‘I needed to tell, in case I went ‘missing.’ I was terrified. ‘You’ve been talking again, haven’t you?’ I ran into the bathroom. ‘Mom, please come.’ It was now or never. It HAD to happen NOW!’

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“I was with my ex for almost 15 years. We had 3 kids together. People would tell us, ‘You give me hope that a loving relationship is real.’ We were high school sweethearts and we were proud of that label.

He was always controlling and would push and slap me here and there, but the words he used afterwards always comforted me. He made me feel like I was the most beautiful woman in this world. However, he also made jokes about my weight and confidence.

Courtesy of Samantha Wiersma

3 years ago I broke up with him and started seeing my now boyfriend. He convinced me to come back a month later. He said, ‘You can be in charge, you be the boss!’ ‘I’ll change I promise, you gotta think about the kids.’ ‘You can’t throw away 13 years.’ So there I was, breaking the heart of my now soulmate and returning to my ex. It was great for the first year, I really thought he was sticking to his words. We went on dates, he cooked and cleaned and showed me he cared for me.

Courtesy of Samantha Wiersma
Courtesy of Samantha Wiersma

Once work started for him (seasonal) he started dragging at work and wanted to buy energy pills. He found someone at work that introduced meth to him. It was over for me. That’s when I slowly started dying. My soul, my energy, my love and my happiness.

The first time he didn’t sleep through the night led to 4 days with no sleep and he eventually made me try it. That night he put my head in the wall. It was first time he’s ever done something more than a slap to my face. I threw a punch, it hit him in the eye, and the next thing I knew I was being shoved against the wall with his hand around my throat and being thrown into the couch, choked so hard I saw black, was gurgling for air, choking on my saliva. He then made me get up, forced me into the laundry room and pulled my pants down, raping me, getting off on it within minutes. He left me there sobbing while he said, ‘Pull up your f**king pants,’ with my kids crying at the door.

Courtesy of Samantha Wiersma

We moved within the next 2 weeks to the house I grew up in. It’s placed in the middle of a hill, covered by the woods. No one could ever find our house. I had a bad feeling the night we moved in, and sure enough, there he was fighting with me. ‘Scream as loud as you want, no one will ever hear you.’

He was so addicted to meth within a month, he code-worded meth ‘diablo’ (the devil). He moved into the basement, leaving me and the 3 kids to the whole house. Over the next 8 months, he came upstairs for a total of maybe 2 weeks, showered a handful of times, interacted with his kids to where it was normal not to see their daddy. Eventually he made me stay in the basement with him, leaving my kids to roam the whole house by themselves, leaving my 10-year-old as the ‘mother’ and missing 47 days of school total. At this point he quit work, made me lose my job, tore apart our vehicles. We had nothing, no food, no internet, TV, no lights. He ook my friends away and family, eventually even my phone. I had NOTHING but the love and want from my children that I couldn’t give them.

Courtesy of Samantha Wiersma

The moment I felt my soul leave my body was my 30th birthday. Something you get excited about, I was stuck in the basement with him as he smoked ‘the devil’ and made me smoke it to. It was going ok until he didn’t like the sound of my ‘tone’ in my voice. He loved to whip me around by my hair, (I had long beautiful blonde hair). He made me stand up with my hands to my sides, looking at the ground, which lasted for about 15 minutes. He then made me strip naked and made me lay on the concrete floor naked, stomach down, nose touching the ground. I laid there for 30 minutes. ‘I bet you never thought you would spend your 30th birthday this way, did you?,’ he said, as he sat there spinning the pipe.

‘STAND UP, you’re making me feel bad, get your f**king clothes on.’ By this time, he hadn’t slept for 7 days. He made me sit on the couch, and shoved the pipe full of the devil. ‘Smoke this until you puke your guts out.’ Not knowing what would happen if I didn’t, I did as he said. He eventually fell asleep. Thank God, right? NO. When he fell asleep it was worse. I was supposed to wake him up to sexual pleasure, how dare I let him sleep and go upstairs to see my babies. I knew I was safe and harm-free for at least 6 hours. I stepped into the bathroom looked into the mirror, checking out my bruises, I glanced at myself and broke down crying, sobbing, looking at myself with disbelief that this is my life. I was broken at that moment.

The moments he woke up, he shouted as if my name was ‘*itch.’ I was to respond to it. I would hear the basement door screech open, even my kids knew he was coming. He would stomp up the stairs and just stare at me, I knew I had to go down to give him unwanted intercourse and a beating.

Courtesy of Samantha Wiersma

Beatings were becoming to be more frequent. I started going with my gut feeling or my intuition. I knew when it was time to get my beating. I would try everything I could to avoid it, but no matter how I spoke, moved or asked to be with my kids, I was against the wall, choked, slapped, punched, thrown. There’s so many beatings that happened. All different – from knives, burnt with meth and even tasers.

The worst beating was yet to come.

Two weeks before this beating, I needed someone to talk to, to tell, in case I went ‘missing.’ I called my sister with the phone I got with my tax money. I felt it was safe because she was so far away living in North Carolina. She got it all out of me, everything! The drug use, and the beatings. I told her not to tell anyone or I would get it worse. ‘You have to tell someone, Sam!’ I responded with, ‘I did!’ I told her how I told our brother, who was also coming up every night to smoke meth with him. My brother went and told my ex to stop putting his hands on me, but boy did I get it when he confronted me about it. I never trusted anyone again, but knew I had to tell my sister. She told me to go onto purplepurse.com. That is where I heard ‘break the silence,’ the more you speak about it and tell people, the more confidence you have to leave.

Courtesy of Samantha Wiersma

May 6th. The day of my worst and last beating. This beating was unusual. Usually it happened in the middle of the night from midnight until 4 a.m. But this one started around 3 p.m. My mom came over to see if I wanted to go and do my laundry with her, I said yes, but he had other plans. He wanted to have intercourse, wanted me in the basement with him, leaving my kids upstairs to fend for themselves. I had to tell my mom, ‘no it’s ok, he needs me downstairs.’ He went downstairs and grabbed his BB gun that he painted to look real, and chased her away. I followed him downstairs like a scared puppy. Instantly he grabbed a handful of cookies and whipped them at me, hard enough to make me cry in pain. He then came charging at me, grabbed me by the hair (which I chopped hoping it would stop the hair pulling) he dragged me, I was off balanced, he threw me in the room and locked the door. I stood there scared for my life.

He grabbed me by the throat whipping me, pushing, I was tripping over cords, all his weird and unneeded tweaker things he would pull apart. He threw me on the couch, and that’s where I was bashed on the head with his head. He took both fists this time, and started pounding on my thighs, and then my ribs. I put both my hands in between my thighs, protecting my stomach and organs, leaving open my ribs, thighs and head. If I made a sound or cried he went even harder. The only sound you could hear was the sound of him double fisting punching me and my grunts. With every punch I let out a grunt, with tears steaming down my face. I looked up at him as he’s screaming, ‘You obey me’ and I pleaded for him, ‘Please just let me catch my breath, then you can keep punching me.’ ‘NO , I’m not me anymore, I’m the devil!’ I looked him in his eyes and saw the devil. Eventually I agree with him so he would stop beating me. He sprained my elbow, but I toughened it out, I cleaned up all his mess that was made will this 2-hour beating took place. It ended with, ‘Was this the worst beating you ever gotten?’ I replied ‘yes.’ ‘Good, hopefully you learned your lesson.’

May 10th. I had that feeling it was time. My brother left the house, they must’ve been arguing. I went downstairs to see what the problem was. ‘You’ve been talking again, haven’t you?’ I was terrified he found out that I told my sister, so I changed the subject and snuck back upstairs. I ran into the bathroom and called the woman’s shelter in the bathroom whispering, crying. They said they had a room for me and my kids. I then called my mom and said, ‘please come.’ She pulled up her work van, I sat there with the highest anxiety I’ve ever felt in my life. It was now or never. It HAD to happen NOW!

At this moment he was playing his music loud, so loud the house was shaking. This is the perfect time to escape. I had my phone back, he broke the video camera on my last beating, so he wouldn’t see me leaving. I snuck my younger two out, no shoes no car seats. My 10-year-old and I grabbed the only important belongings I had in baskets I had hidden. As we walked quietly to the door, his music stopped! I whispered, ‘FREEZE, DONT MOVE.’ With tears in my eyes I thought this was it, he knew I was escaping. But I was wrong. The music started playing again, I said, ‘Run, run now!’ She ran to the van and with the last basket, I slowly closed the door, crying knowing this is it. This is my goodbye. No turning back. I ran to that van, my kids in the backseat smiling, not knowing what we are doing. I look over at my mom and yelled, ‘Go!’ I turned off my location and watched in the mirror as we drove away.

That was the last time I saw him until November 2018 as I stood in front of him in courts, reading my impact letter. He only got 10 years, a deal his lawyers made. It started off with life in prison.

Courtesy of Samantha Wiersma
Courtesy of Samantha Wiersma

The day my ex was arrested, our story was put in the paper. I messaged Justin, my soulmate I mentioned earlier, and apologized for all the ignorant messages my ex sent him pretending he was me.

Fast forward to late September 2018, he got back to me. He replied, ‘If given the opportunity, I would love nothing more than to kiss you good morning, and the first thing I do when I get home from work. I would accept you and your children with open arms, if I get the chance to show you what a formal date is.’

Courtesy of Samantha Wiersma

He took me on my first real date, I fell head over heels all over again. He’s been supportive during all the PTSD, nightmares, from unstoppable crying to my children learning rules and structure. He is our calm in the storm.

Courtesy of Samantha Wiersma

I am now healthy, loving every waking moment on earth. My kids have structure and attend daycare and school every day. I’m at peace. I’m happy and in love with my soulmate. We are living together and expecting twins, bringing our families to a loving number of 9. We call ourselves The Brady Bunch plus One.

Courtesy of Samantha Wiersma
Courtesy of Samantha Wiersma
Courtesy of Samantha Wiersma

I just need women to know there is HOPE. Know there is BETTER out there, the grass is greener on the other side. There is a man out there who will be your knight in shining armor. Maybe he’s been in front of you the whole time.”

Courtesy of Samantha Wiersma

[If you need help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit thehotline.org to live chat with someone 24/7. Help is out there. You are not alone.]

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Samantha Wiersma of Iowa. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more empowering stories of women leaving abusive relationships:

‘There was a window in the bedroom. I tried to open it but soon realized it had been nailed shut. Then, the guy I knew from the party opened the door.’

‘I spent nearly 12 years with a man I never should’ve married. He never touched me. We fought about my weight. I was immune to anything but pain. And then I met Adam.’

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