That's how stupid you are!! Those words were commonly used by my abuser to make me believe that I was nothing more than a failure. Of course, according to him, nothing I ever did was right. I was always the one to blame for the problems in our relationship, the problems with our workplace, and the problems with the people who were around us.
Maybe I should go back to the beginning. My abuser and I had met while we were working for the same company. We had known each other for a few years before ever becoming "involved". After organizing a union for the people employed by this company, we became closer. My abuser was nominated as a shop steward, representing our fellow coworkers. A few months after he was nominated, he approached me about taking on the role of an alternate representative. I had loved being a part of the organizing of the union. I loved to help other people, and I loved to be able to stand up for what I believed in. I eagerly took on the position, and was ready to do everything I could to represent my fellow friends and coworkers. Before actively taking on this role, I was involved with another man; my husband. The relationship I had my my husband was rocky, at best. Although my husband never would have done anything to knowingly hurt me, we just could not get through the struggles that life had to offer us. While going through my divorce, my abuser had offered me help; a place to live, a shoulder to cry on. He was my best friend and my rock.
Shortly after moving in with my abuser, the problems began. At work, things started to change. More and more people started to question the status of the relationship with my abuser. Of course, no one really knew we were together. No, my abuser thought it was best if we keep our personal lives far away from our professional lives. Of course, I had thought that in our positions, he was right. I never really noticed that my abuser was doing his best to isolate me from other people. In addition, the people that I had felt most close to were the ones in which my abuser so convincingly depicted as the people who were causing problems and starting rumors. In turn, my abuser's convincing statements made me feel that I could not trust anyone. I became easily angered by others around me. Instead of helping my coworkers, I started to look for ways to anger them. My abuser manipulated me to the point of isolating me from everyone that had ever cared. The people who we were representing were starting to resent us being in that position. The more time that passed, the more they had wanted us to be removed from our jobs. That was when things got worse.
My abuser made it known to me that I was the cause of all the problems betweeen our coworkers. I had caused the friction. I had caused my coworkers to want to strip us both of our titles. At home, things were even worse. It seemed that I could never do anything right; the house was never clean enough, the dog was not walked enough, and I never did anything to make him happy. My abuser referred to me as an inconsiderate girl who needed to be with someone with no expectations. When I didn't fight back, he verbally attacked me more. When I did fight back, he would hit me in the face with his fists, with ashtrays, with beer glasses. Lucky for him, he never left a visible mark. Unlucky for me, the pain I was feeling remained to go unnoticed.
One night after work, I had come home to find my neighbor outside. I had never really talked with him before, but for the first time in over a year, I had been left unaccompanied by my abuser. My neighbor had admitted to calling the police several times before to report my abuser's violent behavior. Of course, the times that the police were called, I was instructed to stay quiet, turn of the lights, and get in bed. I was never allowed to open the door to the police, or else there would be serious consequences to pay. My neighbor had informed me that I was not the first woman to live with this man who had been treated the same way as I had. At that point, I had realized that he would never stop hurting me. I had to leave. The very next day, my abuser had found out that I had been talking to the neighbor. As we returned from work that night, he kicked me as we were going into the apartment. Over and over again, he accused me of cheating. As usual, my abuser started to drink. The verbal abuse only increased more until it turned physical. My abuser hit me in the face with his beer glass. This time, the police managed to get there while the fighting was still escalating. This time, the police did not give up until I opened the door. My abuser was questioned for over an hour about the events of the evening. My abuser outright denied that anything had happened. Finally, he made a mistake in his story, and the police arrested him on two counts of assault. For twenty-four hours, I was granted a restraining order. I managed to call my family and I quit my job, telling them only that I had a family emergency and I would not be back. I was too scared to tell them the truth.
On August 6, 2008, I left my abuser. With a dollar in my pocket and a change of clothes, I got on a plane to go stay with my family. I had finally had enough of the constant harrassment, the lies, the secrets, the manipulation, and the physical assaults.
So why am I telling this story now? Well, it has taken me almost two years to really come to terms with this whole situation. Because my abuser had made sure that I could not feel comfortable telling my story, I kept it secret from everyone I had known back home. I did not feel safe bringing my personal life into my workplace, especially because I felt that both the company and the union would sooner take his word over mine. I was so isolated from the people that had once cared for me that I did not know how to explain to them what had happened. Over the last six months or so, I have started to talk. I have made amends with friends. I have explained my story to my former employers. Everytime I share my story, I feel more in control with my life and more at peace with my feelings. I am tired of living a lie. I am ready to expose my story.
There are so many people out there that have experienced similar situations as I have. Abuse can seem very subtle, or it can be very obvious. Although physical abuse is the most recognized form of violence, many victims are abused emotionally, sexually, and financially as well. No matter what, no one deserves to be treated in ways that make them feel uncomfortable or that cause pain. I hope that my story will help others who have yet to escape the grasps of their abusers, and I hope that there are survivors who are willing to share their experiences, and who are willing to take a stand against domestic violence.
This is my story. This is my new beginning. I'm breaking my silence.