Many of us know the statistics on spousal abuse. It’s described across the internet, on television.
One in three women in the world will suffer domestic abuse in their life time. (Toronto Star)
It’s a despicable rate, and it hurts me every time I hear it. But there’s another statistic we don’t hear so often.
835,000 men battered each year – MenWeb Battered Men
Scary, isn’t it?
Now something I don’t talk about much: I’m an abuse survivor.
The first thing I need to explain before I continue, I loved her.
My wife and I respected each other when we’d met via the web (Both of us are writers), and were eventually friends. We started dating on a whim many years later, and it went well, especially considering it was long distance.
When we decided to get married, things looked like they were going well. The first hint, though is when my then fiance wanted to keep my family from our wedding due to a recent row.
Thankfully, even though the wedding was rushed, that didn’t happen. We were fine, for a time, until after our son was born. To put it frankly, I worked eight hours, came home, cooked, cleaned, then stayed up all night with our son. Not really horrible, until the yelling started. When I needed sleep (Running on two or three hours over the same number of days) I was called a number of things, and my love for her was questioned by her.
It got worse as time went on. The name calling, specifically. I’ve been called more names than I can put down here. She would also get angry about little things. If I got home a half hour late, I was ignoring her. If I wanted to sleep at night, I didn’t love her.
Eventually, I started hiding things from her. I stopped trusting her, and frankly was afraid of her reaction to most things. I stopped writing. I stopped reading. I barely played games. (Except as part of my job, or with her.) Everything that made me, me, I started locking away.
Eventually, the abuse escalated. She’d tell me not to talk to my family (Who lived only a few miles away and watched our children on a regular basis). She’d threaten to kill herself if I left her. She’d threaten to call the police.
Finally, she left. Disappeared one evening without saying a word. The next day, she showed up at my parent’s house with police and removed our son from my parent’s care. A few days later, I received an Ex Parte restraining order. For what? It claimed I abused her. I hope it’s obvious that’s a questionable claim. I had been doing everything I could to keep our relationship together.
I can’t explain how I felt that day. It was the darkest day of my life. I’d lost my son, and my wife, and she was the one doing the disappearing.
To summarize the next few weeks, I got a lawyer, he managed to get the order overturned, and under a deal, got her to come home. It never improved. I hoped it would, but it only got worse.
A few months after our daughter was born, she told me to leave again. I told her the kids were coming with me, and she didn’t fight. My ride showed up, I packed, she mentioned once that I could stay. I shook my head, and left, moving back in with my parents.
I’ll sum up the almost three years since: It took a long time to stop hoping. Longer than I care to admit. It took almost a year after that to finally recognize myself as being out of an abusive situation. And now, that critical thing that I defined as me is back. I love my kids, my hobbies, and I’m back in school with great marks across the board.
Life is rough, but I’m happy again, enjoying reaching for my goals. And being through these events have proven to help me as a writer, allowing me to bring out that dark point of view for my characters.
To every other victim and survivor who’s still in that dark place: You can get out of it, and it’s worth fighting for.