As I sit tonight and read so many articles, tears just stream down my face. There are so many memories and so much pain in our lives. My story is a very long story of abuse. I wouldn’t know where to begin, and many things I would wish not divulge to so many people. My name is Samantha and I am thirty-four years old. I have three children, and have lost everything in my life due to abusive men. Trust me, it’s a very long story.
What I can share with you is that I was adopted at a very young age (I was six), before that was a nightmare, and most of it I don’t remember. As I resided with my new family, it was better than my younger years, but the emotional, some physical, and mental abuse was still there. I had grown all of my life with abuse, and did not know how that had trained me to be a constant victim in my life. I have had nightmares all of my life and I still have nightmares to this day. In fact, I still cannot lie down to get a decent nights rest.
By the time I met my first husband to be, we dated and he treated me with the same courtesy that I had grown up with. I had no idea what was in store for me, but I was young and I was living on my own. Instead of feeling as I had the whole world at my feet, I felt like I needed constant protection. I need someone to take care of me. My idea of love was of course all wrong. I found out I was pregnant when I was twenty, the same day I was supposed to sign my papers, as I was enlisting into the Air Force. I explained to my recruiting officer my situation, and as he explained that I would have to leave my infant with a trusted family member for a certain amount of time, I could not hear anything else that was coming out of his mouth after that, I was in shock. There was no way in hell I was going to give this baby up for the same courtesy that was bestowed upon me.
I never enlisted into the Air Force; instead I was stuck in a small town. With no past adult support, no future support, I was more lost than ever. I was so scared and once again, I felt weak and prayed for a solution. As time passed, I finally had the nerve to tell my fiancé that I was pregnant. I did get a good beating, but I was so numb inside. It really didn’t hurt anymore. I had learned “not to feel” and I am sure you all understand how that feels. He took me to a relative’s house and threw my clothes in the road, we exchanged choice words. I remember sitting there asking myself, why no one could ever just love me?
I was alone and depressed, time went on and I started a nanny position in exchange for housing and food. I had given birth to our daughter, but I was smart, I didn’t put him on the birth certificate. That made him very angry, but little to my knowledge, he had devised a plan. His family frowned up on their son, having a “bastard family.” So they encouraged him to be nice and get me to marry him. I married this man, because I was scared and I had no where to go, no money, no job, and a new baby. Most of all he gave me what I knew best. Abuse.
That’s when the “pooh” hit the fan. I spent the next two years in turtle neck sweaters, in the hospital a few times. At one point we didn’t have food for quite a long time. He would eat at a relative’s house, one of his choice punishments. I was changing clothes at my sister’s house one day, as my daughter spit up her formula on my shirt. I was ninety pounds and nothing but bruises. She opened the door and started crying and yelling. I was being starved for my punishment; I explained and was not allowed to eat. I had let our daughter get an ear infection; she was not sleeping, only crying. So my husband could not sleep, he sent me to stay at my sisters for an afternoon, so I could sleep. I was dying and I wanted to die. I was so tired. Tired of being beat, tired of my life, tired of not sleeping, tired of not eating, and just plain tired. I didn’t care anymore. If this is what life had to offer me, then I don’t want it anymore.
In the midst of devising a plan to get away from this person, a miracle happened. I got a great job, from his boss. I always had to have lunch with him. If I didn’t I was cheating. If I was five minutes late from the grocery store, I was cheating. I had no phone, no car, no money, as he controlled every aspect of my life: my clothing, my friends, and my family. But this is how I grew up. This is what I knew. His boss gave me a job, in another town.
This is how I left: By this time, I had two daughters. I packed two garbage bags full of our clothes and hid them in the closet. When he came home, I explained that I was taking out the trash, and then I asked if I could have the keys to take our daughter to the hospital. That would buy me time. He agreed and we drove off and never went back. The next morning I went to the courthouse to put a restraining order on him. I never went back, I did think about it so many times. I didn’t know how to live. It sounds silly but I truly did not know what to do if someone didn’t tell me. He had me so programmed to his needs.
That is when we are the most vulnerable. I wish I could say the abuse stopped there, but did you know that abused women seek abusive relationships. (Have you ever felt like a loser magnet?) I know that now, but how was I to know that then, unless someone told me? I did not know how to think for myself. I still have a hard time with that, but now I am seeking out group support. There truly is not much that I have not gone through in my life. There isn’t. If you think of a scenario, it has happened to me. I have been shot at, held at gun point, stabbed, run over, and the list goes on and on. I would say that I am very lucky for my children’s sake. They are as well; I am very blessed to have such wonderful, beautiful children. I have kept them away from all abusive situations, leading two separate lives, as I was an exotic dancer. Live in one town, and work in another. I finally had financial freedom; at least I didn’t have to live with a man for money.
I had to quit, two years ago. I couldn’t take any of it anymore. The pain from the customers accompanied by the pain from my past, it was enough. I have been abuse free for a year now. I still cannot sleep. I still wake in the night screaming and trembling. Some nights I do not sleep, for fear I will wake up and someone will be there. I do not recommend anyone being an exotic dancer, it is the most undesired, disrespectful, and most grueling job I have ever had. I have almost died several times from that position. I got out because my best friend was murdered by my customer. In that line of work, you are surrounded by loss, grief, depression, and so many other things. It was what kept me from living with another abusive man. I was free. Or we were free from abuse in the home.
I still cannot have a normal relationship, because I treat men, the way I have been treated. Now I am the abuser. Not physically, but perhaps emotionally. I cannot trust and I cannot go on, always remembering, always grieving quietly and secretly to myself. Wondering, what now? How do I treat a spouse, how do I treat the enemy? It is a learning process. A healing process with the ability to be able to forgive yourself and not so much others. Forgiving yourself is the first step and realizing none of this is your fault. Get over being ashamed of yourself, be strong, and say, I can do this on my own, I just need help! Find a way to think for yourself, everyday. Start off slow, when you have those five minutes in the shower think, “The first step is knowing you need to leave.” Then the next day, think of a way to do it. Pick a date and plan it out. Be strong, know that you can do this, no matter how often you are threatened or the famous, “No matter where you go, I will find you …” You don’t need the abuse anymore. But most importantly, know that you deserve better. YOU DO.
Don’t wait until it’s too late, and staying with an abusive person for the kids, is the worst mistake you can make. You can live without the abuse, make sure you tell yourself that, repeat it over and over until you believe it. You are not addicted to the man, you are addicted to the abuse, its reliable, it’s not the kind of attention you need in your life. There is love out there, and you do deserve it. No matter how many times he says, “No one else will love you. Or no one can love you the way I do, or no one will want you because you are so stupid, or you have kids,” … the list goes on. There are men out there that will love you for the beautiful person you are inside. And they don’t care what baggage you bring, they just want to care and love.
My life … I have shared only a crumb, but I hope it helps someone. If you are out there, and you know who you are, remember you are not alone. There are people, like me out here that care about you. After all, we are family bonded by the emotional ghosts of our pasts. Find a shelter and make a plan. Then leave and never look back. Get help, by talking a lot. That will help. Don’t be ashamed of the pain or hide the truth. Let it out and talk. The sooner you see that none of this is your fault, and there are people who care. The sooner you get to live free and you can look in the mirror again.
I just wanted you to know, that I care when you have been told for so long, that no one else does. Stop believing the abuser, and start believing in yourself. I hope my life … my brief story has helped someone. I believe in you, now believe in yourself.