Alicia (not her real name) is beautiful. Articulate. Well-spoken. Successful. And she was in an abusive marriage. Although she saw the red flags early in their courtship, like many women, she ignored them. She was in love…and knew she would be treated differently (or so she thought). Alicia wanted to share her journey with the hopes of saving at least one other woman from making the same mistake as she did. This is her story…as told to Carla Zuill.
Apart from the well-deserved ‘cut ‘tail’ (spanks) I got from my mom, abuse was something that I had never experienced in my home. My dad vowed to never hit any of his daughters. I was afforded all of the good things in life, a proper education, university, graduate school, the works – my parents only asked that I be respectful and don’t allow anyone to disrespect me.
However, as I reached what I refer to as my age of discovery, I also threw caution to the wind and gravitated toward people who did not have my best interest at heart. In retrospect, I was attracting males who saw me as privileged (why? two parent family, big house, never needing anything).
When Mr. Wrong seems so right…
One in particular was the antithesis of my life – no father figure, mom working multiple jobs to keep the family above water, no formal education – just good-looking with a silver, no, make that platinum, tongue. His father was simply a donor, but it became apparent that he was simply reliving his father’s lifestyle – multiple women, children all over the island of Bermuda.
He was emulating what he saw and needed a woman who would acquiesce and be dutiful, regardless. And here I came to save the day. In my ignorance and relationship inexperience, he seemed like a good catch; he was well-liked and had multiple women.
Let me cut to some actual events – pre marriage (yes, I married the idiot)…
1. One night at his house one of his honeys barged in and he proceeded to slap her and told her to get out of his momma’s house. Well, mom just stood there and said nothing. In my immaturity, I felt she deserved it. How dare she roll up in someone’s house like that! First, missed clue. He was a trained martial artist (black belt so those hands were legally lethal). Why didn’t I see that as a red flag? Because I was so self-absorbed and felt that since I was the one he was taking out in public, the the others were the stupid ones.
2. He had two young children and appeared to treat the mothers with no respect. The children would come by to spend the weekends with him and I filled the ‘mom’ role when he had them. Little did I know, that while I was home watching HIS kids, he was out doing him. Yup, I blame it on my youth.
3. His friends would drop hints about what he was doing. I would tell him what they said (yes, I was smitten), and he was always able to convince me otherwise. I can honestly say that I had absolutely no reason to believe them because he treated me like a queen.
4. During my senior year in university, one of his supposed exes was pregnant with his second child. Ironically enough, I too was pregnant and when I found out about her I aborted my own child because I didn’t want to tie him down with a kid. DUMB, right? Yet I still married his lying, cheating ass! He told me it was a one-night stand–yeah, right. One night at a time stand I later discovered.
5. One morning before the sun came up I was at his house, with his daughter, and intuition kicked me in the gut. I jumped in the car and drove to the home of one of his women and there he was, coming out of her house and walking home. It took everything out of me not to run him into the ground. Instead, I drove right by and went home. I only stayed mad for a day, though.
There were so many signs, but I didn’t heed them.
Fast forward. His platinum tongue convinced me to marry him. I was excited and this was a dream come true. I didn’t listen to the trustworthy people in my life who questioned my decision to get married. I was asked things like, How well do you know him? Do you know anything about his family? Do you know what he is doing while you are overseas in school? None of it mattered to me because he was treating me right. He sent me money when I needed it. He visited whenever he wanted. Years later, I wondered why these same people never came right out and give me the answers to their questions. A few friends sure didn’t mind running their mouths AFTER the wedding and at the first sign of trouble. I left these friends behind when it all went bad – he got to keep them in the settlement (LOL).
He was good though. My mom adored him and he would bring her gifts. He found the way to her heart.
Til Death Do Us Part…
We had a beautiful wedding; lots of attendants, flower girls, the works. The guest list boasted 400 names. Oh yes, I was the queen of the day! We honeymooned and had a blast! And then, mere months after settling in, things started to change. I don’t know why but I attribute it to him being comfortable and in control.
If I was going out with friends, he would get mad and tell me that I didn’t need to go anywhere. But he could go whenever he wanted! I felt that if I did everything a good wife or woman should do then all would be well. I used to bake on a weekly basis, prepare the best lunches and have to die-for dinners – mom trained me well. There was nothing lacking – or so I thought.
Then the accusations started. He accused me of seeing Tom, Dick and Harry. While he was out seeing Sue, Jane and Mary–silly me! I found out that when he was on the night shift that he was making rounds during the day. Calling his women from the house we shared (my bestie told me this as someone thought it would be funny to tell her that her best friend’s husband was cheating on her)!
When I approached him about it, he told me people will try anything to cause trouble, but by then little signs were popping up and I became more conscious of things. In a short time, I was forced to grow up and deal with some serious stuff. But I held on until one day when I broached the infidelity subject again, he lashed out and struck me. Frightened? Yes, those hands were lethal. Shocked? Not really as I had seen his anger displayed toward others.
It got so bad that I began watching what I said and mulling it over in my head before I opened my mouth. I thought that if I just kept quiet it would all go away. Well, it didn’t, and I became his reluctant sparring partner. One afternoon he was hiding in the house trying to ‘catch’ me off guard and I played his game. I pretended to call someone and arrange a hook up. This sent him over the edge, and he came out blazing and furious. By the time he realised it was a prank, it was too late, he had launched another round of slams.
At some point, I feared that I was actually enjoying this because I would do little things to rile him up and get a reaction. What part of me felt like I deserved this treatment? What went wrong on my life that I ended up in such a situation?
Hiding behind the mask…
I slowly distanced myself from my family so they wouldn’t see the bruises because I knew that my brother and my dad would take care of him. My dad asked me if I needed him and his mates to deal with him, but I knew what that would mean and I didn’t want to be responsible for that. I don’t believe my mom didn’t care I just know that she didn’t know how to handle it. In fact, her first question to me when I decided to share was, “What did you do?”
It was at that point that I knew I was basically on my own with this situation. I never went to my best friend about this and she was hurt because I didn’t, but I didn’t want to appear as a failure.
At one point I threatened to tell his boss at the prison (he was a Corrections Officer) about this and he backed off for a bit. That became my trump card but when I didn’t go through with it, the abuse resumed. Eventually I thought I would fight fire with fire and show him what it felt like, so I got involved with another man and this became my new potion.
This was the best thing for me at the time because he didn’t mistreat me and actually understood all I was going through in my farce of a marriage. He encouraged me to get out of it, not for him but for myself (not for him because he had a family of his own and I was only passing through).
When the tables turned…
As we know, Bermuda is as big as a pebble, so word of my affair got out and this became his new catalyst for ranting and raving at me. How I was nothing but a whore, how he knew what I was doing all along, but never how his behaviour and indecency may have contributed to my bad decision. And all along, he had people convinced that he was a saint. Mercy, how quickly love (soon identified as ignorant infatuation) turned to hate.
When the abused becomes the abuser…
I knew I needed to get out of this bad cycle of behaviours. But I wasn’t going to do it without inflicting some physical pain of my own. One day, I attacked him and caused him bodily harm. It was at this point that I think he realised enough was enough. He begged me to take him to the hospital and I just looked down and stepped over him. My rage had taken a new course and I felt released! I am not sure to this day how he got to the hospital; but for me, he could have bled out on the floor and it would have made no difference.
There was another time when he was supposed to have left the house for good but came back. It was this time that I felt like I was teetering on the edge of insanity and the thin line became blurred. Fortunately, a mutual male friend stopped by (must have been sent by God) and was able to intervene. This friend told him that he better leave, or it would get ugly. You see, I have a crazy streak which I keep under control because it has gotten me trouble before (a story for a different time).
Although the abuse never became sexual, it was emotional, mental and physical. He would belittle me in his attempt to control me. The only person who knew of the depths of the abuse was a colleague who became a bona fide confidante. Thankfully, she took me in because I basically ran away from home.
She kept me safe and ensured that I received the emotional and medical support I needed because this was taking a toll on my life. Everyone knew where I was but only my dad made sure that I was okay. My husband (today I shudder even identifying him as that) knew as well but this spitfire colleague threatened him in such a way that he never graced her doorstep. My doctor even encouraged me to get out of the marriage because of what it was doing to me. I dropped so much weight that my clothes were falling off.
The return…if only for a moment…
And then I ended up taking him back, yes, after all of this, somewhat out of guilt, because I believe that marriage is a lifetime commitment. We got back together and honestly, within a matter of two weeks I told him I knew why I left the first time. It wasn’t me at all. The split was bitter – verbally abusive – but I refused to go through that hell again. I filed for divorce and ended that chapter of my life.
But he still needed me…
Years later, he approached me to ask for help with a project he was doing, and he seemed to have changed so I agreed to help with no strings attached. He then asked a second time and I made a decision that I would never do anything else for him again. That was the last time we had been within feet of each other. It is amazing that on this small island, you can never see people especially if your circle of friends and interests don’t cross. I couldn’t tell you what he is doing now or where he is. I don’t ask about him as our time together is of no consequence anymore. I did vow that NO MAN will ever put his hands on me again in an abusive manner or talk to me in a condescending way.
Judgements are easy to make—until you are being judged…
When I hear others say they would never take this, that or the other, I used to feel small and weak because I took it. But then I remember that we all are different, with different levels or degrees of tolerance. And until you are in it you really don’t know what you will do. I can now say that I will never again because I have ridden the wave of abuse and crashed to the sands. Thankfully, I was able to stand up and move on from it. I may never know what part of me sparked his initial abuse towards me and it truly doesn’t matter. After a five-year hiatus from relationships, I now have a real marriage and a fulfilled life.
I learned to lean on God and family which has made the ultimate difference.
My story may not be as ‘bad’ or as brutal as others, but abuse knows no boundaries. We each take from it what we need and hopefully can make better choices. I know the signs and I vow that no female in my life will have to endure this and no male in my life will deliver such.