“I am so grateful to be alive. I am able to finally close the door to the darkest, scariest, most painful chapter in my life, one I pray no one else has to experience. The truth is, some of those broken souls will not live through that chapter. I know I was almost one of those people.
My track record of relationships was not the greatest. I found myself with men that were broken, emotionally unavailable, or just toxic. These always were dramatic and a rollercoaster of emotion. I never saw myself as a victim. When I knew people who were in abusive relationships, I felt sorry for them but at the same time believed they were choosing to stay, therefore they were doing it to themselves. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Never in a million years would I have believed I would one day become one of those stories.
I was going through a dark time in my life, in the throes of my addiction and what I thought, at the time, was my rock bottom. Little did I know, this was nothing compared to what I would endure over the next 2 years of my life while I walked through hell.
This is how I met the person who would become my worst nightmare, disguised as a shy, quiet, sweet guy. He played that role very well. I was completely blind-sided when my Prince Charming turned into pure evil. It didn’t start right away. Looking back, there were a couple of red flags I missed or chose not to see. But the first time I realized things just weren’t right, I was 6 and a half months pregnant with his baby.
It wasn’t anything super dramatic. He pushed me and slapped me, but I convinced myself it was just stress and fear about the baby we were bringing into the world. After it happened, he apologized over and over and said he had just lost his temper and it would never happen again. He loved me too much to ever hurt me. We were a family. I got over it pretty fast and didn’t give it another thought over the next couple of months. We appeared to be the happy little family. I almost believed we were going to live happily ever after, even though deep down, I felt something wasn’t quite right. I didn’t have that glow. I didn’t get butterflies at the sound of his voice. But I knew I wanted to give my baby a family, one with a dad and mom who loved each other. Even though I was not in love with Johnny, I loved our baby enough to give him a family. So throughout the remainder of my pregnancy, we were the happy couple.
When I was 7 and a half months pregnant, Johnny started using meth again. He offered me some, pregnant belly and all. He did this without hesitation and no shame at all. Being a drug addict, pregnant or not, I wasn’t strong enough to resist temptation. I went on a 4-day bender. On Christmas Day, Johnny pushed me face first in the middle of the street. Finally scared and desperate enough, I went to the emergency room and said I had slipped on the ice and was afraid I hurt my baby. They monitored me and the baby and did tests. When the doctor came in to talk to me, Johnny had stepped out, so the doctor closed the door and sat at the end of my bed. He looked me in the eye and asked me if I was okay. I started to cry and shook my head. I could barely get out the words, but I told him I needed help. He admitted me to the hospital until I could get into treatment.
When Johnny came back to the room, he knew the doctor and I had talked. As soon as the doctor was gone, he put his hand around my throat and started to squeeze. He told me I was not to cry to people about our relationship. He said next time, he would make sure no one believed me. I was terrified but I figured I was safe in a hospital. Unfortunately, Johnny refused to leave my side. He made me use the bathroom with the door open so he could keep an eye on me. I was discharged from the hospital and went directly to treatment.
From day one, Johnny was once again the picture-perfect boyfriend. He showed up every visiting day, every doctor’s appointment, and it was like nothing ever happened. I started to think I actually fell on the ice and I was just being dramatic. He couldn’t be such a bad guy because he took care of me and cared about me and our baby so much. I finally decided it was just a rough patch and we were past it and once the baby was born, we would be over the hard times. Well, the worst was yet to come. I never could have imagined how bad it would become.
Our baby was premature and had some complications, so he had to be in the NICU for the first nine days of his life. Johnny was attentive and loving the whole time, from the time I was in labor, all through delivery and the first hours of our son’s life. Nine days after he was born, Luke was discharged from the hospital and we were allowed to bring him home. Because Johnny was homeless, I took Luke home to my mom’s house. Johnny wasn’t welcome there. I told him we would arrange it so he could see Luke when he went to his mom’s house. He put the car seat in the back of my mom’s car and that was the last time I saw Johnny for the next 2 and a half months. He didn’t call or text, nothing, for 10 weeks. I couldn’t understand how someone could just act as if their child didn’t exist. For those couple of months, Luke was the center of my universe. With the help of my family, I was raising this little angel on my own.
Then one day, around 9:30 on a weeknight, my phone rang. Johnny said he was downstairs and wanted to see his son. I hesitated for a moment but then decided I wasn’t going to be one of those parents who pushes the other parent out of their child’s life. He came up, held the baby, fed him, rocked him, and I convinced my mom to let him stay the night so he could get up with Luke and I could get some sleep. I knew she didn’t want him to, but she gave in. I wish more than anything I could go back to that night and do it all differently. I should have told Johnny he chose to leave us and that was his fault. If he wanted to be a part of Luke’s life then he would have to get his sh*t together and prove that he was able to be a father. But it was almost as if Johnny had a spell over me and could control my thoughts.
He was there for 2 days with us before my mom said he had to go. He was supposed to bring Luke and me to an appointment, so we packed up the diaper bag and the baby and headed out. When we were driving, Johnny said he had to stop at a friend’s house. When we got there, he told me to come in with him and after I sat in the living room of a strange house, I went to find Johnny to tell him we were going to miss our appointment. I walked in on him smoking meth. Once again, I was sucked back into old ways.
That night was the beginning of the end for our family. We went from place to place, doing drugs with our infant son at our side. Johnny would threaten me and say if I left with Luke, he would make sure Luke was taken from me. If he couldn’t have Luke, then neither of us would have him. There wasn’t a lot of physical abuse during the first couple weeks, just an occasional slap or push until we were at his mom’s house one day. Johnny and his stepdad got into a physical altercation and when I tried to break it up, I was pushed against the wall with my baby in my arms. The police were notified and a couple of days later, I got a phone call that would change my life. It was CPS. They said they had to come and do an assessment because there had been a police report that involved a child. They set up a time to come and meet with me. I wasn’t nervous at all because Luke wasn’t hurt, and I wasn’t part of the altercation.
The night before the assessment, Johnny convinced me to go to his friend’s house and while we were there, he gave me some meth and then some pills. I blacked out and woke up the next day with no recollection of the night before. When the CPS agent came for the assessment, she could see that I was not okay. Johnny immediately told the worker I had been up doing drugs all night and had dropped our baby. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing — that he would betray me and risk our son. When the worker left, Johnny took me in the bedroom and grabbed me by the hair, telling me this was all my fault because I talked to the police about the fight. He said, ‘If you had just kept your mouth shut, none of this would be happening.’
The next month or so was tough. I was trying to get into treatment and was on the list for a family treatment program where I could have Luke with me. Before I could start this program, which was a condition of my CPS case, I was at my mom’s with Luke when Johnny showed up uninvited to see his son. He was holding Luke when his phone went off, so I grabbed it to see the message. It was sexy pictures of a girl. Her name in his phone was ‘baby girl.’ I confronted Johnny and we started to argue. Things got heated and I asked him to leave. He refused to leave without his son. I was holding Luke in my arms and when I wouldn’t let him hold the baby, he punched me in the face. I fell to the ground. I bent over, trying to protect Luke, and Johnny kicked me over and over. He then grabbed me by the hair, took Luke from my arms, and threw me to the floor. I grabbed a baseball bat and told him to put my son down. I suggested he leave before my mom got home. He left but he told me he would be back.
My mom came home and saw my face. It was swollen and bruised severely but I told her I slipped in the tub. I kept to this story for the next 2 weeks to explain my damaged face. We were staying in hotels because Johnny wouldn’t leave me. I didn’t want him alone with our son, so I just did what I had to do. I tried my best to not upset Johnny and took care of our son.
On a Friday morning, we went to spend the day at my dad’s apartment, do laundry, and shower while my dad and uncle were gone for the day. I had taken Luke up to my friend’s apartment in the same building. She took one look at my face and broke into tears. I made her promise not to call the cops because we already had an open CPS case. She said she wouldn’t. After visiting for a bit, I took Luke downstairs to nap because Johnny was getting really upset I had been gone so long. On my way down the step,s I noticed someone waiting to get into the building. I opened the door and realized it was a police officer. He asked if I was Amanda and I said yes. He asked where Johnny was and asked to speak with me privately. I brought him up to my friend’s apartment where I had just come from. ‘What happened to your face?’ Before I knew it, I was in tears, telling him it was Johnny. He told me he had known Johnny for years and he was dangerous. My friend encouraged me to show the office my leg. The night before, we were at a hotel and Johnny hit me with his belt buckle, leaving an imprint of it on my upper leg. As soon as I showed him, he had me stay in my friend’s apartment while he went down and took Johnny into custody.
After Johnny was taken away, the police escorted me back downstairs to show them what was Johnny’s so they could search it. As I started going through his belongings, I found some disturbing things. 19 minutes after Johnny was placed under arrest, a woman from CPS knocked on the door and said she was taking Luke out of my custody. After an emotional conversation, I was taken by ambulance to the hospital to get my injuries looked at. They were more than 10 days old, so I was sure it was nothing too serious. I was wrong. I had six broken ribs on my right side, a fractured eye socket, and that doesn’t include the bruises.
Every time people saw me there, would be a new bruise or broken bone. It’s hard to remember all of it. The most significant situations are being thrown out of a moving car, set on fire, and choke-slammed onto the hardwood floor. He once tried to kidnap Luke, pulled me out of the car, and threw me onto the cement. One time, he clotheslined me off a rolling chair and threw me down the stairs. He then got on top of me and choked me until I lost consciousness. He threw me into a wall headfirst. Those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. If I put too much thought into it, it would be too overwhelming for me to handle. I have permanent damage, like a damaged windpipe and a dent in my forehead that contributed to my TBI, which they think is from so many concussions at the hands of the man I had a child with.
After I lost Luke, the beating gradually got worse and more frequent. I got to a point where I begged him to kill me because I would rather be dead than to live like that for another day.
The emotional abuse and mental torture were much worse. My bruises and broken bones heal with time, but the mental and emotional abuse is always there. Flashbacks are a big part of this and I have a hard time with them. My flashbacks can be triggered by a memory, a song, a place, a smell — anything really. Along with flashbacks come nightmares and night terrors. Then there are the panic attacks, anxiety, and constant fear. During that time, I had no clue how serious this situation was and how easily it could have killed me. I had completely forgotten what it felt like to feel safe. I was always on edge and looking over my shoulder. I could never find peace. No matter how many times I tried to leave, he wouldn’t let go. He followed me, threw me into his car at knifepoint, took me to the middle of nowhere to beat me up and then leave me. I told him over and over again, I didn’t want to be with him and I didn’t love him. That just seemed to make him more determined to hurt me. Anyone that was still around and hadn’t been alienated by Johnny watched him torture me mentally on a daily basis. He got off on it He loved breaking me.
Today, when I look back, I realize I was brainwashed. Johnny had me convinced I deserved the abuse, it was my fault, or I was crazy. At one point, he had me convinced I was the abuser because I provoked him. He used to tell me how he was going to kill me and where he would bury my body. He would hold me down and shine a flashlight into my eyes. To this day, I jump when someone turns on a flashlight. All these times, I should have called the police and reported him, but I was terrified of what he would do to me. A couple of our friends called the police on him when he was beating me, but he would make me deny all of it and not testify in court. I lived in a constant state of fear and felt so worthless, I contemplated suicide multiple times.
The final straw for me was one night, he had been talking about kidnapping Luke. When I left in an Uber, he followed the car and tried to run it off the road. I called 911 and told them what was going on. He was arrested and put in jail for his sixth violation on a DANCO in addition to the new charges. He spent just 5 months in jail. It wasn’t as long as I had hoped but it gave me enough time to make my final escape. I went to treatment where he couldn’t find me and started my road to freedom. It’s been a long road and it’s not over, but I have gained so much already. I have my confidence, my self-worth, a sense of security and have found the ability to trust people. I learned I never have to live that way again and I deserve to be loved. I finally see nothing he did was out of love or concern. It was about control, manipulation, and anger.
I am starting to truly believe I didn’t deserve any of that and I have nothing to be ashamed of. People who haven’t been that situation do not understand what it feels like to be a prisoner in their own mind or to live in fear every second of every day. They don’t know what it’s like to be completely powerless over anything in their life. It strips you of all your self worth and dignity and sucks the soul out of your body. You are broken, bit by bit until there is not a sliver of your former self left. Many victims that live through that come to accept this is a life sentence and there is no hope of ever being whole again. I am living proof there can be a happy ending.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by C. N. 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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