Vella's Domestic Violence Story
Vella's domestic violence story starts off peacefully enough, her husband is just a bit lazy and selfish, but never violent. Emotional abuse was there from the beginning, but Vella never imagined this would one day turn into attempted murder:
I met my abuser at the end of my first marriage as it was going sour. He was my friend, my confidant, and my protector. I'd never been treated so special in all my life. When the first marriage ended, we became romantically involved. What started out as a friendship became a relationship. During this time he asked me many times to marry him and I always said no. I knew in my heart that he was not THE ONE. I knew that a special person was waiting out there for me somewhere. I'm not saying I didn't love the man, because in a way I did. Just not the way I wanted to love the person I planned on spending the rest of my life with. He was more or less a stop over on my journey to find my soul.
He moved in the apartment with me and my roomie, paid one-third of the expenses and treated me like a queen. I never suspected that there was that violent rage in him. It didn't show until the day he tried to kill me.
I finally married him after discovering I was pregnant. He wasn't suppose to be able to father children (yes, men lie). So for two years I used no form of birth control and believed him. After two years passed, I found out I was wrong. I was happy though. I had prayed and told God that I wanted a child. I thought if I stayed in the relationship with my abuser, I would never be a mother. Yet if I left and found that PERFECT man (no, they don't exist), that I would have a little house in the country with a white picket fence and babies all over the place. So finding myself pregnant I thought this was God's way of telling me to stay with him and marry him? It was in fact God's way of saying....You asked, I gave, now the rest is up to you.
I guess the first signs that things weren't going to go well was the fact that I gave up the party scene and grew up. I didn't drink, I didn't do recreational drugs, and I didn't stay out all night. He, on the other hand, continued with the drugs and wouldn't give them up for me or for our son. To keep the peace I hid his drug habits from my friends, my family, and his family. Everyone thought us a perfect example of the perfect family. Yet inside I was hurting. My thoughts were "I knew about the drugs before I married him so I can't expect to change him." Deep in my heart I thought I could change him. I thought that the good things about me could rub off on him. It doesn't work that way.
Less than a year after the birth of my first child, the second one was born. Not bad for a man who can't father children huh? I was using birth control but I must be one fertile woman because it didn't work. But that's great too because that gave me my second child. Another son.
The drug habits became worse. He went from marijuana, to xanax, to cocaine, to crystal meth, and then back again. I wouldn't contribute to the cause of buying drugs with my salary so to maintain his habit, he grew marijuana on the farm where we lived knowing that if it was found, he, his mother and his brother would lose the property. I would be implicated as well and we had a good chance of losing our sons. Those things didn't seem to bother him because as he said, "I'll never get caught."
In 1990 he took a job working with one of the biggest drug dealers in the county. His story was, "I'm painting his garage and cleaning his pool." His cocaine habit became worse and one day I came home from work to find him passed out in the floor and my two young sons, ages 3 and 4, playing in the bedroom telling me "mommy, I can't get daddy to wake up." When I finally got him up, he informed me that he had a good excuse. He'd been doing cocaine all day and took xanax to try to come down off the coke and he was zonked. I asked him to leave. He locked himself in the bathroom, cut his hair, shaved his beard, and came out telling me this was his way of staightening up and leading a better life. He told me if I left, he'd kill himself. I believed him and hid all the guns in the house. I felt sorry for him.
In 1990 I decided to better myself and went back to college. In 1993 I graduated nursing school with honors. I went to school during the day. I worked the 3-11 shift at night. He promised he wasn't using drugs other than he was still smoking marijuana and swore to me that was not happening around my sons. He also swore that he had stopped his "farming" and I was safe in that aspect. He lied.
One afternoon I came home to find helicopters over our home and police cars all around the barn on his mother's property. I started looking in his old hiding places and guess what I found??? I got rid of all I could find then called him at work to tell him what was going on. He swore to me I had nothing to worry about. He neglected to tell me about the three large paper bags in the seat of his truck where he had harvested his crop and they were drying in bags there. The drug task force found one tiny plant left growing at the barn and deemed it was not worth their time to investigate one little plant. He swore it would never happen again. He lied.
Since I was a nurse and working two jobs, he decided we should build a house. I wanted to wait one more year so all we owed would be paid off. He used the lovely guilt trip on me..."I was never home because I worked 12 hour shifts at night ... and the boys and he were so cramped in the trailer ... and they NEEDED more space." As usual, I gave in. I paid all the bills and he spent his money as he wanted to. I told him that money would be tight for the first year but we could do it. They began working on the house in March. In May he had by-pass surgery. All the years of drug abuse caught up with him and he was paying the price. I took 7 weeks off work to take care of him and oversee the construction of the house.
The first two days he was home from the hospital were hell. He wouldn't get up and walk the two miles a day he was suppose to walk. He wouldn't clean his surgical wounds and I had to do that for him. He wouldn't eat or drink unless I insisted and then he got angry. All he wanted to do was sleep. On the second day I found out why. He'd been taking pain pills like they were candy. He took 60 Lortabs in two days. After that I had to dole his pills out like he was a child. He hated me for that.
This was about the time I can figure that he began his plot to kill me. He said, "you need to take out extra insurance on the house so that if anything happens to you, it will be paid for. You know if anything happens to me, you'll manage. I can't manage without you though." Later that year I did take out an extra life insurance policy on me and one on each of my sons. He found them and was very curious asking how much they were worth. He even sat and read the policies. Unusual for a man who didn't know when the electric bill was due. He had become so possessive I wasn't allowed to go out with friends or to visit family. The only contact I had in the outside world without him was the time he was at work and I was off, or when I was at work myself. On the days that I was off work he'd come home unexpected for lunch. He'd never done that before.
One of my greatest passions in life was to read. I loved to run a hot bubblebath, take a book and a glass of wine, and relax. He started following me in to the bathroom and sitting there "to talk". He said he just missed me and that we had so little time together that I shouldn't waste HIS time reading a book. I bought him a harley thinking it would get his mind on other things and he'd cut me some slack. Didn't work. He'd insist I ride with him when I got home at 8 a.m. after working 12 hours in the ER of a rural hospital. Knowing I had to go back to work and would normally get maybe 6 hours sleep, he didn't care. He insisted and tried to make me feel guilty when I said no.
In May 1999, almost one year from the day we moved into the new house, I told him it was over. We talked it out and I agreed to stay there until my sons were finished with school so they wouldn't have to change and make new friends with a move. I made it plain, however, that I didn't love him and when he asked if we could "still have sex" I said no way. I worked nights and slept in the day. He worked days and slept at night. On the days I was off and so was he, I slept on the couch. Even though we had agreed we wouldn't, we argued every day. Over money, over sex, over food, over work, over the computer, over ... everything.
During this time I met someone who made me feel like I was worthwhile. He didn't want my money. He only wanted my friendship. It felt good to know there was someone out there who didn't expect something from me. I think he was the reason I realized that life could be better and that I didn't HAVE to live like I was living. I never planned on moving out to live with this man. All I wanted from him was his love, his respect, and his friendship.
On August 3, 1999 it was my birthday. I was 40. I got up that morning and kept a doctor's appointment, stopped at the drug store, then came home and started cleaning upstairs. I decided it wasn't worth it and if my sons had to hear us argue every day, then they couldn't be happy anyway. I decided I was leaving. I was so happy. I laughed, I sang, and I danced while I was cleaning.
When he came home that evening he asked the same question he always asked. "are we gonna have sex tonight." My answer was the same. "No." He'd brought flowers and food for dinner. He cooked. I ate.
That was the last thing I remember until the next morning when I woke up on the couch, fully dressed in shorts and a tank top. My sons were getting ready for school and my ex was dressed for work. He always took the boys to school on his way to work so it all seemed normal. I stood and walked to the bedroom and got into bed, pulling the comforter up around my neck, and went back to sleep. I was soooo groggy. Those were the last steps I've took and the last time I was able to stand on my own. I heard my sons leaving for school and I called out to them that I loved them and to have a good day, just like I did every day I was there when they left for school. The only difference was, normally I would have been up and talking to them, making them toast or oatmeal, or whatever. I couldn't hold my eyes open long enough. Sleep again.
I was lying in bed listening to the ceiling fan make that noise it makes. That steady rhythm. I watched the curtain on the window flutter in the breeze of the fan. Something made me wake up? For some reason I glanced over my shouder and found my ex there with a 2x4 over his head. I'll remember the look on his face as long as I live. I called out "don't do this" and tired to roll off the bed. I was caught in the comforter as I felt the pain of the first blow to the back of my head.
I opened my eyes to find myself being pulled up the stairs. I watched the wall go by one step at a time. When I opened my eyes again, I was in my son's bedroom and on the floor at the foot of his bed. I tried to get up and made it to my hands and knees. I saw feet, then legs, and I looked up just as he swung again, catching me in the side of the head. He swung again, and again, and again. It didn't hurt as much as the first blow.
I found myself hanging from the window, looking down 20 feet to the driveway below me. I had both my arms looped over the inside of the window. I was holding on so tightly and he was pushing. Just as I started to fall, I screamed. I don't remember hitting bottom.
I sat up in the driveway and called for help. The basement door was across from me and my abuser came out the door. I reached out to him with my left hand and said, "Just help me inside. I'll be fine and we can work this out." He walked behind me and I thought he was going to pick me up beneath my arms. The blow to the head was nothing compared to the blows to my back with the metal tractor weight. I remember my jerk of surprise as I began to fall to the ground.
My next sight was looking up at my son's window. I could see him there watching me. I knew I was dying. I looked down and saw I was wearing a robe and it was open up to my hips on the right side and that my right leg was bent in at the knee. It looked uncomfortable and I didn't want to be found with my robe gaping open. I tried to move. I couldn't. I thought of my sons and I asked God, "Is it over? Is this all that you have for me?"
Two years later I remember that feeling of peace. It was lovely. It was inner peace and calm. I knew, no matter what, I was in the hands of God.
I was left in the driveway about 45 minutes. When he thought there was no way I could live, he called 911 saying I was washing windows and fell. He also told them I couldn't remember anything (remember dinner and think of date rape drugs). And, he told them I had blood coming from my nose and ears. To the medics who got this information from 911, they knew that had a significant meaning. Head injury.
The medics who arrived there didn't recognize me at first even though they all knew me well from the ER. I was bloody and swollen and bruised. When one of the medics discovered it was me, he thought it would be the last time he'd ever see me alive. I was unable to move and I was unable to speak. I did turn my eyes toward one of the medics when he called me by name, but that was the only response I made.
I was flown to a trauma center where I was found to have multiple skull fractures, a periorbital fracture, fractured sternum and ribs, clavical fracture and Ac dislocation (shoulder), 4 spinal fractures and a crushed spinal cord. Yes, I am a paraplegic. I was in spinal shock and hemmoragic shock. My blood pressure was a whopping 40/? Too low to read. I had plural effusion and two chest tubes. Am I lucky? Yes I am.
Every morning, when I open my eyes, the first thing I see is my wheelchair. It's waiting for me by the side of the bed. My ex husband, the abuser, opens his eyes and he sees a jail cell. He is serving the start of his seond year of a 27 year sentence. He has the chance for parole in 9 years. I have the chance of walking again with research and cure for spinal cord injuries. Who has the best chance I wonder? I still think I have the advantage.
Even though I wasn't beaten on numerous occasions, I was mentally and emotionally abused to the point that pity and guilt were his best friend. Until the day I decided it was over, those things worked. When they didn't work any longer, he used whatever means it took to get what he wanted. There are people in this world who are evil and cruel. Those people don't care if you live or die. Never underestimate them and ALWAYS do the safe thing. Never tell them you're leaving. Just go. A note on the fridge is sufficient. Don't worry about the money, the material things you're leaving behind. That's all they are. Material things. You can get more, you can make more, you can replace them, but you can you replace your life? Can I replace a crushed spinal cord?
May God be with you and may you find peace and happiness in this world that we live in.
Return from Vella's Domestic Violence Story to Domestic Violence Stories
In This Section:
Domestic Violence Stories
Lundy Bancroft has written what is probably the most comprehensive and readable book on domestic violence, the beliefs of the abuser and the dynamics of abuse. This truly is a MUST READ for anyone seriously trying to understand domestic abuse and how to cope with an abusive relationship:
To order in the US: Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men
To order in the UK: Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men
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
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
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