‘Something hard cracked over the back of my head. I could feel his fingers on my neck, checking for a pulse to see if he’d just committed murder.’: After surviving domestic abuse woman says ‘don’t stand by in silence’

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Disclaimer: This story includes details of domestic abuse and may be triggering to some.

“I met the man who would forever change my life on August 12. I remember the day I first met him. My first reaction to him was an odd one. I just knew he was going to impact my life in a way I had never thought possible and this date, the 12th of August, would be a day to remember for the rest of my life. Looking back on it now, I can’t believe how right I was.

You may think this sounds like it is a love story but in reality, this is my own personal horror story.

A few years ago, I was a bit of a party animal. I went to raves every weekend and dabbled in drugs to enhance the music and vibe better. I was in an open relationship with a previous partner at the time. I was in my early 20’s and after an extremely sheltered childhood, I just wanted to experience the world and have fun. I thought partying and doing drugs was the way to do exactly that. These choices, I’m sure, greatly impacted what transpired over the next two years.

My partner and I were slowly going our separate ways. We both started getting involved more in the drug aspect of raving rather than going to enjoy the music. Over time, I developed a drug addiction. As my partner and I slowly drifted away, I got closer to C. I even started to refer to him as my best friend. My partner had told me from the get-go, C was someone I didn’t need to involve myself, he was bad news. But due to the poor relationship he and I had, I thought he was just telling me that as a way to keep me around while he went out and slept with other girls.

I’ll be honest with you, December mid-May is quite a blur. My partner and I broke up for good sometime in March and I got clean off the drugs shortly after. Things were starting to look so much brighter after I ‘woke up’ from the drug haze I had been in for months. I had even met someone great, someone who had helped me through my recovery from drugs and so much more, and no it wasn’t C. (I will refer to this person as ‘B.’) This person was a big impact for me through what came to pass during the next year and a half, and then for a good 3 years afterward.

By the end of July, I had moved from the apartment I had been living in and in with a friend. Things were going great until August 12th. C called me and asked if he could maybe stay with us for a week while he waited for his apartment to be ready since his mother had relocated. I talked it over with my roommate and we agreed he could stay with us for a week until he got into his apartment. To cut the story short a little, the week before he got his apartment came and went. He never got that apartment. C and I had somehow ended up in a relationship. (I say somehow because to this day, I’m not even sure how I actually ended up dating him.) Within less than a month, I was so completely in love with C, I didn’t see how bad things had gotten between myself and my roommate until I was evicted from the house due to C’s behavior. This should have been the sign I needed to tell me to get far away from him. He had convinced me my roommate did it on purpose because he was jealous C and I were together.

Luckily I was able to get us a place to stay while I worked two jobs and covered four different stores in the area. We stayed there for 2 months, while I saved for an apartment, a working car, maintained our smoking habits, and helped with bills for the house we were staying in — all without help financially from C. I thought I was in love and I was providing until he could find something. Being so in love, I was blind to the fact he didn’t want to help. He wanted me to do everything. Without me even knowing it was happening, he was taking control of my entire life. I was nothing more than a meal ticket.

This went on until 2 days before the apartment I had been saving up for would be ready. I woke up that morning and I just felt this bad feeling. This time, C had started a fight between my friend’s mother and myself. I did not handle it correctly. Looking back, I think it was because I was so overwhelmed but it ended up escalating. We were, once again, homeless. The apartment was not ready yet and we had no place to go. I said we would go to the park while I figured something out.

What happened next is what started to unravel C’s entire plan. The cops showed up and arrested C for possession of marijuana. At the time, I partook in hitting a marijuana pipe or joint, but I was not as big of a pothead as I am now. After C got his charge and we left the police station, they let him out on a Personal Recognizance and with a summons ticket for a court date to appear before a judge for his possession charge. We went to the local McDonalds and I was able to get ahold of my mother to come to pick us up. We stayed with her for a couple of days while I lined up an apartment for us. At the time, I was just desperate to have a roof over my head again. Two days later, C and I moved into what would become known as my ‘Apartment of Horrors.’

I moved into the apartment with C around the end of October. For the first few weeks, things were actually great. We had concerns over his possession charge, due to the fact this was his third charge. His attitude changed when the judge, trying to avoid sending him to jail, put him on a probation period while he got clean. He just had to stop smoking pot, complete the probation, and avoid going to jail. I had also started having doubts myself while we had gone to court. I was standing there to support him when he tried to lie to the judge about his criminal history. He listed off the charges I knew about, but then the judge read off the entire list of priors, consisting of Assault and Battery charges, felony, home invasions, and even a couple of Grand Theft Auto charges. I started to doubt how well I really knew this person I was with. Looking back, I should have run for the hills, but I was ‘in love.’

Due to the fact that he was on probation and I was the only one working and bringing in money, I decided I would also quit smoking pot so he wouldn’t have the temptation to smoke. I bought a truck so we were able to go back and forth to his drug tests and I could get to and from work. I was young but trying to be a responsible adult. I started noticing the debit card for the joint account C and I had was being declined for small purchases when the money should have been there. I didn’t have online banking set up and noticed the bank statements weren’t even coming in the mail every month. I was confused as to what was happening to my paychecks. The money for rent was always secure because I had that deposited into a different account.

By the middle of December though, things had gotten very bad between the two of us. I used to say you can’t be addicted to marijuana, but C showed me you can very much so develop a mental addiction to it. If I wouldn’t agree to let him get pot, I would be verbally and emotionally assaulted, and eventually, that led to him hitting me for the first time. When that happened, I was so shocked. He acted so appalled at himself, I actually believed him when he said he didn’t mean it and he would never do it again. But once he hit me that first time, it was almost every day. It would start off with him just being in a bad mood, then it started with ‘I just need a f*cking joint.’ I’d argue he was on probation and if he didn’t stop, he would go to jail, and we just couldn’t afford it. It got to the point I myself would want to just smoke so I could relax and chill out from all the constant bull.

We would get along great until the night before I had to go to work. He would keep me up all night with his verbal and emotional abuse, and then I’d be beaten and covered in fresh bruises. It took me a good hour to cover everything up with makeup. It actually turns out, even with all the make-up, it was very obvious I had been beaten still. It made going to work difficult for me, since I worked in a supercenter filled with customers.

By this point, I actually wanted out. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I had gotten back in contact with my friend, B, and realized I had feelings for him. It was a genuine mutual feeling. I didn’t want to be that girl who cheated on her partner so on the morning of December 31, I told C I just couldn’t do it anymore. By this point, his PR bail had been revoked, due to not going to his drug tests, and he had 72 hours to turn himself in. I knew he was going to jail. I told him I couldn’t do this relationship any longer because I just didn’t have the strength to keep dealing with the abuse. I told him we could remain friends but I just couldn’t be in a relationship with him anymore.

By now, I had already attempted suicide once. C found me and had stopped me. During what would have been my second attempt, B had realized what I had been planning. I had spent the last few days of December 2014 going to see everyone I loved and cared about one last time. I was going to drive my truck into the river as the new year struck. B was the only one who seemed to know what I was going to do. He saved my life and gave me the strength to try and leave my relationship with C.

On January 1, I woke up at B’s house. It was a perfect morning. I had ended the relationship with C. I was still alive and hadn’t killed myself. I had the freedom I hadn’t felt in months. I had turned my cell phone off at some point during the night, due to C blowing up my phone with texts and calls. He wasn’t handling me breaking up with him well. When I turned on my phone, I had about 100 text messages and voicemails from C. B and his roommates voiced their concern about me going back to the apartment alone, due to the nature of some of the texts and voicemails. I assured them I would be fine, but I had to go back to make sure my cat was alright. I was worried C may have harmed him.

As I drove along the highway, the closer I got to my apartment, the more dread I felt. If it wasn’t purely for the love of my cat, I would have turned around and gone back to B’s house and never stepped foot in that apartment again. If I could go back and do it all again, I’d still go back for him because bond my cat and I share.

I pulled into the apartment complex and parked outside the front of the apartment. I just sat in my truck for a good 10 minutes before I finally got out and walked through the door. The moment I stepped through the door, I was slapped across the face. My arm was grabbed and twisted so far behind my back, I thought it was about to break. With his hand over my mouth to cover my screams, I was dragged into the bedroom and thrown onto the bed. That is when, with my mouth gagged and my arms bound behind my back, C raped me for the first time. It seemed like it went on forever. When he had finally finished, I was bleeding and in a lot of pain. I was told if I hadn’t tried to leave him, he wouldn’t have had to do this to me. I was then locked in the bedroom, and he sat in a chair right next to the window outside the apartment to make sure I didn’t get out. I just cried myself to sleep and cuddled with my cat, who had been hiding under the bed as it all happened.

I woke up around 1:30 a.m. the next morning. C was laying in the bed next to me, sleeping. I saw the bedroom door was ajar, so I slowly made my way out of bed, trying to be as quiet as I possibly could. I grabbed my cat, my phone, C’s wallet with all the cash, and the keys to the truck. Everything went smoothly until I spooked the cat and he took off and ran into something. I heard C wake up and that’s when everything went into slow motion. I was scratched up by the cat I tried to get a better hold on him and suddenly, something hard cracked over the back of my head. I felt a searing pain. I remember dropping to my knees, the cat taking off, and my bag going flying. As darkness was taking over, I felt my body being flipped around and the last thing I saw before everything went black were C’s eyes looking down at me. I thought I was about to die.

I’m not actually sure how long I was exactly out for. When I regained consciousness, I could feel C’s fingers on my neck, checking for a pulse. I heard the sigh of relief when he felt my pulse and realized he hadn’t just committed murder. I laid there with my eyes close until I heard him get up and walk away to what sounded like the bedroom. My head was pounding and my mind was extremely jumbled. I was confused as to what had happened. I had no idea what he had struck me over the head with. I looked around and saw my phone lying on the floor. I remember summoning the last of the strength I had to crawl to my phone and hit the emergency button, screaming at the dispatcher he had tried to kill me and I needed help. While I was on the phone with 911, I watched C walk right past me, out the front door, and sit in that damn chair. I just waited for the police to show up.

Even after almost being killed, and the old and new bruises across my body, the only thing the cops had any interest in that night was the marijuana pipe C had bought when he took all the cash from me that afternoon. I didn’t know it was sitting on the counter in plain sight. They arrested him for a misdemeanor domestic violence charge and once they saw my lease for the apartment and that it was in my name, they charged me with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. I had never been in trouble a day in my life. I feel like the entire situation was not handled correctly because I had called for help when someone who was supposed to love me had just tried to kill me and ended up being treated like a criminal. That set off a spiral where I didn’t trust the police for a long time afterward. They made me feel like I had deserved what happened to me by shrugging off the severity of the situation. C may have been arrested and spent 90 days in jail, but they did nothing to protect me from him. Even locked away, he was able to send me letters and call my phone, over and over.

It took me another 7 months to finally leave for good. The day I finally stood up for myself, ended the cycle, and never looked back was August 12th, 2015. For 2 years, C had terrorized my life, and for almost another 3 years after, I had to deal with the courts dealing with violation hearings. The girl I was before I met C, she died. I see pictures from before he came into my life and I don’t even recognize the girl anymore. Sometimes I miss that girl, when I remember how happy and carefree she used to be, how trusting and forgiving she was. It’s been 4 years now since I escaped for good. I have overcome a lot, gone through a lot, but I will never be the girl I used to be. The abuse has led to long-term back injuries that cause me extreme pain and make it hard for me to move some days. The head injury resulted in some memory loss issues, loss of taste and smell, vision issues and horrific PTSD, but every day I get just a little bit better.

I’m sharing my story because so many men and women who are in an abusive relationship don’t make it out alive. I am one of the lucky ones. Someone you know could be being abused, verbally, mentally, emotionally, physically, and even sexually. So many times, men and women suffer in silence and are afraid to open up about it. Sometimes survivors suffer are alone because if we tell someone our story, we are judged for putting up with it for so long or told it was our choice to be in that relationship. People who haven’t been abused can think it’s just so simple to leave the relationship, but once an abuser has the control and manipulation over you, you start to feel like YOU are the problem, maybe if YOU did better, it wouldn’t be happening.

You never know what is going on behind closed doors, so if you notice your friend is isolating themselves, their makeup is heavier, or if you hear a loud fight breaking out at your neighbors, call 911 and ask for a wellness check, report hearing a domestic dispute. That fight you’re hearing next door — what if someone ended up dead and you had heard it happening but didn’t want to involve yourself? If you had, would that man or woman possibly still be alive?

Don’t stand by in silence. Do something. Don’t shame victims for sharing their story, but encourage them for the strength they had to finally get away. It could turn out to be nothing, but you could also end up saving a life.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by K.R. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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‘Why doesn’t she leave?’ She thinks if she just tries harder, if she’s a better wife and mom, he wouldn’t get so angry.’: Domestic abuse survivor pens PSA, ‘we need your love, not judgement’

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