What happened that made you decide to leave?
About three weeks into the relationship Paul put his hands down the top of my dress, then walked away. I know we were a new couple and acting like teenagers but that didn’t feel right. Shortly thereafter he would mention how much his last partner enjoyed rape sex. It wasn’t but a few more weeks that I left him.
My big mistake was that he was a neighbor and so I literally couldn’t get away. I was bored, lonely and desperate so we went back to being just friends. He was the only ‘friend’ I had in the area. And after all friends with benefits wasn’t a bad deal for an aging old cat lady. It was never going to be serious, I could leave anytime I wanted. Of course this was all an illusion.
How did you feel about your abuser and/or your relationship in the days before you left?
I couldn’t look at him without utter stomach churning revulsion. This is the man who ejaculated into my hair and urinated on my cats. Our relationship had only lasted 3 weeks, the rest of the year was a combination of being trapped and planning my escape. You never think in this day and age a strong independent woman could be trapped, it was 2011, how could a human being be held hostage in public?
What three emotions did you most experience in the days closest to leaving Abuse? How did you deal with them?
It was a finality. The apathy, confusion, illness affected my ability to feel much of anything. I was resigned to freedom the week that I left, I knew I’d make it.
What planning did you do before you left? Who knew you were leaving besides you?
No one knew. I told no one. It was clear I’d have no support. I had no job, money, friends, housing….and it had to stay that way. I knew from studying psychology that people would derail any attempts on a women leaving abuse. One friend even told me that I loved the man who raped me. I was on my own.
After the initial few weeks of dating I made plans to search for housing. Thankfully I knew my condo would foreclose so I had a good reason to pack and look for a new home. Some of it was public, Paul took me apartment shopping. All the meanwhile I was secretly looking for homes in another state. I had also started looking for temporary housing for my animals as well.
I’m fairly certain I put up a good front. I acted as normal as possible. Towards the end everyone who had previously been too polite to say anything mentioned how incredibly awful, fat and stressed out I looked. They noticed I wasn’t acting right. A couple of my co-workers and a few others suspected I was getting beat up at home.
What were the one or two BEST things you did before you left?
I was generally compassionate towards Paul and so he felt that was akin to compliance so I am still alive. Then, the day I left I threatened to tell the police everything he did to me and my animals. Immediately afterwards he filed a domestic violence restraining order against me.
That was a pure blessing. I was going to take the rape and animal abuse to my grave. But when he took me to court and furnished my DV Diary, I had no choice but to tell others what had happened to me.
Due to the trauma I lost 25 pounds off of my 5 foot frame getting down to 98 pounds. I have a serious arrhythmia which unabated will probably lead to a premature heart attack. I am barely 34 years old.
Despite how tragic this seems, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. My friends, family, neighbors and co-workers all came together to support me. I am very blessed.
If there was anything you wish you had not done before you left, what was it?
I deleted an email that I wrote: You can beat the shit out of me but don’t touch my animals. Now that he is expected in court, this email may have been used as evidence. There are too many things I could wish I hadn’t done. But I am alive, my babies are alive. We are living in peace finally. The day I left my cat who refused to come out of hiding jumped to the ground and rolled around like a turtle out of it’s shell. I had never seen her so happy in all my life.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
Never believe you are in control. That is a form of denial he can and will go ‘that far’. It isn’t the end of your life. Yes, you got beat, yes you he raped you, ruined a part of your life and you may lose everything, jobs, friends, belongings. That crap means nothing. Absolutely nothing. You have an awesome life waiting for you. Go get it!
PS. Never let on that you’re getting stronger or planning to leave. Plan then escape. There really isn’t any intermediate step. Don’t believe your friends will help you. You are alone. But don’t let that put fear in you, let that motivate you to help yourself, then help others.