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A Survivor's Story

Posted Oct 27 2007 12:00am
After I was molested by 7 boys at the age of 13, I swore that I would never let a man hurt me that way. I couldn't understand why women stay with men who beat them. I certainly would never tolerate it. Or so I thought.

There was a wonderful man who thought I was the greatest thing since sliced bread. He sent me cards or flowers or little gifts for no reason. He called me everyday and told me how wonderful I was. He had me high on a pedestal. The day we got married, all that changed.

I came crashing off my pedestal to become a piece of property.The abuse began slowly. My husband started eroding my self-esteem with degrading comments. He wouldn't let me wear anything attractive. He isolated me from my family and friends. He took all my paychecks. He was insanely jealous of the men at work. And he drank. When he got drunk, it didn't matter what I said or did, I got beat. He threw things and shoved me around, only a little at first. After the first incident, it was several months before the next. Then it became increasingly frequent.

When my husband lost his job, he began drinking very heavily and gambling daily. We lived in Las Vegas. We had saved $20,000 to buy a house, but he gambled that away, and more. The verbal abuse was daily and the physical abuse was 2 or 3 times a week. We had no children, thank God. I went to work with bruises and cuts that make-up just couldn't conceal. My eyes were always red and swollen from crying. Everyone knew what was going on, but no one said a word.Twice, my husband pointed a loaded gun at my face and many more times threatened to kill me. Everything was in his name only, so I had no property, no car, and no money. I was never allowed to have friends, so I didn't know who to turn to. He never let me go anywhere without him. If he wanted to have sex when he came home from the casino, he raped me. If I dared to say no, he beat me first and then raped me. I felt completely helpless, trapped, and alone.

I was very naive when I met my husband, and he made sure I stayed that way. He controlled every aspect of my life. I could not believe that I was in the same position that I had criticized other women for just a few years earlier.A co-worker gave me two books on prayer that I brought home to read, just hoping they would give me the strength to deal with my husband. I thought that maybe if I prayed right and loved him enough, he would change. He snatched the books out of my hands and threw them to the floor. He forbid me to ever read anything about God or prayer.At that moment, something deep within me screamed, "NO!!! Not my soul!" I felt a rush of power, strength, and resolve that was completely foreign to me. All love or concern for my husband died and I became numb to his insults. I couldn't even feel it when he beat me that night.

The next day, I told my husband that I had to go to the gynecologist. That's the only place I knew he would not go with me. I drove downtown and found an attorney's office. The senior partner was just finishing his lunch and agreed to see me. After I told him my story, he wrote up the divorce papers immediately, called a judge, and got me a court date. Back at our aparment complex, I went to the manager and told her what was going on. I asked her to have security keep an eye on our apartment. I knew that there was a very good chance that my husband would kill me. I just hoped he used the gun instead of his hands. My fear was no longer greater than my desire to be free. Dying would certainly set me free, but I prayed that I would survive to leave him.

My husband was sitting at the table drinking when I walked in the door. He asked me what the doctor said. I said, "I didn't go to the doctor." He stood up, enraged,and said, "What?!" He got ready to hit me. I threw the papers on the table and said, "I just filed for divorce." That tough, angry man shrank back down into his chair. He became the most pathetic little boy of a man I had ever seen. The first words out of his mouth were, "What about the house?" He couldn't qualify for the house we were buying without my income. I knew right then that I had made the right decision.

My husband said I could keep the apartment because it was right behind where I worked. He would keep the car. I gave him two months to leave. Later that week, he decided that if I wanted a divorce, I should give up everything. He gave me two weeks to get out, with nothing. I was so upset that I just started walking. There was another apartment complex a few blocks away. They just happened to have an aparment open and with my work history I qualified. I signed the lease. I kept walking and found a car dealership that was selling off older cars. I bought one on the spot. My attorney had told me that first day that I should go to the bank before going home and take out exactly 50% of what was there. It wasn't a lot, but it was enough to get started because I had a good job.When I came home in my new car and packed up my clothes and such, my husband was furious. He thought that I would stay with him rather than give everything up. He also didn't think I was capable of managing things on my own.

I moved out that day. My husband never touched me again but he did vandalize my car. Two months later, he called to ask me if I had our tax records. He was being audited by the IRS. I did not help. He had been a dealer in Las Vegas for five years and never claimed any of his tips. That's tax evasion. :) Divine Justice is a beautiful thing!

The road of healing has been long, but I am a happy, confident, capable person now. I have five children and a husband that would never raise a hand to me. I am going to college, starting a business, and writing a book. It's been 17 years since I started my life over.
I have forgiven my ex-husband, and I am no longer angry or afraid.

I hope my story helps someone out there. So many people have suffered some kind of abuse in their lives. It can be difficult to heal the wounds of the past, but it is possible.

May you know true joy!
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