Donald's Domestic Abuse Story
Donald tells his domestic abuse story candidly and with a lot of confussion, he simple did not recognise the emotional abuse with which he was living, but he did notice the effect it was having on him:
An Internet date can lead to unpredictable outcomes. When that person’s life is shaped by undiagnosed issues or unresolved yesterdays - or both - you know you’re going to hurt. Sad thing is, you just never know.
I should have....
God, you’d think having aged 50 years and survived more toxic relationships than I have fingers, I’d learn - right? Well, here goes another:
In the very early part of August, a picture of me with my grand daughter caught Lauren’s (not her real name) eye. Interested, she sent a message my way.
Online, she seemed warm, loving, talkative to the extreme - and easily offended. She told me she was a drug and alcohol counsellor - retired due to illness. She was actively maintaining in recovery and had twenty-five years of sobriety to prove it. What you see is what you get - and I liked the impression she made on me. When am I going to learn? It’s what you don’t see that sneaks in for the kill.
I was feeling my own stuff with the imminent death of my ex-wife - the mother of my children, and "Gramma" to that little girl in the photograph.
Of fifteen starts with Internet ladies, few lived up to their promise - though I have made some good friends. Those that went beyond the first few dates just seemed to fizzle out in the three-to-six month stretch - when the honeymoon’s over. I didn’t think it would be easy for me to trust again after so many short and hurtful relationships. I was wary, but there was something about her that just felt right. We seemed like the perfect match - but all the same, red flags were there.
Easily offended - was it nerves, or a warning sign? Insanity is defined as doing all the same things and expecting different results. Was she different - or am I insane? Two days later, we met.
She was fashionably late. When she breezed in, I swear that coffee shop brightened! Time stood still as we talked our way through several cups. God, how we talked.... She was every bit the woman impression led me to expect. As the day wore on, we grew with it. Never have I been to a meeting on a date! We still wanted more. In this city, the only place for karaoke is a seedy old bar. Though I felt it was risky, we went. Later, as she sang, I believe I fell in love with an angel.
That date ended in conflict - over a drunken barfly! ...And we’d shared such a great day too.
I should have seen it in how many times she’d moved. I should have seen it in the number of guys who have walked through her life - and it was always them at fault. I should have seen it when she told me the father had custody of her children. But most of all, I should have seen it in her eyes on that very first date when she stepped back like I was in danger close. I should have - but I didn’t.
She spoke with some friends in the program, and heard things like that happen sometimes. It calmed her enough to get over the assumption she’d drawn.
We’re both mature - and I suppose lonely. Things moved into intimacy a lot faster than we really should have. In tears as she related she’d been a child of 16 when her first husband took liberties with her naivety, I hugged her some comfort. Her reaction was more than a thank-you. I felt urgency much greater than my own - on our second date.
Though there were certain irritating things about her - like in how she interrupted in conversations, steered them to other subjects, or in her odd way of juggling the evidence to find her answers - I accepted her. Isn’t that just a counsellor’s way?
Our chats were interspersed with I miss you and I want you, hope and promise. Her fibro flared up - on the day of my daughter’s wedding. She worried I’d be angry. It seemed to me she was more anxious than sore, but chronic pain is real and unpredictable. I’ve known the jitters too. It didn’t really matter. Just over a week into a new relationship is a bit early to meet the family en masse. In a matter of days, we were inseparable.
I was so comforted to have Lauren’s shoulder to cry on when my ex-wife lost her battle with cancer.
She laughed as easily as she cried. I liked her as she was. To find someone 49 years in age who still possessed unabashed emotion was a joy to me. Moods? We all have them. She was entitled to hers - and her opinions. Though seldom was there an apology if I proved she wasn’t right about something, she had the perfect end-all for every disagreement: Tears.
Inconsistency confuses me. From the intense heights of love, she could plunge to the depths of tears and anger with just one poorly-placed comment or word. A humorous (I thought) comment about "killing" my indestructible plant had her upset and believing I was angry. The simple word "scold" brought on a wrath I just couldn’t understand. So many triggers!
A touch of jealous was cute - at first. I thought it was sort of flattering that she didn’t want to lose me - even to a lady with long white hair. Okay - letters and pics on my computer from a previous girlfriend, I can understand. Given the opposite, I’d wonder too. For a while, there were legal reasons for keeping them. Only laziness left them there. It was when she started going through my computer - and finding that ex’s name on auto-fill-in forms and stuff on a search engine I don’t use, didn’t know was there and had no idea how to delete - my concerns were raised. Lauren did not easily accept explanations. Thing is - I had nothing to hide.
When she told me she would prefer it if she didn’t have to see my ex-wife’s husband - someone who’d grown to be a friend and had just lost his wife - I understood. His resemblance to one of her ex’s made her uncomfortable and his drinking and drugging could become a problem. Still, I wondered if Lauren wasn’t being just a bit controlling. It was when she forbade me from accepting calls from an old friend - a suicidal girl who only ever reached out when she was getting close to bottom - I was hurt. She’s a counsellor?
I almost broke it off with her after a great Lauren Wine concert. That ex just happened to be there. My motives for avoiding contact were misjudged. Really, I still don’t know if she accepted the truth - or the version with which she accused me. I apologized - then forgave myself.
Lauren lived in the city - an hour’s drive from my place. I lived in an apartment over a small town grocery store. The neighbours were loud and the stairs were brutal - not a good thing for a lady who has trouble sleeping and walking. Where she lived, the neighbours were getting to be pests. Apparently, they were playing with drugs. They were always looking for something to enable them to carry on their activities. Some dangerous people were coming around, so it wasn’t a safe place for her teen-age kids to drop in when she wasn’t home.
We were practically living together - in two apartments. She joked we had a country house and a city house. Where problems rose was we were constantly stocking them and running the road between them. She didn’t like to be so far from the kids for too long - and I understood that. There was a lot of packing and travelling time involved. Neither are good for fibro or heart health. It wasn’t hard to guess that musical apartments could be the source of a lot of our stress. We were both feeling it, so she suggested we should find a place and move in together.
I felt it was too soon - but I worried she'd leave if she didn't get her own way. She may have sensed some doubt when she wondered if I could I really love her as much as I said. I did, and I wanted to love her for a very long life. I just wasn’t ready to make that leap yet. I made a lot of "excuses" - valid reasons, really - why I couldn’t move into her place: the lease, it was too small, there was no parking. My apartment seemed better - to me anyhow. It was safe. It wasn’t so far that the kids couldn’t easily Greyhound it if need be.
I have to admit, it made me feel "warm ‘n’ fuzzy" while Lauren set about nesting in my house. I welcomed her! Our cuddling time was soon replaced by her computer time. I didn’t welcome that. She went through my space tossing stuff out and making room for her own. Some of that "junk" had sentimental value, so naturally I objected a few times. That brought on disagreements, accusations - and at least twice she threatened to end the relationship. Incredible how she thought it seemed so easy for me to let her go. I wouldn’t force her to stay, but I didn’t want to lose her.
Those arguments! They were over the silliest of things sometimes - what was on my computer, a picture in a book, stuff in the fridge, a bracelet, a stupid towel! So many times I felt she was a cat and I was the mouse. Lauren clung to whatever conclusion she’d jumped in any given situation.
One, in particular that should have taught me well happened in the aisles of a dollar store. She’d been looking for some red net stockings for an elf costume. I thought I found some. She turned to see me holding an opened thong in a classic pose. She accused me of doing it deliberately, told me I’d humiliated her in front of her daughter and she was embarrassed to be with me. There was no explaining things to her. Right in front of her kids, she called me some very explicit names. That time, I did leave. The next day, I ended up being the one who apologized - again.
I know I have a stubborn streak. I’ll defend my truth - sometimes, loudly (without name-calling or intentional put-downs) but I will compromise too. Lauren wouldn’t. It had to be her way. Silence for the sake of peace is uneasy peace. Still, there was a side to her I loved - a side that loved me. That made it all seem worthwhile. So, for the sake of peace, I couldn’t talk with her any more.
Divorce and distance deprived me of my kids. Injury took my ability to earn self esteem on a job. Heart meds mess with making love. Now, for her, I was giving up a vital part of me: Words....
She wanted me to do something about the noisy neighbours. She wanted me to complain about the faulty plumbing. She wanted to see her kids more. She wanted the romance back (of course, that somehow got to be my fault) She wanted a house and we weren’t in a financial position to buy or rent one.
Places came available, and we turned them down for one reason or another. She even checked into tax-sale houses in her old home town in the hope of a spring move. I truly believed she wanted us to share a life together. A great deal came up on a mobile home not far outside the city. Though I felt pushed, and I was leaving my safe place behind - I surrendered.
Her pretty green eyes glowed emeralds bright. Lauren practically danced in the car when she first saw it. She was so excited about it - our "Granny Clampett" place. "We’ll be those two old hippies at the end of the road." Those prophetic words inspired me. I dropped my guard. I believed in this thing. Words are big healers to me....
This was one of those "once-in-a-lifetime" bargains - at a price even we could afford. We didn’t have immediate cash for a down payment, so she called her mother. According to her, her mother is a controlling woman who favours her second family over her first (meaning two sons over three survivors from six) Mom said she misunderstood because only one-tenth the cash was on hand when we went to pick it up. She didn’t want those two sons to know. Lauren’s tears were enough to soften her. On the way home, she joked how it pays to be able to turn tears on and off at will.
Together, we cleaned, papered and prepared - in between trips to visit her gravely ill brother. In two weeks, the place was ready for us. I was cautioned about getting friendly with the neighbours. She wanted quiet and privacy. Stress didn’t fade with our reduced mileage. In what should have been time to relax and refresh our relationship, it got worse.
Her fibro was flaring, but she bulled ahead with things we had the rest of our lives to do. There was bickering over what went where and why. She was so adamant about things being perfectly centered and straight - and hated disagreement. It really bothered me that she heard helpful hints and suggestions as criticism and personal attacks. Her short temper showed as she hung material on a wall. More than once I felt I didn’t belong. In a closet, I collided with her ability to exaggerate the truth. I had too many clothes?
She stayed in touch with her kids online - always fretted about her son’s teen-age activity, the girl’s love life and her (2nd) ex husband’s drinking and drugging. When she lived in the city, her young teen-age daughter could come and go at will on the bus [ie: run away] whenever things "got tough" with her father and step-mother. There were limits here - and Lauren knew that before we ever made our offer to purchase. The parents insisted it wasn’t their fault her mom decided to move so far out of town. Lauren’s moods grew darker. The smallest of things set her off now.
Romance was gone. The computer had most of her attention. She complained about anything and everything. Something had been haunting her for the last little while. I didn’t ask. I didn’t need the fight. A day or so before the end, she asked me why I loved her. For the first time, I couldn’t find an answer. I just did. That was the moment I knew we were at a crossroad.
All in all, we did a lot of things right. We were both willing to take a chance with each other. We shared dreams and let ourselves experience the powers of our love. Nothing’s a waste that makes memories, and she made some sweet ones in me. For them, I’m so grateful there was Lauren.
...But we did things wrong too. We moved too fast - from each others’ dreams to this life. Of that I’ve had regrets. In our haste, we let ‘us’ deteriorate to the point where there were a lot of uneasy silences and heated debates. My heart broke in every one of them. I know, just in my way of being honest and forthright - and as resent worked its way in, a bit too blunt and loud - she felt hurt. For that, I cry.
Sunday morning (Nov 26) the day before we were going to consolidate our pensions, she woke up annoyed. All I said was we both do it (sleep noise) "What’s that supposed to mean?" There was no meaning. After she said it a second time, I pointed out it felt like she was looking for a fight - and got some names lobbed my way again. In frustration, I said: "Yes dear." Apparently, it’s another trigger.
She stayed in the bedroom for most of the day. That evening, she said she was leaving. She told me she wanted us to start over. She wanted a place of her own. Her story was she’s too far from the kids out here. That’s a line I won’t dare cross. Though I could see there was a lot more to it, I only half-heartedly tried to reach her. What’s the use? She wanted - and I wasn’t happy with what stress was doing to me - and us. I guess it shows in more ways than just the obvious.
Monday (Nov 27) we went in to Disability. She’s made that first payment so I was sort of screwed for this month. Yes, I was upset - but more so devastated because I’m sure I lost a huge part of a dream come true - her. Her last look back - to my one last sad "I love you" - wasn’t through the eyes of an Lauren I’d ever met.
Money is only money. I got a partial cheque and a clinic doctor will script me for the medical requirement. I still have receipts from the move, so I can get a community start-up. It took a bit of humility and a few phone calls but arrangements are made to cover the bills. I won’t lose this place - but now I live in it alone.
Heart health and stress aren’t a good combination for me. As confusing as she can be, lonely is worse. Tuesday, I spoke to someone from the program, then a counsellor on the phone - and Thursday, I had a home visit from the crisis centre! Turns out he knows Lauren....
He was good about it - kept it on me. We talked some stuff about how alcoholics’ minds work, and why they act the way they do. The saddest part was: it described our relationship in living colour. Chaos! She has twenty-five years of sobriety, yet without her Power, the behaviour drives her. Its inconsistency managed to push the right buttons and drill deep enough to touch anger.
We spoke quite a bit about my emotional state, the stress, and what was it doing to my health? He told me some places to get help, and I am looking into some anger management and grief counselling.
Friday night, Lauren called. She made sure I knew she was a lot happier now because everyone there agrees with her. I never was a "yes" person. We spoke again about starting over and moving slower when it’s not shaded by yesterdays. God, how I prayed we might do it. Yes, it could be difficult - but with some counsel.... Neither of us is perfect.
From my heart, I recounted things that have worn me down throughout the relationship - with a hope hers would hear. I heard another denial. It was put onto the fact I’d quit painkillers - then on yesterdays that were dealt with and resolved long ago. She made me aware, in no uncertain terms, that she didn’t have to do anything. The issues were all my own and if I expected to work things out, I was the one who had to change.
I promised I wasn’t going to give her a hard time when she came to get her stuff. I’d even offered to let her store it here. My word is solid. I keep it to the best of my ability. I told her someone said that I should change the locks, make her prove it’s hers and claim it was abandoned - and that I answered I want things to be on friendly terms so, no. I won’t do it to her.
It may as well have been bait - and she went for it. I’m real sorry for that - not for the trap, but for what I learned. I wish it could have been something in me, for now I know I can’t fix it. She stuck to the pattern and fixed on the bad. I tried to explain. It went unheard. The browbeating I just took about brow beatings I took came right apart in a threat she was coming out with proof, witnesses and cops. It proved what I saw all along and what the counsellor told me about a "dry drunk’s" behaviour. They are the same thing.
Saturday evening (Dec 2) she left a message stating that I had to bag or box anything I could and I had 24 hours to bring it to G. House or she was coming out with the cops. I’m sorry it had to be this way too.
I called the shelter and told the lady on the other end about last night’s call - how Lauren heard the bad, shut me out, jumped to another conclusion, and that trait is the reason this relationship failed me. Then I called the OPP and told them they would be getting a call. "She left. She can come and get it herself." The cop seemed to believe it was fair - as long as there wasn’t going to be trouble.
I wasn’t going to that shelter. It would hurt too much to see her. This pain is too fresh and I still have big feelings for her. I should have let her come out with guns blazing, but I didn’t want her hatching ideas I’d ever be mean to her. I still love her. Why?
Sunday (the 3rd) I took some stuff to her sister’s. She wonders why I stayed with Lauren, having seen the way I was treated a few times.
In a phone call with someone who knows her very well, I mentioned that Lauren is terribly insecure and can be very abusive. It came as no surprise. A lot of what I lived with her was confirmed in that chat. "She’s done things like that all her life." I know she’s just walked out on other relationships too. Heard that from her and from several people very close to her - so it’s not just me. "She’s a bit too sensitive".
"I want us to be happy." Those are Lauren’s own words. For there to be an ‘us’, we both need a voice. I needed to matter too. "What’s that supposed to mean?" or "You’re telling me...." I felt like I was being analyzed, interpreted, manipulated, lead to a witness stand confession and forced into another apology for something I didn’t really say or do. I heaped anger on me for feeling beaten down and damned to silence by the very person I wanted to spend a life with.
She said she loved me, but I felt treated like a threat. She was afraid I would leave her, but I felt her pushing me away. "When I want your opinions, I’ll ask for them." That hurt me. I wonder what her feelings might be toward: "Children should be seen and not heard". To me, it’s the same thing. Nothing was resolved. It was dismissed for the sake of peace. Why was I getting crabby? It kept happening. After a while, tension creates strain. Then, the cracks appear.
Don’t get the impression I was entirely the victim in this. The signs were there. Lauren may be a bit too aggressive, and I too passive, but I’m not blameless. I should have been stronger in my resolve when I walked away that first time. I knew she wasn’t about to change her behaviour. I was the one who went back for more.
Though I never resorted to name-calling, I didn’t candy-coat the truth either. At times, frustration got the best of me and I shouted it. That makes me guilty of retaliation - and I hated myself for it every time. It wouldn’t be fair to pass blame onto Lauren for that.
Three weeks to the day after she left (Dec 18) came one of those "eureka" things - in a very dark and tragic sort of way. I got the word from Lauren’s son when he called about her stuff. She’s in the hospital. Apparently she lost it, turned violent and the police got involved. Tears stung these eyes when I heard a shaky-voiced "I’m so sorry" from a young man who really shouldn’t have felt a need to apologize.
Lauren’s sister wants nothing more to do with her. From her, I heard things that might have disgusted me - considering morals to which Lauren made an appearance of living. They came from hurt and yesterdays. She has a long history of running away. I heard about deaths in her family that Lauren has never come to terms with. Come to think of it, Lauren’s "this is the best day of my life" ended when her brother came close to death. People in hiding are not easy people to deal with. It will be a long recovery, if only she’d accept the help. I made sure her son knows I’m here.
She had me believing I was a monster. Guess I have a lot to learn yet. Counselling is scheduled for me in the new year - grief and anger management. My hope is I’ll learn how to stop falling in with that sort of lady (0 in 16 for me now) - or how not to tease her tail should it happen.
December 28, Lauren collected most of her furniture. Her eyes lit up when she looked about what was to be our home. She smiled and I heard the song in her voice when she said: "I love this place."
She held back in telling me anything specific, but she did spend a week in hospital - and was, as they tend to deem it, uncooperative. Apparently, she’d dumped her meds and made threats to sue if they put her on anything addictive.
She still wants to believe withdrawal from codeine was altering my mood. I can’t get her to understand that just because I had script doesn’t mean I used it. This province can’t accept pain without painkiller. I did 28 days in rehab to break free from P/K’s. In the past 11 years, I’ve managed without them for all but the worst of pain. She even saw as I disposed of T3, so how can she blame the codeine?
I heard from one of her friends she’s saying I was abusive. There’s no denying I yelled. I won’t try to justify it. Losing control of me is my shame. I’m sorry it happened - and sorrier she’d even think that way. Guess if it’s what she needs....
In putting this "shield" together, there have been many opportunities to weigh out the ‘goods’ and ‘bads’ in this relationship. Pretty sad when the ‘goods’ are eclipsed by a total lack of communication. All I’m left with is pretty and good sex - against a mountain of heartache. I just don’t want to be steamrollered any more.
I still love her dearly - despite what I know - and I’m told she thought the world of me. I pray she knows just how truly sorry I am for my part in what happened to us. Forgiveness is such an easing thing to do. Sometime, if she wants to have a talk over coffee, I’m here. Despite everything, she’s much too valuable a friend to lose. Who knows? We may have a life together - in time.
Lauren’s last words on that phone message were: "I’m going to do what I need to do to take care of myself." I hope to you, God, she does....
Return from Sadie's Domestic Abuse Story to Domestic Violence Stories
In This Section:
Domestic Violence Stories
Many people suffer verbal and emotional abuse in secret for years, not really understanding what is happening or why they feel so rotten. Nor do they realize how easily such seemingly mild forms of abuse can be the precursor to physical violence. This book by Patricia Evans helps the victim understand how to recognize abuse, validates the victim's perception of what is happening and offers solid suggestions as to what to do to control abuse and to protect oneself :
To order in the US: The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to recognize it and how to respond
To order in the UK: The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Expanded Third Edition
According to therapist Engel "even the most loving person" is capable of emotional abuse-that is, "any non-physical behavior designed to control, intimidate, subjugate, demean, punish, or isolate." In a reasoned, sensible tone, she encourages readers to become responsible for their behavior and for changing it. Identified are ten "patterns of abuse" (verbal assault, character assassination, etc.), different kinds of abusive relationships, action steps for cessation, and suggestions for recovery. Engel clearly shows how this type of abuse, either intentional or unconscious leads to low self-esteem and misery for one or both partners. Engel also looks at the difficult relationships where one partner suffers from Personality Disorder. A difficult and draining yet important read for those who suspect that their relationship has entered abusive territory, this book is highly recommended.
To order in the US: The Emotionally Abusive Relationship: How to Stop Being Abused and How to Stop Abusing (Paperback or Kindle version avaialble - and well worth buying the kindle to be able to start reading immediately!)
While the statistics quoted in this book can be misleading, there is a real need to recognise those men who are the victims in abusive relationships, and this book goes a long way to giving male victims of domestic violence a voice and the assurance that they too are deserving of help, support and understanding. Abuse, no matter who perpetrates it against whom, is wrong:
To order in the US: Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence
To order in the UK: Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence
Hear the voices of other women who have lived through and escaped from domestic abuse. This collection of personal survival stories help us understand the struggles, the pain and ultimately, the courage of victims who are determined to be survivors.
To order in the US: Surviving Domestic Violence: Voices of Women Who Broke Free
To order in the UK: Surviving Domestic Violence: Voices of Women Who Broke Free
Living with the Dominator by Pat Craven is the book to accompany the Freedom Programme in the UK. This book should be compulsory in schools - the information is so clear and so obvious and such an eye-opener! After studying domestic violence issues for years, this is the one book which finally enabled me to click it all into place and answer all my whys. Just read it:
To order in the US: Living With the Dominator (Kindle version only - and well worth buying a Kindle just to get this book!)
To order in the UK: Living with the Dominator: A Book About the Freedom Programme: 1
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