One More Time

After being married for a little over a year, it was all perfect and then BOOM! Just like that, he started to yell, he called me names and degraded me. The outburst of violence came like a slap on the face (literally) and then a shove, and then a car ride full of screaming and pushing my head against the window. Every time the abuse gets worse - hair pulling, to blows, to hiding the most apparent bruises in the most obvious places. Today was my first bloody nose. Loneliness and fear are all I can feel. But I don't want this. I love him. But I CAN'T stay. I need to find the strength to leave, to say "no more." How can I do it? How can I avoid one more time?

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People Change

Love is the feeling that makes the world go round. What everyone searches anxiously to find. Everyone would describe the feeling “of being in love” different because no love story is the same.

Have you ever felt a warm, tingly, indescribable happiness from the simple gesture of someone grabbing your face and kissing you? Home is a significant word, at least I think it is for most people. For me, I would describe “home” as a place in which you feel most comfortable, accepted, wanted and loved. Now imagine your home, the place where you grew up and where your parents are, just completely changed. You no longer felt that house was your true home, it moved somewhere different, with different people. The place in which your heart now calls “home” gives you a new meaning for the word. It now means the place in which you are going to build a life with someone you’ve given your heart. It’s scary as hell but also magical and incomparable to any other feeling I’ve ever had. When I moved out of my parents’ house, I moved into an apartment with my boyfriend. To say it was a little early in the relationship is the understatement of the century. However, the feeling of “being home” had all the same things I felt before, but there was so much more. I felt as if my soul had found its home, but it wasn’t in the one bedroom, one bath apartment above a garage. It was wherever he was, as long as I had him I felt like life could never be bad. We barely knew each-other honestly, we leaped into the deep end and hoped to swim. I’m guessing normally most people who have been in a relationship for a month don’t just move in together and decide to just jump into every aspect of life together. Well, we aren’t most people, and it was terrific. I did not have it terrible growing up, but it was not all that great either. My boyfriend was in a bad place when he met me, and he was an alcoholic who acted pretty careless. The household’s I grew up in was filled with alcohol, drugs, screaming, sadness, and many other feelings. So I was concerned about his past drinking and yeah he drank around me, and it was ok, but when he realized it was beginning to bother me, he changed it. He stopped. I had never really had anyone care so much about me to just change their life and grow for me. In his family, he was what most would call the “fuckup.” Pretty harsh, but he was also MIA almost all the time, driving around drunk, not paying any bills, with no steady job or care in the world. Then we met, and he began to change his life completely. Now a year and a half later, we bought a house, and he doesn’t drink at all. He works for a very reputable company with high pay. He’s got his life together more than any of his friends, and his family couldn’t be more proud. You probably also think things are great between us and we are happier than ever! Well, that is true, sometimes.

I thought he was my soulmate, the kindest, caring, loving and amazing person I had ever met. I used to feel blessed to have him in my life and thought he would always treat me like I was the most important thing. I remember the first time I ever broke down in front of him. We were sleeping at his parent’s house, and I don’t recollect why I was crying. I think I was crying over the drama with my mom and dad. He didn’t really know how bad it was and he just held me and made me feel so safe and loved. Those words aren’t even accurate enough to describe the way he comforted me. It was the most heartwarming, comforting feeling I think I had ever felt. You probably think this is an epic, romantic and inspiring love story, don’t you? Well, people change apparently. “The heart gets confused when it is constantly told "I love you" by the same person who destroys it. Dark huh? Well, it’s a pretty accurate description of how I feel now.

You probably thought he was a great catch, and I changed him from a bad boy to a sweet loving man who I was going to have my happily ever after with. LOL. I wish. So as you can see I’m kind of a dark humor type of girl, but at 1 a.m. when I feel alone its better than crying. His “dark side” came out in our first apartment but it has escalated and continues to get worse every time he gets in a mood. A mood for him is sleeping because, I don’t really know exactly why, but he sleeps all day sometimes and at night because he’s had a long day or is mad at me or is avoiding life and responsibility. For me sometimes sleeping isn’t ok, especially when we have responsibilities and I have things I want to talk to him about because he’s my person. The one I want to rely on even if it is for something stupid. If I’m sad, I want someone I can wake up to hold me or talk to me. If I woke him up upset, it would not end well. Tonight, he went in the bedroom when I thought he was in the shower and was like I guess just going to go to sleep. No kiss, no goodnight, and no I love you. When I went in there he had a “headache” and needed a minute. In the past year every time he’s said he’s just “laying down” he won’t get back up for anything or anyone. So I had a few things I wanted to talk to him about tonight. It’s almost Christmas, I‘m so excited I just wanted to iron out a few details and just talk about it with him. So when I went back in the bedroom and tried to talk to him, even though his “headache” was gone, it got bad again. He calls it a headache or being tired, but he knows I missed all day and can’t wait for him to get home and hang out with me so when he’s in a mood, he wants to hurt me. I think it brings him joy, which saying that out loud kind of makes me sick. He said he was going to spend this weekend in the bar, that I should have Christmas Eve dinner at my dad’s house because he doesn’t care and that he won’t wrap any of my presents. This is all after he promised to go cut down a Christmas tree with me for three weekends straight and slept instead. I decorated with my friend and set up an artificial 4 foot tree because he couldn’t be bothered. He knows how much I love Christmas and says and does this stuff because he can. Not setting up a tree or decorating with didn’t really upset me because things were like this more than I want to admit. He then started calling me names and saying things to purposely hurt me because he was tired, had a headache or whatever other reason he gives me for why he’s treating me like shit at night. So I cried and like normal, he’s sleeping now. Here I am alone and sad from how he treated me for more times than I can count now. I will get no apology in the morning, honestly I will probably apologize to him tomorrow. Pathetic aren’t I? Things are happy sometimes when we hang out and play call of duty or if he even takes the time to give me any sort of affection at all. Honestly I don’t know why I just take it and stay. You probably think I’m afraid to be alone or pathetic or maybe even an idiot. Maybe I am all of those things. I used to be so strong and independent, but I always give so much to the people I love and when I expect to get gratitude or really anything in return I’ve always been let down. It’s a recurring trend in my life that I’m such a good person and I love shitty people who don’t really care about me, but the worst part is I will see the best in someone until I absolutely can’t anymore. Usually they leave me before I can leave them. I was raised by my dad, who did his best, but drank too much and I had a drug addict absentee mom who only pretended to care when people were watching. Somewhere between my twelfth birthday and now I became someone who always has to be independent and strong but I have this urge to see the good in people, even if they don’t deserve it and sometimes if it isn’t there. But this is different my whole life is with him and I love him, maybe I love the person I moved into that apartment with. Regardless I still see the things he’s done right every time I think about leaving. Emotional abuse. It took me ten minutes to write those words because I can’t accept that’s what he’s doing to me. I read “30 signs you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship” tonight 28/30 were so accurate I couldn’t breathe. Emotional abuse isn’t the only thing he does to me. He’s shoved me into walls/furniture/off the bed and gotten pretty violent like that probably ten times, maybe more. Not that long ago we were fighting like tonight and he was telling me to get out, but I wouldn’t because I knew he wouldn’t mean it in the morning, when the mood was over. But something happened after that, he hit me, in the face, hard. He apologized and this happened almost a month ago. However here he is tonight shoving me around again. He hasn’t hit me since then and that was the only time it happened, but his vicious words intended to cut me deep, hard shoves and careless attitude isn’t going away and it’s getting worse.

Why do I stay? Why can’t I leave? No one deserves for another to treat them this way? I tell myself it’s me and that I’m in the wrong, but deep down I know it’s not. I’m a victim of emotional and physical abuse, and I can’t leave or tell anyone how bad it is. I don’t know why I’m writing this. I think maybe I’m seeking help? But why can’t I get help instead and write four pages of my innermost thoughts feelings and darkest secrets?

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I feel lost. My whole life I saw family violence, and others victimized me. Partner abuse is all I've ever known.

My transgressor was verbally abusive from day one. But I somehow thought, hey, nothing new, I can handle it. It didn't take long before he became physically and sexually abusive as well. But by that time, it was too late we had a little one on the way. I tried to leave a year later. But seeing him with someone else and treating her good, I foolishly came back, even though he had another child on the way. Boy did he make me pay for leaving. It was and still is always my fault.

We have another little one. Our youngest. And, it has now been 12 years. We have been through my partner's infidelity, and still all of the abuse. He even threatened to harm my babies to get me to stay.

He was in an accident a year ago. Although my partner believes he has changed, nothing has. He is still just as abusive. I feel lost, stuck, and ashamed for not being strong enough to walk away for my kids. Even when my oldest has begged me to leave, I know it sounds stupid and dumb, BUT I DON'T KNOW HOW TO LEAVE. I've never had to do it on my own. I don't know what to do.

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Help from a stranger

by Sarah Green
(Philadelphia, PA)

It wasn't obvious. It didn't just start. It gradually happened so that it took me years to understand what my abuser was doing to me. It took a stranger to make me start to look in on myself and realize something was wrong. It's amazing how it takes someone who doesn't have any preconceived ideas of who you are and how you act. Everyone else just assumed I was okay. Not this stranger. He saw right through the facade everyone else blindly followed.

He noticed my anxiety.
He noticed my low self-esteem.
He didn't know why,
Neither did I.

I was never like this. I was always carefree, happy, loving life, loving myself. But somehow, I had become my worst enemy, my biggest critic. I was afraid of disappointing everyone because that's what I was, a disappointment.

But wait, from where did that fear come? Then one night I realized. I had bought him concert tickets for his birthday to five different concerts. Because he's hard to please, and I thought he would at least be happy with one of them. He wasn't. He was indifferent at first. He opened them, acknowledged them, and continued with the rest of his day. I had bought two for the same day, so I found one of the shows on a different day so he could still do both. I asked him to help me sell the other tickets. He was best at buying and selling. He controlled the finances. He could do it best.

He asked me to pull the tickets up online. So I did. I had ordered them from two different sites. I went to the other website first but decided to print all the tickets off for him so he would have them, and I would not forget later. Self-Esteem wasn't what he wanted.

"Why are you doing that? That's not what I asked you to do. You can never listen to what I ask of you. You paid too much for these tickets. That's great that you make money, but I don't, and we need to save. What is wrong with you?"

- Our 10-month-old son crying at my feet -

"I'm selling two of them; I don't want to sit in seats, I wanted a standing room ticket. Just move, get out of here, and I will do it since you can't."

I get up and take our son. I tell him just to leave us alone.

He finds me later and tells me he can't sell them. That I managed to pay double price for every ticket. He goes into the basement and doesn't come up the rest of the night. I cry and then hope he won't see me cry because that makes him angry. That's when I realize what it is, what has me anxiety-stricken and low self-confidence, and always feeling like I'm failing.

And it isn't comfortable to admit.

All the things I was too blind to see come rushing into my head. The acknowledgment that the person I love that I chose to have a life with and have a family with is the reason that I move through the motions of life without taking time to enjoy it anymore. It wasn't comfortable to admit. It was crushing. I'd rather it just be a chemical imbalance in my head. The reason that he always gives me when I'm too emotional for him.

He made me think I was crazy.
He tried to get me to fix myself.
He never thought it was him, the same way I never did, until now.

He wasn't like this from the beginning. It was magical and perfect, and he understood me, and I understood him, and it felt like we could read each other's mind. He would hold my hand in public, something my last boyfriend insisted we didn't. He didn't like public affection. He didn't want it to be evident to anyone else that we were together.

It started subtly, getting annoyed with me for saying the wrong thing, and getting upset for asking for sex too much. That was the first rule. I couldn't ask for sex. I had to wait for my partner to come to me. It made him feel more like a man.

He was mean to other people. I could see that, yelling at coworkers or his brother or his mom, but never me. I was different. I got to see the good man he was. Sure we had our issues, but everyone does.

Then, we got engaged.
Then, my partner hit me.
According to him - I was drunk. I was pushy. I don't know when to stop. I made him do it. He felt so sorry for what he did.

So I told him it was okay. I said I knew he didn't mean it, that it didn't bother me, that I realized it was my fault.

But then, he did it again. And he gripped me up. He pulled me by the arm when I didn't leave the party fast enough, as he was ready to go. He pushed me into the car because he was so angry that I didn't know how to listen. He didn't understand why I had to act like that.

I argue back. I say what I think. I yell at my partner because when I drink is the only time I'm not afraid of his reaction when I tell him how I feel. He just ignores me. He refuses to talk to me. He walks away from me. He's going to bed. I cry because I'm frustrated. Why won't he hear me? I slap him across the face. I end up on the floor. My ears are ringing. He goes to bed.

He didn't mean it. I was just out of control. I pushed him to it. I make him act like this. It won't happen again.

But it does.

I was drinking again. I was yelling at my partner. He didn't like it. He pushed me. I got up and went for him. I say I'm not going to take it. I'm going to fight back. I ended up with a black eye.

I came up with a story to tell people. I laugh and say silly me. I'm clumsy. No one thinks twice. They know me. They suppose that I'm happy and go lucky and that I'm tough. Others believe that I would never let anyone hit me and get away with it. I smile but cry inside.

It made him so upset to see it. He was sorry. He didn't know how it happened.
That was the last one. I never had any more bruises after that. So that means it was better right? We were in a safe place.

We got married.
We got pregnant.
He didn't touch me.
But, he was still distant.

My partner would say "You are so much better when you can't drink. Alcohol causes so many problems for us than when you are sober. You don't cry as much."

Then I had the baby. And he slept less. And he was frustrated.

One night, we were fighting, and I can't even remember the reason. I told him to get out of our bedroom. I didn't want him in there with the baby and me. He wouldn't leave. I said okay, I would take the baby and we would sleep in the living room. He didn't like that. I was walking away, and he grabbed me by the back of the shirt. It ripped, and I fell into the wall holding the baby.

Why would I do that! He hates when I have to act like that. My partner would say. He'll sleep on the couch if that's what I wanted. I laid in bed and cried and felt sorry for kicking him out. In the morning I comforted him and told him it was okay.

Every time the emotional abuse occurred, it hurt me a little more inside. I didn't bring any problems I thought we had up. It only made my partner upset. He doesn't want to talk about it. When I cry at night, he leaves. Crying makes him feel bad, so he leaves the room. I hyperventilate. Sometimes he comes back to help me breathe again. Sometimes he doesn't.

Why does he not want to be around me?
What can I do to get him to care?
How can I make him happy?

But I'm not innocent.
Why do I push him?
Why do I make him do it?
Do I do it just to get an emotion from him?
I deserve this. I cheated on my last boyfriend. I'm not a decent person. I deserve not to be happy.
I deserve to be in a marriage where I can't decide if my husband hates me or loves me.
I caused this to myself. I need to take my punishment.

It's not always bad. Sometimes my partner gives me kisses and tells me he loves me, and I'm beautiful. He will get me flowers just because or pick up a movie because he knows I wanted to see it. He only laid his hands on me once since the baby was born. He's getting better, or I don't care enough to fight with him anymore.

To admit all this hits me harder than I thought it would. It's incredible how much you can't understand until you meet someone that doesn't view you the way everyone else does. A person that notices you have anxiety and notices you have low self-esteem. And you ask yourself why? And you figure it out. And you realize you can never unknow it even if you want to. And you don't know what to do next.

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Wish I Could Forget

by Kaitlin
(Bishop, CA)

We met on craigslist. I just wanted to escape my life and get high, and he responded. I had just got kicked out of my father's house, and his fiance was dying. We found comfort with each other.

I lived in his car for six months. Then, we moved into his mom's home soon after I found out I was pregnant with a girl. I couldn't get sober, and I lost her. About February of the next year, he beat and raped me for the first time. I went to a shelter, where my drinking increased.

I came back to him after. He kicked me out. After two months in another rehab, I went home. Within a month he beat me worse than ever. I had a bruised face for two months.

I still love him and don't know why.

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Always Threatened

by Candice Peterson
(Pasadena, TX)

I've been with my baby's daddy for five years. I have a one and two-year-old with him. Also, I have two other children from a previous relationship. My baby daddy that I am with now has a lot of issues. He is a veteran, was in the military for 18 years. He has PTSD and refuses to get help. He collects a check, but he won't take the meds they give him. Every time we disagree, he threatens to kick me out and remove the babies from me. He has never changed a diaper since they were born, and he does not help or do any work. He controls me, does things and pretends they've never happened, or blames me for everything. He gets mad at me and threatens me to find another place to live because I can't work (I'm a stay at home mom). I take damn good care of my babies, and it seriously breaks my heart and frightens me when he threatens to take my children.

The abuse is getting to the point to where I think I'm having health issues, like its mentally fucking me up. I don't know what to do. My partner doesn't even let me have anything to do with my mother anymore because she called the cops on him when he choked me and caught a case two years ago.

I have a 12-year-old daughter, and he has a 15-year-old daughter by another marriage. He treats them differently. He talks down to my 12-year-old and acts like his 15-year-old daughter is perfect, even though she already has oral sex and drinks. He still lets his daughter do what she wants. He said she should be able to because she gets straight A's in school. My baby is failing every one of her 6th grades classes. She has a learning disability. It hurts me when he talks down to her and tells her she's going to have to be a stripper for a living and other cruel things.

Any advice on what to do? I would have left a long time ago, but I would be homeless, and he could take the kids.

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