One woman. One horse. 48 states for Domestic Violence Awareness

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My story - why I stayed and how I left

WARNING! The following account may be disturbing to read. What follows is my true account of why at first I did not leave my abusive husband, and how I eventually did leave.


Escape. I thought about it for years. But I also tried so very hard to not think about it. Because thinking about leaving my Evil Ex (EE) made every insult, every slap or bite, every ritual morning fuck that much harder to bear up to while it was happening. Which made it so much more painful, so much more stressful than it already was. If I could numb myself, if I could not think about what was happening, I could get through.

For a few years, I frequently tried to escape. The abuse had become so much worse so quickly that at first I was confused and frightened more than anything. What had happened to my life? What was wrong with my husband for treating me this way, what could I do?

In the beginning of the escalation, he said he was to blame, that he was mentally ill, an undiagnosed schizophrenic, that I just needed to be patient and loving to him and he would get it under control. He distrusted doctors and refused to see a psychiatrist. If I loved him, I would help him get better.

So I stayed, foolishly thinking it was my role as wife to stick by him. For better or worse, right? He didn't mean to hurt me, he just was going through a hard time. I could understand he was sick.

But it didn't get better. Quite the opposite.

The first time I tried to run away it wasn't with a clear intent on escape. He had me pinned inside the car on our driveway, and his violence was so sudden and out of the blue that I only thought to protect myself. I struck back, got away, hid in a shed. We were living on a homestead in the middle of nowhere, it was the only place to hide – and thus a terrible hiding place. He found me within minutes.

But it was enough time, that time, for him to flip to his “nice” side and apologize and make empty promises. I was so relieved it was over that I accepted all he said.

A few months later we moved to the city, to live in his parents’ basement. By this time, he had changed his story to the abuse being my own fault, that I started all the fights, that I was crazy, that I needed him to hit me so that I could be restrained from hurting him or myself. He had figured out how to terrify me enough to start screaming or crying or shaking in fear, when he could “step in” and assault me. His parents turned a blind eye to everything, and accepted every word he said.

During this period, I began to run away frequently. The official statistics say that it takes an average of three attempts before a victim leaves her abuser. I don’t know how they get these statistics, but I’m pretty sure if they factored my data in, I’d personally bring up the national average. Every chance I got, every time I was unaccompanied, I would bolt for the door. Sometimes I’d make it a block away before he’d call or text, begging me to come back with empty promises. 

The pattern was always the same. I would refuse, he would apologize, I would demand he swear upon all things holy that he wouldn't do it again, he would promise, I’d believe him. Why did I believe him? I don’t know. I wanted to. I really wanted a return to happier times, I didn't understand what was going on, I didn't know what else to do. I was in such terror all the time that I couldn’t think clearly.

At a certain point though, I’d had enough. I wasn’t going to believe anything else, and I was leaving. I got as far as the lightrail station to the airport, where I planned on waiting until I could get a ticket to anywhere else, when the police stopped me. My EE had called the police (I had not thought to report it myself), and told them he needed help finding me. To this day, I don’t understand why the officer made me go back to him. I told her I was leaving my husband, but going to a safe place. But he had his parents backing him up that I was crazy and unwell, and needed returned to their care. Three against one, and me acting anxious and distraught probably didn't help my case.

From that day, I began to give up on escaping. If he could have the police return me, who are supposed to help the innocent, what was the point of hiding from him? I’d have to hide from him and an entire police force.

We moved back to the farmstead where he could keep a closer eye on me, and with only one vehicle and a good 20 miles to the nearest town (all in the open, nowhere to hide from searching cars) what chance did I have of getting away? I made one unsuccessful bid for freedom, but he called the local law enforcement and they found and returned me. Again.

I considered suicide the only method of escape left to me. But (obviously, since I’m writing this now) that didn't work out. The first suicide attempt was more of a contemplation than an attempt. I ran off to a secluded area where it took a good hour for him to find me. During that time, I thought deeply about how to kill myself right then, but had no weapons to use against myself. I carved RIP in a piece of wood and cried. But there was nowhere to go, and no one to help me, so I gave up and allowed myself to be found.

My only other attempt was to give myself alcohol poisoning one night while he slept. I crept out of bed and got in the liquor cabinet. I had read that if you drank enough, you would black out and suffocate in your own vomit. Sounded painless enough, and effective. So I drank and drank. Drank until I was dizzy, then drank some more. At that point, he realized I was not next to him in bed and came to find me. I vaguely remember him screaming and hitting me before I blacked out.  Apparently from my injuries and mess the next day, he kept at me for some time after but I was blessedly unconscious. But not dead. He left the puke and blood for me to clean up when I came to the next day.

This prompted him to lock up anything I could use to kill myself. But I was not going to try that again – it was too difficult. And just like any other failed escape, a failed suicide resulted in a bigger beating than normal.

I had another brilliant idea to escape. If I couldn't leave, and I couldn't kill myself, I would fight back. Either I’d win, or more likely it would aggravate the abuse and he’d kill me. But that also didn't work –no matter how much he bloodied me up, or threatened me with his gun, or put my hands in fire, he never did enough injury to permanently harm me. And cuts, bruises and burns could be healed at home, no need to have a hospital record of what he’d done.

In some respects, the fighting back backfired on my mental state. I sort of did lose my sanity, and became a hysterical madwoman. And then all those things he’d been saying about me, that I was crazy and needed protected from myself, actually did become true. So it was harder to think about leaving –not only could I not see a way out, maybe he was right all these years!

Then something big happened that helped me to see that I was not as crazy as I’d started to feel, and that I didn't need him controlling all aspects of my life. He got arrested. Not for domestic violence, unfortunately, but for brandishing a firearm at the neighbor over a property dispute. He was held at the jail overnight before his parents could post bail. And I had almost 24 hours to function like a normal person again.

No required scripture before bed (a part of spiritual abuse). No ritual morning fuck (a type of rape). No terror of saying the wrong thing or doing something to bring about a beating. No pain. I got the farm chores done in record time. I got everything done five times faster even though I was doing both of our work! I had never realized how much of my day was spent crying, cowering, or being “punished.” And I could see now that I was a capable, sane human, that I only acted crazy when he was terrorizing me.

I knew I needed out, but was running out of ideas. The only way I could escape was by car, but he had the keys. Although we went into the city once a week, he was especially careful to watch me at all moments so I couldn't leave. I spent the next four months brainstorming. Not just how I would initially make my getaway, but where I would go that the police wouldn’t return me again, how I could earn a living and have a roof over my head. I had several alternate plans in case I needed to change courses during the escape. I was ready, if I could just get the keys.

And then, miracle of miracles, he let me have them! Just for a little while, he said. It was after another beating and he was in the apology phase. He’d show me he trusted me to not be crazy by giving me the responsibility of holding the keys. And I knew this wouldn't last, that he would turn mean again soon and take them back. I had to act.

It was morning and I was going out to feed the chickens and sheep. Because of the high winds on the homestead, we kept the feeders inside a shelter so the animals could be comfortable and the hay wouldn't blow away. I went in the shed to feed, and he went behind our house to with a bag of seed for the garden. The truck was parked in front of the house, and the animal shelter was to the side. I quickly estimated the time it would take him to run back to the car when he realized I’d opened the door. He wouldn't wait for the engine to turn over before coming to grab me, he’d know what I was doing as soon as he heard the door open. When I’d tried to take the car years earlier, he’d run across the property on the shortest distance to the road and launched himself at the door to pull it open where I had to slow for a turn. I couldn't risk him being close enough for that either.

I decided this was the best opportunity I would have, but that I couldn't risk the time to grab any personal belongings. I walked calmly toward the house and therefore also the car. When I neared the car, I slowed down to make sure he was still out in the garden. Then I leapt into the car, turned it on and floored it down the driveway. No time to buckle up, and took the corner at the highest speed possible without flipping the vehicle. As I roared past the property line, I glanced in the mirror to see him running after me, but he was too late. I was gone.

The next part of the initial escape plan was to get out of the county. He would undoubtedly report me missing again, but the next county over had very few officers in the area I’d be driving through. And none of those officers had ever talked with my EE or I before, so there was a chance that if they did stop me they’d either not have gotten the memo or that I would not be taken back. This time, too, I was ready to use the word “abusive,” something I’d never thought to say before.

I made it over the county line and to the first rest stop on the highway, where I pulled over to make some calls. Since we only had one vehicle, I was sure I wasn't being followed. However, he would probably also call his parents to come help in the search and they lived only half an hour the other way from where I had parked. I needed to be in the city and off the highway before they passed me and recognized the vehicle.

My first call was to my parents. We had become fairly estranged because my EE monitored my calls. I could only say things to them that he wouldn't get angry about. And even if I said everything right, every call was followed by a debriefing where he’d analyze and criticize everything they said. Since making a call was such an ordeal, it was easier to not call at all.

They answered the phone and I told them I was leaving my home for good. Through many tears, we determined I would go to their house. However, it was half a country away, and I was terrified that if I went through an airport that TSA would stop me like the police always had.

My dad jumped on the next plane, met me near the airport, and flew back with me as my escort. Luckily no questions were asked at security. I left my cell phone in the car after sending a single text on where I’d left it, so that he wouldn't later accuse me of stealing the vehicle. 

I was free.

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