Hi everyone, I came across this forum, and read many of the posts. Thought I would share some of my own experiences with DV as encouragement, but also as a warning of the real dangers of domestic violence.
I got married almost four years ago to a man I knew and dated for only about 6 monthes. When we got married I was 3 monthes pregnant with our first daughter. He proposed before I found out I was pregnant, so I like to think that is not why we got married, but there were times before the wedding when I questioned whether I should go through with it or not.
Even before the wedding there were a few emotional abusive moments, but I just thought he was being a jerk. About six months after we were married, we mutually decide to move to a small town outside of the big city we had been living in. In that one month that we moved, my husband also started his own home based business, and our first child was born. That in itself was pretty stressful, but things seemed to be going ok. There was however more and more emotional and verbal abuse, but I didn't realize it was abuse until later.
About 2 months after my first daughter was born, I became pregnant with my second child. I didn't want to sleep with him, but he basically forced me to. Unfortunately, I'll always have that in my head of how she was conceived. Anyhow, the big problems started with my second pregnancy. I was very tired all the time because of being in the first trimester, and at the same time caring for an infant. My husband would help out when prodded, but always resented it, and complained that I was a horrible wife and didn't do my "job" properly. When I was about 2 months pregnant, I started seeing a counselor. I went in order to learn how to improve my marriage. My husband did not go. In the first session, my counselor spotted many red flags, that pointed out all the abuse I was enduring. I hadn't realized that all the stuff I'd been putting up with was abuse. Even after she talked about all these things, I didn't really believe it at first.
My husband did attend a few sessions with a different counselor during this time, but his abusing never came up in those sessions, go figure.
A couple months after I started counseling, he did the first thing that really scared me. He threw me on the bed, and choked me. He told me not to worry that it would be over quickly. That really scared me. I thought I can't believe this, it's like a movie, but he might really kill me. I fought to get out from under him, but to no avail. Finally, I cried out to my stepdaughter who was in the living room (we were in the bedroom with the door closed). I called to her, screaming help! That shocked him enough for me to get out from under him, and streak through the door like lightening. I didn't stop to think, just grabbed up the phone and dialed 911. It seemed to take forever for the police to arrive, and I thought for sure he was going to shoot me before they got there, he was soooo angry that I'd called the police.
When they arrived, they didn't help a whole lot. The worst was they told me that they could not force him to let me take our daughter with me. I told them I couldn't leave her with him, and if he did not agree for me to take her, that I would be forced to stay. Luckily he agreed (I spoke to the police outside while he was inside). I went to a domestic violence shelter for one week with my daughter. It was a dark and dismal place, and the staff treated you like children. That was a big part of what made my mind to go back to him if he agreed to seek help specifically for abusers. He agreed and I went back. He never followed through and got counseling for an abuser. The physical violence pretty much stopped, but in it's place came viscious and constant emotional / verbal abuse. I suppose he thought I would only leave again if he physically hurt me. My agony of being "trapped" in such a horrendous marriage cause me to start hurting myself when he would verbally abuse me. In a strange way, inflicting physical pain on myself, helped to lessen the reality of my emotional pain. I had never done anything like that before, and haven't since I've been away from him.
After our second daughter was born, I was diagnosed with post partum depression. The physical abuse started up again, along with equal amounts of emotional abuse. I had some health concerns and had to go to frequent doctors appts and he would not allow me to hire a babysitter. So he agreed to watch the children while I went to the Dr, or to my weekly therapy sessions. During this time our newborn was also having a lot of health problems. It seemed like every week I was taking her to the doctor, worrying about her health. They always said she was fine, and explained away my concerns that something was wrong with her. When she was almost 2 months old, my husband told me he did not want to watch the baby anymore, and that I could hire a babysitter instead. I then took the girls to an in home daycare when I needed go to an appt, or run some errands. During this time, I was also trying desperately to leave with my children, but it was impossible due to him always working at home. There were several very bad incidents when he managed to catch me trying to escape.
After they had been at this daycare for about 3 weeks, things took a dramatic turn. On one of my many visits with my daughter to the hospital, they finally took notice that something was going on with her. After numerous tests, they found that she had been severly physically abused over an undertermined amount of time, but at least on two different occasions. I told them right away that my husband was abusive towards me, and that I was trying to escape with my kids. I also told them that I hadn't seen him abuse the children, and though I knew something was very wrong with my daughter (hence all the drs visits), I didn't know he was the cause of it.
We were both fully questioned by the police and child protection, and he ended up confessing that he had hit her (remember she was less than 2 months old at the time). He was arrested that night, and was recently sentenced to 30 years in prison. Amazingly, even after all this, I was still caught in the DV cycle. It took me almost two years after his arrest to decide on divorce, and get up the guts to file. He has contested it claiming he does not think we are incompatible, and that he wants to remain married to me. Yeah, I'm sure he does, but that was a different girl he's thinking about, this one could care less what happens to him, and just wants him out of her life for good.
I had the first hearing for the divorce last week, and he wasn't there, which I'm glad for. If all goes well, it should be finalized in a month or so. It does really irk me though, that after all that he's done to us, I'm still forced to be married to him until it is finalized. It would be nice if abuse like that revoked their rights :) , but I guess that kind of thing could be harmful if used against innocent people.
Well, I did want to mention something very important to you ladies with children who are in abusive relationships. I was told by DV counselors and shelters that there is sometimes a greater chance of child abuse when a spouse is abusing their partner. However, I was never cautioned not to leave my children alone with the abuser. In fact the police themselves wouldn't allow a child to escape the abuser with the victim, unless the abuser agreed! If I had been told it was unsafe to leave them with him, I would have taken them with me everywhere, and my daughter would most likely be without all the devastating effects that she now has from the abuse she endured. Even if he seems like the best dad in the world, please be cautious about leaving your children alone with someone that has abused you, regardless of the severity of the abuse.
Good luck to you all and may God watch over you and keep you safe.