Teela Hart

Surviving Domestic Violence


25 Comments

Alas


I really want to thank all of those who supported me through my somewhat tumultuous situation with the ex, You will never know just how much you all mean to me.

I’m simply writing my thoughts which are a bit odd, but then, I’m a bit odd.

I’ve placed myself in a very small bubble and find myself somewhat lonely.

That’s pretty damn funny ain’t it?

However, I do have a little Janis on the cue to help wash my blues away.

I’m definitely free:

From human contact

Male contact specifically

I believe that’s a topic for another day.being that I’m tipsy ‘n all

My email address has also changed to teelahart@aol.com.

The previous account was compromised.  Go Figure.

I guess I’ll leave you with one of my favorite songs

nomore.org


16 Comments

No More Week


This week is no more week.  I’m asking sister survivors, fellow bloggers and friends to please help spread the word and stop the violence.  You can follow nomore.org on twitter @nomoreorg and FB.

Let’s join the thunderclap.  Raise awareness, raise your voice and stop the violence.

I say no more because for 19 years I didn’t.  This silence was a detriment to myself and my family.   It is my duty as a survivor to help others realize and understand domestic violence is a cancer that will continue to proliferate and destroy the very fabric of our society.

Why do you say no more?

nomore.org

nomore.org


40 Comments

Hell Is Too Good For You!!!!!!!!


Faded denim jeans, black T, work boots and an Allman Brother’s cap fit like a glove to his 6′ frame. With a god-like stride, he strutted the halls, the kitchen, and the bedrooms all the while barking orders like a dog strait out of hell. “Git yur shit packed, everythin’, I don’t wana see anything lef’ within viewing distance.”

M, my daughter, inconsolable, gathered her clothes, stuffed animals, and any toys she could manage to carry  Her “I love Daddy” t-shirt stained with spaghetti sauce and matching shorts crumpled and  wet with tears stuck to her little body.  R, trembling, tears tracing the creases in his strained face obeyed, no questions asked. Their hearts ripped from their chests, their trust forever broken they made their way to the living room and awaited further instruction. They cried, begged and pleaded with Jon to let them stay, however, their pleas had no effect on Jon’s stone cold heart.

“Now git out.” Disbelief consumed my oldest son who had been staying with us at the time. He helped the children 11 and 9 years old. Carey glanced over at Jon and Jon gave him a little smirk. My son ignored him and continued to the car that he had finally loaded with everything they owned.  In the matter of a moment he nonchalantly approached the car.

“Get outta that fuckin’ car, unpack yur shit, and let that be a lesson to ya.  Without me you ain’t nothin’ and you ain’t got nothin’.

At the time, I was at the Domestic Violence Center gathering every  little bit and piece of information I could to plan my escape. I had no idea this had taken place until a few days ago.

hell

hell

I am convinced hell wouldn’t even have this sorry excuse for a human. I’m not even sure that son-of-a-bitch is human at all and I am certain hell would be too good for him.


19 Comments

Deaf Ears


Crying

Crying

I called to wish you a happy birthday today and the words “I love you” fell on deaf ears.

The bruises I took for you.

The rants I endured for you.

The hundreds of times I defended you.

The hours I held your hand when you gave birth to your son; my grandson.

The hours I spent defending the hateful accusations hurled at you.

The agony I feel as he plays his games with you.

The pain in my heart will never leave me

Until I hear “I love you too”


57 Comments

Silence Is Deadly


http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=death%20clock&pc=conduit&ptag=A8FE4BCE7BDDC43E78BF&form=CONBNT&conlogo=CT3210127#view=detail&id=31FCA0540D1DE21718F3F1445A01A8A469D4C71F&selectedIndex=6

Silence is Deadly

As a newborn, you cry loudly with your first breath and grip your mother’s hand for the first time; your first bond continues its formation. As an infant, you absorb the world, learn and grow. You learn to roll over, pull up, crawl and walk. Your first birthday is celebrated with grandeur. Your relationships expand as you explore your great big world. You change, adapt and weave yourself into friendships.

Your voice is heard.

At 13, you are officially a teen. At 16, you are now a licensed driver. At 18, you are now officially an adult and graduate from high school and go to college.  At 21 you can go to a bar or club, join the military and vote.  At 22, you graduate from college, get your first job, and become a contributing member of society.

Your voice is heard.

In this short span of time, every achievement is met with jubilance; shouts from the mountaintops pierce the veil of silence as you are celebrated for each accomplishment. Acceptance is your reward.

Your voice is heard.

You have discovered right from wrong, the things that are accepted, and the things that are not. You have experienced, in relationships with others, that some will thrive and some will fail. You will feel the sting of rejection, heartache and pain. You will know what it is to succeed as well as fail.

Sometimes silence is preferred.

Failure elicits disappointment while ability is met with credence. Grievances, undoubtedly meet with disdain, while molding into your surroundings connects with respect.

Silence is beneficial.

You never desired to see the person you confide in reflect any sort of disappointment or derision.  You never made it your life’s mission to display your dirty laundry, your insolvencies or your mistakes.

You are silent.

Tell me, when you feel intimidated, do you speak up? When you are bullied is speaking out your first course of action? Let me ask you this. When the one you love and trust, the one you give yourself to with complete abandon tells you that you are no one, nothing, mental or unstable, do you believe them? I mean really, you have never known this degree of evil.  Will you be able to recognize it when you see it?  Are you confused?

Silence.

In any case, let’s bring the deadliest enemy to the forefront. Suppose you have voiced resistance to intimidation, bullying, shame, violence, hurt or pain, did your confidante really listen? Did they believe you? Did anyone offer viable solutions?

Silence is solidified.

Your heart, mind, body and soul is caged like a wild animal and you reciprocate by acting like one. You know nothing but obedience or reprisal. No one hears your cries of desperation; they turn a blind eye and may even take the side of your captor out of fear of retribution themselves. Your life’s spirit now sucked from you and into the vacuum of a soulless being, you give up the fight.

It is now time to die by either his hands or your own.

Silence is deadly.



hiding


21 Comments

One Day


“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Befalling freedom from my abuser was taxing; the road paved with falling rocks and repeated avalanches of emotion. I had unchained my physical body from his grasp. I was fortunate to have escaped with my life and the lives of my children. We enjoyed a stress free, perpetual vacation to various places, taking pictures and producing videos of our excursions for a solid summer season.

Upon our return home, we were evicted due to the loss of an income, but that was ok, I told my children. The end of one thing always means the beginning of a new thing. And in our case, it meant the beginning of a brand new life, uncontrolled by bitterness and anger. They seemed to be happy with that.

Move number one:

We moved into a four-room house with my mother . It was painful, but I felt semi-safe. She lived at the end of a dead end road and my heart raced at every car that headed our way. I was nervous and jittery with every door slam or horn blow or any other random noises I couldn’t identify. The phone rang and my heart sank…every time.

No worries, I told myself. I have a restraining order, mace, a bat, a knife, a phone, and I never slept when everyone else did. Someone had to stand guard. My hands shook with every minute movement, breathing was shallow and rapid, but that was no problem. I could handle that compared to what I had to reckon with prior to my escape.

Move number two:

Enthusiastic to find a new home, we searched until we found the perfect home; the last house on the left, on 13th street. (I think there are horror movies about this but I’m not superstitious) I purchased an alarm system, dolled up the house, brought a little of the old into the new, the mace, the bat, the knife, and the phone and lay claim to our new home.

I triple checked the windows and doors to be sure they were locked and set the alarm. I lay on the couch with my various weapons listening intently to every noise the house made in order to be at ease when heard repeatedly. I was as someone “hopped up” on crack, peeking out windows, walking the halls repeatedly checking on the kids. Nevertheless, that was ok I could handle it.

It took about three weeks before finally resigning to sleep in my bed. My nightly ritual of checking windows, setting the alarm, strategically placing the mace, the bat, the knife and the phone in the place my abuser would have slept continued. However, that was ok I could handle it.

It has been an entire year now yet still the ritual continues. The phone rings; my heart stops. A knock at the door; my heart stops. The sound of a car pulling into my driveway; my heart stops. A noise in the night; my heart stops. A flashback dream; my heart stops.

The question that really governs my mind is this. When will my heart stop stopping?

New beginnings are wonderful. Added anxiety of constant emotional, verbal, financial, mental and physical abuses are no more. Instead of the wonderment I expect, continued fear is what I receive.

My former life once filled with independence, freeness of heart, fun, spontaneity, and always on the go no longer exists.  I find myself now bound to the solitude of my new home.  I grieve deeply for that part of me that is now a stranger. My soul traverses between bargaining, anger, depression, and denial. However, I cannot make the leap to acceptance. One day maybe. One day.

gun


23 Comments

One of Our Sons


The definition of faith according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is the belief with strong conviction in a system of religious beliefs; belief and trust in and loyalty to God.

Lofty and boisterous, the pastor’s voice boomed through the silent congregation.  “God protects us, He protects our children.”

The church phone rings, the pastor, unaffected, continues his discourse.

Mary runs to answer the phone.  “Nooooooo!!!”  Her cries guttural and agonizing.

I leapt from my seat and ran to Mary discovering her collapsed on the floor, her words incoherent.

“What Mary, I screamed, what happened!?”

“He’s been shot!”  “He’s been shot in the head!”

“Who!?”  “Who’s been shot!?”

“David!”

The carefully laid foundation of my faith came crashing down like thunder rolling across a stormy sky.  My world was spinning, everything around me faded away, my legs failed me and I tumbled onto the floor alongside Mary.  My lungs were in a vice, I could not breathe.  There are no words to describe the grief that consumed me.

Within seconds, which seemed like hours, the congregation surrounded us trying to uncover the cause of the terror that had disabled us.  Their words reverberated as if through water, I could not comprehend what they were saying.  My vision was blurred; I could hear my heartbeat in my ears.  I was in a perpetual state of complete confusion.  My words stifled by something I cannot explain.

“God, God, God, where are you!?”  I bellowed as Jon carried me out of the church.

The visitor’s room was cold and unappealing.  Mary with her tear stained face sat across from me moving back in forth in her chair chanting repeatedly, “God please let him live, God please let him live.”

Karen, her eyes dilated and swollen, sat beside me with the look of shock on her face.

David’s parents (my brother and sister-in-law) were out of town and had been notified, however, had not yet arrived.

The heaviness in the room was crippling as we awaited the doctor’s arrival.

Heart wrenching cries filled the air, hopelessness governed, and an impenetrable fog settled over my mind as the wait for word on David’s condition lingered on.

I could tell by his countenance that once again, wails of pain were about to rush from the room and into the sterile halls of the emergency department.

“I am so sorry, we have done an EEG (electroencephalogram) and the results show there is no brain activity whatsoever.  He is an organ donor; therefore, we will need to transfer him to Duke Hospital for further preparation.  We have him prepared for visitors now if you would like to see him.  You can go in two at a time.”.

David was 23 years old.  He and his girlfriend had been fighting.  Now David is dead.

I discovered that day that my faith had been misplaced.  I had naively and eagerly deposited it in the hands of a God who neither protected me from Jon nor David from Candy.  And as it stands, one of our sons is dead.

Prescription-Drugs


10 Comments

The World Continued to Turn


It is true.  I married an abusive narcissist.  It was a poor decision; however, in my defense he presented himself very well.  He was a kind, humble, Christian, man looking for a kind, humble, Christian woman.  It seemed only logical that we join forces, forming a kind, humble, Christian couple.

The problem came, when after 2 weeks of marriage, he revealed to me that he was a member of the KKK, and a prospect for the Hell’s Angels.  The fact that he was trying to be a better person and move on from these things gave way for the compulsion to overlook these horrifying confessions.

After picking up my jaw from the floor, he declared yet another unspeakable revelation.  “I almost killed my ex-girlfriend; I was choking the life out of her and my brother broke a Pepsi bottle over my nose to get me to let her go.  But she was a crazy bitch; she attacked me first and talked trash about my daddy.”

He went on.  “Please believe me, I’m a changed man.  I will quit the KKK and the Hell’s Angels and I will never, ever, ever, put my hands on you in anger.  My father used to beat me like a grown man when I was a child, I will never forget what he said as he beat me with clothes hangers and drop cords, ‘son, I am going to beat you as hard as God will let me.’”  “  I will never do that to my children and I could never do that to you.”

My heart broke into pieces for Jon as I imagined him a small, defenseless, child battered at the hands of a full-grown man.  Jon’s mother left his father after 19 years of marriage, and proclaimed the whole time that his father had never struck his mother.  I, in turn hated his mother, who had already passed, for allowing her son and herself to suffer such abuse and I hated his father for perpetrating it. I had no idea I would be Jon’s mother one day.

I could not understand why a neighbor did not tell someone, or why family members never intervened, or why his mother did not leave long before 19 years had gone by.  I wanted to help Jon.  I wanted to make him better.  I wanted him to know what it felt like to be loved by someone who would never hurt him.  I believed in the power of God to heal his wounds and so I proceeded on the rescue mission facing me.

I ignored the red flags, I turned a blind eye to his shenanigans and my children and I paid a hefty price that will likely haunt us for the rest of our lives.

Upon realizing that no amounts of love, assurances, yes sirs and no sirs, perfect housekeeping, or perfect “wifing” would ever make a difference with Jon , I felt destitute.  He continued to berate and abuse me; several times, he actually slapped my face while getting ready for church and loved me like a princess in the presence of the church family.

Alone in the bed, I had made for myself, destitute and suffering both physically and emotionally, I made the fateful decision to medicate not only my physical pains but also my emotional pains.  I found that my painkillers worked wonders for numbing the insatiable anguish dwelling deep within.  I no longer belonged to my children, my husband, or myself.  I now belonged to a new lover.  One that was always present down that dark desert highway.

The world continued to turn and I sank lower than I could have ever imagined.  Angrily, I survived many attempts to end my life and after two coma’s and a final decision to do it “right” this time I called the pharmacy to inform them I would be there the next day to pick up my bottle of 240 pain pills.  In my mind, I had twelve hours to live, therefore, I curled up in a fetal position underneath my blood red throw.  However, as fate would have it, a tiny hand touched my shoulder and the words, “I need you Mommy” pierced my heart (See “I need you Mommy”).

The following day I took myself to rehab, detoxed my drug-ridden body, and hashed my plans to escape the streets of hell that Jon had so carefully constructed just for me.

If I could do it all over again, I would have pulled myself up by my bootstraps, flushed the drugs down the toilet and I would have run, and run hard, and I would have never looked back.

Forgive Me


19 Comments

Forgive Me


This post is not one of pride or heroic achievement, but one of regret and shame.  Judge me if you must, but I respectfully ask that you embrace my testimony with compassion and understanding.  Moreover, to my children, I simply ask, forgive me.

Somewhere between sleep and consciousness, the precipitous footsteps of my daughter running down the hallway toward my bedroom accompanied by cries of terror rang in my ears, jolting me out of bed.

“Mama, mama, help me!  He hit me with the truck.”

Barely comprehensible she conveyed the horrifying story as rage and fear consumed me. 

Red faced and barely consolable, I implored her to tell me what happened.

“He wanted me to wait in the truck with him until my bus came to pick me up, but I didn’t want to, we argued and I got out of the truck.  For some reason he got really mad and revved the motor driving the truck in my direction going really fast.  I thought he was going to run me over!  I moved forward and he revved the motor and came at me again, this time he actually knocked me off balance and I fell to the ground.  He was screaming at me to get back into the truck, so I got up and ran back toward the house.  He revved the motor again, put the truck in reverse and sped toward me as I ran toward the house.  Mama, he was going to run over me!”

By this time, my son was standing in the doorway to my room sobbing uncontrollably and nodding his head in agreement to the events my daughter had described. 

“I was in the truck with him mom.  I tried to stop him, but he wouldn’t listen.  He said over and over, “I’ll teach that little bitch not to listen to me.  She is going to be sorry, she gets on my GD nerves and I can’t take it anymore”

“I was afraid he was going to kill her mom.”  Tears flowing like a fountain down his cheeks. I’m scared mommy.” 

Over the course of two months, following my tragic court appearance, I had been gathering information, making plans, squirreling away money and preparing emergency travel bags in anticipation of an event just like this one.  Jon had never directed physical abuse toward my children before, he would have had to kill me first and he knew it.  The only way to get away with abuse aimed at them would be to do it when I was unaware; however, he was spiraling out of control making the worst mistake he could have ever made.  I am certain his recent victory in the court system gave him the sense that he was untouchable.

I deliberately walked slowly down the hall, in deep thought over how I was going to handle this and escape with my life to boot.  Jon was standing in the foyer, his face stern and hardened.  I pretended not to know what had just taken place for safety’s sake and coolly announced I would be taking the children to school that day. 

“I have to go to my mother’s house to help get her meds organized after I drop the kids off for school.  I won’t be long.”

Jon granted permission and the kids and I headed out the door. 

Shamefully, I did not take immediate action that day.  Although I felt somewhat prepared, fear continued to wrap about me like a poisonous vine.  I sent my children to my mother’s after school to question Jon about the events that took place that morning. 

He was so convincing, “that’s not the way it happened, your daughter is a drama queen, it was all her doing.  Get her here and we’ll discuss it like adults.”  Somewhere deep inside I wanted to believe him therefore I obliged and retrieved my daughter from my mother’s home.  She strongly protested the entire time.  “How could you betray me like this mom?  How could you take me back there knowing what he did this morning?” 

Thoughts of being a terrible mother swirled around me as I ignored her pleas.  I desperately needing to believe Jon would never attack his own daughter and I proceeded to the house.

Jon, my daughter, my son and I sat in the den as we each described our version of the incident.  Without fail, Jon became irate; insults ensued, objects flew, and mayhem ruled.  Jon tackled my daughter, I tackled Jon, phone in hand to call 911 but he snatched it from my hand and threw it out the front door before I could make the call.  My son ran after the phone, I grabbed my daughter’s hand and pried her from Jon’s grasp.  In a mad dash, we ran to the neighbor’s home seeking refuge, but not before my daughter delivered a right hook to the cheek of the man, she once adored causing him to free us from his grasp.

I had failed my children once again and the agony was nearly more than I could bare.  I had to do something.  Abusing me was one thing, but my children.  Well, that was a completely different ball of wax.  Prior to this incident, the kids were wholeheartedly on their father’s side. 

Acting as his punching bag kept the children safe and my presence gave me peace of mind.  I knew that I could watch over them as long as I was present.  I never took into account the effects observing domestic violence would have on them in the years to follow.  At least not until I questioned them both in an interview of sorts, which I intend to post later.

The following day I took them to school then headed straight for the domestic violence center and conveyed every minute detail of the events of the day before.  The caseworker provided her usual story concerning my situation, as I had been there on several other occasions, followed by the announcement that she would be contacting child protective services to make a report.  She then handed me a stack of papers to sign for their records, which I gladly filled out.

Skeptical of their true intentions, (due to the last experience  I had with them in court) I proceeded to inform my “advocate” that I would be present and accounted for with my daughter in short order so that she could recount the events in her own words.  She assured me that it was not necessary.  I ignored her somewhat dubious assurances and brought my daughter to the center.

This was the last time my babies witnessed or experienced domestic violence.  I made a vow to them and to myself.  From that day on survivor had become a permanent part of my vocabulary and it rings in my ears every other minute of every day.  I will never betray my children or myself again.  It is my promise to them.  It is my promise to me.  I love you J, R, H, C.

courtroom


15 Comments

I Need You Mommy!


The purpose of this post is to be “real” with the readers.  If I cannot be real with you, then it would be fair to assume I cannot be real with myself.  I invite you, for a time, to slip into my skin and take a walk with me down the streets of my life paved with shame and devastation.

My senses, invaded by the smell of musty old paper files, various colognes and perfumes and a hint of cigarette smoke provoked a feeling of nausea as I leaned against the wall outside the courtroom with countless other court-goers.  The sign on the door in bold type read, “Please have  all necessary court documents in hand upon entrance, and the emphatic ‘no cell phones allowed’ in all caps. 

The bailiff approached the door, checking each document as the plaintiffs and defendants entered the courtroom.  Anxiously trying to absorb my surroundings, I found my seat in the last bench available in the back of the courtroom.  Never, have I ever, felt so out of place as I did on that day. 

Whispers of others discussing their cases, lawyers, dressed in fine linen suits, traipsed back and forth to consult with their clients and the downright nosy regulars gazed on in anticipation of the events soon to unfold adjusted themselves in their seats.  

The door opened and shut numerous times adding to the number of folks to be heard.  However, the person I was looking for did not merely walk in.  He walked in with his entire family; aunts, uncles, brothers, friends, witnesses, and worst of all MY children. The entire parade took up four rows.

 I feel it necessary to add here that once I had my husband arrested for communicating threats to kill me, my children were irate and in complete shock and disbelief that I could have thrown their father in jail like a common criminal and as a result, they returned to him.  That, coupled with the fact that they feared him themselves made it easier for them and I was obliged to give them that solace.  I held no ill will, only the deepest of agony.

The bailiff called the court to order and an eerie hush fell over the courtroom; everyone rose from their seats in unison as the honorable Judge C walked in and took his place of superiority at the bench.  The bang of his gavel shot through me like a volt of electricity and the juices in my belly churned as I reached for my mother’s hand for support. 

Judge:  Mrs. Hart please take the stand.

My legs like rubber propelled me to the stand where I took my seat and the oath to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Mr. Hart:  Did anyone hear me tell you that I was going to kill you?

Me:  No, you knew better than to say it in front of witnesses.

Mr. Hart:  Have I ever hurt you, lay hands on you or touched you in any way to cause injury?

Me:  Yes!  Sobbing uncontrollably, the judge asked if I needed a break and I answered with an emphatic no.

Mr. Hart:  Do you have proof of the times I hurt you physically or otherwise?

Me:  No….still inconsolable.

Mr. Hart:  Isn’t it true that you have made a habit of fabricating fantastical stories about me because of your mental instability?

Me:  You know that is not true Jon, your own children can attest to that.  My words nearly incomprehensible.  My mental “instability” is caused by years of torment at your hand.

Mr. Hart:  Isn’t it true that you are taking powerful narcotic medications causing your memory to be less than reliable?

Me:  You know that I am.  You injured my arm with such force that I can no longer use it and the pain can only be described as waves of thunder and lightning in rapid succession every waking moment of my life.

Judge:  What medications are you taking Mrs. Hart?  I rattled off the list as the judge scribbled his notes.

Mr. Hart:  If that were true, if I had inflicted those injuries, why didn’t you have me arrested then?

Me:  I was afraid, and I am still afraid, but I have had enough.  It is time for you to pay for your sins Jon.  It is time for the children and I to be free.

Judge:  That will be all Mrs. Hart.  You can step down.

I had no witnesses, no one to stand up for me.  The domestic violence advocates were not present to assist; my case was lost.  The restraining order now voided and the charges were dropped.

Judge:  Mr. Hart.  Do you have any witnesses you would like to call?

Mr. Hart:  Yes your honor.  I would like to call my daughter H to the stand. 

My heart sank like a stone as I watched my eleven year old, distraught, daughter go up to the stand.

Judge:  Do you want to testify sweetheart?

H:  No she whispered, head bowed and clearly traumatized.  Weeping she returned to her seat.

At the very least, the chasm called my soul widened on that day and the decision to take my own life played in my mind.  I would be free, one way or another, I would be free.

I returned home with Jon defeated not only by him, but also by the courts and the domestic violence center assigned to my case. 

My children, in my mind, had turned against me and the agony was more than I could bare.  Over the course of the next nine months, I made plans to end my life as casually as if I were making a grocery list.  That is until my youngest son approached the bedside where I lay lifeless at the brink of death.

Tears filled his eyes as he whispered three of the most powerful words into my ear breathing life into my very being.  “Mommy, I need you.” 

Mommy

Mommy

 



4 Comments

Demons


My blog is not intended to embellish, dramatize or glamorize my circumstances.  It is not a platform to belabor the points that lie therein.  It is a confessional, if you will; a feeble attempt to express; in the best way, I know how, the volcanic eruptions that spew forth from the dredges of my soul.  I cannot drown my demons; they know how to swim, therefore I lift the embargo placed on my voice and sing.

 

Demon

Demon

Begging


4 Comments

I’m Begging You!


His face stern and intimidating roused my barely coherent state to attention.  His nose touching mine, his moist breath warm against my lips stirred the most intense of fears leading me to the conjecture that I, once again, was in for a tempestuous morning.  However, the moment my vision cleared he retreated.  Although his physical presence withdrew, his essence remained.  Upon questioning him about the event his reply was one of denial, after all, I was the crazy one, not he.  However, I knew he had been there, I knew his intent. 

Jon was lazing on the couch when I walked in.  Tears laced with hurt trailed effortlessly down my face forming a mosaic on my powder blue blouse.  I dropped to my knees before him, buried my face into his chest and clung to him as if he were my last hope for survival.

“Please” I begged, “Please go with me to counseling, our children’s wellbeing depend upon it.  So does ours.”

His face emerged hardened and unforgiving sending a wave of shivers down my spine.  Undeterred, I continued; I kissed his cheeks and his unaccepting lips, yet still the unrelenting face of stone peered back at me.  I traveled further, lowered myself, kissed his feet and devoid of any semblance of compassion, he pushed me away. 

“You can stop now Teela, nothing you say or do will ever change my mind.  No damn counselors and that’s final.  All they want to do is turn you and my young’uns against me.”

He could not understand that he was doing that all on his own.

Vehement emotion, and a few other indescribable ones, orbited my mind as a stony resolve of my own took place.  I marched over, took one more look at his “godly” demeanor, and made a statement I would soon regret. 

“If no is your answer, you have two choices.  We can place the kids in the care of your brother or I will have child protective services take them.”  Desperation had overcome fear and the words pouring from the deepest recesses of my soul would be the beginning of my tenuous attempt to affect change in the unrelenting pattern of abuse that had defined our relationship.  Jon had never lay hands on the children, but the mental and emotional abuse was present and accounted for. 

Abruptly, he dropped the tools in his hands and leaped toward me, nose to nose, through clenched teeth he muttered, “if you do anything like that Teela, I WILL KILL YOU!”  In addition, he turned away as if he had won.  In my mind, however, the fight had just begun.

. . .

For reasons I really cannot explain, the rest of this story will have to wait until I can reconcile what is left of my composure with the present.

Thank you for reading!

Caged


26 Comments

Caged


 My witness today is only the beginning of my great exodus.

Spending many hours in the emergency room was nothing new; however, this would be the last time the visit would be on a gurney instead of standing along side one, caring for patients. 

“Dr. Spade” sauntered into the room. He adjusted his silver, wire rimmed glasses causing his crisp, white, lab coat to tug upward distorting his name printed in blue script.  His brow furrowed as he breathed in, and let out a long deliberate sigh.  It was then that my countenance took an unrecoverable nosedive; shame shrouded me like a heavy blanket, the weight of which was unbearable.  The cause of my injury was not only indelible in my mind but in my medical chart as well.

The wait, following the MRI, was excruciating; worry over the extent of my injury overwhelmed me and it was all I could do to maintain my composure.

I could tell by the look on Dr. Spade’s face that the results were not good, as once again he let out a deep sigh.  “I’m afraid, my dear, that the MRI results show that you have a significant avulsion (separation) of the network of nerves (the brachial plexus) that conducts signals from your spine to your arm, shoulder and hand, causing the paralysis.” 

In complete brokenness, I recalled to myself, the events that led me to the hospital.

That morning was no different from any other; the ritual of debasement, offhanded comments about my housekeeping skills, and the inability to care for my children permeated the morning silence with a thunderous clap.

 “Let’s go, let’s go!  You gotta take me to work this mornin’ and I can’t afford to be late.”

I donned my jeans and a T-shirt swiftly to avoid any other outbursts; headed out the door and made my way to the car.

Bewildered by the early morning tantrum, I rested my head against the passenger window trying to recount, in my mind, what had made him unleash his fury this time but the cause had once again evaded my capture.

Sensing my inward, guttural disdain, he abruptly skidded the car to the shoulder of the road and brought it to a screeching, halt.  Instinctively I flinched as he clutched my neck with his leathery hand, simultaneously clouting my head against the passenger window.  He then shoved my head downward, between my legs with such force that I could hear the vertebrae in my neck pop and grind in my ears, and just as quickly as he attacked, he retreated, releasing his grasp.    

“You will drive home right now!  You will clean the house; make yourself presentable and you better not be late pickin’ me up!  Do you understand me?  We’ll fuckin’ finish this when I get home!”  To drive his point home he squeezed my left arm with the force of a vice grip before getting back onto the road.  In the parking lot, at his place of employment, he gently kissed my cheek before exiting the car as his co-workers passed by.

An unimaginable fear overwhelmed me when I realized that my right arm would not obey the mental command to open the car door.  Therefore, I maneuvered over the console and into the driver’s seat.  Manipulating the gears, the steering wheel, the gas and the brake was a monstrous undertaking considering my arm was numb and my body was quaking.

  He called incessantly that day to make sure I had been performing my “wifely” duties and to inform me that he had a ride home after work.

When he finally did arrive home, he took notice of the unkempt house, the unkempt kids and me.  He flew into a rage, and barreled toward me with all the ferocity of an F5 tornado.  Our eyes locked and the only thing I could see was the blazing fire of hell contained within.  Attempting an escape into the hallway proved futile; grabbing my injured arm he yanked me toward him and hurled me into the wall with such force the closed doors in the hallway rattled.  Any insult he may have hurled in my direction fell on deaf ears.  The only thing I could remember was the onslaught of abuse, and the unprecedented desire to escape his grasp with my life.  

Dr. Spade, turned around and looked me squarely in the eyes, “you don’t deserve this Teela, you have to get out and move on, that man could have snapped your neck like a twig and if that had happened, I would be pronouncing you dead right now.”

Outrigger

Outrigger

Leaving the hospital with an hideous splint was depressing and degrading.  On my return home I never received an apology and my children were informed by Jon, the injury was the result of a delayed reaction from an auto accident I had been in nine months prior.  They believed him.

The echo of Dr. Spade’s words, pierced what was left of my soul and I conceded.  It was time to open the door to my cage and walk out and that is exactly what I did.  I was recaptured nine months later; the door slammed shut behind me and my treacherous descent into the abyss soon followed.


The Nature of Innocence


19 Comments

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.