My abuser was a master of manipulation.
****** Trigger Warnings: suicide, abuse, rape, medical abortion ******
I thought he was very sweet at first, conscientious of my needs, appreciative of my sense of humor and intelligence, and I thought he was witty and silly as well. One thing I didn't like though, was that he was always pushing me to go "the next step in the relationship." Friends warned me that something wasn't right with him, but I didn't see it. I wanted to take it slowly because I'd recently had my fiancé commit suicide a couple years previous and I wasn't entirely over it.
Things were going well, and at the time I was living near the college I was working and going to school at, but it was a particularly bad side of town. One problem was some neighbors next door who on Fridays would have particularly loud and rowdy parties often ending in violence in the night with swears being screamed and loud violent thumps on the wall and the sound of women shouting back. But it was the crummy part of town and the police wouldn't respond to noise complaints.
The turning point for this was one particularly violent party, banging and swearing and screaming going on and the next day the ambulance was there and one of the guys left the apartment in a body bag, he'd overdosed on coke. That was too triggering for me so I finally caved and said I would move in with him.
If there was any decision in my life I could take back, it would have been that one.
Things changed soon after we moved in together. He started to get very dictatorial, deciding which friends I could see and which friends I couldn't, and certainly no male friends. He would go out to the bar with his guy friends but he didn't want me going without him. He was always trying to get me to change my looks, to look more like this mysterious girl he was always talking about, but if mentioned any guy he would throw a fit of controlling jealousy. I decided that I wouldn't stoop to his level though and didn't take his baiting me for jealousy when talking about that girl.
The jealousy got worse and worse. Soon he was opening my mail and any objection on my part would be met with an angry and threatening don't you trust me? He was very quick to temper and I soon found myself being the counterbalance for his emotions, trying to keep him steady. I didn't know at the time that that was abuse, as I had grown up in such an environment and so this kind of controlling, accusational and manipulative behavior was normal for me.
Things got really strange when I learned that he was telling people that I was crazy and he was “helping” me. I was some kind of poor incompetent that he had taken under his wing by the good graces of his heart and was helping me with some kind of concocted mental disorder.
The jealousy started getting worse and worse. I began to suspect that he liked being angry, and I would do my best to walk on eggshells when he was like that and not add to his moodiness. I didn’t know that I had fallen into the trap of the abuse, where he was holding me accountable for his emotions.
He made up stories, things that people were supposedly saying about me behind my back, and started to speak jealously of people he imagined I was with previous to our dating. I said that even if these things were true, which they weren’t, what I did prior to our relationship wasn’t any of his business. He made me out to be a real slut and that made me resent him.
Of course this feeling of resentfulness of the distrust, the invasion of my personal privacy and the uncalled for accusations made me less attracted to him and I didn’t enjoy being with him. He started to insult me in bed, saying that certain parts of my body "could be better" and really micro analyzing my imperfections. That made me feel horrible about myself and I wanted to be with him even less.
The strangling began to happen. It started with him just putting his hands firmly on my shoulders and him staring into my eyes trying to get some sort of reaction from me. He would shake me and spittle would hit my face and he would tell me that I’m ugly, that I will never find anyone better than him and that my hair will fall out and I’ll go bald and that I was crazy and I should be grateful for him to be helping me. I asked him what exactly he was helping me with and that made him more enraged. Back then no one knew about “Rage Addiction”.
He interpreted my not wanting to “go upstairs” with him as me being interested or seeing someone on the side and he started to micromanage my life. The only place I could go without his scrupulous eye was to the stable to ride my horse, and I spent more and more time there.
The accusations became more and more outlandish and he would report that he had been telling his friends about our private life, which I said I was very uncomfortable with and I didn’t want him doing. He would tell me all these things while he was on top of me, making me very uncomfortable and hating having to be under him. I would stare at the clock and time would stretch out to unbearable lengths, but fortunately he only lasted about 6 agonizing minutes.
The shaking turned to strangling, and I would drift off and dissociate. I didn’t want him to know that what he was doing affected me, an unhealthy coping mechanism that I’d learned from my dysfunctional family. I didn’t know what else to do. My lack of response would only add flames to the fire and the screaming and the choking and the shaking became worse and more frequent.
I called my parents. He had said he had been keeping in touch with my parents, which I thought was odd, but I didn’t dare question him. “I need some money for a damage deposit to get out of there’” I told my mom. She said that she didn’t think it was an emergency and that I had chosen my bed and I must now sleep in it. That’s not even what that saying means. I didn’t have a crystal ball to know that he would slowly develop into this crazy power tripper. I realized I was on my own. He’d drained my bank account so I was unable to get out independently.
It became “go upstairs or get strangled.” He said he wasn’t an abuser because he didn’t hit, and that’s true, he didn’t hit. He did everything else in the book though.
“Going upstairs” became scary. I couldn’t take the pill and he started to refuse to wear protection. I protected myself with contraceptive foam and a diaphragm. I’d tune out and watch the clock so I could go back to my business and he would leave me alone for a couple of days.
Once he was out of his mind, drunk after a night at the bar and he was certain that I’d had a one night stand with a certain guy, and nothing I could say could convince him otherwise. He strangled tighter and tighter, each time screaming in my face about this guy, and I kept stepping back to relieve myself of the pressure on my throat. Soon enough I was back up against the wall and he shook me really hard and my head slammed against the wall. My eyes felt like they were going to pop out and my jaw slammed shut with such violence that it cracked a tooth and I could feel the my throat close up. I told him to stop, that he was hurting me. He ran to the couch sobbing like a little boy for his mommy. “I can’t control you.” He sobbed. “No matter what I do I can’t control you.” I was dumbfounded. “Why would you want to do that?” I asked. Instinct took over at the sight of this pathetic figure bawling his eyes out on the couch and I went over to comfort him. Then I realized how crazy that was, that he’d tried to kill me only a moment before and so I touched his hair and I went up into my bedroom to lie down. (We had separate bedrooms because I didn’t want to have smoke in the place I slept.)
I started to insist that he get therapy for his anger issues and he kept insisting that it was I that was the crazy one, not him. I said it wasn’t about craziness but about his emotional control. Things continued to get worse.
Once, when he started to scream my name, which was the custom when it was time for him to go nuts, I was in my room. I took the top plank from my brick and board bookshelf and jammed it under the doorknob against the carpet as tight as I could. He screamed my name and pounded on the door. “Leave me alone!” I shouted. The door started to shake. And shake with each time he pounded it. He must have been running into it and hitting it with his shoulder. I heard wood crack. I saw the hinges start to come out of the plaster wall and the door splinter off the hinges. The door opened HINGE FIRST. He was I a rage. He took delicate precious objects of mine, like the nautilus shell my dad had bought me, and smashed them on the floor. There was nothing I could do. He raped me in my bed. I didn’t have time to prepare the contraception.
Later, he explained the shattered door away by telling people I was suicidal and he’d saved my life.
Christmas was coming and he would get drunk with his friends more and more frequently. They would watch porn on the TV and I would stay in the basement and use the computer. I could hear their creepy laughter drift into the basement. Then they would go out. Once I went to my car to go and get milk and the air was let out of my cars tire. I was a prisoner in the house.
Our Christmas tree was covered in origami decorations that I’d crafted, complicated designs by John Montroll: dromedary camels and elephants and the like done in foil, some had taken 4 hours a piece to complete. He grabbed the Christmas tree and dragged it outside into the snow up and down the alley, then he came to and was crying and brought the tree back into the house. The candy canes had gotten wet with melted snow and stuck to the foil of the origami, destroying all my handmade ornaments.
The strangling and accusations got worse and worse, him intentionally working himself into a rage so that he could try to intimidate me into having sex with him. He would come home black out drunk. Christmas was coming. I started to fear for my life. I mailed my mom a Christmas ornament that I’d made when I was 8, a horse head candy cane sleeve. It was meant to tell her I was in real trouble, and I asked again for help. It went unheard.
I managed to get away, some people let me stay at their place over Christmas and I rented their basement. He was very sorry and wanted me back. I made an ultimatum and held it, that it would be conditional that he gets help for his anger issues. I told him this in front of his friends. They uncomfortably looked at each other. If they didn’t understand the abuse now, it was becoming clear to them at this point.
I found out I was pregnant. Long before our first time, we’d made a verbal agreement and understanding that because of some injuries I had that I couldn’t take a baby to term or care for an infant. He suddenly became pro-life. He showed me where he’d poked a hole in the diaphragm and had intentionally impregnated me to control me. I told him that that didn’t change the situation and he would have to accept that this pregnancy could not go through because of medical complications, nothing to do with what he wanted.
He stole the papers for the procedure and tried to keep me out of the house by twisting my arm behind the door and trapping my leg I the doorway. I could neither enter nor exit the house, I was jammed in the door with him pulling the door shut on my arm and leg. It started to rain and when a car drove by I would call for help. This was before cell phones so I had no way to get emergency services. We had a battle of strength for 45 minutes with me trying to get the papers until I was able to get out. I was on the front porch and he pushed me off the side and I nearly hit my head on the concrete gutter. I had bruises everywhere. I went to the nearest phone booth and called the police.
I sat in the back of the police car and was assuming they were going to take me to the police station and photograph the bruises. One of the bruises was a perfect imprint of his hand on my upper arm in bruises and around my leg and I was just exhausted and soaking. They retrieved the papers and asked if I wanted to press charges and I said yes that I wanted to do a report and they talked me out of it, saying a criminal charge like that would affect him the rest of his life. Clearly he had worked his charisma on them. “What about my life” I was thinking, and like a burst balloon, the last of my energy went out of my body. Later I noticed that I was soaked with blood, probably the kick and the fall had done damage to the pregnancy.
I lost all faith in the police.
He did many more things than this of course, but at least I managed to get away from him but he stalked me for 2 years following by proxy of the landlady. I went to a class to learn how to stay out of abusive relationships, but I am still learning to this day.
The injuries to my neck still remains injured, I had to have the cracked tooth removed and I got entrapped nerves in my neck and now it has developed painful bony lipping in the vertebrae, some is posterior, in the hole the spinal cord will go though. I will always have to relive this with the constant pain.
I've never cried from this.