In honor of Domestic VIolence Awareness Month - October 2010
Oct 12, 2010
October has been declared National Domestic VIolence Awareness Month. It happens to men as well as women and children. Rich or poor, educated or not. Here is my story about how getting out of the situation was the best decision I ever made.
January 6, 2010 would have been my 21st wedding anniversary. When we met, he was working for my mother’s furniture factory, then he found a job with a Pepsi bottling company in Tupelo and worked his way up to plant manager. 80-90 hours a week for around 10 years or so. I think he got burnt out. We struggled mightily. When the kids were little, they were constantly sick so the health care bills caused a constant money struggle. He got fired from Pepsi in 1996 and the slow downhill spiral got faster. He tried to psychologically keep me with him by telling me I would never make it alone with 3 small kids.I was so focused on keeping my family, so scared of being out on my own with 3 kids that I lost focus of boundaries he should never have crossed in our relationship. He got it into his head that he could do anything to me up to the point of physical abuse. Before I left, threatening me became a constant thing. I was afraid, of him but at the same time, I was afraid my temper would get away from me and I would hurt him. I never wanted to hurt anyone and I knew I could. Leaving him taught me that sometimes drastic measures are necessary.
The breaking point comes when he absolutely refuses to do anything and the economy goes sour so my business slows. I get more desperate and he goes into the hospital with lead poisoning from drinking moonshine. When he comes out my 9 year old son tells me, “ Mom, I don’t know what they did with my dad but that man isn’t it. Dad died in that hospital. “That was prophetic. I will never understand what he saw but he was right. I tried to leave him and stay near the grandparents but he kept coming after us. The last time with a loaded shot gun intent on killing all of us, while we were staying at his mother’s. After disarming him and the police not showing until 3 hours later, I knew we had to go. If we stayed ,it would in either my death or his.
I packed my 3 kids and what we could fit into a minivan and moved to Florence. I came with no job and no money in the summer of 2004. My sister and brother-in-law took us in for a few months until I got us on our feet financially. Eight days later I had a full time 2nd shift job at Sara Lee foods in Florence working as an assembler on the line with Kelly temporary services. So I went to work every night, worked every shift I could get, weekends included and applied for school. I started the University of North Alabama in the spring of 2005. The kids had made a decision that they wanted to continue homeschooling so Jocelyn took over that. By spring, she had been chosen for Presidential Classroom and between Dad and the scholarship she went to DC that summer at 15. By May I could finally afford to finalize my divorce.
I had entered college thinking I was too old to do anything really technical so I decided to major in math education with the goal of teaching highschool. I figured out I wasn’t as old as I thought when it came to math and getting a teaching job wouldn’t pay the bills nor did the system want to hire a life long homeschooler.
The fall of 2005 I took a computer programming course and a physics course. I fell in love with physics. It was the perfect combination for me of the mechanics and math. After one more semester, I decided to major in it because I could get a job with only a bachelor’s in physics where I couldn’t with only a bachelor’s in math. I started every semester warning professors that I would fall asleep in class. I stayed in a permanent state of exhaustion, but I was going to graduate or die trying.
The head of the math dept. asked me if I was crazy or trying to kill myself. One of the physics professors told me I was audacious and gave me a D in his class because I was a woman. One of the companies I interviewed with told me point blank there was no way I could work an internship and go to school. I figured they didn’t know me so I never even recognized their comments or actions as obstacles. I feel like this has been done before so there’s no reason I can’t do it too. In my junior year, I started looking for an internship in physics. I knew I would need a part-time job so I could fulfill my research requirement for graduation. My professor got funding to pay me to do the senior research. I quit my full-time job, lost my insurance and benefits, became ineligible for unemployment because I was a college student and took a 10 week position for minimum wage. At the end of the 10 weeks, I was still desperately searching for an internship to last the next 9 months until I graduated. 5 weeks later, someone saw my resume and called me to look come check out my research. That was the best feeling. They hired me and started the paperwork on my clearance. I became a very junior member of an applied physics and research team and the research I had worked on that summer ended up taking me to the 2008 April meeting for the American Physical Society. The degree eventually opened the door for me at a top defense contractor.
In a span of 6 years, I have bought and sold my first house. Increased my income by 700% a year, helped my 3 kids who are now all in college, and am working on a masters. My goal is to get a doctorate before I turn 50. I have learned to live life after abuse and conquered PTSD caused from it. My children and I have not only survived, we have thrived.
If you are in an abusive relationship or know of someone who is, be smart and think about the goal of surviving. Educate yourself on your options and then do the things that work for your situation. Do not endure for the sake of your children or in my case because I was not going to be one of “those divorced women”. An excerpt from “The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work” States that it is clearly harmful on a physiological level to raise children in a home that is subsumed by hostility between the parents. The book calls out research done based on white cell production to fight disease and excess stress hormone secretion that can have long term physical effects. In laymen’s terms, even if the abuser isn’t hitting the kids, the situation can have long term adverse physical effects. Please be safe and get help. It’s out there.
I am not an expert or trained in any counseling field. My views are my own and are specific to me. Abuse can escalate to the point of someone or many people dying. It isn’t a game nor is it to be taken lightly. Here is a list of helpful websites
My personal rules are if you leave, don’t go back. There are numerous reasons for this, safety being the biggest one. I don’t care what they say. Listen to their actions. I know if feels like you failed. You didn’t, life happens and you can’t control someone else’s actions. If they get better, good for them. They can try their newly acquired life skills on improving their relationships with other people. Once you are done, stay done.
Do not depend on that restraining order to protect you. Take precautions, plan for the worst and hope for the best. Don’t waffle on it. I know you are scared. It is scary. Knowledge and planning help you act under conditions of extreme stress.
That is so true. Life happens. Usually abusive relationships are gradual things. There are educated, strong women out there who get into situations. They don’t go looking for it. Sometimes chemical dependency on alcohol or drugs change the person into an abuser. I’m not an expert but I don’t think even the experts understand why it happens in all cases. I do know that I didn’t go into the relationship thinking he would ever hit me.
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About the reviewer
Mary Elissa Williams (elissawilliams)
I'm usually thinking out of the box. I have been a homeschooler for about 15 or so years with 3 children in college,1 dual enrolled in highschool. I ran my own business as a family entertainer / birthday … more
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