I sat on the porch feeling conflicted about my relationship with my boyfriend. We had been dating for a few months and something felt off to me. I was only 17 with very little experience and couldn’t explain what made me feel uneasy. He asked me what was wrong and I answered nothing. I didn’t know how to explain what was on my heart.
He walked away from me and punched his classic car denting the metal panel. I knew I couldn't break up with him. It would hurt him too much.
Little did I know his shocking display of violence was a control tactic to keep me where he wanted me. I would marry him and spend over 25 years with increasing violence and heartache before I escaped.
Here are some of the early red flags I ignored. If I could go back to that night I would teach myself the truth about this childish man and avoid years of pain and suffering for me and my children.
- Before he asked me out he was at my house every weekend even while I was at work. He began to offer me rides to work and then began picking me up for my mom. He was always there watching me and what I was doing. Now that I look back on this experience I know he was stalking me and I am shocked that my mother allowed it.
- His father was an unemployed alcoholic.
- His uncle was an unemployed drug addict.
- After we began dating he would show up unannounced at my house.
- He punched his car because I wasn’t in my usual mood.
- He got in fights.
- He “road raged” with me in the car.
- His father mentioned other girls when I would call to ask for my boyfriend.
- His father drove drunk with us in the car and my boyfriend didn’t seem bothered by it.
- He was one of those people who would blast his car stereo no matter how late it was and who he might disturb.
- He insulted me in front of my friends and coworkers. I know now he was testing my boundaries to see how easy I was to verbally abuse. If I ever complained about his emotional abuse I was told he was just joking, I was too serious or sensitive or I took it the wrong way. I always felt like I was wrong to object to anything I thought was mistreatment. I was even wrong to think it was mistreatment.
Over the years he would escalate his shows of violence to throwing things, kicking holes in a door, and blocking me in rooms so I couldn’t escape his rants. If I could go back in time I would break up with him and find a safe place to stay until he moved on to his next victim.
Now that I am free I will do my best to continue surviving and leading my children to a peaceful life of freedom.