Physical abuse runs rampant in our society and has plagued our world far too long. If you see any familiarity at all in the following account of my personal experience I pray you will heed my pleas at the end.
This post is made in memory of all the women & men who have fallen victim to spousal/acquaintance abuse. It is for those of us who are survivors yet have had a part of us die as a result of... the same type of abuse; the trusting part of us. I am sharing my story in the hopes someone, anyone out here will do as I did and get away THE FIRST TIME anyone abuses you. My story may be a little familiar, maybe not…but if one person stops the cycle it is well worth my baring this most personal part of my life for that sake alone.

A few years ago I lived with a man (loosely termed) who appeared to be everything I wanted. Handsome, hardworking, and we got along great! He enjoyed all the things I did like camping , motorcycle runs to the mountains for pie and coffee at Diamond Jan's, land sailing, dune buggy off-roading, ghost towns/treasure hunting, drag races, Ham radio/CB, communing with nature, you name it we enjoyed it all.

There was only one part we did not enjoy together, he drank and I didn't. His drinking was no problem at first, but in time he got extremely beligerent. Though he never physically abused me, the verbal abuse began and I was not going to put up with it so I ended the relationship. We remained cordial and kept in touch, even met for coffee and chatted a few times. I had gone on with my life and thought he had with his.

One night about six months after the break-up he called me extremely late (and drunk) to say he was coming over and he wanted to talk. I explained to him it was late and the next day we might be able to meet somewhere and have coffee. This time however he got extremely agitated and accused me of having someone there and said he would be right over (he lived only a few blocks away). I told him no one was there and I'd talk to him the next day (just to get him to give it up for the night). We hung up the phone and after an hour or so I went to the bathroom to take a bath.

About 30 minutes later, as I was getting out of the bath he was knocking at my door. In only a towel I called through the door for him to go away. He said he just wanted to give me something and open the door a crack and he will slide it through. Like a fool, I did open the door leaving the chain lock on, never thinking he would force the issue, as he never had before and did as I asked.

Before I knew it BAM! He had kicked through the door and broke the chain lock. He immediately drew back his arm and hit me in the face with his fist knocking me a few feet away where I landed at the foot of a cast iron antique parlor stove I had recently purchased. How he had this strength I have no idea but he picked up that heavy stove and it landed on my legs. Somehow, adrenalin I imagine, I managed to push it off me.

He demanded I get up; I tried crawling away. I couldn't see well and was afraid I was blinded in one eye. With my head still reeling and unable to stand yet, he then grabbed my hair and dragged me the length of my living room and dining room, kicking me and swearing all the way. I managed to kick his shin to make him let go. Well, he let go but was so enraged from that act of defense that as I rose and ran toward the bathroom he came after me again.

Once in the bathroom I locked the door. This was useless, he merely kicked the door in. It swung open and hit me in the head knocking me to the floor by the tub. Then again grabbing my hair, held my head under the water until I thought my lungs would surely burst, pulling my head up just often enough to keep from drowning me. Repeatedly he did this until I think he knew I couldn't take anymore. My body had gone limp. I could barely move and seemingly had no more fight in me.

He left me there on the floor and I thought once all was quiet for a few moments that perhaps he was afraid he had killed me and left. At this point I staggered to my feet and tried to get to the hall phone to call for help. He was there!! He turned and saw me and grabbed my arm, screaming obscenities at me all the while and dragged me to the kitchen.

I broke his grasp at one point and saw the phone on the wall and tried to quickly call 911 but he caught me before I could dial, held my hair in his left hand pulling my head back and ripped the phone off the wall with his right and began smashing the entire unit (not just the receiver) into my face and knocking out teeth/loosening others, yelling at me the entire time saying " When I am through with you bitch NO one will want to look at you."

After what seemed like an eternity of that phone smashing my face I remember only one last thing, being bodily picked up and thrown across the kitchen lengthwise and landing under the table. That is the last I remember until the police arrived and that is where they found me, bloody, shaking and cowering under the table. My neighbors apparently had called them.

The laws that were in effect back then were useless. The officers said while the abuse is apparent and they believed me, they had not seen anything and he was not on the premises so it was my word against his. That I could sue him in civil court. They wouldn't even take pictures but did call an ambulance and they took me to the hospital for treatment.

At the hospital, I was treated and sat in a hallway waiting for friends to come give me a ride home and take my kids to their home a few days until I could get things in order. They were used to sleeping over with their kids and liked it there. I was by the emergency room doors and saw them coming and as I rose to meet them they walked past me. Although looking right at me I was so disfigured they had not recognized me and kept on walking past. I had to tell them it was me.

Once home I received repeated threats from this man. The police had spoken with him warning him to stay away from me but this and even a PO was to no avail. The following few days I couldn't leave my home without finding my home tampered with making me aware he had been there. He left repeated messages left on my answering machine although in a way I would recognize the threat but not incriminating enough for prosecution. I found an attempt to start a fire at the house's foundation. I couldn't sleep, eat and lost my job and had just spent what money I had on paying bills.

The following Saturday he threatened to find and do harm to my children in order to hurt me. His anger was escalating throughout the day and I knew that day would have culminated in someone's death. I left that house that day never to return. I packed some photo albums in the car and with everything I owned still in that house, I locked the door behind me and never looked back.

I won't go on with the rest of this story but my message is this. GETTING OUT WAS WORTH IT ! Please, if this sounds familiar, do as I did. Get out and have no regrets. There is nothing, NOTHING in this world worth your life or the life of another. Remember also, if dealing with alcohol you are not dealing with rationality, so it makes no sense to accept an opology and have that person repeat the abuse the next time they are inebriated. (though not all instances involve alcohol).

Physical abuse is not only male against female. Far more men are in this situation than is obvious because of the sterotypical machismo views society imposes. Men are far less likely to report or talk about being abused. Thankfully, the tide is changing.
Lastly, and it is most important that I get this message across. STOP THE CYCLE ! Please , please don't raise your children to believe this is how love is shown or that this is acceptable behavior. Education begins early and children learn what they live so please, teach them well.
This poem says it all....

I got flowers today.
It wasn't my birthday or any other special day.
We had our first argument last night,
And he said a lot of cruel things that really hurt me.
I know he is sorry and didn't mean the things he said.
Because he sent me flowers today.

I got flowers today.
It wasn't our anniversary or any other special day.
Last night, he threw me into a wall and started to choke me.
It seemed like a nightmare.
I couldn't believe it was real.
I woke up this morning sore and bruised all over.
I know he must be sorry.
Because he sent me flowers today.

I got flowers today,
And it wasn't Mother's Day or any other special day.
Last night, he beat me up again.
And it was much worse than all the other times.
If I leave him, what will I do?
How will I take care of my kids?
What about money?
I'm afraid of him and scared to leave.
But I know he must be sorry.
Because he sent me flowers today.

I got flowers today.
Today was a very special day.
It was the day of my funeral.
Last night, he finally killed me.
If only I had gathered enough courage
and strength to leave him,
I would not have gotten
-- By Paulette Kelly
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