“It was when I was sitting in my running car in my garage, ready to die, that my son walked in looking for me. I knew I was done. This was done. I wouldn’t let him kill me, mentally, physically, emotionally. ‘I am not ready to die. In fact, I’m ready to be reborn.’
It was 2010. I was 21, just graduated from esthetics school, in the prime of my youth, thriving at everything I was doing, crushing goals left and right. I was young, wild, and free. I was not looking for love, but I met a boy. He was everything I ever dreamed of. We had all the same interests, had fun, laughed together and he would compliment me and spoil me daily. It wasn’t until 8 years or so later, I would learn this is all a tactic in narcissistic abuse called ‘love bombing.’
We were married and I was pregnant quickly. When I was 9 months pregnant, my husband was in a horrible car accident. He was driving drunk and rolled the car 10 or more times. He had a broken back, nose, and shoulder. My big ole belly and I had to bathe my husband, wash his hair, get him dressed, etc. This was my first realization of his selfishness. I also learned my husband had been to a strip club and cheated on me that night. I blamed it on the alcohol. ‘He will get help and change. He loves me enough to change.’ He didn’t change.
It was after my son was born that the manipulation, the lies, the abuse would increase. After just having a baby, mothers feel anything but sexy or energized. And instead of supporting me during this time, my husband would criticize me and my body. The cheating continued, but it was my fault because I wasn’t as sexy as I used to be. He would leave me alone. He wouldn’t come home, God knows where he was. But he’d always come back and apologize, promise to make it better, promise to stay sober and be a family. Coming from a divorced family, I wanted more than anything to be a ‘whole’ family.
In January of 2014, the physical abuse started. An argument started over him going to the bar. He snapped, ran after me, punched a hole in our bedroom door, and I quickly found myself on our bed with his elbow in my cheek and his forearm on my throat. Hitting me over and over with objects. Screaming at me and calling me every name in the book. Black eyes. Pure evil. I kicked him off me and called my cousin, Shayla. Her husband came over as quickly as he could, but my husband was already gone. They caught him and arrested him for attempted strangulation, domestic battery, and a DUI. He was put on probation and required to be sober for 2 years. I stayed. ‘He’s gonna be sober and he’ll get better.’ He didn’t.
In those 2 sober years, we did have good times. I began to trust him again, I had another baby, and we bought a home. Things were going just fine. We looked like a perfect, beautiful family. Then our son was diagnosed with Autism. By this time, 2 years was up. The drinking started again. He blamed it on the new baby and the Autism. He couldn’t handle the stress.
His aggressiveness and need for control increased, quickly. He was starting to take my car keys, my money, making sure I was at home and he knew where I was. I wasn’t allowed to wear dark lipstick, certain clothes, spend any money, or spend time with my family. I was the selfish one if I did anything with my friends or even bought a t-shirt. I was sprayed in the face with the hose, had beer dumped on me, hit with a mop, pushed down the stairs. Why didn’t he love me? Why couldn’t he get better? ‘I’m trying everything! I must try harder. It’s me. I’m not good enough.’
It was the day after Christmas in 2016, and he was getting ready to leave to go to poker night. I begged him to stay and spend time with us as a family after the Christmas chaos. He didn’t like that idea and told me to stop being such a nag. He shoved me. I fell to the couch and he picked me up and squeezed me as hard as he could. I swear I felt my organs shift. He then picked up my son’s toy and hit me across the face with it. I ran to the bathroom and tried to lock myself in there, but he grabbed my arm and shut it in the door multiple times. I finally got free and called my brother. My husband left for 3 days. And yes, I let him come home.
Fast forward to 2017, my daughter is born. Here comes the degradation of my body again. After having three kids, he now tells me my vagina is nothing to be proud of. ‘No wonder he cheats on me.’ Looking back now, how could I EVER let someone speak to me this way? My son’s needs with his Autism were increasing so we decided to move to Arizona to get him more help. I’m thinking, ‘Hell yes, a new place, new surroundings… We can leave this old life behind. We don’t know anyone, there won’t be outside influences. We will be better somewhere else.’ This wasn’t about bettering our life at all. This was all just a master plan of isolating me away so I relied solely on him.
We took his retirement money and spent over $8,000 to get there. We were in Arizona only two weeks before I was home alone with three kids and he was gone. I would retrace his steps through our bank account to find out where he was. He was out spending our last dime on alcohol. With no money in savings and adjusting to an increased cost of living, our funds drained quickly but I wasn’t allowed to manage them. We lost our camper. Our truck. Our car. Slowly, one by one, our things were being repossessed. He always had the money for the bar though.
Standing up for myself and my children or confronting him never went over well. He would back me in a corner, his forehead pressed on mine, and intimidate me. By this time in my life, I had learned a few things about abusers and their tactics. I was getting smarter, and he didn’t like it. So the manipulation and abuse got worse. He had to really step up his game to ‘win.’ These conversations always ended in shoving, being pinched or squeezed, screamed at, yelled at and degraded. At 3 a.m. one morning, I heard him leave without a word. He didn’t speak to me for 2 weeks. He closed the bank account and shut his phone off.
I was alone. Stuck. My friends and family wired me money and bought groceries online for me to pick up. After YEARS of him controlling me, telling me how terrible I am, draining me financially, blaming me for his cheating, drinking–I hit my breaking point.
I sat in our garage. I started my car and let it run. I wanted to die. How would I ever get out? How could I escape him? Being gone is the only way. I couldn’t do it anymore. And then I saw my son open the garage door. My eyes filled with tears as I turned off the car and found the courage to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. They helped me find resources for safety. However, I couldn’t stay in Arizona. I had to move home to Idaho.
I will never forgive him for ripping that opportunity away from my child. Still to this day, it makes me sick to think about. I finally knew I was done. I filed for divorce. Our divorce was ugly. I was slowly gaining my power back and he hated that. The control got worse and worse. One day while I was at work, he broke into my home and stole my furniture. I didn’t even have a bed to sleep on. I hired an attorney specializing in domestic violence, and he really helped me through things as quickly as possible to get away from this situation. I was offered counseling and amenities through the Family Service Alliance, and they really helped me get back on my feet. I educated myself on how to deal with a narcissist: have no contact and only speak about the children. I can’t say the abuse is over now. But I am not married to this sociopath anymore.
With narcissistic abuse and domestic violence relationships, one thing everyone needs to understand is that we stay because we are brainwashed into believing we need these people. They are master manipulators at convincing you that you are, number one, their lifeline and they need you, and number two, they want to get better. But this is not the truth at all. They want to own you and control you. They get off on you feeding their ego.
If I have any advice for men or women out there in a situation like this, educate yourself on domestic violence, sociopathy, and narcissism. Your kids will be okay. You will be okay. Break the cycle of abuse. There is life after abuse! If there’s one thing I could tell all the people who question why we stay so long, it’s that it takes on average of seven times for someone to leave an abusive relationship. This has a lot to do with something called Trauma Bonding.
There are highs in the relationship when you feel comfortable and completely in love because they do every right. Then there are lows of mental manipulation, verbal abuse, and controlling of money. These highs and lows are like being addicted to a drug but instead, it’s a human you’re addicted to. Abuse physically changes the chemicals in your brain. Your cortisol and dopamine levels are drastically effected.
We are ashamed. Afraid of our own safety after leaving. Afraid we will not be believed. Finances play a role and how ashamed we are that we would put up with this. We didn’t choose this. This is not our fault. We are good humans who are being taken advantage of, controlled, and brainwashed by another unhealthy, unstable person who lacks empathy and emotions.
To those out there, I am here to help you get out. Find help, find resources. Tell someone. You can do this. You don’t deserve this.”
[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 and you are not alone.]
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kylie from Idaho. You can follow their journey on Instagram. 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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