I have been away from my abuser for over three years now yet I still have major anxiety triggers. I don’t know if anyone can understand this, but the weirdest things throw me into a panic. If I see thousand island salad dressing I get nauseous. If I actually see someone eating I start to sweat and my throat feels tight. Is I smell it I can actually vomit and feel like i’m having a panic attack. If my loving, very gentle husband brings his hand up to my face too quickly I cringe and get goosebumps, I feel dizzy. The sight of comic books make me break out in hives. I get hot and my adrenalin starts pumping. I can’t even watch the movies BASED on comic books. I can have nightmares of my ex husband for weeks after seeing any of those things. There are other things too. If I see someone in a blue PT Cruiser drive by I become paranoid for weeks. Certain my ex has tracked me down and is ready to finish things. I sometimes don’t leave the house for a few days If I see someone who looks like the ex, especially if I don’t get a clear enough look at the person to be able to prove to myself it isn’t HIM.
Now, these things don’t happen frequently, but they do happen. Always very suddenly. I can be feeling on top of things, very at peace and happy and then BAM I glance at the table next to us in a restaurant and someone is taking a bite of salad. With THAT dressing. I’m instantly locked onto the view. I can’t take my eyes off them as the happily take a bite, oblivious to me becoming terrified. I can be happily browsing a flea market and uncover a box of comic books. I will have to leave right away.
Sometimes it makes me feel like I’m crazy. That he got to my psyche so badly that the little things he liked makes me have an anxiety attack. I’ll have a week of nightmares and night sweats and moodiness.
I wish I could make it all go away.
My ex husband was a very evil man. A real wolf-in-sheeps clothing. He puts on the gentle country nerd type to a T. He is very smart, very dark and an Emmy worthy actor. He can lie, manipulate and charm just about anyone. I quickly learned to live in fear of the man and had to go to great lengths to get away from the man. He learned to bruise all the secret places, pinch under tables and behind backs, choke until my legs cave out and spots are seen. He controlled the finances, owned the cars. Moved me to a secluded town with his crazy inbred family. Cross country from any familiar faces and having no one to turn to quickly became a nightmare. He was the prodigal son, the one who could do no wrong. The son who still got hundreds of dollars a month out of his mama for comic books regardless of needing diapers or not. He had sick sexual fantasies that he started forcing me to hear about. He would write these crazy comic stories about women who would grow muscles and breasts and rape people, stories about men growing penises. I became disgusted and afraid the longer we were together. After one very violent argument I got the courage to say I was leaving. That was the day he told me he’d gotten away with murder before, and he could make me disappear if I left.
Over a period of a year he would use this to scare me, intimidate me, force me to have sex with him and stay under control. I wore what he told me to, cooked what he said he wanted and was only allowed to go grocery shopping with his mother. Every time I stepped out of line he would tell me something new and even more frightening about his path.
He was engaged before he met me and she committed suicide. When we first met he told me she got upset and hung herself in a closet. His family backed it up as a horrible tragedy and there was never an investigation. According to his family HE was HER victim. She broke his heart by doing that.
But as the evil HIM began to surface the story became that they were fighting about a picture he had drawn. Of her. HE had made her have muscles and a penis like his fetish and she got upset. ‘She couldn’t understand that he was showing her the real him’ and they began to fight. He chased her up the stairs with a knife to ‘make a point’ and saw her picking up the phone and he threw the knife at her. It stuck in the wall as she panicked and backed into the wall. He says he grabbed her head and squeezed ‘he was ‘just THAT angry’ and all of a sudden he felt a crack. He said he felt her bowels release and he freaked out. He ran to his car and got a bungee cord that he had from his parts job and went back inside. He said he dragged her into the closet and hung her up. He then called 911 and the rest was ‘history’.
‘Do you want to end up like that DEAR?’ He would whisper as hed be pinching the skin on the back of my arm. ‘We could do something a little more creative with you if you don’t shut the FUCK up.’
I can’t hear the word ‘Dear’ without my skin prickling.
I did leave once. I flew to my mothers. The baby was a few months old and I was terrified. I didn’t talk to him for weeks and then he started sending Im sorry cards. Long phone calls. ‘It wasn’t true baby,’ he’d say ‘I was just pissed off and trying to get your attention. I didn’t kill her baby, you know I could NEVER do something like that’. He’d tell me how much he loved me and how we would go to counseling and he would never use his dead fiancé to scare me again. ‘I’ll never hurt you again baby. Ever.’
I went back.
Ironic right? Absolutely cliché. They always go back right?
I wish to GOD I hadn’t. Maybe my children wouldn’t have been hurt. But they were. And it WAS my fault.
We did go to counseling at first. He did stop hurting me and arguing with me and forcing me to read his porn stories. I convinced him that we needed to move back to where my family was. That the only way to fix things was to get away from his family and try to go to church and focus on family.
Within six months he started up again. The hitting, the lying, the manipulation. Never helping with the house or children and not allowing me to see the finances. He started getting upset that I was loosing weight. He didn’t want me to wear any clothes that weren’t baggy or I was being a ‘whore’. I got a job and he refused to babysit the children. He wouldn’t allow me to use the vehicle so I would have to walk the kids to day care and then myself to work.
Finally things got so bad that a very serious police officer told me to get a restraining order and never go back. He fought the restraining order and lost, and the judge included the children on it. We moved into a smaller apartment and my dad helped me get a little car. Things were good for a few weeks, then he violated the restraining order and pushed me down some stairs. My little boy tried to fight him off and got a neighbor who witnessed everything. He was FINALLY arrested. My son saw him arrested and we made an emergency appointment with his therapist. My sweet boy told the therapist that all along this monster had been sexually abusing him. He was terrified to tell and now that the officers took him away, he felt safe enough to tell. We called the police and they came out and talked to Owen. I was a mess. I had vowed that my children would never suffer, and there I was, BLIND to his evil.
We thought for sure that the man would be judge by a jury. CPS came out and substantiated the claims of my daughter and son being abused. They said the man was not to be around the children. Still we waited for justice. It never came. ‘No DNA evidence’ they said ‘only his word against the childs’. They didn’t care that my son was in therapy for sexual abuse. They didn’t have to sit with him through the nightmares, through the crying. The angry part of his healing where he ditched school and started damaging things and acting outs. They didn’t see their child contemplate suicide because he was afraid that HE would come back.
Once he was arrested the terrorizing began. The slashed tires and the spray painted cars. The hoses being turned on the yards overnight. The hundreds of phone calls to my work. The drive by of the work and schools. Once I started dating my (now) husband HE even started harassing him. Hed follow my love to work, rev up behind him like he was going to rear end him, calling his job, etc.
My hair started falling out. I was having daily migraines, heart palpitations and panic attacks. Id have to leave work because Id start to break out in hives and the world would become pin sized. We were all stressed. The police wouldn’t do anything. We didn’t have proof of any of these things. Even though a neighbor witnessed a blue pt cruiser parked AT our house at 2am the day our vehicle was destroyed we couldn’t PROVE it was him.
I just knew we’d end up dead.
Finally my new husband had enough and said we needed to get out of there. So we sold everything we owned and took off to a place hed never think to look. My mothers town. We changed our media profiles to request a completely new place and gave our lawyers our forwarding address. Its been a year now.
It is here that I am finding myself. I feel safe and loved. My only issues center on my mother and even those are nothing compared to the ex husband.
So, I feel safe, I feel happy, and then BAM, suddenly I’m flipping thru the t.v channels and there is iron man. Within five minutes I’m throwing up.
Part of me knows that nothing lasts forever. Even safety. He may bide his time but someday he will figure a way to hurt me. That’s all he does. Finish people. Bring them down to lift himself up.
That must be why any glimpse of HIM, regardless how mundane they are, is like a slap- in- the-face reminder of my vulnerability and weakness. Of my inability to see that my children were being victimized far worse than I was. I was blind.
And now I see.
And it’s not always the beautiful things that comes into focus.
I want so badly to heal. Have I come this far only to still have him restraining me and controlling my life?
I know, logically, that I must have PTSD. But, what do I do with that knowledge? How to I really heal?
I just want the nightmares to stop.