BETHESDA, Maryland, October 9, 2014 — Irene* is a survivor of domestic violence and sociopath abuse living, raising her family and recovering in The United States.
My ex husband was the first serious relationship I had. I was reserved, but had lots of friends. I met him shortly after graduating from high school. After we were married, he started putting down my friends and made it difficult to spend time with them. After children, I could not leave the house without taking at least one with me. If grocery shopping took longer than he thought was reasonable (I usually went to the grocery store and then to the fruit/meat market), hell broke loose.
He spent all his time in the basement surfing porn. He never spent time with me or our children. He became violent. He told me that if I was to ever leave him, he would make it look like I was an unfit mother, even as far as planting drugs on me. He spent the past 13 years since our divorce grooming our children to keep secrets from me, lie to me and has told them lies about everything I have ever done for them.
He denigrated me and my actions to the point that my 16-year-old daughter has become uncontrollable. She stopped doing homework and is failing classes, refusing to do anything differently until I do what she wants me to do. When I refuse, she refuses to go to school.
Lost, the only thing I thought I had left to do was to allow her to move in with her sociopathic father. I just pray she sees the truth soon enough, so the healing can begin and she comes back home.
When my ex and I first met, we were both going to college to become teachers. I felt we had a lot in common. He came from a seemingly good family. He was into martial arts and started showing me a few things. Then he started holding holds a little too long, or he would want to try a new move on me and slam me just a little too hard. He loved doing what he called “pressure point blitzes”. I could never fight him off.
He knew I had never dated anyone but him and took full advantage of it. I was very forgiving and understanding. We spent a lot of time together. My parents moved three states away by the time I finished my associate’s degree. I could have gone with them, but by that point, I was engaged. When they left, he was all I had. I kept thinking things would be better after we married; but after just a few weeks of marriage, he threw a copper flour jar at me, hit me and dented the lid. I should have gotten out then.
He called me stupid, threw things at me and withheld money from me. I worked full time; he did not. All my money was deposited into the home account. I had just enough money to buy groceries, but he could do whatever he wanted. If I questioned it or spoke up against it, he flew into a rage.
I lost my first pregnancy just before Christmas one year. He was sympathetic for about a week. A few weeks later when I was still mourning the loss, he told me, “Just get over it. What is wrong with you?”
Just after our first daughter was born, he struck up a relationship with an ‘old friend’, who just happened to be an exotic dancer. If I questioned it, he flew into a rage and asked why I did not trust him. (I wasn’t allowed to do anything with friends).
When I told him I was pregnant with our second daughter, he asked it it was his. After she was born was the first time I almost left him. I discovered he had an online relationship with a woman in a neighboring state. I spent all my time taking care of the two babies, the house and working full time while he barely worked, surfed porn and made up fantastical stories (and a website at GeoCities with his Tigress).
Once, when I questioned him about his lack of time helping, he flew into a rage and pushed me out of his office and into the wall. About ten minutes later, he acted as if nothing happened.
When I told him I was pregnant with our third baby, he wanted me to abort it. He told me that he would never love the child nor did he want anything to do with it. I remember having my first ultrasound done, alone, and the nurse asked if we were excited. I broke down into tears and told her what he had said. I was resolved that no matter what, I had enough love within me to make up for his lack. I left him before our third child turned one after he attacked me for the last time.
I started to go to a counselor after I found out about his online relationship. His family pushed hard for us to stay together, and, being raised Catholic, I felt it was the right thing to do. After I had gone a few times alone, the counselor wanted to see us together. Going together only lasted one or two sessions, where he refused to accept responsibility for his actions. He said he felt ganged up on when the counselor wanted to talk about the woman from the neighboring state. He thought I was stupid for being bothered by it and that I was the one with the problem, not him.
I ended up being separated from the people who loved and cared about me. He made it difficult for me to be with friends. When I mentioned my friends, he called them names and called them stupid. There was always a fight after I spending time with friends, so I stopped.
I remember one time, a friend wanted to take me to the movies to thank me for helping her with a very personal problem, and he refused to take care of the girls while we went. I ended up taking the baby with me to save a fight.
He talked poorly of my family constantly. Between his constant attacks on them and my embarrassment and abhorrence to what my life had become, I limited contact with them.
I felt like I put on a mask every time I left the house. If I talked to a male, he accused me of sleeping with him. I stopped talking with anyone other than him or his family. I basically led two lives: the happy mask I put on when I left the house and the cloak of terror and anxiety I wore at home. I walked on pins and needles, never knowing what would send him into a rage.
After the constant struggles with him since the divorce and watching the damage he caused to our children, I have wished for a Mac truck to take him out. I would never lay a hand on him, but I have fought vigorously in court to protect my children.
To escape the pain, I engrossed myself in the children. I made them my primary focus. I put blinders on to everything else that was happening. I made providing them with a normal life my only focus. I put everything else on hold. I stopped caring about what would happen with me or anything I might be interested in. I put my children above absolutely everything, trying to counteract their father. Protecting them and providing for them became my drug of choice.
My biggest challenge has been battling his never-ending lies. He lies in court. He lies to the children. He lies to the world. I have always tried to lead by example for the children and have never told them how we got where we are. He has never missed a chance to bad mouth me and denigrate every attempt I make to provide a good life for them.
I have been fighting an uphill battle for more than 14 years. I thought my example would be strong enough to show them the right way to live. I was wrong. He withheld his attention enough from them that my middle daughter craved it. And now that she’s a teenager and vulnerable, he stepped up his campaign with her. Somehow in the last few months, my hard-working, responsible and respectful daughter has completely turned around. All of the sudden, to her, my family is bad, my motives are horrible and I am the worst mother to have ever walked the Earth.
I know most teenagers go through growing pains, but the things she says to me are nearly verbatim what my ex has emailed to me. It breaks my heart and turns my stomach that he has been able to turn her so quickly.
I do not think I will be able to heal from the abuse until my children have graduated from high school and I am free to leave the area. Getting by now is a constant struggle. I do not trust men. I can not open up to them. My emotional energy is spent trying to protect my children. However unsuccessful I am.
I feel so lost and emotionally stunted. I see people in such great relationships, and I don’t know if I can ever achieve that. My friends and I are all older, in our 40s. There are some who still struggle to find the groove in their relationship, but most of my friends are in such a symbiotic place – they truly love and respect each other. The thought of violence never enters. I do not know if I will ever have that. I am sure I will die alone, having never truly known what it is like to be correctly loved.
I fear for the emotional safety of my middle daughter. She recently became so distant and unreachable. The only thing I can think to do is allow her to move in with her father. I hope it is not a mistake.
I saw text messages between the two of them a couple months ago where they were planning just this. He encouraged her inappropriate behavior. She said she would become so difficult that I would just give in and let her move. His response to her was, “Are you sure she’ll get it? She’s pretty obtuse.”
I have never run him down to them. When they cried because he failed to show to their activities or failed to pick them up for time with them, I made excuses for him.
I always thought I could love them enough. I was wrong. Everything I read at the time of our divorce was to keep the kids out of the middle and not to tell them the dirty details. Be supportive of their time and activities with the other parent. I did that as best I could. Unfortunately, he did not.
He started engaging them in activities without telling me. I had to fight to get schedules. By the time he gave the schedules to me, he told me not to interfere with them and basically threatened me. At one point, he did threaten to have me bodily removed from a martial arts demonstration the girls were in if I so much as approached them. This was after fighting with him for three days for the information about the demo, which was in a city two and one-half hours away, only to find out that he gave me the wrong location. I had to find it on my own. I never made it an issue if he showed up at an activity if they were with me, but when I went and they were with him, they would barely make eye contact with me.
I had to take him to court to force him to allow then to participate in activities of their choosing. I had to take him to court and have the judge order him to provide information to me about what he’s involved them in. Just last year, I took him to court to deny him the ability to engage them in anything unless I counter-signed any permission slips, medical releases, media releases, etc.
I need the help of the court to protect myself, but have found that the orders are only as good as the paper they are written on. He does what he wants. I have no faith in the courts. Whenever a situation occurs, I will petition and have another order put in place.
My best advice to anyone going through something similar is to keep your eyes open and be aware. If something does not feel right, run. Get out. Do not have children with them. Just get away as fast as you can and do not look back. You can not change them. You can not help them. They live to suck the life and love out of you. And if you dare to get away, they will spend their lives getting even by whatever means necessary.
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.