I have a MS degree, had a career, married a CEO of a well-known company, lived in a gorgeous home in an affluent neighborhood, drove a nice car and was living the American dream…it seemed. For 10 of my 13 years of marriage I was also being physically, emotionally and financially abused. After 3 years of marriage my husband made me stop working and stay at home “where women are meant to be.” Everyday I was either beaten, slapped, pushed, kicked, cursed at, belittled or locked in a storage room above our second floor that had a toilet, sink and a mattress on the floor. He installed one of those deadbolt locks on the door that could only be opened from the outside with a key.
The day I left was not planned. I tried leaving him a few times before but he would find me either at my mom’s, my sister’s or a friend’s house and woo me back with his apologies, which always included tears, roses and a gift from Tiffany & Co. I made myself believe that this time would be different and I’d go back. The beatings usually resumed after about 3 or 4 months of ‘honeymoon.’ After about 6 years he made me cut off all contact with family and friends.
Although my husband was a prominent businessman, he was also a functioning drug addict. He used to limit his drinking and use of cocaine to weekend parties with friends but had begun using everyday for about 3 months, forcing me to join him. I refused at first and would be beaten until I gave in. After daily use of this powerful drug even I succumbed to its seductive charm and stopped refusing. This particular day, while we were using, he grabbed my arm and I jerked away, knocking the drugs onto the floor. He beat and kicked me so severely I passed out and as I was coming to, he kicked me in the head and said he was leaving out to replenish his drug supply. He grabbed me by the neck with both hands, choking me as he lifted me up from the floor with a rage in his eyes I’d never seen before and said, “When I return, this will be your last day living” slammed me against the wall and then dragged me upstairs by my hair and pushed me into the storage room.
Normally, whenever he left he would lock me in, double checking the door because sometimes it wouldn’t lock. This time, however, he forgot to check it. Quietly, I listened until I heard him leave and then waited another 10 minutes to make sure he wasn’t coming back. I checked the door, saw that it didn’t lock and at that moment I decided to leave.
Running down the stairs I stopped briefly to wipe the blood from my face, ran to grab a small bag that contained my identification, credit cards and money. I checked to see if he left the keys to my car… He didn’t, so I peeked out the window to make sure he wasn’t, coming, opened the front door and I ran with nothing but the clothes I had on, leaving behind everything that I used to think was important.
I ran for about 6 blocks, staying away from major streets, thinking he might drive down them. Running down side streets and alleys, I made it to a small church. The door was open and I went inside were a lady sat, praying. Crying, hysterically, I told her what happened and she took me in her arms and held me close, like a mother comforting her child. I was in a lot of pain so she drove me to the hospital where they treated me for two broken ribs, a fractured hand, a gash in my head that required 21 stitches, my lip required 6 stitches, cuts and bruises on my face legs and back. When I was released the lady took me back to the church and let me stay there, sleep there for about 2 weeks until a domestic violence advocate came for me.
Was leaving hard? Yes, it was very hard. I moved away from family, friends, where I’d lived all my life and I’ve lived in 4 different states since then off money I had in my savings account until he cancelled my cards and removed my name from the account. I still struggle financially and emotionally but I have counselors and friends who help me get through the rough parts. I now live in an apartment for transitional housing and receive government assistance…Something I never thought I’d have to depend on.
Its been 10 months since I left and it gets easier with each day that passes. I was in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for 6 months due to Major Depressive Episodes (MDE) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which helped me deal with fear and anxiety. I’m currently in physical therapy due to the damage done to my hand, which has recovered about 90% of normal use, and I go to Cocaine Anonymous (CA) meetings to help me with those urges that present themselves every now and then. I’m also working part-time helping families in crisis and plan to go full-time after I’m released from doctor’s care.
If I could change anything it would’ve been to leave him years ago and never look back. In hindsight, I wish I’d asked someone for help, made plans, saved money, been more prepared. I wish my family and friends would have come for me despite his demand that they stay away. I could go on and on in the ‘if only I’d done this’ but what good would it do? The important thing is that I left him and I now live an abuse free life.
– Written by Emma