I filed for Divorce after leaving him, and although I was scared he would try to hurt me I knew at least I didn’t need to worry about wanting him back. I no longer feared myself and the insanity that was battered woman syndrome, I was more than done. I realized that no matter what anyone said or tried to do to me. I was more than someone’s opinion of who they thought I was. I had always worried about what other people thought of me and listen to other voices other than the voice inside of me, I think mostly because it just wasn’t strong and loud enough to be heard.
I moved in with a friend I met in counseling at the abuse shelter, all was well and with my new found freedom it was a life full of laughter and new friends, I had a chance for relaxation. I didn’t have to answer to anyone. Us girls would stay up late and watch the happenings of the neighborhood from our front porch. I met a few guys but really wasn’t interested in having a relationship with anyone. Robert was a little different, well about 6’5” 400 lbs of muscle different.
Yeah I was smitten but tried not to get much attached. I just liked looking at the big guy. And he also was in the middle of settling here in Evansville. I do not think either of us was really looking for love, it was more like companionship, and I had become good friends with his bothers wife so we spent a lot of time together.
The divorce ran smoothly, Judge gave me custody and Chris got visitation, starting that day. “OMG!” did the judge not get the memo? He was an abusive husband! The judge felt that Chris’ jobs and responsibilities were enough to prove he was not a flight risk and that his history of abuse was isolated to me. Supervised visitation was reserved for parents that were abusive to their kids or neglect them.
My roommate waited with me at the apartment for Chris to come and pick up my son, I stood at the door not letting him in but had everything ready for him. Chris was happy to see his son and happy to have in some way won. He reached out to hold him and I wanted to stop him. I wanted to scream and take my son back but I forced myself to stay calm. I told myself “It will be ok; he will be back in 6 hours”. He drove off and my roommate got ready to leave to, she had to be at work and wished she could have consoled me, but really, this is just another something I was going to have to deal with on my own.
I was straightening the house after she left when there was a knock on the door. I thought maybe it was Robert or maybe my sister. The thought never accured to me that it was going to be Chris, but as I opened the door I had little time to regret not looking out the peep hole first, he pushed his way in the door as I tried to force it shut. He grabbed me by my hair and just started dragging me to the car. I saw Robert and his brother standing by their door just watching, no expressions, not even surprised on their faces as he shoved me in the car and shut the door. Child proof locks in the back door kept me from opening it and I struggled to kick at the door and window. I just kept thinking someone would call the police….. No one called the police.
He took me to his empty house he had rented in My Vernon when we separated and I noticed that among the trash laying around were a knife, duck tap and a lot of chemicals. I was screwed. He was going to kill me. Well, not just kill me that would be easy, too simple really, no he planned to torture me and he did for hours. I was tied and raped, beaten and threatened. He told me with each blow that he would kill me and with every kiss he swore he loved me. I do not remember most of what happened. I know there were several time he threw water on me and a few times that I woke with him shacking me. But I do not remember the pain, or any crying and begging. It was like watching a movie. I saw what was happening but it didn’t feel like it was me.
Chris left me in that empty house, I believe he left thinking I was dead, he took my son and ran with him to Michigan. I woke in the dark, crawled to the door and fell down the stoop where the neighbor saw me and called for help. The police had their hands tied, with Chris leaving out of state and not having proof what direction he went. it was hard to say who to contact. The judge had given Chris visitation after all, maybe he would return, but without a testimony from a witness that I was even taken against my will, the court was stuck in legalities.
I got a phone call from Chris, I assume he was hoping to get an answering machine or perhaps a grieving family member that would inform him of my demise but I answered and his surprise silence was enough to give me the upper hand. I told him that we were in the process of getting all the evidence to charge him with kidnapping, attempted murder and child abducting. I of course was bluffing, I had no idea what charges were going to be made, I just wanted to plant thoughts in his mind that I would make sure he never lived a normal life with my child. “Just give me our son back and I can make it all go away”
Now on saying that, let me express a belief I have. When there is nowhere to turn there is always faith, if not the faith that good will happen to good people there is always the faith that bad will happen to bad people. I had paid my lawyer cash, but Chris had left not paying his lawyer a dime, so with two lawyers on my side and a judge that now was embarrassed that his very statement of not feeling Chris was a flight risk was wrong. The added guilt of seeing my battered face standing before them, they were able to give me paperwork I needed when I went to Michigan showing that I had sole custody and Chris had no rights. But it was all for nothing if I didn’t know where he was.
In the one year from giving birth to havening him taken from me and attempting to get him back I had gained a total of 100 lbs. I never questioned how it happened (I ate). Why I let it happen only surfaced years later but I think is important to this part of the story. I gained weight so Chris and other men would not want me anymore. Chris and felt it was necessary to tell me he never wanted me to be big and I always did battle with a big hipped shape. It was easy to become large and there was a little bit of satisfaction in knowing Chris’ attempt to keep me thin even at pregnancy horrible failed.
After almost a month of talking on the phone and getting his agreement that I could come and get my son, he was not about the leave the safety of his state. I took a bus to Lansing Michigan and waiting him to bring our son, but he never came. Only hours later when I started thinking I was going to have to call the police and start the search the hard way, did he show up. His excuse was that there was a time difference, but I knew the reason, he wanted to make sure I was alone and not a police ambush waiting.
He didn’t bring our son, and he insisted that I come and stay the night with him at his aunt’s house. He said I could leave tomorrow. I reluctantly did so, I was told, before I had gotten the proper paper work that I needed to have physical, hands on custody to get my son back. I didn’t know that changed when the lawyers made up a new custody papers. I stayed there for three day waiting to be left alone with my son. They never did and when I had my things stolen, and my paperwork. Chris made it quite clear that I was no longer what he wanted and there was no way we were going to be a family nor would I ever have a chance to take his son from him. I gave up and called the police, only to have him and our child be gone when the officers got there. They took me to an abuse shelter.
I waited for my mother to fax another copy from the lawyer’s office. But there was an advantage to staying at Chris’ aunt’s house. I knew the name for everyone that lived there and there was record that I was picked up from there by the police.
Meanwhile my stay at the shelter had is moments. The day I checked in a woman’s wallet was stolen, and even as I sat in the office they stared at me and whispered. “I didn’t steel anything, I have nothing coming in this place and I will leave with nothing!” I laughed a bit to myself when they suggested I get strip searched. I knew they could not force me but then again this was a building full of women that thought I was a thief, better I just ease their fears and accept the search.
The day Manager of the shelter took me in the bathroom as I stripped in front of her, I handed her my cloths piece by piece and I asked her if she needed to look in my cavities. She laughed it off and gave me my cloths back “They don’t pay me enough for that” you are good.
I stood in front of them all and looked each in the eye. “You don’t know me, I am not from here and I did that because you needed proof, but I am not a thief and if you learn nothing about me, you at least know that” they all slowly left the office, some lingered to apologies other still started like I was an outsider but I didn’t care, I wasn’t going to be there long enough to worry about making friends. I was given the rules and responsibilities, told when my chores were to be done and handed a set of sheets and a cover. I was given a short tour and showed my room that I shared with one of the women that stared me down only moments ago.
I chose not to talk at diner, I kept to myself, I listened while others spoke in group counseling, and that I night I couldn’t sleep. I had gotten the papers sent to the shelter and with their legal aid counselor’s help we called the police. The officers took one look at the papers and had issues on whether it was the jurisdiction of county, city or state police.
SO THEY ALL CAME!
They waited a few blocks over and had me call the house to see if he was home and he answered the phone, I could hear my son in the back ground crying while the officer listen on the other line. I heard him give the ok and in seconds the whole block and surrounded blocks was fender to fender police. Some even were off duty and just came to join in the fun; they all stood around laughing and comparing why they wanted to see this. A female police officer stood by me and reassured me all would be fine, that “they didn’t really need this many officers”.
The story had gotten out through all the departments of what he did, and what I had gone through. She put her hand on my shoulder when I saw him step out of the house with my son; she asked “Are you ok?” I looked away feeling ill at the site of him and when I looked down I saw the officer’s gun, unsnapped in her holster, just inches away from my hand……
Oh tell me you were not thinking the same thing, tell me right now as you read this you aren’t wishing to hear I took that gun and shot him dead. I wanted to, I wanted nothing more than to take that gun and shot him once for every time he ever hit me, called me a whore or a bitch. There were not enough bullets in that gun or in all the guns from all the officers packed full on the block that day to appease this desire. I stilled myself and watched him getting arrested and the officer walk to me with my child.
Back at the shelter everyone fell in love with my son and they made sure and took me to a storage room full of cloths and toys that had been donated, I found cloths for him and me, a suit case and few toys. I was willing to take a bus home in a week but my mother drove 14 hours to get us. It was a long trip back home I felt guilty for all my parents had to go through because of me. I remembered how I heard some of the women in counseling had no one to support them. They were in the relationships because many came from the same abuse since childhood. I had no excuses, I was never abused as a child, I had a wonderful childhood and never wanted for anything. Any problems I had with self-esteem were all in my head. I was the only one to blame for the troubles I got myself into. I am not going to say I wasn’t to some extent a victim of circumstance, but aren’t we all?
We live our lives according to the test we are faced with. How we react to these tests determines pass or fail, and what lessons we learned. Had a pasted this test? Or did I just get by barely from a fail. I was 21 a single mother, uneducated with no real skills and no self-esteem. I had a lot against me.
There is more to come.
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