I grew up in Jackson, Michigan. I attended Catholic schools from 1st through 12th grades then college for 2 years. I have 6 siblings and my parents are still together after 47 years of marriage.
My first incident with abuse was the morning I was breastfeeding my son who was about 3 months old. My husband (at the time) came home around 9am, He was expected home at 11pm the night before. He was drunk, walked up to me and back-handed me across my eye leaving me with a black eye. He said nothing, only hit me and went to bed. I was too ashamed to tell anyone what happened so told everyone it was from my infant bumping me with his head. After this black eye, any love I had for my husband just faded away.
The abuse didn’t stop after this first hit. My ex-husband was an alcoholic and abused me whenever he was drunk which was about 4-5 days a week at times. It escalated to being held at gunpoint when my son was about 6 months old. Again he came home drunk and got it in his head I was leaving him because someone was trying to serve him with papers at work for 3 days now. He fired the gun to let me know it was loaded. The gun was pointed at me while I held our son for about 1 1/2-2 hours. I was finally able to get to a phone and dial his sister’s number. I was able to get out “He’s got a gun” before he yanked the phone from the wall. His sister and brother-in-law came to help. After a couple hours, (although it seemed like 10 hours), she got him to put the gun down. He later tells her “I was going to kill myself and make them watch.” How could he do that when he never pointed the gun at himself? How could anyone put their spouse and infant child through that? Turns out the papers were from his 3rd ex-wife.
More and more often he would come home drunk hours or a day later (after he’d been with some woman) and want to have sex. If I refused, I paid the price. He would then leave a $100 bill on the table with a small note saying, “Go buy yourself something.” I never took the money because in my mind if I took it I was telling him it was okay to do what he was doing. This WAS NOT okay.
In August of 2000, he convinced me to move to South Carolina. He said he would stop drinking, stop the abuse and I figured the affairs would end. Sad to say, that in January of 2001, I had a neighbor run me and my son to the ER around 11pm because he was having a severe asthma attack. My husband refused to come home from his drinking after I called him numerous times. He showed up at the hospital drunk and tried grabbing our son, yelling at the ER nurse to take her hands off him because she had no right to touch him. He had to be escorted out of the hospital by the police. I arrived home about 3am and as we walked through the front door he popped out from hiding behind it. He began yelling at me telling me I had no right to keep him from his son then showed me he had a loaded gun and kept it pointed at my son and I. I kept my son protected in my arms or behind me in the chair. I was able to grab the phone, dial 911 and get out “He has a gun” before he grabbed the phone from me. When the one policeman arrived he asked me what I wanted to do right in front of him. I was scared to death and he was flashing me “the look” that I knew meant “say something and you die” so I said nothing and the officer left.
After that, when he did come home he was drunk and I was abused. It was always my fault because I: was too fat (5’8″ 150 lbs), hair was too dry, I didn’t turn the air on, blinds were crooked, baseboards were dusty, house wasn’t vacuumed (it didn’t need it as I kept it spotless for him), I wouldn’t drink with him or I refused to have sex. There was always a reason. My son and I began to fear every time he came home. The neighbors all saw this and were concerned and urged me to get out. How could I? I had no car (he sold mine before moving here telling me he’d buy me another one and that never happened), no money (the bank account was in his name only), no place to go. He controlled everything!
There were many times when my son tried to protect me and at age 4, he got hurt at the hands of his father. I just didn’t know where to turn. I still hadn’t told my family about the abuse, I was too embarrassed and didn’t want to burden them with my problems.
From December of 2002 to January of 2003, I had to call the police 4 times due to abuse. One incident involved him standing behind me at the kitchen sink with his hands around my neck telling me he should just squeeze. Then he slapped me so hard on my butt that it left a huge red mark and eventually a huge bruise. He then grabbed my son from me and ran him across the street to a neighbor’s and told her not to let me have him. Once the police arrived they got my son and returned him to me. My husband was told to “Go away and cool off for 8 hours before coming home.” Another incident again was in the kitchen while I was at the kitchen sink and my son was on the counter in front of me. He held a knife to my throat and said, “I should ice you right here”. My son jumped down and started telling his father to stop and started hitting him. My husband kicked him so hard it threw my son back a bit and he landed on his backside. When the police arrived, my son told the officer that “his dad was going to cut mommy’s neck.” The officer looked at him and said, “you can make a kid say anything,” insinuating that he was lying. At age 4! One of the other times he again held us at gunpoint at 3am after taking the door off the frame to get to us. I hid my son under me on the bed so the gun wouldn’t go off and shoot him. The police arrived and only took the bullets out of the gun and helped me hide the gun in the house! They told him to “go sober up and don’t come home for 8 hours.” It didn’t take him long to find it, afterall, he lived there.
February 3, 2003 my son informed his K-4 class that “Daddy was going to cut mommy’s neck.” I also taught at the preschool and had the Director tell me that day that I needed to get out now. That night we made our plans to get out while he was at work on 2nd shift. At about 5pm I was packing some clothes and our medicines and was ready to go when my husband came home and refused to let me go. The police were called and again were no help. One officer told me I was keeping him from dinner with his family another told me that one of us had to leave and since the house was in his name it had to be me and that I couldn’t take the car because it was in his name (yet the insurance was in both our names). All this time, the officers wouldn’t allow me into the garage but let him into the house to yell and cuss at me. After about 2 hours it was agreed that I would take the car and go to a hotel then have him come pick it up. The police waited for my husband to leave then they left. At midnight when I tried to leave the car wouldn’t start. I called a tow service and when they came out they said some fuses were taken out and since the owner’s manual was also taken they didn’t know which ones I needed. I then had to call a person I barely knew who lived in North Carolina at midnight to pick us up and take us to a hotel. This person also gave us money for the hotel as I didn’t have any. It was later testified to in court that the officers instructed my husband to “disable the car so I couldn’t take it.” I could understand if I was a girlfriend, but we had been together over 9 years and married over 7. I was his wife!
In August of 2003, I was again given a black eye when my husband (we weren’t divorced yet) dropped our son off after a visit. He simply brought our son to the door and slapped me in the eye. A warrant was issued for his arrest but it took a couple days for the police to find him because he was hiding then admitted himself into the hospital with chest pains. He did this often to avoid legal matters. They kept him the required 24 hours and released him. Once in court, they let him off on “good behavior” because he didn’t have any convictions in this state. They didn’t care that he had convictions on ex-wives in Michigan. The judge simply said, “People do change ma’am.”
I not only have the emotional reminders of the abuse I suffered but I have the physical ones as well. The scar above my left eye from his ring imprint, the 3 crushed vertebrae in my lower back, injury to my neck that didn’t heal as well as my dislocated left pelvis.
With me finally out of his life, it seemed he focused his anger on our son which scared me to death. I only stayed with him as long as I did to protect my son. The bruises, the cuts, the permanent scar on his cheek from being stabbed with a pencil and the emotional scars that no child should have to suffer. In October of 2005 he had a DUI accident while my son was in the car. Once the case was finally ready for trial the courts allowed him to plead to RECKLESS DRIVING! I, with the help of Gordon Dill from WYFF4 got involved which resulted in the plea deal being taken away. In 2007, he finally was found guilty by a jury of DUI and subsequently of Child Endangerment. $1100 in fines is all he received at sentencing. This conviction also convicted him as an Habitual Offender, suspending his license for 10 years. (He has more than 7 drunk driving convictions from our hometown of Michigan but these weren’t taken into consideration)
In October of 2007 he was arrested in Georgia for another DUI and Child Endangerment while my son was with him. He agreed to a plea deal of RECKLESS DRIVING. The next month, October, he was stopped on his way back from Michigan and arrested for no driver’s license, defacing a license plate with intent to defraud and false name to police. He again had my son in the car with him.
His current whereabouts are unknown and he hasn’t seen our son since. He was calling and texting our son with mean messages. Calling me names, saying horrible things about me and my other son who was only 2 yrs old, offering him money to shoot other kids, that no 11 year old should ever hear. Some days we would have over 20 calls to our home phone and my son’s cell phone with threatening messages and cussing. In one message on my son’s cell phone he left, “tell your mom I’m digging her grave.” These calls ended in February 2010. My son has done so much better since he has not had to deal with all the stress in visiting or talking to his father. His grades in school have gone from Cs and Ds to A’s and B’s.
On September 7, 2010, the Greenville County Family Court terminated my ex-husband’s parental rights. My son chose to change his middle and last name because his middle name was after his birth father.
I have started writing a book, my memoir of living with domestic violence as well as the 7 year custody battle that allowed my son and I to be further victimized by my ex-husband with help from the legal system. This will truly open your eyes to the regressive attitudes of some police and court personnel.
Besides running this organization, I am on the Greenville County Domestic Violence Council at the Solicitor’s Office. I speak at monthly meetings through the Solicitor’s Office for domestic violence victims as well as other speakings throughout South Carolina.