BETHESDA, Maryland, October 21, 2014 — Ursula* is a survivor of domestic violence and pathological abuse living, raising her child and healing in The United States.
My relationship started off wonderful. I thought I had met the man of my dreams. He was nice, charming, always buying me gifts and we had this crazy chemistry.
After we started living together, things slowly changed. If I wanted to spend time with my friends, he would talk bad about them and make me feel guilty for hanging out with them. He almost ruined one of my friend’s marriages, and I lost her friendship. She had been my best friend since we were 3; I was 22-23 at the time.
I also lost another lifelong friend because of him. He caused a huge fight between the two of us, and she stopped speaking to me. He convinced me that both of my two best friends were horrible friends and were not there for me like they should have been. By the end of our relationship, I only had one friend who stuck it out with me.
Other things came about during our relationship. He wanted to start doing online porn. This was something I never, ever wanted to do. I kept refusing for months. Right before we were to get married, he purchased both of us new vehicles. Shortly after buying the cars, he brought up the website again and told me that I could not have the wedding I wanted without doing the website, claiming we did not have the money since we had new vehicles. I felt as though I had no choice.
He had an extreme sexual addiction. At the time, I was so confused and did not realize what was actually happening. He used to be obsessed with increasing his penis size, always wanted his friends to join our relationship and there was no way I allowed to ever refuse him sex.
During our marriage, things got even worse. I was told what to wear and eat, when to sleep and shower and how to fold and wash clothes. Everything. I was also never allowed to go anywhere without him. I could never just have two minutes of peace.
Eventually, he sold the house we were living in because he wanted to buy a lot and build a home near his family. We had to move in with his Grandma. We had a nine-month old baby, living in his Grandma’s duplex. He told me it would only be for a year. After the one-year mark, we had so many problems, and I moved out.
After leaving, I discovered he became a member of an “adult” website to look for sex. I filed for divorce two weeks later and that is when my real nightmare began. He threatened me over the phone that our daughter would go from having two parents to having zero. I would not let him see our daughter the next day, because he was too angry. I told him that once he was calm enough to speak to me, he could see her. My intentions were never to keep her from him. I just was afraid I would not get her back, as he would take advantage of the situation using my daughter to get what he wanted.
The next day, social services came to my apartment. I told my husband that our daughter was staying with my parents while I was at work. He told social services that my daughter was being sexually abused by my mom. My mom was a victim of sexual abuse in her past, and he tried to use that knowledge as the reason behind his false claim. My daughter was almost two at this point.
After he accused my mother, I filed a restraining order. After a year and half, we finally went to court for trial. He prolonged everything and ordered me to do a custody evaluation. He claimed I was an unfit mother and that I was crazy. It was a nightmare; custody evaluations are a joke.
After three days in court, which I spent a day and a half being attacked by his attorney who was just as nuts as him, I won primary care of my daughter. Currently, he is on his third appeal. This process and trying to get away from him has cost me close to $50,000 but has been worth every penny.
During the relationship, we would get along great until I wanted to do something he did not approve. He fought with me and turned things around and tried convincing me that I was the one who started the arguments. We argued in circles. I am an easygoing person and normally just go with the flow, but arguments with him ended with me giving up. It was easier. Then, after a big blow up, he would give me flowers or buy a massage for me. He would then say, “See. I am a great guy, and you just don’t know how good you have it.”
I was constantly criticized about my weight, while simultaneously being told I should be proud of my body and that I needed to wear more skimpy clothes and shorts. Everything was just always so confusing.
It took me awhile to figure this out, but I loved him with everything I had. He did not love me in return. He acted the part very well; but if he really did love me, he would not have forced me to do things I did not want to do sexually or otherwise. Plus, He blamed me for everything in our relationship. His favorite line was, “You always tell me no.” Even if I said yes 199 times and on the 200th time said no, he accused of me always saying no.
He often embarrassed me in front of his friends and was always the clown of the group. He had this thing with getting naked and showing his body off to his friends or my friends; it was very embarrassing.
After our daughter was born, he made me feel like I was not good enough at being a mother to her. When I was pregnant with her, he would not let me pick colors for the bedroom. We argued so much that he threw a glass of water at me; and when I started crying he said, “Oh, come on. Water doesn’t hurt. Why are you crying?” Even on the witness stand when asked if there was one thing I do better than him as a parent, he said, “Well, she could breastfeed, and I couldn’t.”
I started to see a counselor on my own, because things were such a mess and at the time; I did not understand what was happening. I thought I was a terrible wife and mother. I confessed everything to the counselor, because everything was eating me up inside. She explained to me that the things I was describing were not about me.
After the counseling, things got worse. I hoped that he would eventually outgrow certain behaviors, but things kept getting worse and worse. I started to call out the things he was doing and that upset him. He used to poke me in the car just to torture me. The counselor said that was abuse, which shocked me. When confronted, he started laughing and said he was joking and that I, of course, blew it out of proportion and could not take a joke.
We went back to the counselor one more time after this, and he convinced me he was sorry and that we could work this out on our own. He suggested that we talk over coffee, because he knows that is my favorite.
To escape the pain, I turned to food and excessively cleaned.
My biggest challenge since the end of the relationship has been trying to communicate with him for the sake of my daughter. Every time I have let my guard down a little, it turns out to be a set-up to involve his lawyer. Thankfully, these set ups have not worked for him. He now claims he is a changed and Godly man. I hate to say it, but I know it is just an act. He is extreme with Church; everything about him is to the extreme.
I still do not think I have fully recovered. Some days, I feel really good; other days, I am angry and so very sad. I attend counseling and am refocusing my thinking and attitude on myself. The one wonderful thing since moving out is having my freedom. Unfortunately, at the same time, I am paranoid. There are times when I feel like he is there or watching me. It is very odd.
I used to keep everything to myself, because I thought I was the one who caused all the problems in our relationship. Now, I find that talking about what happened and constant things he is doing is helpful.
My advice to someone experiencing and struggling with a similar situation is to first believe and realize that abuse is happening to you. After the counselor said the word abuse, a light turned on in my head. I could not get that thought out of my head, so I went online and looked for books trying to see what this was about. I ordered two books and had them sent to my friend’s house. I read them and kept them at work. I was stunned at some of the things I was reading, describing exactly what I was going through.
I feel I was taken advantage of and that I finally came to a breaking point. Not until you are at that breaking point can you make the next step. Once you stand up to your abuser and are firm, your abuser will become more angry. So prepare yourself. If at all possible, distance yourself quickly and keep communication minimal.
Once you are away and not living in that environment, you tend to forget the bad. It is easy to get sucked back in, but they never change.
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.