An Open Letter to My Abusive Ex Husband...
I got a phone call today that utterly shook me to my core.
I was at work when I got the call. I remember being utterly stunned and unable to respond to the Deputy District Attorney as she told me that you had plead guilty to all charges. That your sentencing would be in just 3 weeks and that I would be called to the stand to read to the court a Victim’s Impact Statement that would better help the judge decide a fair sentence. Has it already been 6 months? I had honestly begun to forget about you finally…but then this call. Brought me right back to the pain, to the fear, to the anguish.
I was overcome by both victory and great sadness. Even now as I attempt to write out into physical words the emotions that over came me, I literally can not come up with any adequate enough to describe the mixture of mental anguish and victory that I felt.
I went home immediately and began to write my statement. I must have spent over 3 hours attempting to write something…anything. I found myself continually writing one sentence then deleting it all back to a blank page staring back at me. Then cried alone in my living room not knowing if this statement is even possible as the pain is still too real to face.
After all, what do you say? Where do you start? I don’t believe it’s possible to put into words the fear and torment you put me through. I don’t know that I can successfully help the judge actually feel the torment and the mental, emotional anguish I lived in every day that I was with you.
Do I write a forgiveness letter, and literally name off every count of abuse?
Do I write about all the anger I still hold for every vow you broke, every unkept promise, every bitter word spoken? The financial drain you have been on me an my girls. The pets I have lost due to your cruelty and inhumane behavior?
Do I tell you that you didn’t win, that you didn’t break me though you tried your hardest to.
Where? Where do I begin such a statement?
Do I start at the beginning, when we were dating? Or do I just jump to the last day you laid your hands on me, nearly killing me? You…nearly…killed me. Think about that… I wonder sometimes if you have even truly comprehended the reasons for this criminal trial in the first place. I wonder if you realize that you are LUCKY you didn’t take a Mother from 2 beautiful children that morning. You came so close…I came so close…too close to death.
I remember the look in your eyes as you held my neck, your arms wrapped around my body and neck in a twisted formation as your friend stood beside us on the phone with 911. You had become so open about the abuse you didn’t even care that your friend of over 4 years was literally on the phone with a 911 dispatcher as you continued to attack your wife in broad day light intending to kill me.
As you wrapped your hands around my jaw and the bottom of my neck at the top of our stairwell, I remember having an instant “flash forward” of what was about to happen. I saw you snap my neck like a twig, and my body crumble down the stair well, eventually falling lifeless. I remember seeing my children cry at my funeral wondering why this man took their Mother from them. Then snapping back to the moment everything becoming clear, that I was going to die today.
I don’t know what overcame me, and it’s a feeling that only those in this life who have faced death can even begin to understand…everything inside of me in that moment wanted to live just one more day with my children.
So I screamed out the name of Jesus as hard and loud as I could with one last desperate attempt to survive. It was that moment that you startled and let me go. I knew in that moment it was nothing short of a miracle. It was just enough distraction to break free from you and run to safety until the police arrived.
I have not said the name of Jesus since. I have not prayed since. I have not set foot inside a church or dared to open a bible. I wish not too. You broke my faith that day. I could write an entire statement alone on how you took the very thing that got me through so much in my life…my faith. I don’t have it anymore. I don’t believe in a God anymore. You took that from me. Those who know me well…know just how grievous this is.
Those who have walked beside me in the last 6 months can attest that my faith is no longer a part of my life. It died with our marriage. I have no intention of finding it again, as I said you proved to me that prayers are entirely aimless.
Do I share the loss of life? The innocent baby that you took in one of your blind rages against me. Do I share that the miscarriage was a direct result of your kicking me in the stomach as I lay helpless on the ground in terror. Your hands choking me while you remind me again that you have the power to take my life.
Do I speak to him about the moment your college friend shared her sisters story with me. That her sister died a the hands of her abuser. Your friend, not mine, your college friend quite possibly saved my life that night that she shared that story. Your own friends were in fear for my life. After all, they know you.
Do I share with the courts what living with you was actually like? That the phrase “walking on egg shells” doesn't even begin to do justice to what it was like living with you. Never knowing what bruise I was going to wear that day, just knowing there would be one, and it would be over something insignificant. It would be for any small excuse you could find to justify marking my body just one more time.
DoI share with them that in our home, there was no yelling and screaming back and forth, there was no “fighting” because fighting wasn’t an option. It’s impossible to say I provoked the anger or the abuse because I was so terrified of you… you made it abundantly clear that any form of “fighting back” would not be tolerated. That if I made the choice to defend myself, it would be the very last choice I made.
You made it very clear and ensured that I knew that if I dared to raise my voice or fight back in any way shape or form, I would die that day. No question.
There are those very unhealthy relationships where both parties are combative. That is NOT the case in ours. I would have never survived a slip like that. I would not have lived to hug my children the next morning had I ever dared to raise so much as an eye brow in your direction. Everyone who knows you, who was living with us at the time knows I was terrified beyond the ability to even speak up for myself. It simply wasn’t an option in our home. To survive I had to play by your rules, keep in line, not upset you, tip toe and live with the sure understanding that at any moment if you wanted to, you would kill me, and it would be quick, and very easy for you. I played by the rules. I remained silent. It was my only option for survival.
Do I share with the courts every single account that you laid your hands on me? I’ve lost count to be honest. Have you? Do you even remember how many times you hurt me?
3 weeks from now…I will have to see your face again, after finally forgetting what it looked like. I will have to hear your voice again, after finally forgetting the sound of it. I will have share publicly and openly the abuse you put me and my daughters through. I will be forced to relive what I have spent the last 6 months desperately trying to forget.
This “open letter” to my husband is not for my husband but for myself. To remind myself that I am strong. That I can see this through to the end. That I survived domestic violence. That I LEFT. I got out! I didn’t stay for years and endure unnecessary trauma or make excuses for him. That I did not deserve it, that I did not ask for it or provoke it. Abuse is 100% the conscious choice of the abuser.
I am fully aware of what victim shaming feels like. I’ve learned from those ignorant enough to try to convince me that the abuse must have happened because I wasn’t a “good wife” or because I must have “made him angry” enough to hurt me. Or whatever other nonsense I’ve been unfortunate enough to hear.
Anyone even half way emotionally intelligent and healthy would understand that in everything, in every moment, WE alone, as individuals control our own bodies. No one else. My husband CHOSE abuse to cope with his anger. My husband made the conscious decision to break the law. Period. He made the choice to abuse. The blame lies 100% solely on him, and him alone. There is always a better way, a better choice, a better thing to do.
He is the leader of the home, he was called to a higher standard. He failed as a husband and a leader. He chose not to lead, but to harm. He chose not to have grace and love, but criticism and spite. He chose the path of our marriage, he drove it into the ground with every decision he made to hit me rather than love and cherish me as he vowed to. Every time he chose to kick me, every decision he made to choke me. Every choice he made to punish me or manipulate me. In all of those moments he had 2 choices facing him, love or hate. In every moment he willingly and knowingly chose hate.
I write this today, because I will not be shamed as a victim. I will not be told or tolerate the idea that this was somehow my fault. I will stand 3 weeks from now share my voice as a survivor of severe domestic violence.
I will share my voice for the very reason I refuse to drop the charges against my husband. If my story helps even just one woman, find her own strength to leave and end the abuse then all of this is worth it. Everything my children and I endured is well worth it, if my story can save just one life.