you are afraid of the abuser and ask him/her to look out for you
- Make sure you have your court order before you leave
- Ask the judge or the sheriff to keep the abuser there for a while when court is over; leave quickly
- If you think the abuser is following you when you leave, call the police immediately
- If you have to travel to another State for work or to get away from the abuser, take your protection order with you; it is valid everywhere