My heart racing, pounding in my chest, my mind a mushed up mess of whirling confusion! All I knew was that I had to get away for good. To never return to the man I had married nearly 10 years ago. I was in Australia, far away from family, from the support system I grew up with. I had just opened a letter, not so shocked that once again I was receiving demerit points on my drivers license because of my husband putting his truck in my name. Every time he had any sort of traffic violation I was “awarded” the demerits onto my drivers license record. After so many points of violation, you lose your drivers license. This was not fair, and I was finally going to stand up against this as I had a 3 year old, a 10 month old, and I was 3 months pregnant.
But, his anger raged as he realized I discovered what he was up to. He had lost his license numerous times and I had already spent much of our married life driving him around. Driving on the opposite side of the road from what I was used to in America, driving in cities, in a new country, not understanding all of the traffic congestion, and this man in the passenger seat raging at me to “pass that car, your going to slow, stop right now, turn the window wipers off at the stop light, speed up, keep the AC off your wasting it….even in the blazing heat. Or turn off the heat…..your wasting it even in the cold. Who cares about the flat tire, just pump air into it every day when you go to the gas station. Two different times, pulling the emergency brake up hard and fast while I was driving over 45 mph. Often yelling at me to keep going, although I could not even see through all of the tears falling down my face, my body shaking in fear, jumping for fright at every turn, making incorrect turns out of the absolute confusion taking over my mind from not just being allowed to drive.
I witnessed my husband sell our old car to a man to give to his own son. Later on, they found out the vehicle was not even road worthy after they had already paid my husband the money for it. They had believed that the “pink slip” was legit for the sale. The man came back to me one day, explained the situation and was hoping for a full refund. I wanted to give the money back to the man so badly, and I let him know so. But, because of my situation, absolutely unable to do so for fear of the aftermath. I told the man to go turn my husband in for fraud. I was so sick to my stomach of the deceit and lies I had to watch on a continual basis.
One day, I finally chose to stand up for myself, after reading the letter addressed to me, again receiving traffic fines that I had not accumulated. My husband walked into the room, I confronted him, something I rarely, if ever, did. He ripped the letter out of my hand. He was not going to let me turn him in for the traffic violations. This was insane! I was the one pregnant with two small children needing to get around with a valid drivers license. He needed to stop breaking the law! I wanted the letter back, to set this straight once and for all.
But, it was not meant to be. Luckily he ran out of the house, me following after, begging for the letter to be given back to me. My neighbors stood witness, of his actions. He was trying to pretend everything was just fine, like he always did. But his anger and violence got the best of him as I reached for the letter and he grabbed me tight around the wrist, twisting my arm to his side, pinning me to him, all the while muttering under his breath and smiling at the neighbors. I was once again filled with dread, with violent fear, with shame, with unbearable guilt.
My husband was so angered that the neighbors witnessed his actions, that he raced into the house for his keys. I ran over to my neighbors and pleaded with them to help me, to be witness of all that was happening. To maybe talk some sense into my husband. My husband came back out, the sweet neighbors trying to help out. But there was no possible way any of us could talk reasonable sense into the angry man. He threw himself into his truck, speeding off. Leaving me once again in tears, in turmoil, in uncertainty. Plagued with anxiety once again. A deep ache, absolute dread filling my mind, my heart, my soul! How did my life end up like this!!! Life is not fair! What did I do so wrong to deserve all of this?
My sweet neighbor asked me the most important question I have ever been asked, “Is this the life you want?”
I replied, “Do I have a choice?”
“Yes!” She said.
“Then, no I don’t!” I said with finality.
There are details I must leave out for the safety of others.
A family nearly 45 minutes drive from my house encouraged me and my children to stay with them. I had become friends with this couple through church. I had asked them to please befriend my husband to watch him as an outsider looking into my abusive marriage. I wanted their support over time, to help me to know if there truly was nothing more that could be done to save this marriage. They had observed, had dinners together, tried to be a friend and support. But, after all this time, they too realized that there was nothing more that could be done but to escape the grasp and control of the man I called my husband. This loving couple told me that they would never encourage a woman to leave her husband. But, in this case, you must start your life over without him, they encouraged. You deserve far better than this, and one day they believed I would have a wonderful man to go through life with, a best friend, a true soul mate.
My dear friends let my boys stay with them, after they told me to go home when I thought my husband would be away. Once again, I was filled with panic, dread, and traumatic fear at the thought of entering my home, having tried to escape the violent grasp and control my husband had on me at other times. With a racing heart, my entire body shaking like a leaf, my mind trying to stay focused on the one task of gathering up very minimal possessions, I entered the house. I filled a suitcase with a few changes of clothes, my boys favorite blankets and stuffed animals, my laptop, my camera, our passports, and my Bible. I raced back out of the house as fast as I could, looking in every direction for fear of being trapped in the painful grasp of my husband if he were to have been lurking, hiding, waiting for me to return. I got into the car in a hurry, straight on the phone to let my friends know I was heading back to their house, safe for the time being.
I called my parents in the states to let them know I was escaping, returning to America. I called my dear friend, a retired Delta Airline pilot, who made arrangements for tickets for me and my 2 boys. I asked him if he could please purchase the tickets so there was no evidence on my husband’s account of me purchasing tickets to fly overseas. I told my pilot friend that I had no money, but would be sure to pay him back as soon as I could get work again. Fully supportive of my escape with my boys, he made quick arrangements for our departure.
Five days now of sleepless nights, breastfeeding my 10 month old, potty training my 3 year old, and enduring the first trimester of morning sickness. I traveled by car, train, plane, bus, for 36 hours straight, no sleep, with one goal in mind: To return to my homeland. To start my life over with no money, with a suitcase, my 2 children and another baby on the way. But, I was gaining my sanity, my strength, my life back no matter how hard the road ahead, anything I knew would be better than domestic violence, watching my children be abused, watching animals be abused, enduring abuse myself, all by the hands of a man, meant to be my husband. The man I thought was meant to protect, provide, love, nurture, and support.
After the dramatic events of travelling alone with children half way around the world, I finally landed in LAX! My fear now, that I would not be allowed to enter my own country. Luckily I had been able to talk my husband into getting dual citizenship for my children, knowing one day I would hope to escape. But, the haunting feeling that my husband would find out I had tried to get away before I ever got to my family in the states, tormented me. I was afraid I would be stopped at the border and accused of child abduction. That did happen, but luckily not until after I had gotten divorced and full custody of my children, after months back in the states.
And this is where the Family Safety Network came into my life only after a few days of returning to the town I grew up in. Their support and help was paramount to my survival. I will describe their care in great detail in my next blog post:
“How the Family Safety Network helped me get back up on my feet again after I escaped 10 years of domestic violence.”
All because of experiencing the greatest fears of my life, I am now on a new path, a journey of truly discovering all of who I was created to be! Please see previous posts from October, if you wish to read more of my story. I shared a lot during the month of Domestic Violence Awareness.