Welcome to the second installment of For Girls Only! Same rules as last time: Boys who stick around are doing so at their own risk. And ladies, feel free to share—anonymously if you wish—or you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ladies, you may remember that last Friday on Girls Only Day, I shared about the secrets I have kept in my life. I was so blessed and touched by the responses I received—both the ones in the comments and the ones that came to my personal email account. One of those responses came from a relatively new friend, Valerie Brooks. I met Val a couple of months ago on Twitter but had not really gotten to know her until last weekend after the post about my rape. She emailed me to say, “I have secrets, too.” And after she began sharing her story with me, I asked if I could share some of it here. She said yes. I offered to publish this anonymously, but her answer was, “No. No more secrets.” So, here she is—my brave new sister-friend, Val:
I remember lying on the soft, green grass of what was then my front yard on a beautiful spring day. I was daydreaming about how my life was going to be when I grew up. It was going to be great. I was going to meet Prince Charming. He was going to sweep me off my feet and whisk me away into a blissful life.
I met Prince Charming when I was the ripe old age of 15. He swept me off my feet just like I dreamed and at 17, I moved to New Orleans to be with him. We married when I was 18. I was so excited about being a wife. I learned to cook, kept the apartment we lived in spotless, did the laundry. Things were wonderful. I had my first son a couple of months before I turned 21 and reality kicked in.
Turned out Prince Charming was never home. He had started his own trucking company and was over the road 85% of the time. I took care of the business side of things, handling the finances, applying for permits, and maintaining all the state requirements for a corporation. I adapted to being alone and spent the majority of my time being a mother. This was and is to this day my favorite job in the world.
Before long, we owned 3 brand new Peterbilts with custom paint jobs, chromed out with a ton of lights. This is status in the trucking world. Our rides were some of the sweetest on the road. With the trucks came the responsibility of employees and the stress of a growing business.
One night the dream was blurred with a smack across the face. I can’t tell you what incited this. I don’t even remember what we were talking about. I can tell you I was stunned. I hadn’t been hit in many years, since I moved away from my drunken father.
My reaction?? Hit back. I never cowed down to my father and I wasn’t about to start being a coward with my husband. To this day I still sit back and try to understand why I reacted this way. Self preservation? Pride? I don’t know.
This new behavior became more frequent and just seemed to get worse. I ended up in the emergency room late one evening with a broken nose. He had pinned me down on the bed and punched me 3 times in the face. His biggest concern was that his knuckles had gotten split open hitting me. Never mind the blood flowing from my nose like a waterfall. I had 5 stitches put in the bridge of my nose that night and have a tiny scar to remind me of the violence.
Up until this point I told myself this was all a phase we were going through due to the stress of being apart and trying to grow a successful business. I told myself I was a guilty participant too, as I always struck back when he hit me. I condemned myself for being a bad wife, even though I tried everything I could possibly think of to make him happy. That night I was afraid and had the inkling of a thought that maybe something was not quite right here.
The truth: I was in an abusive relationship and the violence was only escalating. It wasn’t going to stop. We had stepped into a circle dance that picked up momentum as the years went by. I was still unconvinced. I was not that abused woman you see in the movies and in television commercials about domestic abuse. I didn’t need a hotline, nor did I need to call the police as this was a private family matter that needed to be worked out in the home. I just needed to increase my efforts to please him. That’s all.
One Saturday afternoon he was home, sitting in his recliner watching sports. He had been gone almost 4 weeks this time around. My son, who was 6 years old at the time, missed his daddy and wanted to sit with him. He tried climbing up in the chair with my husband, who pushed him away saying “I’m trying to relax right now, I am tired, leave me alone.” A child doesn’t understand this need we adults have from time to time to just be left alone and tried to climb up in the chair again. He met rejection again with a scolding, “I told you to leave me alone. I do not want to be bothered right now!” He shoved my son away again.
My little boy started crying. My husband put his foot to my son’s back and shoved at him, kind of like you do when you are trying to keep the dog from running out the open door. It wasn’t a kick, but a strong enough shove to knock my little boy down, as he yelled, “JUST SHUT UP!!”
That was the point when I decided we could not stay in the marriage. He was going to hurt my son, or end up killing me. I packed up my kid, my cat and my car that night after he left for his next run and drove home to Florida.
What I learned from my ordeal: Domestic violence does not stop on its own. If you are being hit, then YES you ARE that story you have heard about. Your life IS in danger and you need to get out NOW! He isn’t going to change.
FACT: 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
FACT: An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of domestic abuse each year.
FACT: Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to police.
FACT: Almost 1/3 of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, seek help now from family, friends, church or call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline 1-800-799-7233.
** You can find Val on Twitter: @VariantVal **