This post is personal, but I'm writing this so that people will see, and maybe understand that there are too many women and children being silently abused by people who claim to be pillars of the community, when in reality, they are nothing but monsters. Hopefully someone out there will realize that people like this fear the light. They fear being exposed. Telling our stories is what will save us.
The following is a text I received from my ex-husband of 12 years today. I'll go into what prompted it after, but I'm positing it because there is someone out there who is spoken to like this every day of their life. You are not alone.
I won’t take the time to refute the many erroneous (and barely literate) claims you see here, but I will say that this is typical of the tantrums and tirades I and my children have experienced for years…
"Look bitch I haven't ask for you to do any thing other to have him to call me back I'm not trying to force any thing from him! All this extra fly shit you talking to me is unnecessary! It's not about being grown are as you say it damn near grown it's about the fact that I'm his father and the relationship is as it is and it will be always that! But you will never understand having a parent relationship with your children because you have always been to busy trying to be a friend to your children! This is some stage he's going through he will realize one day! I have no problem with that! And don't try to give me any advise as a parent when you have never taken the responsibility as a real parent you font even have your own place you are living in your mothers home and waiting on a man to come through and save you! You won't even take control of your life because you can't get over your childhood past!!! First you grow the fuck up and be the example that you so called trying to speak and in your action maybe someone will listen to your advise you fucking irresponsible looser you! Because I'm not listening to shit a stuck punk stinky gray pussy having bitch got to say to me!!! Take control of your own shit (life) you dumb fuck you!!!"Now, since I have nothing to lose, and all the bones are about to fall out of the closet, I’ll explain what led to the above foolery. After several acts of physical violence, verbal abuse, etc. were committed against my son, (who was placed in his father’s custody by a clueless judge in a divorce where I was basically out-lawyered. I received custody of our daughter, an arrangement that allowed for child support neither from, nor for, either of us), I went back to court and got an emergency order of protection, went to Houston and brought him up here. There would have been several more hearings, however, his father decided it would be prudent to dodge process servers and constables. Basically, my son turned 17 and has since refused to see his father.
Today, he (my ex) decided (after more than a year) to bring my son some of his things. I suppose he thought this would be a good opportunity to force a visit. He asked me to have the boy call him, which I did. He called his father and rightfully (and respectfully, I might add) told him that he wasn’t ready to see him, and that he wasn’t ready to have a relationship with him at this time. You would think that would be the end of it. Not so.
I advised my ex that there would be no one available to receive whatever it was he was leaving, and that he could just leave it on the porch. He said that was fine and to have the boy call him. Again. The thought upset my son, and I knew what was coming. Something in me finally said “enough is enough”. When he sent me the first text demanding in all caps that I have the boy call him, I informed him that I already had, and that the boy has a phone and his father’s number and that he would call him when he was ready. I also expressed that I didn’t understand why he couldn’t respect the boy’s wishes to give him some time. The result is the text you read above. Also known as the final straw.
When I woke up this morning, the singular thought on my mind was “why me?” Why does everybody in the world get to wake up this morning and not have to deal with him? Why does everybody else have the good fortune of never having known this man? And mostly why, after two decades, am I still paying for being stupid enough to ever have been with him in the first damned place? Why, after a divorce in 2003, am I still making arrangements, and passing messages and trying to protect my children from someone they have literally run from? Why is this person (and I use the term loosely) still in my life?
The answers are too complicated to go into here. The family court system in this country is unbelievably flawed. Better than most, but they still get it wrong. Those court rooms are like all the rest. The most money and the best lawyer wins. Many, many a mother has remained in an abusive relationship for decades because of this fact. The abuse doesn’t stop with the divorce. And what do you do when yeah, you could get out, but you can’t take your child or children with you? Most women won’t. And in some cases, it costs them their lives.
My abuser wasn’t physical with me. Not until right before I left him. But I went through years of verbal, emotional and mental abuse. In too many situations to go into in this one post. As did my children. I left when the “whippings” became more than just punishment for not cleaning correctly, and the arguments between the two of us started to include pushing and shoving and physical intimidation. There’s more, but this is a good start. The problem was, when it all came to custody, my son ended up right back in the same house.
I hoped for a long time that since he was a boy, and since I and the girls weren’t around, he would be able to bond with his father and that their relationship would be a good one. I was naïve, but I believed in spite of his behavior, he loved his kids and would put their interests first. It was ok as long as they were young and easily controlled. I put up with years of his interrogating them about my life and personal business. Him instructing them to take the phone out of the room when he would call to talk to them. Him telling them completely inappropriate (lies) about me and our past and my “choices”, as he liked to put it. I put up with it because I wanted my son and daughter to grow up as much together as was possible. I couldn’t afford to go back to court, so I tried to make it work. And prayed for the day when the kids would be old enough to see the truth and make their own decisions.
And that day came, eventually. And he couldn’t stand it. By the time our daughter was a teenager, she’d gone from wanting to live with her dad at 10, to not being able to have a conversation with him at 15. They haven’t spoken in almost two years. And that has nothing to do with me. He killed that all by himself. And as my son grew into a young man, one who questioned his father’s bullying, berating, physical intimidation and lying, the relationship between him and his father also dissolved. And I suppose my ex is having a difficult time seeing his part in the whole thing. It’s too bad, really. Everybody can see how amazing his kids are but him.
But be all of that as it may, time will bring all of those relationships to wherever they’re supposed to be. My concern in all of this is that somewhere, there is a woman just like me. A woman who thought that because she was divorced, or because she had finally gotten up the courage to leave, the abuse would stop. She’s just as wrong as I was. And I want her to know this: you are not alone. Silent abusers don’t hit for one reason- they don’t like going to jail. They also want the world to think they’re one thing, when you know they’re something completely different. They don’t use fists. They use words, insults, intimidation and threats. They isolate you. They destroy your self-esteem. They make you feel hopeless. All behind closed doors. And if you don’t expose them, they win. Speak up. Tell somebody. Anybody. They can’t hide when you shine the light on them.
Today was the day I decided I’ve had enough. My children have had enough. I’m not taking another call, I’m not responding to another text. I’m not engaging. I don’t have to. After 22 years, I’m taking my life back. And the lives of my children. In time, they may want to give him another chance. And that’s fine with me. But as of right now, they have no desire to know him at all. And that’s on him. But I’m done taking the high road while he walks all over me. I’m fighting back. That’s how you take a bully down. You. Fight.Back.
***For more information and helpful resources, check out: http://abusedwomen.org/ and http://www.ncadv.org/.