BETHESDA, Maryland, October 13, 2014 — Mary* is a survivor of domestic violence and pathological abuse living, raising her children and recovering in Australia.
I was “at my peak” when I started socializing with my ex. I had a good job, socialized with lots of good friends, traveled and went to gym. I worked hard and owned a couple of investment properties. I was healthy, happy and fun.
I was 34. We met at a dinner party. I knew his older brother and sisters. From that night, we did not part again for about 15 years. In hindsight, there were lots of red flags. He took no responsibility and left everything to me to decide and organize. He did nothing at the house . I became increasingly frustrated with his non-existence and lack of input. By then, I was pregnant with twins, and we married. It was all downhill from that wedding day.
He pretended to be away at work. I realize now that he did this to avoid any input or responsibilities at home. Baby twins, and I was pregnant again with our third child. When he did come home, he watched TV and slept.
With each passing year, things got worse. His insults and putdowns became more and more regular. He started periods of silent treatment, usually without cause. To the stranger in the street, he was Mr. Charming. Behind closed doors, he was an arsehole. There were many episodes of his awful behavior.
When we eventually separated, our custody case was shockingly corrupt and explosive. When that settled, my children and I were raw. We have PTSD and panic attacks.
He has operated an awful smear campaign against me for years. He stole money from me, stole my jewelry, sexually abused the kids and my 72-year-old mother and my sister. He bought properties with cash in his elderly father’s name during the marriage without my knowledge. He broke up several marriages and had several affairs. There are days when I feel like I have been hit by a train. Gradually, my children and I are gaining our health and “old self” back. It is a long journey.
On the night we first met, he kissed me like a long lost lover. He called me the next day, and we never parted after that. He asked me to marry him after two months. We bought a house together in the first six months. He bought me beautiful diamond and platinum stud earrings. These disappeared when I was in hospital having my daughter. I realize now that he stole them. When he eventually left, he took my wedding and engagement rings, too.
He criticized my body shape, my hair color, my choice of clothes and even my family. I had a brain hemorrhage in bed one night and nearly died. He revived me and called [an] ambulance. I had several weeks in intensive care and life threatening brain surgery. When I was finally released from the hospital, he picked me up to drive me the 40-minute trip home. Guess what? He gave me the ‘silent treatment’. I was very fragile that day. I actually needed some nurturing. I cried most of the way home.
Some years later, I found out that he had told his acquaintances and family that he had made a mistake by reviving me on that night. He said, “I should have rolled her over and let her die in bed.”
When I started to heal from my surgery, I developed a bit of a tremor in my head. As a result, my eyes were slightly ‘out of line’ if I was tired. He would mimic me and pull faces to copy my physical problems. He criticized me for being ‘ too protective” of the kids. I now realize why.
The criticism could go on for days. He criticized everything, from my driving to my housekeeping skills. He started to examine supermarket receipts to check what I had purchased.
We had two attempts at couples counseling. He lied at both sessions, and his summary was that he “didn’t need any help” and that I “was the one with the problems.”
He spoke critically of my friends and relatives. Gradually, I started to socialize alone. I would go out and leave him to babysit.
As I mentioned, I did everything at home and with the three babies. I also worked. I remember one dreadful evening when I had a busy day at work. I came home to bathe the children, do homework and cook dinner. I was also starting on their school lunches. I recall him sitting like a stuffed pig in front of the TV. He did not even try to help in any way. I remember peeling potatoes with a sharp knife and looking at the back of his big bald head and neck. The thought crossed my mind that I could stab his neck and kill him quite easily. It was very tempting. He worked in the electricity supply industry, and I often prayed that he would fall off a ladder or electrocute himself and not come home.
To escape the pain, I indulged in food and worked a lot.
The most challenging part of this ordeal was when my children were taken from me, on-the-spot, at a very corrupt family law court case. They were given to him full-time with an order for me to have no contact with them ever again. The second choice was that the kids were to be made immediate foster kids if they refused to go with their father. My children refused to go with him. This is a very long and involved part of the story. The kids are now back with me at a legal cost of approximately $180,000. We are now no contact, which was the children’s choice. My children are now teenagers, teenagers who were abused by their biological father. We are starting the healing process.
He is a very disturbed and harmful person. I was not, however, aware of just how crazy he was and what he was capable of doing. He was living several concurrent lives while he was supposedly husband and father to my family. He was an award-winning liar. I had no idea the extent of his lies. The kids and I were his ‘decent front’ to show the rest of the world.
He had one friend and broke up his 25-year marriage after phone sexing his wife. At the same time, he was seducing his very impressionable secretary and broke up her marriage. He was also seducing a soccer mom whose husband was in jail. And he was still living here. Mind blowing, non-human behavior.
To recover and heal from the trauma, I did EMDR treatment for post-traumatic stress. The best thing has been exercise – the stronger the better.
I stayed 12 years longer than desired, simply to protect the kids from him. I realized that the system would still allow him access, and he would be alone with them. So I stayed. He was away a lot. I now realize why he was away. He was hitting on anything with a heartbeat. He tried to strangle me once. In hindsight, I should have reported him that evening; but when you are in that bind with one of these monsters, it is hard to get out.
I would advise others in this situation to speak to a woman’s refuge/shelter or get police involved. The emotional and mental abuse is continuous and very cruel; it is debilitating.
Each day during the month of October, column author Paula Carrasquillo will feature a story written by a survivor of domestic violence. At the end of October, a compilation of all stories will be available for free as an e-book.
*All names have been changed to protect the survivor and the survivor’s family and friends.