I Had My First Husband Arrested

Arrested bI know it is impolite to air one’s dirty laundry in public, but this story represents of lot of who I am, the decisions I make even today, and is the source of my strength.  I now know I can face anything, deal with anything, and come out stronger when all is said and done.  If I can do this, I know women everywhere can do this too, and don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.

I was not a popular girl in high school.  I wanted to be, and because I wanted to be I tried too hard, which just encouraged the other kids to make fun of me.  Graduation came as a relief, and then I blossomed in college.  In college the smart kids are respected, not called teacher’s pet or brown nosers.

Just before I graduated from college I met up with a high school friend I knew for a long time but had not seen since graduation.  Like me, he wasn’t popular in school either.  We dated, I fell in love with him and he fell for me.  I was only 23 when we married after a year of dating.  What I did not know was that during the year we dated he was working very hard to hide the “crazy” from me.

About one month before the wedding I saw glimpses of his temper, but we were under a lot of stress from planning a wedding on a ridiculously small budget, buying a house and moving, and his mother was driving us both crazy.  It was so easy for me to say that once our life calmed down again he would stop being so angry.

I didn’t realize at the time that those early emotional outbursts were actually a warning bell ringing loudly telling me to run for it.  My parents knew though, because they tried on more than one occasion to talk me out of marrying him, but when young people are still in that lovey dovey life is wonderful stage of a relationship, not only are they blind, they are also as stupid as a brick.  I couldn’t understand why my parents weren’t happy for me.  Maybe he wasn’t perfect, but who is, and we would be just fine.

It was three weeks after the wedding that we had our first fight.  I don’t even remember what it was about, but he screamed and yelled at me for hours.  Then once he calmed down he cried and apologized and said he wouldn’t do that again.  I spent seven years going up and down the roller coaster of his ever changing moods.  He would get mad, scream and yell, then apologize and want sex to know that all was forgiven.  In the beginning I would argue back, but after a year or two I stopped arguing back and just endured his verbal abuse.

I sometimes thought of leaving him, but no one from my family or his had ever been divorced.  Marriage was supposed to be for better or worse and I still naively was holding onto that belief.

The problem with being in a verbally abusive relationship is that after a while, the victim in the relationship begins to be slowly brainwashed.  If you are told over and over enough times that “everything is your fault, you made me do this to you, you’re a bitch, why can’t you be more supportive,” you actually start to believe it.  I remember thinking all the time that if I could just change then he would be happy.  If I got a new hair cut, lost a little weight, cooked the perfect dinner, etc., then he would be the happy guy I dated and treat me better.

I did try to leave twice, and both times he came a begging and crying and apologizing and like a complete moron I bought it hook, line, and sinker.  Yes, I was stupid, but remember I was also a little brainwashed by this time.  Plus, the kicker was, he had never hit me.  Sure, he had thrown things across the room, yes he had put a hole in the wall, but I wasn’t an abused woman.  He had never laid a finger on me no matter how mad and enraged he was.

The second time I tried to leave him I told him I would only take him back if he allowed me to have a baby.  My biological clock wasn’t just ticking; it was more like daily grenades going off in my head.  I wanted a baby more than anything in the world and he was very much anti-baby.  But he agreed to have a baby and wanted me to take him back.  I showed him the day I tossed my birth control pills in the trash.  He just shrugged his shoulders.

I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and the constant stress I was under kept my disease in continuous flare-ups.  I truly believe he thought I would not be able to get pregnant due to my assorted health issues.  Guess what, my girly parts work just fine.  Eventually I did get pregnant and that was the trigger that seemed to truly send him over the edge.

He ramped up the verbal abuse tenfold.  He would scream right in my ear until I was all but curled up in a ball sobbing on the floor.  Sometimes I think he was actively trying to make me lose the baby but whether he wanted it or not, I did give birth to a little boy who looked just like him at first (thank god not anymore).

Things became truly frightening once the baby started crawling.  He would leave the basement door open constantly even though I would close it ten times a day so the baby didn’t fall down the stairs.  He refused to believe me that the dog was a danger to AJ.  It wasn’t until she bit AJ in the face that he finally agreed the dog had to go.

I remember sitting in my mom’s kitchen and her telling me that I needed to leave him for good.  I looked at her and said “I wish he would just punch me in the face already.  That would be the last straw.  Then I would know what to do,” because remember, at this time I still did not think of myself as a battered woman.

Then it finally happened.  About a week after Christmas, on a Friday, he didn’t come home from work.  I called his cell but he wasn’t answering.  The baby had been sick that day and I was exhausted.  It was 11 o’clock pm and I finally went to sleep.  I figured at this point he was at the bar and when he drank he snored, so I put a pillow and a blanket on the sofa and locked the bedroom door to get some rest.

I was jarred from my sleep after midnight when he suddenly kicked in the bedroom door.  He was FURIOUS.  He grabbed me by the head and shoved me down into the floor, knocking over the night stand in the process.  Then he mashed my face into the mattress and I couldn’t breathe.  Just as suddenly as he came he let go and walked out of the room.  I stood up shakily and for some crazy reason I righted the night stand.  I don’t think I had really processed what had just happened and my first reaction was to stand the table back up and put the clock back on it.

I stepped out of the bedroom and into the hallway and saw him come back towards me.  He held up a kitchen knife and said, “What do you think of this?”  I lost it.  I tried to run past him to get to the stairs but he grabbed me around the waist and threw me back towards the bedroom.

For the next three hours he held me at knife point and kept telling ME to kill HIM!  He wanted to commit suicide but I had to be the one to do him in.  I was at a loss.  I remember talking and talking trying to calm him down but much of it is a blur now of just what in the hell I was saying to him.  About four in the morning his drunk began to wear off.  He was more lucid and I was able to talk him into putting the knife away.  It finally occurred to me that I was not going to die that night.  Until that moment I truly believed we were going to be on the news the next day as a murder/suicide.

I tried to take the baby and leave the house but he held the door shut and wouldn’t let me out of the house.  I had no choice but to put the baby back to bed and pretend that everything was okay now.  The thing I remember most about that night was a deep and powerful longing for my mother.  I just wanted to go be with my mom.  For the first time I was bruised, bleeding, and yes, I was now officially a battered woman.

With the dawn of morning my husband got up, poured a bowl of cereal, and acted like life was just fine.  He didn’t mention the trauma of the night before and offered to pour me a bowl of cereal, too.  As far as he was concerned, it was all over and done with now, but it was not over for me.

Later that day I went to “visit” my mom and made a hasty detour to the police station.  I filed a report, showed my cuts and bruises, and cried while clutching my son to my chest.  The officer wrote everything down and told me to go home and not mention anything to my husband.  I didn’t realize it at the time but it would take a week before they actually arrested him.  That was because they were putting together a restraining order to deliver to him as well.

I was called on Thursday and told to make sure the baby and I were out of the house by 5:30 on Friday, that they were coming to get him then and wanted to make sure we were safe.  My father went that night to buy new locks for the house.  All day Friday at work my stomach was in knots.  I remember throwing up once from the stress.  After work I told him that I was going to run to Target with AJ.  He just nodded his head and said fine.

Actually, I went to my parents’ house to wait for the phone call from Officer Fitzpatrick to tell me it was safe to go back home.  The call came just a few minutes before 6:00.  My husband had been taken away in handcuffs, was in lock up, and was given his restraining order barring him from coming anywhere near me.  Because he was arrested on a Friday, he wouldn’t be able to post bail until sometime on Monday.  He would spend the entire weekend in jail.  I breathed a sigh of relief and then my Dad went with me to my house to change all the doorknobs and deadbolts.

My now ex-husband called me from the jail six times that night crying like a baby begging me to drop the charges.  What he didn’t realize though was that the night he beat me and held a knife to me, he changed me.  I was no longer brainwashed.  I was a woman with a baby who did not want to die and I was NOT dropping the charges.  I was standing my ground.  I was strong enough to do what was right not just for myself, but for my son as well.

I truly believe abused women need to tell their story.  Not only is it part of the healing process, but maybe, just maybe, another woman will read this story and will find her strength and a way to flee from her tormentor. 

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