Friday, April 10, 2015

Abuse Does Not Stop Until You Decide to Put an End To It

It may be the hardest choice you ever make, but you have to make it. You deserve better. You deserve more. Despite the lies you've been told, you are not worthless.

It's been almost 10 years since I made my choice. I was weak, I was scared, I had no idea what I was doing. I only knew things would not get better if I didn't decide to end it. I made my plans. I thought it out a lot. Back then there were a lot of "if" statements in my plan. As in "If I only had money," "If I only had help," "If only ______ knew what I was going through." I had to find a way around all of those if's because they were only holding me back.

I lied a lot on my way out. I had to. Telling the truth would have ended my life and I knew it and there was just too much at stake for that. I knew that wasn't how I wanted to die. With each passing day I grew stronger because I had given myself that opportunity.

The only problem is, my abuser saw my strength as a problem. As I got stronger he lost more and more control and became more desperate to regain his power over me. That's when I found out I had the misfortune of being married to a narcissistic psychopath.

It started with aggressive verbal demands. It escalated to tears that were so obviously fake it made my stomach churn. When those things didn't get him what he wanted, his aggression got worse. Trained in mind games he began getting into my home at night and standing outside my barricaded bedroom door. All I could see were the shadows from his feet and I could hear his breathing. And that wasn't even the worst of his games.

Image from "The Resident" starring Hilary Swank

Once I was finally able to obtain a divorce, things got even worse. Keep in mind that my ex had already introduced his new girlfriend to his parents before our separation agreement was even in place. He would bring her with him, leave her at his mother's and come to my house to try to scare or abuse me further. He even went so far as to wave a gun in my face and dare me to take it.

Then I got lucky, or so I thought. He moved clear across the country with his new girlfriend. That's when the emails started....emails from her. I hadn't heard from him in months when all of a sudden an email would come from his address threatening me to stop trying to get him back. What may sound to most like a jealous new girlfriend meant something much more sinister to me. Since I know I hadn't contacted him and was doing everything in my power to prevent him from contacting me, he must be doing something to make her feel like their relationship was being threatened by me.

Things went on like this for 7 long years. The span between contacts got longer and longer but they almost always went the same way. Then 2 years ago things got even more out of hand. Apparently my marriage to my Indian husband was more than he could stand for.

He kidnapped my kids, took them on a wild rampage to a well-known criminal hideout zone 2 hours from the closest police station and began making them dig 6-foot deep ditches in the woods. It took me 3 months but I managed to recover my children, still in one-piece but irreparably harmed by all he had done. One of them had been choked to the point he blacked out because he dared ask for food to eat.

He took everything they owned and sold it for money to buy his new wife plane tickets. But it didn't end there. During the course of recovering my children, I uncovered some serious evidence...evidence that would finally and eventually damn him. Evidence he couldn't hide from.

He had stolen surplus goods from the government among other things but those are mostly irrelevant to my story. During the time I thought I had managed to stay away from him, I learned he had actually been trying to replace me in his own mind. He had pushed my identity onto his new wife, in effect making her pretend to be me. He had used my identity to rob the Veterans Administration. I'm dead sure that wasn't all he had done with my identity, but it was the only thing I could find actual hard evidence of.

That may not sink in as deep for you as it does me but to put it simply, 3 years after our divorce was finalized, he had his wife pretend to be me so they could steal from a federal organization aimed at helping wounded veterans. This is when I found out just how involved she had been all along. My abuser recruited another sick, twisted mind to help him.

Most people don't ever fully accept the weight of a story of a domestic violence victim. I've had people tell look at me like I was nuts when I told them my ex was still trying to torture me after our divorce and his remarriage and no one believed me. They all thought I was exaggerating.

That is, until 2012 when his antics to regain control over me reached such an extreme level they could no longer deny it. For the last almost 3 years, that behavior continued to escalate and what once was a highly decorated US Marine became a busted down joke of his unit, a burden they couldn't wait to get rid of. Amidst all of his attempts to come after me, he also attacked his current wife and got arrested for that as well.

I would be lying if I said I no longer felt the fear of having been his victim. What I can tell you is that with each new small step I took on my way out I felt more and more empowered to take control of my own life. I felt more and more like I could choose not to be a victim. Like so many victims, I too felt like I couldn't call the cops or I couldn't deal with any extreme drama while trying to get out. Looking back I know now that had I only dialed 911 in the beginning, I may not have had to go through all I have been through now. But I just couldn't back then.

So even if it takes you time to find your strength and to be able to fight back, get out. Get out, do something to build yourself up and empower and protect yourself. Choose to take the hard path, the one you think is harsh. Stop finding reasons to be sympathetic to your abuser and get documentation so his/her behavior does not escalate out of control.

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