I wondered many times if I should leave. I thought about where I would go, what I would take if I did leave, and how I would get there, without a vehicle, without money. We had no money, and everytime we did, I couldn’t use it. He drove me to get groceries, and if I spent so much as 5 dollars at the corner store, I had to explain why.
I was tormented at night with nightmares that he would leave, and just not come back. Or that I would have a police officer at my door telling me he’d been killed in an accident on the road. I felt guilty, because in my dreams, I felt relieved that he was gone.
We went to his church every Sunday. (I had attended a different one while we were dating.) We smiled and shook hands. No one knew what went on behind closed doors. I would stand and make sure the kids wouldn’t run off, while he chatted with his friends, about people I didn’t know, places I had never gone to, and experiences I wasn’t a part of. I knew no one, I had no friends, though I tried to make some, and I felt very alone.
Abusers like to isolate their victims, to make their victim dependent on themselves for social interaction, and for financial support.
Christmas was hard for me that year. I had had a tradition with my daughter of getting a new dated Christmas ornament for her every year, and when I asked my husband for the money for it that year, he refused. He said it was silly, and that we couldn’t “waste” our money that way. Yet, a friend could call him, and he would drive an hour to meet him, and go out for drinks, defending himself with the excuse of “needing a break” or “guys’ night out”.
I remember sharing with my sister-in-law over Christmas dinner, that I would be surprised if we made it past Christmas. I thought that he would leave me by then, scared of the idea, and almost hoping for it at the same time.
On December 27, we were on our way to a family Christmas event, and we were hit by a truck. It wasn’t a very serious accident and no one was hurt, but serious enough that our van was wrecked. After we were all done with the police and sorting out getting home, my husband and I talked clearly that night. He confessed that he was just about ready to leave, but that the accident we’d had scared him, and he realized what he could have lost. He said he was committed to trying harder, to yelling less, to being more considerate of my needs too.
On December 31, he was on his way home from work in the rental car we had gotten, and he was T-boned by a driver who ran the stop sign. I got a very confused phone call from him, and then heard nothing. I had a 6 month old at home, and no way to get to the hospital, where he was being taken, and no way of finding out if he was alive or dead. I called my brother-in-law, who drove the hour to the hospital, and updated me every 2 hours or so. I hung on to the phone like a drowning victim to a rope that day. I realized I still loved him, and I was committed myself to making this work.
He was released from hospital with a concussion and some very bad bruises and seatbelt rash. We felt as though our marriage had been given a second chance.