BETHESDA, Maryland, October 15, 2014 — Ophelia* is a survivor of domestic violence and pathological abuse living, raising her daughter and energetically healing in The United States.
I waited until my 40’s and met a handsome doctor who was also an impressive musician and who seemed to have the same values and goals as I did. He lived in another state but drove to see me often, showered me with affection, attention, gifts, trips and fancy dates.
I loved who I thought he was, which I later realized he created by mirroring me. Because of this, I thought I had met my soulmate. He had children from a previous marriage, so I moved to be with him, where I knew no one. I got pregnant and jumped in with both feet and woke to discover I had married a sociopath.
I was seeing a therapist to deal with relocating to a state where I was without a support group of family and friends. What I did not realize in those sessions was that I was being abused by my ex, who removed any emotional or mental support and cut me off from others and depleted me of resources. All while playing martyr and victim. It is a very scary, very crazy-making tactic.
I could not have been more wrong about someone and gradually discovered there was a web of lies he told everyone, including me, to isolate me and triangulate everyone in his life. His goodness was an act. He would switch moods and give reasons for things that did not make any sense. As he did this, our fighting began. I learned this was called gaslighting, and its goal is to provoke you to go crazy. He would escalate minor things; and in a moment, he would turn the tables, provoke and make terrifying threats ‒ all during my high risk pregnancy.
On one occasion, he took my wallet, phone and house keys and kicked me out into a blizzard. Later, he denied that he ever said or did any of it. I caught him more than once playing victim to family and friends to whom he had portrayed me as doing the very things he was doing.
The level of cruelty and mind games was unfathomable. I did not previously know a person who could be capable of anything like this. He would try to start fights when I was nursing the baby or sabotage any relationship I was developing with his children. I knew I had to leave. I was scared and overwhelmed.
One night after the baby was born, he got violent and physically abusive with me and the baby. I called the police and he was asked to leave. I still did not feel safe in the house and stayed with a friend who put me in touch with a lawyer. The next day the lawyer accompanied me to the courthouse where I filed for a restraining order and a divorce. While doing this, I was still recovering from a C-section and financially reliant on him.
He tried every obstacle he could to deplete me on every level and be in control. He refused breast milk I had pumped for the baby. He picked times where I would be in traffic both ways. He refused to make deposits to my bank and took whatever money he could out of child support.
My saving grace was moving two hours away in the same state to live safely with my only friend I knew there and making all communication through lawyers. I involved more law enforcement in the pick up/drop off of the baby, so he never had a moment alone with me to harass me.
When he was asked to drive the two hours to see her, he said no. He gave up visitation, and custody. In exchange, I jumped through a small window I saw and gave up 90% of my belongings, my home and all of my comforts in order to have my freedom back. I could replace anything material eventually; it was more important my daughter knew a peaceful healthy life and home.
Its taken a long time to approach what happened in its entirety. Any victim of such psychological manipulation and fraud goes through a myriad of emotions, and it can take time to make sense of all of it. It’s an emotional and mental rape and people get away with it all the time. How do you prove it? There is so much injustice surrounding this; and when a story comes to light in the media, it shows how society and legal systems fail to understand fully what a sociopath is and the crimes they are knowingly committing.
Sociopaths find careers where they can hide and blend in. Their goal is to be like a parasite to not only not be noticed and get away with their crimes but if possible, to garner attention, rewards and praise.
It took me a long time to feel remotely safe again. I found support online and learned as much as I could about domestic violence and sociopaths. In understanding more of what happened, there is not a day that goes by that I do not realize how lucky I am, because so many women do not get free from their abusers. They do not have anywhere to go, any financial help or the strength to go.
There are many factors, and the world often blames the victim. It all needs to change, and I hope this month of Domestic Violence Awareness helps make that difference.
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.