Misty blogs here.
There was never a warning. I’d be walking by him and then be shoved so hard into a nearby wall, without warning, that I’d bounce off, and go down. Or suddenly be propelled so hard across the room as to go over the back of the sofa, knocking it over. We’d be driving and he’d hit me in the face or punch my arm. Sam would change in a flash to cold and angry. Afterward, I always got flowers.
One time I yelled for help, and the neighbors called management to complain about “the noise.” I’d never known anyone who was abused. I didn’t know what to make of it. It was 1984, and I was 19 years old. To this day his family denies it, or has once admitted something may have happened, because I was a bad wife.
Eventually, I decided to leave. We talked it out, but later when I came home from work, and entered the bedroom, I saw holes in the walls. Things were thrown around and furniture upended. When I turned to leave, he was standing in the doorway. Over the next few hours, he made me to take off my clothes and lay on the floor, while he alternatively begged and screamed and threatened me. I did everything he asked hoping he’d calm down and let me go. Then he wrapped his hands around my throat and started killing me.
I couldn’t loosen his grip. I remember kicking. Blackness filled in from the edges of my vision, and I knew that I was dying. I remember thinking my son would never know me. I wondered who would raise him. Then everything went black.
And then I could see. Sam was in the doorway. His best friend was there, looking at us, confused. When I could, I screamed, “Help me!” and then his friend, Butch, told Sam calmly he needed to go, and so he walked out the door like nothing had happened. I rented a U-Haul and went home to my parents, and filed for divorce.
Once after that, Sam asked me to come over, said that he’d gotten counseling. When I got there he hid my keys and said I could have them if I had sex with him or drove home naked. Afterward, I told my parents what happened. They took out a restraining order. Sam stalked me for about a year after that, and then committed suicide in November of 1986.
I found a family history of instability; Sam was sent to an orphanage when his mother killed herself with a knife. The first ten years after I escaped I put it out of my mind, and got on with the business of raising our child and the other children I had with my second husband.
Then Tammy Haas of Yankton and Nicole Simpson were both murdered. The Haas story got little press outside our area, but overwhelming circumstantial evidence pointed to her boyfriend, who was acquitted. Then OJ Simpson was acquitted. After that happened, I would find myself crying at work without knowing why. I became depressed, and finally got help at the student counseling center, where I was told I had signs of PTSD. I made myself deal with all of it. I told my family; they were uncomfortable hearing it, but it didn’t matter. I told for me, not for them.
Today, I am happily married, and a licensed Mental Health Therapist. Sometimes, when I see a man in a grocery store buying flowers, I often wonder who he’s saying “sorry” to. I disclose my abuse to patients if I feel it’s therapeutically useful for them, but it doesn’t define me. I bought Strange Piece of Paradise and communicated with the author, and thought more about what happened, and accepted some important truths:
It doesn’t matter whether I was a “good” wife.
It doesn’t matter if he was crazy, or confused, or troubled, or traumatized by his childhood.
It doesn’t matter why it happened.
All that matters is that every person has the right of to be safe from violence, and the right to stop whatever abusive treatment they are receiving.