‘Oh my God! Why did you slap me?’ He got out of the car. As I was crying I saw a big rock behind him. He told me he would give me all the money in our savings account if I told the cops to leave.’

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“I had been a single mom for 6 years and was in the dating scene for a while. I had just broken up with a guy I was seeing for 3 months. I met him on a dating site – my soon to be boyfriend, fiancé, husband, abuser, and soon to be ex-husband. Of course, in the beginning, everything was amazing! He was so great with my then 6-year-old daughter. I was head over heels in love, just like he was. We had a few arguments during the summer months. He would always blame the arguments on me, or if we were somewhere public, and we were drinking, he would try to blame it on that. 

Seven months into our relationship he proposed to me and I said YES! I was so in love and so happy! We had planned a cruise together in July, my first one. We were leaving for a little over a month after our engagement. Two weeks before we left, we were driving to the tanning salon for our trip. Oddly, my then fiancé had a friend who would text him about weird sex questions like, ‘Is it slutty to have sex on the first date?’ Things like that. This friend was female. I felt it was inappropriate for her to be asking him this. We started to argue in the car and he pulled into an apple orchard driveway down the block from my house. He got out of the car and was yelling at me so I got out as well. As we continued to argue he slapped me across my face. I started crying instantly, and said, ‘Oh my God! Why did you slap me?’ As I was crying I saw a big rock behind him as he was trying to grab me to get me to calm down. This was when I thought he was going to kill me. I thought for sure he was going to throw me into the rock behind him. I managed to escape his grip, grabbed my wallet and pulled my license out and toss it. This all happened in a matter of seconds. I thought to myself,  ‘If I toss my license and he threw me into the rock and killed me, someone might find my license and see I was there and maybe put it all together.’ Of course, he apologized and told me he loved me and didn’t mean it. He asked me to please forgive him. I did forgive him, and thought, ‘He won’t do it again, he loves me. He said he was sorry.’ His slap left marks on my face – this is when my lies started to protect him. I tried to cover it up with makeup and my mom happened to notice. I told her it was a bad itch from excessive scratching.

During all of this I thought to myself, ‘I always said I would never be in an abusive relationship.’ Yet here I was, in an emotionally, physically, financially abusive relationship. He also tried to isolate me from my family. But I thought he loved me. I finally had a real family that I wanted. Shortly after we got back from our cruise we moved in together in a two bedroom apartment. Thankfully it was in the same town I had lived in so my daughter didn’t have to change schools. Not only was I going through all of this, but my daughter was as well. She had never met her biological father and he was the only ‘father figure’ in her life. Once, he spanked her and I lost it. That was the only time he ever really put his hands on her. But he mentally and emotionally abused her. I tried so hard to protect her from him. Every day it was something new. One night we had a bad argument and I went into the bathroom to try and get away from him – he grabbed me by my throat and choked me and told me he was going to kill me. I told him to do it. I was so unhappy but too scared to leave or do anything about it. I would come home from work and worry about what kind of mood he would be in, and what would happen. Most of the time he would pick Emma up from school, and I would get home at 5 pm. So many times during the day there would be angry texts back and forth.

He would tell me what a piece of shit I was and would tell me it was my fault. I knew I had to leave but I was too scared still and he would always tell me he was sorry and would change. There was a time we were at his friends’ house in New Jersey, and we were having fun, drinking and we got a little too drunk. We went up to bed and he started yelling at me about how I was on my phone too much. I kept checking my phone to make sure Emma was ok. Before I knew it he came towards me, grabs my hand and bent my fingers back. I screamed in pain as I felt them crack and thought for sure he had broken my fingers. I took a swing at him and hit him back. Again I got the same apology and I lied for him. I said I had drunk too much and fell down the stairs. I put my hand back to catch my fall and my hand missed grabbing the stairs. The feeling of constant fear and sadness was there, daily! I wanted out and I didn’t know how to get out. I was scared to go back home, even though I knew my Mom would welcome Emma and I back home with open arms. But I still wanted that family and thought I will have it with him.

He told me we would have a child together once we are married. Two and a half years into our relationship we started to plan our wedding. Deep down I knew it wasn’t going to last but I really didn’t want to believe it. During this time he had isolated me from my family and I really hated him for it. I missed my Mom, brother,  cousins, aunts, and uncles. I missed being so close to them. I grew up in a very close-knit family and I was one of seventeen cousins – we were all so close. I was pulled away from them. I was and felt all alone, and would cry every night.

Courtesy of Katie Sikes

I kept a lot of this to myself. I was too scared to tell anyone including my mom, brother, and best friend. It was so hard to keep this big secret from her and it hurt deep down to do it. My heart constantly ached. There were so many people I didn’t have in my life. A big part of it was because I allowed him to pull me away. I was so depressed. There were times I thought I was better off dead than being with him – I told him this. The one reason I would never do anything was because of my beautiful daughter Emma who needed me. She was my reason to live – and why I am still alive!

Courtesy of Katie Sikes

During this period, we had a big fight at one of my cousins’ weddings and we broke up there. After that, I was texting with him for the next few days and decided to get back together with him. This is when my mom tried to take Emma from me, which I know was for our protection, but at the time I was angry. I fought for my daughter and I fought for my relationship with my fiancé. I was back and forth in court against my mom – she got visitation rights with Emma. Eventually, my relationship with my mom did become better. She eventually started to talk to my then fiancé. I still wasn’t talking to a lot of my family including my brother as I continued to plan my wedding. As it got closer my mom asked me to speak with my brother and I did and invited him to the wedding.

We got married and during the honeymoon, everything was actually pretty great. Don’t get me wrong, we did have some good times too, but there were a lot more bad times than good times. When we got back from a family trip with my daughter and went to my sister in laws house for my brother in laws birthday, on the way home we got into another argument (can’t remember about what), and he punched me in the head in front of my daughter. It was not the first time, nor the last time he hit me in front of her. The verbal abuse was out of control. He would curse me out in front of people and call me names if I wasn’t happy about something. 

We were married for almost a year. Unfortunately, at one party, drinking was involved. I noticed he was talking to another woman and he might not have realized but was flirting with her. I made a comment and he wasn’t happy. I said something. So I decided to go inside and use the bathroom. As I was waiting he came in and asked what that was about. So I said you were flirting and he lost it! Called me all sorts of names and cursed me out. I grabbed my bag and walked out. This caused other people to try and break up the fight. This is when I learned this all really isn’t okay and I deserved better. This was the start of me planning my escape.

A week after this we celebrated our first wedding anniversary, we spent two nights in New York City the next month and saw Billy Joel. Shortly after that, the fights worsened. The week I left him I reached out to my boss and told her everything that was going on. I cried all week, every day all day. I could barely work. I cried because I knew it was time to leave and I was scared and trying to figure out how to do it. It was Sept 27, 2018. I asked my mom if she could keep Emma that night. My husband was on his way home at 8:30/9:00 at night. He came home, I went into bed with him and he was very cold and we were arguing. I started to cry and got up and went into Emma’s room and laid in her bed. That’s when something came over me and the tears stopped. I think it was my dad (he died 9 years ago due to cancer) who gave me the push and helped me get up on my feet. I walked into my bedroom, put my rings on, grabbed the extra set of keys to my car and told my husband I was done and I was going home to my mom and telling her the truth about everything. He jumped out of bed and came running after me. He tried to keep me from leaving. I had my phone in my hands and keys and was trying to go. As we argued in the kitchen, he cornered me as I was trying to call my mom. He grabbed my phone and threw me into the kitchen counter. I somehow managed to run towards the living room to grab the house phone and dial 911. He proceeded to dial 911 as well and tried to call my mom to blame me. The police came and the last time I spoke to my husband was that night. He told me he would give me all the money in our savings account if I told the cops to leave. I didn’t do that. The officer came and spoke to me and I filed harassment charges the following day and got an order of protection at family court. After I did all this I was able to breathe a little better. I felt lighter as if a weight has been lifted.

Courtesy of Katie Sikes

My mom took care of my daughter and my life has completely changed for the better. I filed for divorce and met with my amazing attorney which gave me the push I needed to do what I always wanted to do – be a lawyer myself. I signed up for school and am going part-time as a law student. I started working out again and became a health and fitness coach. I love doing it! I’m helping other women and men get in the best shape of their life and also mentally be happy!! Working out is my therapy. I also bought myself a brand new car. I work full time on top of it, as well as taking care of my 10-year-old daughter. I never thought I was going to be able to leave, and always thought I will stay in this abusive marriage and pray I would stay alive. But here I am almost 6 months later and I’ve never been happier! I’m doing things I’ve wanted to do and was held back from. I’m slowly getting back with family members while helping others as well as myself. My life couldn’t be better right now! I’m so thankful for where I am now. I hope to help others see that you can come back stronger from tough circumstances.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Katie Sikes of Long Island, NY.  You can follow her on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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