Here is the next post in our series about surviving bad relationships, whether the relationship is vanilla BDSM. Hopefully, seeing the stories of others will help some of you spot the trends in your own relationship and get out before it gets truly bad. Sharing the stories, even anonymously, is often cathartic for the survivor, and gives her a way to get it off her chest and gain support. Some of our survivors got out, and managed to salvage their lives, and we want to commend them for their strength and determination. But also, be aware, they did it. It wasn’t easy, but they did it. You can too.
Our next survivor…
This is in her own words, with minor edits to conceal her identity and for clarity in a couple of places.
I was a 17 year-old high school senior just looking to fill one class-period with an elective that I had not yet chosen. I didn’t need any more credits to graduate, I was already over my requirements and my grades were good. My best friend was a teacher’s assistant to the head basketball coaches and she came up with the bright idea that I might be able to become the teacher’s assistant to the coach that shared the office with the head coach, that way she and I could be in there together the same class period. Brilliant plan! She asked the coach if he could use an assistant, he said yes and approved it and I signed up for it. He had just turned 25 years-old.
I went in my first day and learned about tallying his stats and got to know him a little. He didn’t hang around much at in the beginning, but as time progressed and my friend would be off doing things with the head coach. Coach H would hang around with me and I got to know him pretty well and we became friends. But. Only. Friends. He took his job very seriously, so he would NEVER EVER cross the line. EVER.
I was an innocent virgin, who had never gone beyond kissing and good make-out session with a boyfriend, so I would NEVER EVER cross a line either. But, I had a feeling he might like me a little. But he was dating a girl. He actually lived across the street from my house.
When he decided to take another coaching job, I was the only one he told and he swore me to secrecy until he made the announcement, so that told me something about his trust in me.
Graduation rolled around and our class left directly from graduation on a trip. Coach H happened to be one of our chaperones. He begin to let his guard down and some of the other students begin to notice he was treating me with favoritism, but he never ever was out of line or made a pass, he just flirted a little or asked me to hold his money for good luck when he played poker with the guys. On the way back home, he asked to take me home. I kind of freaked! I mean, I was only 17, still underage, even though I wasn’t going to have sex with him, he WAS 25! So, I politely said I already had a ride. He asked again a couple of times more and again I declined. When we got to the school and we were unloading, he asked me again and again I declined.
When I got home, I told Mom and she kind of got excited about it and as we were talking on the front porch he drove up to his apartment to check before turning in the key. When he came out, he stopped his car to say good-bye to me and told me to write to him sometime (this was before the internet.) I said I would. As he left, tears were running down my cheek and Mother said, “I think you like him more than you realize.” “I think you are right.” I replied.
A month after my 18th birthday, I did write him. He was 5 hours from me, but he called as soon as he got my letter and the next thing I know, we are making plans for our first date. That began a dating process that only lasted from August to October, when we got married. During that dating process, I lost my virginity and I had a problem living with that and the way he made me feel every time after that. I felt like a sex toy. Not really a beloved precious person. So, I decided I was breaking up with him. I called to do that and that is when he said, “No, I don’t want to lose you, let’s get married,” and stupid me, being young and in love and thinking no one would want a non-virgin (because that is what my Christian mother had always told me) said yes. A week later we were married.
The second day of our honeymoon, he couldn’t find something. I saw him lay it down, but when I told him that, he got pissed, started yelling and told me it was my fault they were lost and for me to just ”GO GET IN THE CAR!” That was the start of the mental abuse. A week after our wedding we got into an argument, I am not sure what it was about, but he said he couldn’t handle marriage and wanted out. I said okay and started for the bedroom, he grabbed my arm and threw me to the floor. That started the physical abuse, albeit light at the start. It gradually all got worse.
In front of people, he would humiliate me by doing things like pushing me off the porch for no reason and laughing at me. We would go to a friend’s house and later he would say I embarrassed him and insulted them and I had no idea what he was talking about, and he wouldn’t explain, but he would make me call them to apologize. They would just say, “Everything is okay. No problem.” They didn’t know what I was talking about.
If I didn’t agree with him, I could get hit for no reason, up beside the head or in the ribs or on the forehead. He always made it where it was hidden. There was always lots of yelling, so it wasn’t unusual for a neighbor to come and complain or try to defend me, but he would never go to the door when they asked to speak to him, but no one ever called the police.
One day, he had given me a pretty good knocking around because I joined a church. He wouldn’t go with me, so I went alone. When it escalated, and he had me up against the door, when I tried to leave, his hand on my throat and his other hand trying to go down my throat. When I was to the point of passing out, he caught himself. It scared the shit out of him. He had hit me plenty of times before, but never to the point of passing out or choking me. I finally got out of the house and was able to call my mother. I was crying so badly she could barely understand me. She finally got me calmed down enough to find out who my new pastor was and unbeknownst to me called him and had him check on me at work later that night.
After talking to Mom, I went back home and he had calmed down, so I started getting ready for work. While I was getting ready, he started getting pissed off again, just thinking about the church thing and started grabbing my ribs. Now I was thin and had no meat on my ribs, so when he did that it hurt and I couldn’t take it. I immediately went into defensive mode and turn around and swiped my legs back and kicked him in the family jewels. I was so proud of myself and he was bent over clinging to those things for dear-life crying trying to walk out of the bathroom to the bed crying like a baby. “Why did you do that?” ”Sorry, I wasn’t going for those, I was just trying to get you off of me.”
I got out of there and into my car and laughed my ass off. I couldn’t even drive until I calmed down. Score one for me!
A few months, and I had learned to stay calm when he started his ranting, walk into the bedroom and lock him out. That would cause a big scene too, but I was safe until his rant was over. Finally one night, I waited until he wore himself out with his rant and had fallen asleep and called my Dad to come and get me. My parents were 6 hours away and it was midnight, but they got out of bed and started the trip. That scared the hell out of him. He knew as soon as Dad got there he was getting his ass beat.
Sure enough, as soon as my parents left my teenage brother called and said, “Mom said to call you and tell you to have him out of the house before Dad gets there, because he is going to beat the shit out of him.”
He calls his mother to come and get him because he is in no shape to drive. She came and picked him up to save his precious ass.
A day later, on my way back to my parents’, I drop by my mother-in-law’s to drop off some Christmas presents since it was the season and I was leaving her son and he had gotten to her house and was now locked in a bedroom and refused to come out. Sure enough, he was slowly having nervous breakdown and a few days later his friend picked him up and took him to the closest hospital and he was admitted to the mental health ward. They called me wanting to know if I was going to go back to him. I told them, if he was trying to get better I would, because my vows said in sickness and in health and he being diagnosed bipolar was an illness.
The doctor told me if I wasn’t careful, someday I would wake up dead. I just couldn’t see that in him. I was just a naive 19-year old back then. They had him drugged to the hilt, he could hardly function, but he was easy to be around. But soon he couldn’t handle the meds and went off of them.
Things got better for some time, but then what-I-thought was the last straw came and I had had enough when his best friend was there and we all went out. He had too much to drink and got a little too friendly with his best friends date and hauled her into the men’s bathroom. I went in after them to see her up against the wall with her hands up and him drunkenly hovering over her. He really was too drunk to do much, but I was pissed. When he saw me he backed off and started to apologize and I just grabbed the girl’s hand (she was a friend of mind) and she walked out before me and when he came to me trying to apologize I called him a bastard and that just pissed him off.
When we all got into the car, the other couple in the back and we in the front, he grabbed my sweater, tearing it, and started in on me. The guy grabbed my husband to get him off of me; the girl grabbed me to pull me away from him (they had gotten out of the car by then.) It was a mess. His friend finally got my husband settled down and in the front passenger seat, we drove the date home and the three of us went to our apartment, but as soon as we got in the apartment and I had just gotten in the door, he turned around and started running toward me. Thank goodness his friend grabbed him and held on for dear life and yelled for me to get back to my friend’s house for the night. The next morning I called and his friend said everything was okay to come home we all needed to talk. Thank goodness he had talked him into checking into a mental health facility, yet again. He was there for 3 weeks. New doctors, new psyche ward.
Again, I went back, again he was drugged to the hilt, again he couldn’t handle it, again, he went off the drugs. That was the end of doctors and drugs for him.
He did take some advice from them though, I will give him that. He did slow down on the physical abuse. When I got pregnant, he stopped the physical abuse all-together. But he would still do the humiliation and the screaming and when he wanted to hit me he would hold his hands behind his back but would try to headbutt me. I could hold those off though, even if he backed me against a wall. My arms were long enough.
Then a sad day occurred when our daughter was born prematurely and didn’t make it. He lost it. They had to sedate him and put him in the bed next to me. He couldn’t hold food down because of his nerves due to the loss of our child. I will be honest. I was a nervous wreck during the pregnancy. I kept thinking, “What kind of life will this child have with a father like him?” What have I done getting pregnant with him?” By the time I had lost my daughter, I knew it was time to make a change. But, I still had my religious convictions. I would have left much sooner if those convictions hadn’t been in my mind the whole time and the vows that I had taken. I didn’t take those lightly, so I kept hanging on, hoping things would get better.
I had my daughter in November, but by April we both knew it was finally over. He started giving me ultimatums about where I had to attend church, which we had already agreed upon before marriage and now he was changing the terms. He got mad when I went to his church and didn’t participate in certain rituals that I felt were very sacred and should only be done under certain conditions. He did them for show and only wanted to go to that church because his boss went there and I embarrassed him because I didn’t participate. One person can’t dictate another’s spirituality and I just couldn’t go on anymore. Even though I knew people would look down on me being a divorced woman. I had to make that decision to leave. I was 20 years old when we divorced. We were married two and half years. I started college, eventually getting a Master’s Degree. I remarried and had two beautiful children. I became strong again, but…
It wasn’t until I got out that I realized how affected I was by ALL of the abuse. The PTSD that I was living with was staggering. Someone could pretend as if they were going to hit me and I would throw my arms up and tears would start flowing. It took YEARS for that to go away. Different things would cause different triggers. To-this-day I can’t handle yelling. I go into shakes if someone starts yelling at me; if the yelling persists, I eventually lose control and will go off on them, shaking the whole time. I never ever like going there. If I get to that point, later, I am a total basket case and it takes a while to get back to normal. Thank goodness I don’t have to deal with yelling in my present relationship. The depression after that was hard to get through too. Losing a child didn’t help that. That is one of the worst losses a person can bear. Thankfully, I have been blessed with two other healthy happy children and that did help my empty arms, but I still miss my first born. I finally realized too, that my too strict religious convictions left me in a relationship I should have gotten out of sooner. While I still have my spirituality, it has changed significantly over the years. I still do believe in trying to make a marriage work, but never when there is abuse involved.
If you’re in this kind of relationship, remember, you CAN get out. It might take time and careful planning, but it CAN be done. YOU are strong enough.