How I survived Domestic Violence:
How I left and found myself again
I shared my story of how domestic violence part one: How it started and Why I stayed. It was mentally and physically draining to write. Click HERE to read the first part. I had planned to write it all in one big story but had to make it into 2 posts. So here is how I left and how I found myself again.
The time between the second abuse and the third wasn’t very long. The second time was a slap to the face. It was so soon that it really scared me. Again, I decided to leave. I walked pregnant and in the snow to a payphone. At the payphone I called my mother to come rescue me. I called collect. She told me just to go home and she would come in the morning. I just had to call her when I woke up.
So I did as I was told and walked home. When I got home Duane had calmed down and was asking if I was ok. I felt so defeated that I had to go home and make up with my attacker. By the time morning finally came Duane had smoothed over our fight the night before. He talked me into calling my mom and telling her not to come.
So I walked back up to the payphone feeling very confused. I dialed my moms number and when she answered questioning me about still wanting her to come. I knew she didn’t want to make the almost hour long drive to get me. So I retracted my story from the previous night, telling her that I made a bigger deal out of the argument that it really was. It was at that time that my mother stopped being a mom to me. After that call she always sided with Duane, even taking his side after our divorce.
A while had passed, maybe a month and a half before the really bad attack. This one made me fear for my life as well as my unborn baby. We played a game and I was winning by a lot. I of course was making game banter and before I knew it Duane got frustrated and punched himself in the head. I asked what was wrong with him acting like a baby over losing a game.
The aggression turned on me and he picked me up and cracked me over his knee like a stick. I fell to the ground and couldn’t move. He ran around kicking some walls and calmed down. Soon a knock at the door came. It was the police. Duane looked at me with pleading eyes not to open the door and not to tell them. They kept banging on the door and treated to kick it in.
We let them in with me still laying on the floor unable to move from the waist down, 7 months pregnant. I was rushed to the hospital, where for hours we wondered if the spinal cord injury would heal. After about 4 hours I got a little sensation in my toes. It took several hours for my legs to come back to me. To this day my back is not the same. I suffer almost daily from this one incident. Thankfully my baby was fine.
I don’t remember much violence for the remainder of my pregnancy. I tried my best just to be a good wife and keep my mouth shut. I was successful at it for quite sometime. Then my son was born. Nicholas Duane became my world! He was perfect in every way! Things stayed good for quite a while after Nicholas was born.
Then Duane lost his job again. We had to move yet again. This is when we found out that I was pregnant again. Nicholas was just 3 months old. Then the happy phase really ended. We were both in fear of our family financially. We came across an old friend of mine that had a great opportunity if we moved way up north.
A new opportunity in a new town. Things seemed to be looking better. So we moved, at first living with my friend. Then moving down the road to our own apartment. I was about 4 1/2 months pregnant. That is when I started to have problems with the pregnancy. I went to my doctor and was put on bedrest and no lifting for a few weeks.
Anyone that has an almost 7 month knows that bedrest is impossible. I tried my best just to rest. This put more stress on Duane having to work and then come home and work. He soon snapped and another bad fight incurred. This time with Nicholas in my arms.
Duane had snapped after a long day at work and home. He started punching himself in the head again. Then he went to the doorjamb and knocked his head into it. He passed out cold for a few seconds. When he got up dazed, he was furious.
He came at me and was choking me. His hands wrapped around my wind pipe and I couldn’t breathe. As I struggled to get loose I remembered to kick him where it counts! So I did and ran downstairs and into the freezing winter with Nicholas in jammies and a light blanket. I was barefoot.
Thankfully we lived right next door to a gas station (actually Duane worked there). I ran to the phone and dialed 911 from the parking lot. I looked up to our apartment window and saw Duane looking down on me in anger.
While I stayed on the line awaiting the police to arrive. Duane ran into his work. Soon the police came and took down my side of the story. They also took pictures of my swollen bruised neck. Then they set me into a warm car and went to talk to Duane.
Duane stood at the door and refused to talk to the cops. They had to call in reinforcements. There were around eight police cars surrounding the place. They were using a megaphone trying to coax him out. All this time I sat in the back of a cop car. Trying to keep Nicholas soothed.
I remember sitting there wondering what I had just done. I had never called the police on him before. Certainly he would kill me now. There was a rifle in the front seat that was propped up and through the backseat. I remember looking at that rifle wondering if I could get out of the car and shoot Duane before the cops took me down. Then my son stirred in my arms and I looked down at him and knew I could never hurt HIS father. I owed my son the ability to know his dad unlike me.
They ended up talking Duane out if a matter of minutes. He was arrested and sent to jail. We were to have no contact. I went back to our apartment. Afraid at that thought I had and afraid of what had happened. I just ruined my entire world. My little messed up family was MINE and I just destroyed it.
He spent 3 days in jail, was released and went to a friends house. I ran into him and this time I felt bad. He had lost his job, son, home, and it was all my fault. He still had charges to appear before court for. I apologized to him and this changed our marriage forever. From this moment on it was all my fault. Everything that went wrong.
I called the district attorney and told them that I wanted the charges dropped. They told me I couldn’t the state was picking them up and I had no control. I told them I would testify for my husband and mess their case all up. They dropped the charges to disturbing the peace and he had probation.
He moved back home and I felt my world was complete again. After a few weeks I started bleeding bad again. Now at 6 months pregnant. I got ready to go to the hospital and my water broke. I gave birth to a 1 pound 1 ounce baby that didn’t make it. She was so tiny and frail. We buried our daughter in the dead of winter. Six weeks later we found out that I was pregnant again.
This time doctors prepared me to have a miscarriage. They swore I would loose the baby. My body couldn’t handle pregnancy well. (Nicholas was early too) I had bedrest from the time I hit 4 months. Again causing strain to my fragile family. This time I made it to 7 1/2 months before my water broke again. This time though we had a living baby. We named her Taylor she was almost 4 pounds and a fighter! Today she is normal in every way!
The physical and mental abuse continued for the next few years. Most of it became mental after the arrest. Duane knew he had the upper hand and threw me having him arrested in my face. Our lives continued on. Then he started to want to end our marriage. Coming home and telling me he fell in love with the cashier at the gas station, or blockbuster. I would just get on my feet financially and he would come back, pleading his love for me and our “perfect” family. I of course wanted my happily ever after so badly that I would talk myself into letting him back.
This went on for years. The fights were always after the kids were in bed and they were little so I figured they didn’t know the truth of their parents problems. We moved every 3-9 months. Getting evicted and going to shelters at times. We would split up, remain friends and then get back together.
Then Nicholas was about 4 years old and Duane snapped in front of him. Duane broke the kids play table and the TV. Most of the fights at this point were him destroying property not me. I had learned to keep my mouth shut by this point.
I guess I should pause here to tell about Duane as a dad. He was patient beyond words with his children. He never yelled or spanked. He loved them in the same way I did. He was a WONDERFUL father. The violence I experienced was never a part of anything else in his life. I was the only cause of his anger.
So back to our son seeing his father lose it and destroy things. Nicholas just stood thing stunned into statue form. Duane looked at his son and his entire demeanor changed. He walked out the door and I cleaned up the mess. I gave Nicholas some excuse that I don’t remember for his dads actions.
I finished the day up, put the kids to bed in my room, and went to thinking. I came to the conclusion that I was the only problem in my perfect family. I caused Duane to loose it. I was the reason that my kids had to move and have nothing in life. I made things worse. So I gathered EVERY pill and medicine we had. I wrote my goodbye letter, took the pills and laid down with my children. I assumed they would be better off without their mom causing their dad so much grief.
The next I remember is waking in the hospital. Then a ride in the back of a cop car to the mental institution for a 3 day stay. They put me on anti-depressants and sent me on my way. I went to back home and soon realized that I wasn’t the problem. After that I saw my son display the anger he witnessed. Then I looked at my daughter and realized that I didn’t want her to ever think this was a happy marriage.
So I decided it was time. That night after the kids were tucked into bed, I told Duane that I wanted a divorce. I was leaving in the morning for 2 weeks and when I got back he better be out of MY house! We separated just after our 5 year anniversary
When I returned from our vacation Duane had agreed and moved out. We agreed to share the children. We each had them for 3 days. It was great. For about 3 months this went on. It was actually so great, we thought we could make it work again. So I moved in with him again.
That first night back together he screamed at me and raised his hand to hit me. I left and went into a domestic violence shelter. They helped me to get on my feet. Duane and I had no contact. I had taken his kids from him and went into hiding.
When I reappeared, he was different. We both KNEW it was over. We again decided to share the kids. Duane even let me have the only vehicle we had so I could get to work easier. (He had come into some inheritance money) I had moved a few hours away from him. But thankfully the kids weren’t in school.
Months went by with our family finally at peace. Splitting our family had made it perfect. Then the divorce papers arrived at my door. They were full of lies. Stating I hadn’t seen my kids in almost 3 years. He stated we had been separated for that long and requesting child support for that long. I tried to get a lawyer but could never make it to legal aid in the town in lived in.
Duane claimed it was just his lawyer saying these things and that when we went before the judge it would all be straightened out. Well the morning of court my car broke down conveniently after Duane had helped me fix it just a few days before. I was a no show and all the lies were entered into to court. I was said to be unfit and have mental instability because of my suicide attempt.
I had to attend parenting classes. And have scheduled visitation with my babies. It was horrible. Duane found a new girlfriend and forced my kids to call her mom. I was mortified. I kept seeking the advice of lawyers who all told me I needed tens of thousands of dollars to fight back legally and it would be hard. He looked good on paper and I didn’t.
Then one day they were gone! They had disappeared from their apartment. Duane had taken my kids and just left even though he was suppose to notify me of any changes. I continued to work and search for them. I had finally given up on ever hearing their voices again. During this time I met a man that was persistent in pursuing me. I dated Joe a few times and we became great friends.
We soon moved in together as just friends. When one night Joe and I sat watching tv together the phone rang. It was an old friend of mine saying Duane had called her looking for me and left a number. I quickly called and was so relieved to hear my babies voices on the other end. It had been over a year and their voices had changed so much. I was stunned to find out that they were two states away.
Then Duane came on the phone. I remember siting there trembling with fear and Joe reached over took my hand. He held my hand, rubbing my palm and reminding me to stay CALM. I asked Duane what he wanted. He was sorry for taking off with the kids and wanted me to have some time with them. It was summer and school was out.
I met him halfway between our homes and took my kids. They were so different. They looked at me with fear in their eyes. They were reluctant to come with me. They stayed that summer and finally started to get comfortable and then Duane appeared to take them back with him for school.
This time they kept in contact. My daughter still wanted me but my son didn’t want anything to do with me. Over the next few years I got to take the kids for summers only. I continued to try lawyers who always told me I didn’t have a case unless I could prove him unfit and then it would cost at least $30,000.
I was still with Joe. I had fallen for him. He was so patient with me. I was so scared of him in those first few years. I swore he was going to hit me. Joe is a BIG man and I knew how bad Duane’s hits hurt. I was terrified for Joe to hit me. Poor guy has a deep voice so when he would raise his voice I would cower. He had to write me letters to talk to me for years! It worked to.
Of course Joe has NEVER laid a hand on me in anger. He never put me down and made me feel worthless. Actually it was the oppostie. He kept telling me I could do things I knew I wasn’t capable of. He pushed me to try any way. I soon found out that I was an amazing person worthy of love and happiness. I could do almost anything I wanted except get my kids back.
Soon Joe asked me to marry him. I reluctantly said yes. My mother came to my wedding and persuaded Duane at the last minute to let her bring my kids. Nicholas HATED Joe badly and was miserable around him. It made me feel guilty for marrying him. Then Taylor was the opposite. She loved Joe so much she wanted to call him dad.
Time went on and we settled into life. Having the kids for summers. Joe and I found out that I was pregnant. It was such a scary time for me. I wasn’t suppose to ever get pregnant again. My body couldn’t handle it. Well I was wrong. Being in a stable relationship with love and happiness made me able to carry my baby no problem. I actually went overdue this time.
Joe and I moved a few hours closer to my kids and bought a house. That summer when the kids came Duane dropped them off saying he felt bad for keeping them from me all these years. I could have them for half a year and then he would have them half a year. Oh my the joy I felt was overwhelming. I had my kids home!
The joy didn’t last long. Nicholas still hated me and Taylor did whatever was best for her brother. Soon my son called his dad and claimed that Joe had thrown him into a wall. Duane appeared and took my kids again. This time as before disappearing with my kids.
They didn’t disappear long this time and Duane dropped Taylor off at my house saying she needed a mother in her life. She was almost a teenager. I took her to therapy and showed her my side of our marriage for the first time ever. I have a copy of the police report from the choking. I showed it to her. She stayed here for 1 year and I filed papers for custody claiming the “possession” thing. During the long drag out of the hearing Nickolas came to live with me too! He got tired of changing schools and wanted the stability that Taylor had.
So, we went to court and I WON! I finally after a decade without them got my kids back. They stayed with me the remainder of their “childhood” and adore their mother the same as any young adult. Duane still tries to cause grief in my life. About 3 years ago he proclaimed his love to me, which I denied! Just last year he sent Joe and I a letter telling him what a loser I am and to divorce me. I don’t believe that he will EVER stop but he no longer has control of my life. I know have graduated school and have a successful job that I love. My kids are all successful young adults and for the majority of my life I have the greatest peace and happiness.
I survived domestic violence and so can you! Please get help if you fell like any of this is a relationship you maybe in. EVERYONE deserves to be happy and relationships can be happy. I was uneducated and felt unable to support myself let alone my children. If I can survive anyone can!