Keara Jo
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Deafening Silence

Surviving Domestic Violence

The door closed and that was it.  It was done.  No more yelling.  No more fighting.  No more hatred, at least not from him.  After years of manipulation and control I was free, or so I thought.  I set about filing for divorce as though that would fix the trauma I had endured.  This is not a story so much about being a victim but rather an emotional outpouring from someone that was a victim of domestic violence.

The Beginning of the End

It was so nice at first knowing that I was finally really alone.  I didn't have to worry about him coming home geeked and drunk out of his mind, expecting things from me that I just did not want to do for him anymore.  I had begun to feel physically ill at the thought of him touching me the past couple months and just wanted him to stop and go away.  I never knew who would be there, the man I fell in love with or the man he had chosen to become.

Life had become so lonely being married, I was cut off from friends and family.  I had even been "laid off" by an employer when they found out I had gotten married to him.  There were new friends, his, and I did not trust them as far as I could throw them.  In the end I was right to not trust them, every "god sister" was a side piece and every guy's girlfriend was so loyal to their man that our safety was eventually compromised.

At the end I spent most days and nights alone, of course he would sit outside the house popping in and out disrupting my sleep and making it difficult for me to function.  His goal was to take my sanity and make me feel like I was crazy, it was a constant game of give and take.  He was kind and then he would take it away and be mean and heartless and thought I would tolerate and forgive him forever, I had started thinking I would too.  There were after all, children involved and I wanted my children to have their father around.

The Hanging

He was hanging himself in this relationship, the deceit, cheating and abuse were too much. There had not been a spark for a while and the heat from that flame was vanishing fast. I had played his games for so many years it had almost become common place for him to do the things he did as if I expected it. Telling me how hideous my appearance was, I could not cook, clean, dress, or even have intercourse properly and I was "lucky" he loved me and was putting up with all of my shortcomings.

He would run the bills up so high I could not afford to pay them and then he would tell me I was a failure as a woman because I was not holding him down like his ex-girlfriends had.  It is one thing if someone is having hard times or a rough period but they at least try to help out, he would do nothing of the sort.  Including travel time and daycare drop off and pick up, my work days were 10 hours long.  I would come home and find that my house was wrecked and all of the food was gone with the mess left for me.

I was so exhausted and tired that once I became pregnant again my body quit.  I had an infection, the baby was in jeopardy and I had this outrageously high fever.  Having had four miscarriages in the past, I recognized the urgency and needed to get to the ER as soon as possible. Delirious with fever and pain I asked for a ride to the hospital and he made me wait until he went grocery shopping, cooked and ate his meal and then got mad that I called my father to come get me.  This was it.  He had hung himself.

The Calculated Assault

I was still married and wanted him gone.  Marriage is so different from dating, you can not just put someone out when you are married, you are stuck unless you can afford to leave and I could not.  Our home was now like having two dogs in the same kennel, one old and grumpy and the other a puppy still very immature and clueless.  I was gonna have to tough this out and be smart to save my money so I could leave.

I quit buying groceries for the house, I would shop every day for a meal and cook it at my parents home, feed the kids and bathe them there with the toiletries I had purchased and left there for us.  I no longer used my washer and dryer at home and rather did all of our laundry at my god mother's home on the weekend while he was out partying.  I had decided to stop being kind and start being smart and calculating.

If we had no groceries he could not eat them all, if there was no washing powder he could not use it all, if there was no soap he would have to bathe elsewhere or just rinse his filth.  He was angry, I had poked a hornets' nest and I was ready for the fight.  "He could work, he could get a job and start providing those things for himself, I am not obligated to raise my husband only my children" was what I kept telling myself.  I had just the bare necessities, toilet paper, hand soap, vinegar to clean with and paper towels at home.

Surviving

The days became more volatile after I pulled back and quit pouring money into this bottomless pit of a man.  He is driven by money and things, I am not. He began by playing the pity card, he was pitiful and because he was an ex-con he couldn't get work, he'd quit cheating, he would help out around the house, he would keep the kids while I worked. He began staying home all day and refusing to eat so he could plead his case better and prove that he would be different. I did not believe him at all, some lessons if hard learned are quite often hard forgotten. I was determined not to forgive.

Next came verbal threats. He was going to bust my head open, he would slap me, he was not the one to play with.  I stood my ground.  I was finished, I would not be guilted or intimidated into giving in.  Some days were so bad we would leave the house and spend our time at family member's homes until it was bedtime for the kids.  He began fussing about them laughing, they weren't allowed to play, if he wasn't allowed to laugh and play, then they couldn't.  We would have to strategically leave the house otherwise we would be forced to stay there in an effort not to start a full on rage.

Then it became physical, holes in the walls right next to my head, picking me up and squeezing my arms so hard they burned, shoving - oh, he loved to shove me. A couple nights before he left he held me down in the bed and screamed in my ear until I could no longer hear, followed by being barricaded in my own bedroom with him and taking my phone away so I could not call for help.  Pregnant and unable to fight back I accepted the abuse I was getting and dreamed of our escape in my mind.

Get Out and Run

The next day was uneventful, he had passed out after his tirade and I was able to get out of the bedroom and go to work the next morning.  I fielded phone calls and sent apology texts to every guy in my contacts list that he had harassed the night before and tried to make amends.  I then changed my phone number and did not give it to him, he would no longer have access to my time away from him by calling and leaving threatening messages.  The next week was calm, we rarely spoke and when we did it was emotionless arguments full of petty verbal jabs at each other.

His final day with us my children and I went swimming after being forbidden from being happy, laughing or playing.  When we returned home he was gone and we were relieved, the kids began pulling out their toys and playing in the living room floor while I laid down to rest for a few moments.  He came home soon after and began one of his petty fights pointing out some other way I was a failure at life.

He then decided that my toddler was to blame and began cursing at them like they were a sailor at which point I stepped in front of my child to protect them.  Things escalated to where I was slammed into a wall and my arm slammed in the door as I tried to leave with my children.  He began shoving me and trying to slam me into things face first in an effort to hurt my baby as well as myself.  He tried to drag me through the house by my hair and was unsuccessful, when he went to get a chair I grabbed the kids and shoved them ahead of me to a window telling them to get out and run.

Deafening Silence

There were some neighborhood children that had heard my screams for help and had been trying to find where it was coming from, when I reached that window with my children we made eye contact and they took off running for help.  Realizing the police would be called or someone else would be showing up he relented and let us leave.  I grabbed the kids, chunked them in the car and drove as fast as I could to a family member's house to call the cops.

My neighbor called me to let me know he was gone, he had been arrested very violently and had made some more threatening statements regarding me.  It was safe to come home now, she would be waiting there for me to let me in.  It was time to go, trying to wrap my head around it all, I gathered myself and my children and went home to clean up the mess and try to comfort my children.

Had it not been for those children, hearing someone in need and searching I would have a very different story to tell.  If you know or suspect someone is being abused or in an abusive relationship, don't quit being their friend, don't give up and most importantly don't get mad at the choices they make.  Those who are or have been abused are not weak minded or simpletons they have been programmed and quite often have been isolated from any support system they may have making it feel hopeless to leave.

Abused people need to feel understood, be heard and feel safe while doing it.  Your job is not to confront the abuser but rather be there for the victim, when they are ready they will fight back and leave but it has to be on their terms and in their way.  They have to be ready to deal with the aftermath because once you have spent so many years just trying to survive and you are free you are left with a deafening silence.

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