[My Journey] From Hell to Healing (Part 1)

Initially I had planned to write this in book form, each segment [or chapter] in it’s own post, but today it hit me that it might be better to do it all in one or two posts and to exclude the heaviest details.
This is my story as a survivor of domestic abuse.

~January 1999~

I was 24 and living with my parents.
My dad had bought a new computer for the family for Christmas; our first time using the World Wide Web.
I was excited. I had read about chat rooms, websites and about the many things that the web had to offer. I had even heard about some chat room horror stories.

One of the first things I did was get an email address. And then I went in search of a Christian chat room. I was hoping to find some of my friends from church and maybe make a few other friends from around the world.

I found a couple of decent chat sites. One of them I chat in almost daily.
I was getting to know people and I became good friends with a few. Started private chatting with one in particular to get to know each other better.
He was from Canada and a couple years my senior. He seemed fairly nice. Eventually we exchanged email addresses and were chatting everyday. The relationship started to progress, as much as it could over the internet.

A few months later…

One day I logged in at my usual time and he wasn’t on, so I asked if anyone had seen him. “No”, came a few replies. A short time later he logged in, or so I thought. We started chatting and things went from normal to really strange. I ended up getting angry and logged off, then decided to email him exactly what I thought about the previous conversation; I didn’t mince words.
He responded not so kindly, which led me to reply in an equally negative way, to which he nearly demanded to have my phone number so he could call me and resolve the issue.
(I do not remember much detail, but it ended up being resolved. He said that the person I had chat with wasn’t him; all was eventually forgiven. And so continued the relationship, now including long distance phone calls).

The relationship continued for months and he ended up proposing marriage. I was hesitant to give a response. Although I was enjoying this relationship, I still had some feelings for someone else, whom I had been in love with for the past 10 years. But it appeared that all hope was lost for a potential relationship with him, so I continued the current relationship.

~December 1999~

Around Christmastime I received a call saying he wasn’t sure he could continue the relationship; he was becoming weary.
I felt in my own heart like I should have agreed with him, but I was afraid. I had never had someone care so much about me, and I was afraid of being alone.
So I tried talking him out of it. I cried. I begged. He was still unsure and hung up.
I went to bed in tears expecting never to hear from him again. But a few days later he called to say he wanted the relationship to continue and proposed marriage again.

~Early Summer 2000~

My parents and I went on a week’s vacation to Canada, finally meeting him face to face. He still seemed to be genuine and an all around great guy.
He introduced me to some of his family & a few friends while I was there.

Shortly after returning home wedding plans began.
But somewhere in between all of that, he got into a big fight with a long-time friend. He told me that I should cut off contact with her, so I did.
She tried calling; they were ignored or blocked.

~Early Fall 2000~

I traveled to Canada again; this time for good.

We got married in late fall. Had a small ceremony with family and friends in front of the Justice of the Peace.
I thought I was finally happy; it wouldn’t last long.

For the first little while things were OK, but sometimes he would get pushy and manipulative. Often times he would just brush off things that I would say.

There was one night we were talking and he wasn’t listening to me. I was so frustrated that I slapped him; he slapped me back.
I was stunned.

From that night on, whenever he was irritated or angry, he acted out in belligerence toward me, slapping me across the face or hitting me in the head with a closed fist.

There was a time when we were babysitting a neighbors 2 month old baby. I couldn’t get the precious boy to stop crying. I tried everything I knew to do: diaper change, a bottle, rocking him…
Big Mister decided to call his mother for advice because I wasn’t smart enough to figure it out. I told him I didn’t need to talk to her, he dialed the phone and put it in my face… I was still holding the baby.
I told him I didn’t need to talk to her and I hung up the phone.
He got cheesed off and punched me in the face, knocking me AND the baby to the couch. Thankfully I was able to keep a hold of the screaming baby.
With tears streaming down my face, it dawned on me that the baby just needed to be burped a little bit more.
(I had a black eye for a week).

NOTE:  I was 2100 miles away from home, I had few friends of my own, and was not allowed to work because I had not yet been approved as a permanent resident (immigrant status). He was not only physically abusive, but he was verbally, mentally, and sexually abusive; a complete control freak.

One evening he was angry at me about something, and I had gone into the bathroom to take a shower, locking the door behind me. While in the shower, he came pounding on the door saying he would knock it down if he had to. He got the door open and dragged me, soaking wet, out of the shower and slapped me across the face and nose.
I could taste blood in the back of my throat.
I was crying and I was angry so I spit it at him.
With my hands covering my face, I screamed, “You broke my nose!”
He tried to remove my hands from my face, and started yelling at me to let him look. I didn’t want him to look. I didn’t want him near me.
He pulled my hands away and it was bleeding but wasn’t broken.
He pulled me close and hugged me, saying how sorry he was and that he loved me.

There was an evening while he was working that a friend came to visit.
She asked me how I was and how things were going. I was afraid, but I told her what had been going on.
She invited me to come stay with her family for awhile.
(I don’t remember but I may have declined this first offer).
There were at least 2 other times she offered and those times I did go stay for awhile. The 2nd time was just before our first anniversary and I ended up going back home to Michigan for a month.

My pastor told me to cut off all contact with him. He said, and I agreed, that we needed to go to counselling.
I did not talk to my husband until he finally said he agreed to go to counselling and contacted the local church pastor.

Upon my arrival back in Canada, he read me the riot act and told me how stupid I was for leaving and that it could get me in trouble. And then he changed his mind about going to counselling.

For another year and a half, even after my permanent residency & work approval, I put up with his abuse.
Every time he hurt me it was always the same; a hug, an “I’m sorry” and “I love you”.

I don’t remember how it came about, but he eventually decided to try counselling.
We fought the first week and I decided I didn’t want to go; I ended up going anyway. Then for the first while the counselor wanted to talk to him alone and he refused. We went for a couple of weeks and then the counselor went on vacation saying that she would call when she returned to set up the next appointment.
She returned but never called. When I called her she said, I’m sorry but blah blah blah…. I can no longer counsel you.

W H A T?!?!

Months went by… more garbage, more verbal insults and physical assaults.

By this time I was tired of all the garbage; I had had enough.

He came at me one night, pinned me down on the bed (his usual routine) and somehow I managed to get out of it.
Then I did something that scared the hell out of both of us.
I pinned him down and I screamed,
“When I say leave me the **** alone, I mean leave me the **** alone!!” and I walked out of the room.
Never before have I been so angry.
Never again have I been that angry.

For weeks he didn’t come near me.

I know that God hates divorce. The Bible says that a man should not give his wife a note of divorce unless there’s been marital unfaithfulness.
I debated with myself and with my mom over the phone for weeks.
She kept telling me how I had tried over and over again to get help and that he just didn’t want to change. She told me that God would understand and that He would rather see me safe and in a loving marriage.
She reminded me that even if there was a divorce that God could restore the relationship down the road.

~April 1, 2003~

After so much fighting, arguing, abuse, and little help from any outside source…
And after a lot of prayer, I made my decision.

“I want a divorce.”

He looked at me and said, “You’re joking, right?”

“No, I’m not.”

He looked heartbroken.
I didn’t care. I was bruised and broken; body, heart, and spirit.

(At the time I had not realized the date I had chosen to break the news).

One of the days before I left, he looked me in the eye and said:
“Because you’re a big girl, no one will ever love you as much as I do.”
Then he hugged me.
I felt empty and numb.

~May 2003~

Forms were filled out, more promises were made that would eventually be broken, papers signed awaiting the judge to rule the marriage over.

He brought me to the bus station and waited with me for my bus.
He actually tried to talk me out of it.
Are you sure you really want this? You don’t have to go, I can change.”
Yes I want this and I do have to go.
In my mind I thought, “You’re so full of ****. You’ll never change.)

As my bus pulled up, he hugged me one last time.
I just stood there, empty and numb.
Then I turned and boarded the bus.
I was going home.
I was finally going to be safe.