*Name changed for privacy and protection
Story edited by Kelly Longmore
At seventeen, he insisted we get married. I didn’t want to, but there I was, crying, at the courthouse saying, “I do.” By eighteen, I received my GED and gave birth to a healthy baby. Four years later, our relationship got worse.
He began an inappropriate relationship with an unwilling fifteen year old he’d met at work. When I confronted him about it, he physically attacked me. Later, I found out that he had sexually assaulted this innocent girl.
A year later, I was forced to endure his un-welcomed sexual advances and ended up pregnant with my third child, all while his abusive behavior escalated. He was drinking heavily and would get upset about everything. I felt scared and alone. I wanted out. I began an emotional relationship with another man, but my abuser found out and physically assaulted me.
Eventually, we “worked” things out, but I wasn’t happy. After ten years together, I told him I wanted to separate. He didn’t take it well, but I convinced him to leave.
"Then, he began stalking me."
He would drive by my work yelling obscenities at me. He followed me when I’d give rides to co-workers. He’d drive by my house – watching me. Once, while he watched the kids at my house, he found some muddy footprints on the floor and accused me of being with someone, then he assaulted me. I couldn’t hardly sleep for fear of where he was at or what he might do.
That summer, my kids went to stay at their grandma’s. Not wanting to be alone, I stayed with friends. Whenever we’d go out, he was there – watching me. Finally, I was fed up and went to stay with my parents, but the controlling didn’t end. He threatened to tell the authorities that I had kidnapped my kids. Not having anywhere else to go, I went back, but his drinking and mental abuse only continued. Eventually, with help, the kids and I moved out. Then, I was awarded a Restraining Order, which he violated several times. Though it was hard, I reported him to the authorities.
Finally, our divorce was granted but with shared custody. He disappeared for three months, then he came back around asking to have the kids. I found out that he was living in a van and addicted to meth. Fearing for my kids’ safety I sought, and won, full custody.
Things got worse for my Ex. He was getting desperate, and his illegal activities caught up with him. The police found him with a gun, machete, and rubber boots. I couldn’t help but feel it was all meant for me. He was sentenced to ten years in prison.
"Five years have gone by since our separation. I’m now married to my best friend who has helped and supported me through everything. I’m close to earning my Bachelor’s degree and, most importantly, me and my children feel safe. I am a survivor."