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Survivor of Abuse

I had always dreamed about a happy family life, which seemed to be of much more importance to me than material acquisitions. I was in love with the idea of love when I met Kenny - it was my 2nd hour Drama class my senior year in high school. I was new to this high school and felt out of place. The student body population out numbered the small town I had grown up in and recently moved away from. I was also intimidated by Kenny - he was tall, dark and handsome and he seemed so sure of himself.

It was March before he noticed me and when he asked me out I jumped at the chance. I was so inexperienced with boys and rather quite shy. But his smooth voice and puppy dog eyes made me feel at ease. He said all the things I dreamed of hearing from a guy.

"I love you", he said as we were kissing in his car "you're so beautiful ." I'd never had a boy take a second look at me, much less call me beautiful. I was a goner. "I love you, too" I whispered back. Before I knew it we were in the back seat of his car making love.

We dated exclusively, I was so happy and my only thoughts were when will I see him again, will he call tonight, etc. One day he told me he had to go to court and wouldn't be at school the next day. He didn't elaborate and I didn't question him. I figured it must be for a speeding ticket or some other traffic offense. Later the next day when we were on the phone I asked how his court hearing went. He replied "fine". That was the only discussion we had about it.

All of a sudden he couldn't see me on the weekends. I felt hurt and confused because he would not tell me why. I came up with all sorts of scenarios of why he wouldn't see me and it all came back to my thinking he must have a new girlfriend. Slowly we drifted apart until one afternoon he drove past me at school and asked me to get in his car. "Gerry wants to take you to the prom, he's in my band class and I think you should go." "Why?" I asked, "I want to go with you." I was trying so hard to fight back the tears because I realized it was really over. His answer to me was "Because, I think it's time we go our separate ways, we'll be graduating soon and I have plans."

So, until graduation we avoided each other in the hallways and in the parking lot after school. Graduation came and went. I had gone onto college out of state and thought of my first love often. Wondering where he was - how he was doing, etc. Memories would flood back when I'd hear certain songs on the radio, or if I saw a guy that walked the way he did or looked like him him in any way.

One spring day my sophomore year in college I met Jim. It was an instant, spontaneous attraction. We fell in love fast and hard. We even moved back to his hometown 250 miles away and shared an apartment. Two years later our relationship began to fizzle and I began making frequent trips back home. As always I visited my best friend, Debbie, when I was in town. She could hardly contain herself one such time. "I saw Kenny a couple of weeks ago and he wants to hear from you!" I was floored, very excited and must've asked her fifty million questions. She gave me his address, he'd joined the Navy and was soon to be discharged.

What do you write in a letter to the man that was your first love when you haven't had any contact in four years? It was one tough letter to write. I must've started it at least twenty times. Finally I sent one and within a week I received a reply. "I'm going to be out of the Navy and home soon, give me your phone number and I'll call you when I get back."

About a month later the phone rang, my boyfriend was at work and I figured it was him calling. But, much to my surprise I heard that old familiar voice..."Hi, Cindy, I'm back home, can you come see me?" "You bet!" I answered. I called Jim and told him I was going home for a couple of days and was on the road in a matter of minutes. I made the normal five hour trip over the mountains in a record time of three hours and 45 minutes.

I didn't even have to knock on the door and he was there, we hugged and I fell in love all over again. We ended up in the desert and made love that night. I dreaded going back to Jim, because our relationship was pretty much over. So before I knew it, I was packing up my things for good to move back home.

We both lived separately with our folks, but we spent every day and every night together. He had received his discharge pay and I had received a sizable check from stocks. We didn't work, just partied every night, I didn't care just so we were together. One morning we woke up on top of a 10,000 foot mountain with no idea what so ever of how we ended up there. I looked around and on the ground was my sleeping bag literally torn to shreds. I couldn't recall exactly what had happened, but soon bits and pieces came back. Kenny had gotten mad about something and ripped it up.

We decided to move in together and found a small apartment and continued to party. Soon money ran out and we both got jobs. One night we were both drunk and Kenny asked "Will you marry me?" "Yes, I'll marry you!!!" We decided right then and there about the date.

A couple of weeks later we were both drunk again (a continuing pattern) and we started arguing in bed. I was lying on my back and soon he was on top of me. I was so frightened, he looked like a crazy man. He hauled off and punched me in the eye and started slugging my abdomen. I was totally shocked, for no man had ever hit me before. He got up and left the apartment.

I had to be at work by six a.m. the next morning and when I awoke I had a big ugly, purple bruise on my eye. It hurt to breathe and I found out later on that morning that it hurt to cough or even laugh. I told my co-workers I fell down the stairs the night before.

After work, Kenny was home. He was beside himself and full of regret and apologies, and of course promises that nothing like that would ever happen again. He was so convincing that I forgave him. I asked him to take me to the hospital because I thought that my ribs may have been broken. The doctor took one look at me and ordered Kenny out of the examination room. He then turned to me and told me that he knew I didn't fall down any stairs and that I should press charges against whoever did this to me. I quickly told the doctor that he was mistaken. He realized that he wasn't going to be able to convince me that I should report this. My ribs were not broken, but bruised and I would hurt awhile. We put this behind us and made plans for our wedding.

Soon after we were married Kenny's company transferred us to another state 260 miles away. Things were real good and we were like any other newlywed couple setting up our new home.

Six weeks later we got into a major argument and when I saw that crazy look in his eyes I ran outside of our apartment and made it as far as the driveway. He tackled me from behind and was banging my head into the ground, he got up and kicked me everywhere and then started to punch me when the cops arrived. He was taken directly to jail and the officer then tried to convince me to press charges. I again refused. I was afraid that he'd lose his job or worse yet take it out on me.

When I awoke the next morning I had bad cramps and realized I had started my period - only it was very heavy and clumpy. I feared I'd suffered a miscarriage because my period was two weeks late and I was all bloody and bruised from the night before. I didn't have time to think about it because the landlord was banging on the door with an eviction notice. Seems everyone in our apartment complex witnessed this beating and they didn't want us as neighbors anymore.

Later on that horrible day Kenny returned. He again was full of apologies and regrets. I again forgave him. We moved back home and found work. I discovered I was pregnant and was looking forward to having a baby. Then one day he got mad about something and shoved me to the floor. I couldn't believe he'd do something like this when I was carrying his baby. He apologized and calmed down.

Kenny, Kacey and me
Kenny, Kacey and me

In June our daughter was born. He'd also gotten fired from his job, and we lived on unemployment for six months. When that ran out he accepted a job 150 miles away, so once again we moved. Those first 18 months were perfect. We had our baby, there was no violence or drinking.

Then the abuse started again with my next pregnancy. We had decided to go fishing, Kenny would go set up an area and I would get our daughter ready and pack a picnic. When I arrived at the spot we were to meet two hours later he was drunk. I thought, oh no,here we go again. I didn't even get out of the car because he had that look in his eyes. He told me I would have to back the car down the road because there was no place to turn around. I told him that I can't...I don't do well in reverse. That fired up his temper. I noticed several other people were fishing on the other side of the narrow river and felt some sort of protection, I figured he wouldn't do anything with other people around. He soon started yelling nonsense, I decided to leave and rolled up my window. He then put his fist through the glass and hit the side of my head real hard. I saw stars and thought I was going to blackout...I was so dizzy. But then he started to try to turn the car over by lifting it up. I managed to get the car started because I really feared for my daughter's and mine life. I fought off the dizziness and started down the twisty road. I looked in my rearview mirror and there he was in the truck speeding up behind me. The speed limit was 35 MPH, but I knew I had to stay well in front of him. He started bumping the back of the car and stayed right there on my fender the whole way down this mountainous road. When we came to a fork in the road I turned right, he turned left, I went straight to the police station and filed a report , an officer escorted me home so I could pack up some things for me and my daughter. I didn't want to face my family so I called the domestic violence shelter.

In the shelter Kacey and I both received counseling - it was then I came to terms with being an abused wife. It was so hard to accept because I did love this man when he wasn't abusive. It was also there that I learned it is not the alcohol that causes violence, it just facilitates the anger. I also was counseled about the phases of violence: tension building phase, the explosion and the honeymoon phase. I then talked to his mom and asked her if he had been abused as a child. She denied that. But she did mention that he had been arrested for assault back in high school and had to go to jail on the weekends near the end of our senior year.

We were allowed thirty days in the shelter and my month was just about over when Thanksgiving arrived. I had talked to my husband on the phone and he agreed to go into counseling. I was pregnant and had a two year old to care for. I didn't like my options so I returned to him in time for Thanksgiving.

We did go to counseling and it helped. Our second daughter was born in May. We started being a family again. A year later in October my mom had to have a hysterectomy so I brought the girls back down to my parents home to help my Dad care for her for a couple of weeks. When I returned Kenny was acting peculiar. He worked later and a couple of nights he called to tell me he was going to stay at a friends house because he was too tired to drive home. I had my suspicions because when he was home we just didn't communicate.

On December 16 I had waited for him to come home from work. We needed to go to the store, and when he didn't show up I finally decided to put the girls in the car and go on ahead. When I returned home the apartment was totaled. I could not imagine a single person could do so much damage. No one was home, so I immediately called the police. They soon arrived and even they were amazed. They told me to get a restraining order and they even took photographs of the damage. He had torn the cupboards off the walls in the kitchen, took all the food out of the refrigerator and threw it against the walls. Every single interior door was busted down, be busted up my dresser, kicked numerous holes in the drywall, everything was destroyed. I am so thankful that the girls and I were not at home when he arrived.

I called a friend to help me clean up this mess. It was then I came across a love letter he'd written to another women a couple of days before. I knew who she was so I called her number, Kenny answered the phone. I told him it was over and that by law he was forbidden to return. If he did I would press charges. The first thing I did the next day was get the order of protection. I then went to the local Planned Parenthood Clinic to get a VD check. It was there the nurse informed me I was pregnant. I don't know how I kept from actually fainting when she told me that my pregnancy was progressing nicely. I was about 4-5 months along!! I had a medical condition that had caused me to not have periods for over two years so that was the last thing on my mind.

I met Kenny in a restaurant to tell him. He didn't believe me and actually thought I made the whole thing up to get him back. "No..I just thought you should know that I'm 4-5 months pregnant."

I don't think he believed that I would go through with a separation. I moved back to be closer to my parents, it was truly the worst time of my life. I felt like I had hit bottom of a big dark hole. I started seeing a counselor because I knew if I didn't I'd totally lose any shred of sanity I had left. It helped me tremendously, and in addition I attended counseling sessions through the domestic violence shelter. I went day by day and by the time my son was born I felt half way human again. Our divorce came through when CJ was six months old.

Looking back I wish I would have known what I knew now. I would have never married him. I didn't have three children to raise by myself. I'd look at families and feel envy. It's hard to be a single parent, but it's a lot easier being a single parent than a battered wife. It's been over twenty years since we separated and a lot has happened. Kenny moved out to California and was involved in a fatal motorcycle accident in 1991. About six months before he was killed he had started calling me. He said "I've made a lot of mistakes and I still love you, I want us to be together again" I told him I think he should get on with his life and quit drinking. It was at that moment I felt healed. He no longer had any power over me or my heart.

When my middle daughter had to write a journal entitled "Memories of my Dad" she wrote, "I remember when Daddy threw a coffee table at Mommy." My heart broke into a million pieces. She should have happy memories, not ones filled with violence. These weren't even her real memories, she had heard them from my oldest daughter who was 4 1/2 when we separated.

I am having problems with my oldest daughter now - we are in counseling because she has a lot of issues to deal with...mainly self-esteem and anger. I believe in my heart it stems from what she had witnessed in her younger days. I know we will work through this too and pray that this cycle is never repeated in our family.

I now feel strong emotionally, it was a long road to get here, but it gets easier every day. I was very critical of men when I'd meet them and if I saw any indications that they were a potential abuser I broke all contact with them. I have since met and married a wonderful man who is so good to me and the kids. We don't drink and have a very stable relationship. At first it was difficult for me to share my feelings with him, because in the past when I did that I'd have hell to pay. But, now I feel secure enough to share my thoughts and feelings. That's the way it should be.

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