Domestic Abuse. He Abused Me Emotionally & Physically

Abused Women.  Physical & Emotional Domestic Abuse

It was fall of 2004, and I was an emotional wreck.  It was a Friday and I made the call to my boss telling him I was calling in sick for the weekend.  As an HR Manager in a retail environment, I generally worked 1-2 weekends sometimes more a month.  These weekends were a great time to get to know my employees.

This weekend was different though as I sat crying and emotionally drained on the front porch of my home calling to deliver my boss the news.  I called my boss, the store manager on his cell phone to tell him I was sick and couldn’t come to work which in fact was a lie.  I was not sick.   Earlier that evening, I had made the best and most difficult decision of my life, telling my then husband that I wanted a trial separation.  I knew what was happening in my marriage wasn’t right, but I wasn’t yet ready to call our nearly 7 year relationship to an end.  He couldn’t be domestically abusing me.  I was successful, educated, and not one of those defenseless and poor abused women.

Why Do Women Stay in Abusive Relationships

He did things like hit me on occasion being very apologetic after the fact.  This was usually accompanied by some sort of alcohol-induced rage.  Once he cracked the windshield of our car while I was driving home.  He was in the passenger seat.  Upon getting out of the car, he picked up a giant rock in our yard and tried to throw it at me.  He never was one to yell names and had a way of chiming in during conversations making me feel small and insulting.

Things like this are not okay, and I was shocked to find out that 37% of middle schoolers 11-14 years old have experienced dating violence in the United States.  So I made that call to my boss a complete wreck and the words came tumbling out, “I’ve left my husband and asked him to move out.  I think I need to take the weekend off work.”

You would expect most managers or human beings to offer an apology or be supportive, but not my boss.  Jim, who looked oddly like a pudgy Dilbert complete with black boxy glasses only said the following to me before I hung up, “You aren’t quitting your job are you?  I can’t have you quit at a time like this.”

Of course, pudgy Dilbert had no idea what was going on, or the reason I was taking a trial separation, but his words further devastated me and within a few weeks I was making arrangements to transfer with the company to a different location.

Abuse Comes In Many Forms like Cyber Stalking

Several weeks later I arrived back at my house after driving to see my family in Kansas for the Thanksgiving holiday.  My ex had entered our former together home that I was now living in alone and financially responsible for removing many of our joint belongings so I changed the locks.  He called my office 30 times or more a day and followed me to and from work.  He cyber stalked me online using his friend’s computers and identities, and I feared for my life.  I lived in a nightmare even after the divorce was final even after relocating, transferring with my company, and moving to another city as the man I once love traumatized my new life.

The law was not on my side as according in the state of Missouri.  His stalking behavior was not illegal. We had not officially separated and since our separation he had not threatened or laid a finger on me. He was careful.  He didn’t send electronic messages or leave voicemails.  It was subtle torture and intimidation.  Getting my work phone call log was a hoop-jumping nightmare.  A police officer did make a call to his parents home asking him to leave me alone only after I begged him to do so.

The day the divorce was final I sat alone in a courtroom with a stone face.  It was only until I walked to the elevator alone that I cried with relief and sadness at the same time.   I felt like a failure even though divorce statistics tell a different story with 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages ending in divorce, according to the Forest Institute of Psychology.

And now 7 years later since the divorce is final, I believe that that moment was the best and most important decision in my life.  In fact, it saved my life.  Sometimes divorce is the best and only option especially for situations like mine.  I had no choice but to leave that toxic and abusive environment.  My very life depended on it.  It helped me realize that I have the power and strength to follow my dreams and to not let others manipulate even out of love.  I learned I was in control.  It led me to Greg, my now husband of 5 years and the birth of our daughter, Ryleigh.  Women do not ever deserve to be abused, or beaten emotionally or physically.  There is never a reason.

I was inspired to share my story after seeing a friend of mine on Facebook share a story that brought back the memories from those very traumatic days.  From his house, he heard a man screaming, a woman cry, and several slaps.  Michael Long found a young girl, the daughter of a neighbor in a confrontation with her boyfriend, and my friend took control of the situation.  Removing the young man, telling the girl’s father, and telling that girl she never-ever deserved to be treated like this.  Domestic abuse is never okay or the answer.

Stand Up Against Abuse.  Call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline.

My friend’s story brought back many emotions and led me to write this post.  A women never deserves to be hit, ever.  And I share my own personal story in the hopes that my daughter and the daughters of others never have to experience the shame and hurt I went through.  If you are being abused, please contact someone immediately at the National Domestic Abuse Hotline or call 1-800-799-SAFE.  Retweet and share this message today to let others know it is not okay for women, children, or any person to be abused.

My Special Note to You

I receive a number of search engine searches that lead to this post from women who are looking for answers. If he is hitting you, threatening you or has hit you, it is physical abuse. I used to tell myself that it was only a couple times and didn’t happen often and that was my excuse, but it did happen and it was wrong. I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t left I would be dead.

I’m telling you that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that you have options. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to be unsure of yourself, but it’s not okay to do nothing and let it keep happening. Please call the abuse hotline, go to church, talk to your parents or someone you trust that can help remove you from the situation and leave him. Leaving him was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. It was also the hardest ones, but now it seems like another lifetime. I started a new life. I have thrived and I’m so happy I had the courage leave him. I want the same for you.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. This post is awesome and will most assuredly save someone’s life. Thank you for sharing your story! As a survivor and someone rebuilding after abuse and divorce, this truly inspires and encourages me. Thank you for having the courage to speak out.

    • Thank you for the comment, Buzz. In my circle of close girlfriends who are all very independent and powerful women there are four of us and 3 out of the 4 have been abused. What’s really sad is that the abusers were our husbands in all three cases. That really surprised me in a way but then again it did not since I was abused by my husband as well.

      Jessica

  2. Unfortunately, there are so many of us that have lived this very story in some way or another. Yet, we are survivors. We have become strong women in work and life having come through it. We share your story and encourage all who have witnessed or experienced this to get out of these situations or help others who are going through this. You can survive and there is life after, a peaceful life.

    • Hi Susan,

      Thank you for the comment. Life is about learning, living, and surviving. It’s those situations and the choices we make while we are living that define us. Choose wisely and learn. I’m an example how that works in your favor.

      JMM

      • So I just called the friend that I sent this to and asked her to read it. I’ve been telling her for some time now that if she leaves and goes through the hard stuff now life will move on and open up the possibilities for something beautiful. That is the part that stuck out the most to her in your blog as you talk about Greg and Ryleigh. The strength you had to take action and the results that came from it in time. I told her about meeting your precious Ryleigh and how happy she seemed and amazing her spirit was. When we have the courage to share it turns our hard experience into possible strength to lend to others. Really admire and am thankful that you shared.

  3. Your story resonated with me as well Jessica. I too had the courage to finally stand up and leave after almost having my throat slit one night. It was my faith in God and my cry to the Lord to save me that finally snapped him out of his (now diagnosed) bi-polar rage. I’m a much stronger person because of that experience and have been involved with a wonderful man for almost six years but letting anyone in was definitely a challenge. I too applaud Michael for stepping in, a lot of lessor men wouldn’t have. Thank you for sharing your life experience with all of us. You courage and strength is and will be an inspiration to many.

  4. Some times we wonder why certain people come into our lives. This is not one of those times.

    Jessica, I have known from the very beginning of our friendship that we had a bond greater than most friendships. One of the reasons, undoubtedly, is because of our similar pasts and our willingness to purge through them – each in our own way…
    My story is forth-coming, as I power through my year of burning fear, but our relationship, the story Michael Long recently shared, and my desire to help other people get through “shit” has shifted my focus away from self-help, personal purging, and much-needed exposition to getting the word out that abuse of any kind is unacceptable…

    I shared my own story with Michael Long on the phone as I drove home from ERE last week. I said I needed to be careful with how I went about telling my story and he asked, “Are you protecting him?” I answered quickly, “No, I am protecting my children…” It is true, I am protecting them…But I am also still protecting myself. There will always be a place deep inside where fear will live and cling on, THAT is what abuse does to you.

    Many times, it is nothing more than a power play or it is good old-fashioned bullying. I survived bullying, you survived bullying, Jessica. But the scars will always be there. Always. Maybe they become more bearable when we tell the story, out loud and to someone who needs to hear it. That they do not have to take it, to live it. NO ONE deserves it – no one, no matter what.

    There is always a way out. Always. It is usually very difficult and riddled with pain, but what you learn – those life lessons – only make you stronger and smarter – wisdom.

    Wisdom does not come without experience.

    I love you and I am so proud of you – of your decision to leave when you knew it was time, of the changes that have come as a result and the love and joy you have found. You are a force to be reckoned with. Thank you…

    -Rayanne

  5. I am proud to call you friend. You are an incredible role model — in so many ways. Your courage and strength of character are just two examples. Thanks for sharing, Jessica.

  6. Jessica-
    I knew when you and I connected on Twitter, and then met in person, we would be friends for life. You are an inspiration to so many, and telling your story will save many lives. Thank you for sharing your story. I am proud to call you a friend.
    (((HUGS))))
    Shennee

  7. You inspire me daily. Truly, truly. Not just for sharing such a personal and heartbreaking story, but for sharing it so authentically with hope for ANY woman going through the same situation. Jessica, to me you’re more than a great writer, or an icon in the Social Media/HR community- you are someone that inspires me.

    Thank you for helping women and speaking out.

  8. Jessica,

    Your willingness to share your experience is truly amazing. I am sure your story will help others who may be in similar situations. You are a brave woman and an outstanding role model for your daughter. So glad you have found the peace and happiness you deserve.

    Blessings to you~
    Susan

    • This is a very interesting observation.
      I think we will have plenty to speak with Michael Long about regarding raising awareness and getting men involved…

  9. Dear Jessica:

    I applaud your courage. I also understand the crazy-making feelings of self-doubt, doubting one’s reality, and denial that is part and parcel of being abused. Finding safe people, and safe places to share your story is such an important part of survival, and healing. One day, I will privately share my experience. There’s nothing more horrifying than fearing for your life from the people you are supposed to trust, and those who were supposed to keep you safe (your family members, your family friends and relatives). The shame, emotional degradation, and trauma is indescribable. It is so hard to come out and share your story. Clearly, I’m not ready to share the details of mine. However, I plan to share it in the book I hope to finish this year. Sharing our recovery, strength, and hope can help other survivors feel less isolated, and less afraid of life. The unrelenting fear that I grew up with made my hyper vigilant about my safety…it’s probably why I am so feisty when it comes to protecting those whom I perceive as victims (who are too afraid to stand up for themselves). What I came to understand is that victims tend to be prone toward flight, flight, or freezing. Regardless if you remain a victim, or grow up to be a perpetrator, or even live life shut down entirely, physical and sexual abuse survival requires trauma recovery, and in my case a lot of professional help mentally, physically, and spiritually.

    This is the first time I’ve ever written about this on someone’s blog. Since you had the courage to share your experience, it gave me the courage to share a little bit of mine.

    What I hope to do one day is help other women who feel trapped, give them courage to recover, and go from surviving to thriving. There is a lot of help out there. People just need to know where to find it, and overcome the fear of what might happen when they get it. Claiming my safety and well being is perhaps one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It’s frightening, but so necessary for survival.

    • Thank you, Margo. You are very brave and I am honored that you choose to share pieces of your story here. I think that many times people don’t think that the average person goes through troubling and horrific things. This is life, and how we deal with life shapes us into the kind of person we become. While I don’t think I’m that much different than the young 27 year old woman who finally had the courage to leave her now ex-husband, I probably can’t see it because I was so close to the situation. I do know that I dream a lot more and believe that if I set my mind to something I can achieve it. A lot of people tell me that they are very blow away by my determination for things and how focused I am. My story (above) is what drives me because if I can live through that pile of shit that I went through, I can do anything I set my mind to. In general, the only thing holding us back from our successes and dreams in life is ourselves.

      Thank you for the comment, and I look forward to hearing your story someday.

      JMM

  10. Dear Blog Reader,

    It’s late and I just saw someone on my Google Analytics find this blog post from the online search, “why does he abuse me.” This might be you that found the blog this way. Know that your search breaks my heart, but I’m glad you found this blog post and I hope that my honesty helps you to be able to make a possibly life-saving decision to leave your abusive relationship. I’ve been re-married to a wonderful man for nearly 6 years, and I still have nightmares about my ex. I see the man in the weirdest ways. Just today, I saw someone with the same build and face shape as him as I was walking down the store aisle at Target, and I had to look back. It wasn’t him, and I was relieved. The memory haunts me but I have learned, evolved, and moved on. I am happier and more fulfilled than I ever thought I deserved I could be. You can too.

    My phone number and email address are listed in the contact information of this blog. It is really me. Call me, email me, or reach out to me if you need an ear. I mean this a million times over. I wish someone had done the same for me. It can and will get better I promise you. You deserve it.

    Jessica

    • I am so very emotionally exhausted at this very moment! The emotional and the verbal abuse is so so bad! After being married to this man that I just do NOT know anymore or shall I say, I never really knew him in the whole 32 years of our marriage.He started out the early part of our marriage physically attacking me on top of the controlling of our finances, food, my friends, just about every part of my life with him has been under his control. I was totally fooled thinking he was just over protective and I mistakenly thought his control Was a form of his love for me.we have3 grown Daughters together .And he has some sick way about himself by turning the girls against me! He uses every form of control and power to continually hurt and torture me ” mentally”

  11. I remember this day vividly. You were brave and I was proud. I am overcome with pride. Thanks for sharing your story. After working for many years with amazing women who were at our local battered shelter, I can tell you that every story shared gives them hope, courage and confidence.

    Thanks for your bravery then and today.

Trackbacks

  1. […] The man for me can mean many things.  It’s not necessarily the government, a boss, or someone who is a position of authority.  I mean, HR already has a PR problem when it comes to the workplace even if we are the man or not.  We, HR have no friends. The man in my mind is an idea, it is something that is holding you back.  It could be change, fear, or just personal circumstance (read my story here). […]

  2. […] As managers who work in the retail industry it was often expected per our job description to work 55 work weeks meaning 5 11 hour days but there were times I worked 7 days straight and depending on the season, I had to be there.  My job absolutely depended on it.  At least that’s what I told myself.  In reality, I was working extra hours and asking for more work responsibility to avoid a failing marriage and abusive spouse.  Work was the one place where I felt important, special, and needed.  So maybe in this case, my life actually depended on my job.  Don’t worry, I finally wised up and left the bastard. […]

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