Teela Hart

Surviving Domestic Violence

The Nature of Innocence

Innocence Lost


I have said many times that I would never be with a man who abuses me. As a nurse, my training taught me to recognize the signs of abuse; as an ER nurse, I had occasionally cared for abused women (not that domestic violence is a respecter of either sex).

I employed educational materials and I prepared a “one size fits all” speech completely bereft of first-hand knowledge, and gladly so.  I was innocent to the trappings of Domestic Violence.

I understood the physiological outcome of domestic violence easily enough and I believed that I understood the psychology behind the abused and the abuser. I followed protocol in expediting cases of domestic violence with empathy and compassion.  It had been my experience, unfortunately, that the abused returned to the abuser. My intellect could effectively deduce those reasons; however, I could never get a tight rein on the workings of the deadly cycle.

Any self-respecting emergency care worker knows that a full moon invites all sorts of characters to the ER.  The graveyard shift had run amuck with code blue calls, gunshot wounds, and shackled prisoners from the local jailhouse.  The ambulance bay had more traffic than the bypass at rush hour.  Rounding my twelfth consecutive hour, I was looking forward to using the bathroom (bathroom privileges are not always guaranteed) and going home to the man of my dreams for some much needed down time. 

We will call him “Jon.” Jon and I met at church; I had known his family for years before we met.  Jon’s sister-in-law informed me, one Sunday morning, that he wanted to meet me and before my inner gatekeeper could assemble a proprietary lock-down, the word “sure” escaped my lips like a desperate criminal. A demanding nursing career, coupled with two small children, left the proverbial totem pole without a ‘dating’ sign; in fact, I vaguely remember deciding not to put it on the totem pole at all.  Yet, there I was, giving my consent. 

At the time, I was very strong in my faith and all the outward appearances proved Jon to be a decent man in his thirties with a heart for the Lord.  Humble, seemingly shy, extremely polite, and handsomely chivalrous all described him to a tee. 

I walked through the automatic doors into the humid night air; the wind whooshed around my body as tresses of hair overcome by the blast whipped my face. My scrub top tugged to the left from my pocket being loaded down with surgical tape, hemostats, various pens and notes. I leaned against the concrete support, lit a much-needed cigarette, and deliberately took a long drag while massaging my neck.   A lab tech, getting off work at the same time, stopped to exchange small talk about the night when Jon arrived.  We had only been married a few weeks and I was looking forward to seeing him.

Worn from the trials of the night, I flopped into the seat of the car, leaning in for a kiss at the same time.  Jon glared straight ahead, his facial expression intense, and before I could get the door closed, he stomped the gas pedal and chucked me back into my seat.  The force of my body colliding with the back of my seat forced a deep exhale from my lungs.  Shocked into silence, I tried to make sense of what was happening.  Lunging forward I grabbed the door and secured it with a slam.   I gasped, “What is wrong with you, Jon?” Tears welled up in my eyes, a lump formed in my throat and fear began its ugly inception.  

“Who the hell was that? You fuckin’ him? I knew it…I knew I’s gonna’ have trouble with you working with them damn hard-sides….”  By this time, we were on the interstate and my heart was in a power sprint inside my chest; my son and daughter were in the back, in their car seats, screaming bloody murder.  Deciding it was dangerous and futile to engage Jon in this twisted game, I begged him to calm down.  

 Jon continued his verbal assault driving faster than the law allowed.  The man who wooed and doted over me was rapidly devolving from my white knight into a monster.  His anger escalated, he slammed on the breaks, the tires screamed and smoke bellowed from beneath us as the car made a 180.  Facing North on a southbound interstate, at a dead stop, with headlights approaching, terror overcame me. My body was shaking violently; my breath hitched as I tried to stifle my cries and reassure my children that everything was going to be OK.  Grinding the gears, Jon righted the car quickly.  During the rest of the ride home, the kids were silent, I was silent, and Jon was silent.  My whole world changed in a matter of seconds on that night. 

“I will never be with a man who abuses me” played in my mind like a broken record.  The faces of the women I had counseled flashed before my mind’s eye.  In rapid succession, memories of the well-rehearsed speeches I had given, pamphlets, social workers and shelters haunted me.

No longer was I bereft of first-hand knowledge.  In some cruel twist of fate, I found myself no longer innocent to the trappings of domestic violence.  I was now a victim.  Survivor would not become part of my vocabulary until 19 years later.

Author: Teela Hart

I am a mother, daughter, sister and domestic violence survivor.

19 thoughts on “Innocence Lost

  1. Wow, scary stuff. I hope you heal from this and thank God you managed to finally leave. What makes a man do this is beyond me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve written your experiences so poetically that I feel like I have experienced Jon’s love, wrath and abuse with you. A lot of us are taught how to deal with people who have experienced abuse, how not to judge and show compassion, but it is different when you’ve experienced it yourself.

    Also, I think that, whether we are aware of it or not, we rank different forms of abuse on a scale of severity. But verbal abuse needs as much attention as sexual or physical abuse; the scars just aren’t as visible.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences so candidly and poignantly, and may you continue to inspire women and men alike.

    As in you have a kick ass blog!


    • Thank you so much for taking the time to read and sharing so kindly with me.
      Somehow I don’t believe that everyone understands how important it is to me to simply be heard.
      I know that together we can make a difference.

      Even If only one person is reached it is a priceless person who counts a million times over.

      Thank you for following my blog and thank you for being a kick ass listener!!!!!


  3. Strange how they can charm us until we are bound to them and away from our support systems. My “husband of my dreams” turned into my most horrific nightmare the week before our first child was due to be born, beating me so severely I had to have several stitches put into my right temple ….it caused complications giving birth also. So terrifying. But that was a million years ago. A lifetime behind me. I was a lucky one. A smart one who did leave…for good.It took another 4 years. And the final beating within inches of my life to realize he planned to kill me. Thank God. My girls and I made it.


    • Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. There are so many of us out there still suffering and survivors who suffer from PTSD. What you had to go through was horrific and I am doing all in my power to get those stories out there. The silence is the killer. Hopefully if enough of us speak the world will be forced to listen. Thank you for reading. I really appreciate it.


  4. Leave it in the past…


  5. My ex, as I discovered, was unusually risky with everything in his life. The winter night he dragged me out of the house, speeding down dark roads at 90 mph, too busy punching me in the head to watch where he was going… and brought me into a wooded area.

    The day he decided to “open up the car and see what she was capable of” and hit a speed of 124 mph, hit a bump and I felt the car go airborne just long enough that I thought I was going to die… and I spotted a sheriff sitting there waiting for jerks like him to go by. And begged him to slow down because the car was uninsured and the registration suspended because of his drug habit… and it was in my name.

    But I noticed something that I hadn’t before. He no longer needed the drug to get high. His violent, risky behavior was pushing that button and once he found out it did that, that too, became frequent behavior. Stealing did the same thing for him.

    I am sorry that you and the kids were in the car with him that night, and I am further sorry that you now know the intimate dynamics of what victims of domestic violence go through. The important thing is that you got away. Thank you for sharing this.


    • Thank you for sharing your story with me. It means so much that you felt you could share. Until I started this blog I felt alone and isolated. I have discovered here that I am not.


  6. Thank you for sharing this.


    • You are very welcome. Thank you for commenting and following me. Reading one of your posts now!


      • I left a domestic abuse situation almost 6 years ago now, and I attributed many of the reasons for ending up in it to early childhood sex abuse. However it’s somehow comforting (not quite the right word) that perfectly successful women with budding careers, and no prior history of trauma can also be victimized. (Again comforting seems an inappropriate word to use.) It seems an affirmation that despite what we’ve been told, our partener’s (or ex-partener’s) behavior is not our fault.


      • Thank you so much for your comments…I sometimes I still have a very hard time not blaming myself for the events in my marriage, even after a year of freedom. It’s a process I guess. Your support is encouraging and much needed.


  7. Pingback: Sweet Heart Series: Day 2 | Battered Wife Seeking Better Life

  8. Thanks for stopping by my blog, which enabled me to find yours! Like you, I never believed that I could end up in an abusive relationship. I felt I was far too savvy for that, especially since I had the great example of a mother who left my violent father. But, I did. Twice. By the way, fast, dangerous driving is one of the hallmarks of an abuser – designed to intimidate and provoke the fear response.


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