Crossposted from Daily Kos at the request of a reader
In light of recent allegations of abuse against the Phillies pitcher, Brett Myers, I felt I needed to post this story. I am in no way looking for sympathy, just to inform and educate. This story was posted on another site; I was surprised and touched by the reaction. This is written from my perspective of as an abused woman; I am in no way saying that this does not nor cannot happen to a man. According to several counselors I have spoken to most abusers, start out with verbal abuse, and then escalate to physical. As the abusers are able to gain more control, the violence intensifies and the victims concede defeat. My story is written to show that pattern of behavior and how subtle it can be. Below is the definition of Domestic Violence from The National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.
Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
It was great therapy writing all of this down, sharing it with my husband and maybe someday my daughters. After writing this initially, I was able to determine that there was one incident in my life that contributed to my low self esteem. I allowed this incident to affect my life more then it ever should have, but I was able to come to terms with this also. It was all part of the healing and coping process. I will start as close the beginning and share as much as I can without getting too boring. The name of the male person involved in this piece was changed to protect his identity.
When I was 19 I took a job working at a local company that distributed cleaning chemicals. One day a man walked into the office to order some supplies, I took his order and walked it to the warehouse to be filled. When I returned a younger man was waiting in the office to pay for the items. He was cute and very flirtatious; he gave me a business card with his name, Mark and a phone number, so I could process the order. After he left, my coworker told me that Mark told his uncle that he saw me from the van, through the warehouse door and he wanted to meet me. That is why he paid for the order instead of his uncle. So I decided to play it cool and wait a few days to call him, apparently he was not willing to wait that long. The next day I went to leave for lunch and there was a rose with a note on my car. It was an invitation to dinner at a local place for that night. I turned to come back inside to tell my coworker, and there they were all standing on the loading dock laughing and clapping, they were all in on this. Needless to say I was very impressed and went to the dinner. To make a long story short, I know I know . . .too late, but six months later we were engaged. When we decided on a date it was almost 2 years after our engagement, so we could save money for the perfect wedding.
I cannot say that everything was wonderful up to the wedding, but it was not bad enough to call it all off over a few problems. Little did I know that they were the gateway to future events. So not to bore you too much with all the details, I made a list of the more eye-opening incidents. Now remember I am about 20 years old at this point, with only one serious boyfriend prior to this:
1. He told me he needed to borrow $100 to pay for car insurance. It really was to pay the remainder that he owed on the engagement ring.
2. In April, right before the wedding, I discovered that the engagement ring was not mine. Mark had picked it out and put a deposit on it for a previous girlfriend. When I confronted him with the information he denied it and said it was a gold chain for himself. He changed his mind and had to use the store credit before December 31st.
3. He told my closest friends that I did not want to talk to her anymore because she was dating a former boyfriend of mine. It could not have been further from the truth, I was happy for them. Mark said it was a misunderstanding.
4. He pushed me up the steps one night after we had a fight about a girl that was
flirting with him when we went out. Now I was not hurt bad, just a few bumps and bruises. He apologized up and down for days about the incident. When this same thing happened later in the relationship, I would tell the girl, “you can have him and all the credit card bills, car payments, etc. that went with him”. Funny they usually backed off then.
5. My car needed new brakes. Mark told me he could fix them for me if I gave him the money. I used his car while he was supposed to be fixing them. I came home and he told me that he ran into a problem and needed more money. I found out much later (after the wedding) that he used the money to pay a girl to have sex with him and a friend.
6. From the time the engagement ring was on my finger, he started wearing me down with verbal abuse. It started out very small, a comment here or there. But from the wedding day forward he was relentless. I could not do anything right and he would make me redo things that were not done to his specifications.
So now we will fast forward to four months into the marriage. Mark and I had a huge fight about the “boys night out” he had planned. I wanted to have a party beforehand with his friends, their girlfriends/wives and the children. Mark then told me that I was his wife, he “owned me” and I was to do as he said or else. Of course I could not keep my mouth closed and found out what the “or else” meant. Tempers flared, words were exchange and he ended it by throwing a 16 piece ceramic Nativity set at me, one piece at a time. Mark then instructed me to clean up the mess, despite the fact I was obviously bleeding and hurting from the onslaught. This was the start of the downward spiral of the relationship and the marriage. I soon learned that I should “do what I was told” and it was “easier to keep my mouth shut”, that way the beatings were either non existent or at least less severe. This is the advice his mother gave to me when I told her what happened. Over the next two years I had a number of injuries including, but not limited to a dislocated elbow, black eyes, a concussion, sprained fingers, a sprained ankle and various bruises, bumps and cuts.
Once I made the decision to leave, I wanted to let him know that I knew about everything, including the girlfriends. So I decided to confront him at the restaurant where he and one of his girlfriends had dinner every Friday. I walked up to them, tapped him on the shoulder and asked him what he was doing and who was this. She immediately stood up to start a fight with me. I asked her to sit down because she was causing a scene. After I explained to her that I was not there to interrupt, I was his wife and I wanted to introduce myself and ask which one of the girlfriends she was, the one receiving the flowers or the Victoria Secrets. She explained to me that she did not know he was married, or that he had other girlfriends. I then turned to walk away, looked back and said “Oh, by the way Mark, do not bother to coming home, I had the locks changed. Maybe one of your girlfriends can put you up for the night”. I felt so empowered by this, but I did not sleep very well that night for fear he would show up and try to get in.
By the end of the marriage my self esteem was so low, I was not sure a “normal relationship” would ever be possible. I dated a few times, but found myself falling for the same type of guys. They were controlling, manipulative, and demeaning. While on a date with one of these guys, he said something that turned my dating philosophy around. We were at a club when a very pretty young girl walked by, he turned to me and said “yeah, she wants me”. I laughed very loudly at the comment and said “she would not give you the time of day, and frankly I am not sure why I am either”. I walked out, put myself in a cab and never looked back.
I do not think of myself as battered or abused, only a survivor. It was not until I was able to look back on the situation with a better understanding, love from my family and sense of humor, that I could grasp what really happened. Since then I have come across other women in similar situations and have attempted to help them. What I discovered is that I am not equipped to help them out of the situation. I was able to refer them to services that can help and lend a sympathetic ear. I was very lucky to get out when I did and my mother, sister and brother are to thank for that.
I have a link to The National Domestic Violence Hotline. This maybe helpful if you feel that someone you know is in the same situation, I know it would have been very helpful to me. Here are some statistics from the site:
* 4 million American women experience a serious assault by a partner during an average 12-month period.
- On the average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.
- 92% of women say that reducing domestic violence and sexual assault should be at the top of any formal efforts taken on behalf of women today.
- 1 out of 3 women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.
- 1 in 5 female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. Abused girls are significantly more likely to get involved in other risky behaviors. They are 4 to 6 times more likely to get pregnant and 8 to 9 times more likely to have tried to commit suicide.
- 1 in 3 teens reports knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, slapped, choked or physically hurt by his/her partner.
- Women of all races are equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate partner.
- 37% of all women who sought care in hospital emergency rooms for violence-related injuries were injured by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Some estimates say almost 1 million incidents of violence occur against a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend per year.
- For 30% of women who experience abuse, the first incident occurs during pregnancy.
As a final personal note I want to applaud the fans in Boston who booed Mr. Myers as he walked onto the field yesterday. I think he deserves to be embarrassed at the very least by his alleged behavior.