My Journey began when my life ended.
September 11 will-for most-always live in infamy as the day the Twin Towers fell in New York. For myself, this day has a double meaning. This was the day I realized my ex-husband intended to part with me, but old world vow style…you know ’till death do us part’ and all that jazz!
On September 11th, 2014 just before dusk, my ex-husband-let’s call him Simon-and I had just returned home from the local watering hole. We pulled up to the end of our driveway on our souped up four-wheeler, complete with front wench and started ascending the long uphill walkway. I had assumed everything was fine since we were laughing and joking…that must have been my first mistake.
Just outside our back door was a large bush, that would bloom beautiful fragrant yellow flowers in the summer. It was there it first happened. Simon wrapped his large forearm around my throat and squeezed hard. My world went black.
I awoke in the dirt, coughing and out of breath, but unable to get anymore into my lungs. I struggled up to my knees and stayed there for a moment to wait for my head to stop spinning from the lack of oxygen to my brain. once I felt ready I stood and took a couple of slow steps. I looked at the brown door to my hell and walked inside.
I entered into the mud-room and look to my right, into the kitchen to see where my attacker is, I do not see him anywhere. I begin to think maybe he has gone to bed. Or maybe he is in the living room. I listen, but hear nothing but the coyote’s song outside and the soft hum of my refrigerator directly across from me. I try to see into the living room that sits just beyond the kitchen, but it is blanketed in darkness. I decide to take my chances that he has gone to bed. That was my second mistake.
I know I must walk through the kitchen and living room to reach our bedroom. Deciding to tiptoe through like a drunken teenager trying not to awaken her sleeping parents I turn and take two silent steps before he is at my back again, and again he wraps his forearm around my neck, I know what he’s doing this time and I tuck my chin into my neck and try to keep him from completing the strangle hold.
I fail and he catches my jaw in the crook of his elbow. He continues to squeeze until I can no longer handle the pain and relinquish to his hold. My world goes black for the second time. I knew I was out for longer that time, but for how long I am unable to tell. What is only minutes will at times feel like an eternity when your life is in danger.
I wake again coughing on my dining room floor. I don’t move. I’m waiting for him to hear me and do it again. I lie there for a moment listening to the sounds of my own heartbeat and the house around me. I hear him, just around the kitchen corner in the living room. “How long are you gonna lay there feeling sorry for yourself?” He says. Feel sorry for myself?! Are you kidding me?! This man just choked me out twice, this man whose two children I had, this man I married, this man I loved!! He attacked me and was trying to blame me for it!
“What is only minutes will at times feel like an eternity when your life is in danger.”
With a new vigor, I get to my feet again. This time I know his location, I will no longer be the victim, I will no longer be that scared little rabbit just waiting and hoping the fox does not sense me, that he does not smell my fear. I will be the wolf that devours the fox. Bravery, that was my third and final mistake.
As I entered the living room, head held higher than it had in years I confront Simon. “I can’t do this anymore,” my voice not quite generating the strength I was trying to portray, “I can not constantly live in fear that you will hit me again, I can no longer deal with you asking for my opinion, then telling me how stupid I am for how I respond Simon.” This time my voice is steady, in the background of my mind there is another voice, it says, “pain is not love” I dare not say this. I know that I have already rocked the boat a little to hard.
Simon regards me for only a moment. He stands and an evil grin spreads across his face, “I agree,” he says.
He strikes out with his fist and the blow lands solid across the right side of my face. My vision is filled with large white spots that dance and sway, making me lose my balance and take three bumbling steps in a semi-circle. I try to shake away these apparitions that have taken over my sight, but it clears slowly. Before it can fully fade around the edges he tosses me across the room, I trip and begin to fall to the floor. I try to reach out in order to brace for impact, but my head makes contact with our front door handle instead.
I slump to the floor, still conscious but just barely. I can hear my shallow breathing sounding almost as if I was just waking up, though I don’t remember passing out. I sit myself up, back against the door and touch my head where I had hit. It is tender and swollen, about the size of a golf ball just over my left ear. I check the distance between the injury and my temple and realize I barely missed putting a door-knob sized hole through the side of my head.
“Pain is not love”
I sit, and do not move. My eyes are open and he keeps looking over at me as he paces back and forth in front of me. He is raving, visibly angry by the tendon that is popping out of his neck and the fact that he is all but turning purple.
For some reason at that time my mind did this funny thing. It took me completely out of the situation. Imagine if you will an almost out-of-body experience. I did not see the situation from a third person’s view, but I was not attached to myself. I could see my surroundings and Simon’s continuing pace, his mouth moving, but no words were being heard. Instead I was thinking of Bruce Banner or The Hulk if you will. I was thinking how much more it would take to push this man over the edge in order to see the real deal. Of course there is my logical mind in there somewhere saying, “that can’t happen,” “stop daydreaming or you’re going to die”
In the next instant, everything took a drastic turn. I stood up said nothing and walked the last few feet to our bedroom. I turned on the light and began to change into my pj’s. Simon walked through the doorway behind me, clearly confused by my new reaction he asked “what are you doing?” “I am going to bed” I responded. I said nothing else. I just continued to get changed and crawled onto the bed. Without looking at him I rolled onto my side covering myself in the process and asked Simon to turn out the light. I closed my eyes.
I could hear him shuffling around with something in the doorway. Thinking back on it now, I suppose he was contemplating if he was really about to do what he was thinking of doing. I roll and glance over my left shoulder and see him holding my silver metal baseball bat. He was twisting the rubber grip between his large hands. I kept thinking he wouldn’t do it, he wouldn’t strike me with a bat, I was wrong.
Simon raised the bat above his head, I knew I only had a couple of seconds to protect my head. I threw up my left arm and used it to shield my face. The bat came down on my left bicep making a loud *crack* as it landed. Pain shooting up and down my arm I rolled off the bed, but landed on his open drill box that was on the floor. I attempt to get up on my elbows and know with every fiber in my being that I have to flee NOW!!
Before I am able to get to my elbows-mostly due to the shooting daggers that are still traveling up and down my left arm-Simon drops onto my back with his butt, like a child trying to get their parent or sibling to play pony one more time. He begins to bounce in the same manner, I hear a crack and am instantly forced out of any air that was in my lungs. I panic, I can’t breathe and he’s still bouncing! I can hear Simon as he chants things like “I guess our children will be growing up without a mother,” and “till death do us part, right bitch?! Isn’t that what you said?”
My world becomes clear for just a few seconds, my eyes focus, the see the drill. It takes less than a second for my decision to be final. I can’t continue to lie here and allow him to break my bones. I grab for the drill, he doesn’t even see me coming, I reach the drill behind my head and as soon as I feel it touch his chest I pull the trigger.
Like a knife slices through butter the drill hits home and leaves a pinky sized hole in his chest, just about the left breast. He wails and throws himself backward off from me screaming what a crazy bitch I am. I take the opportunity I created and make a run for it. I know my best bet is the back door, as the front is locked, although the closest to my door I don’t have time to fidget with a lock.
I throw open the door and before I take a step out there is a searing pain in my pelvis from a broomstick he has just shoved into me. I hit the floor yet again out of air and can’t take it anymore. I roll into the fetal position and cry. I don’t understand. What did I do to deserve this? Why won’t he stop?
“GET UP!!”, Simon screams at me, furious now that I have made him bleed. Now that I have put a hole in him. Now that I have left my mark. “GET THE FUCK UP AND STOP FEELING SORRY FOR YOURSELF, THERE’S NO WAY THAT HURT!! IT’S NOT LIKE I PUT A DRILL THROUGH YOUR SHOULDER!!” He continues to scream and throw a tantrum as I attempt to get to me feet again. After a moment I am able to manage, though I can no longer put weight on my left foot or suffer a pain in my lower abdomen like I’ve never felt before outside of moments before childbirth. The pain doesn’t stop there, it continued into my genitals and down the upper inside of my thigh.
Simon throws the broom to the floor, turns and goes into the living room. I follow him as I’m sure at this point that is the safer bet. He sits on the end of the couch and pulls the handle on the side to recline his feet, he folds his arms across his chest and puts his head down. Looking like a three-year old that didn’t get his way and had to be put in a time out for his outburst. Suddenly he begins to cry, telling me how sorry he was and that he can’t lose me. He promises to start counseling if I think that will help. I sit down on the opposite couch and listen with what I know could only have been astonishment. He just threatened to kill me less than an hour ago and now he wants to do counseling? I began to wonder if maybe this man is a psychopath! This was by far the weirdest turn of events I had ever seen before. This man had been so many different people in the last few hours of hell he had put me through, he made Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde look like a fairytale. “I can’t Simon, that’s not going to help at this point. You have been doing this to me for years and I should have left a long time ago. I thought it would change, that it would get better, but it hasn’t. What do you really expect me to say right now?” I say with clear confusion in my voice. “Just give me another chance, please. I swear that I will never lay a hand on you again. Just give me some time to prove it to you.” Simon pleads.
I think about what he is saying, I wanted to get up and storm out right then, but after everything that had just happened I knew I had to be tactical about this. I had to be savvy. I take a few shaky breaths and respond “I will give you a chance Simon, but if you touch me one more time in any way that I don’t like, I will take the kids’ and be gone. I won’t put them through this. I won’t raise our children the way you were raised, in a broken home, constantly warring with each other. I will not teach my son that it is ok to ever put your hand on a woman in anger the way your own father did you. We are toxic for each other Simon, I may love you and I’m sure a part of me always will no matter what, but we can’t continue to poison each other and our kids’ in this way. It’s not healthy”
Simon released the footrest on the couch and slid down to the floor. He crawled on all fours closing the gap between us, putting his head in my lap he wrapped his hands around my waist and cried. I had never felt so dead and hollow inside. I felt nothing for him in that moment, no hatred or anger no sadness, nothing.
I allowed him to sit there with his head in my lap until he was ready to move. The entire time my mind racing with my escape plan. Where are we going to go? How are we going to get there? How am I going to tell my family that this is how I have been living for the last ten years? I didn’t have an answer to any of these things. How do you call you family and say, “hey how are you? how is the family? By the way my husband has been abusing me in every way possible for the last ten years! But enough about me, hows work?” I couldn’t even imagine. The thought filled me with embarrassment.
Once Simon was finished wallowing in his own fake guilt. We both got up and headed to bed.
It would be two weeks before he would lay hands on me again. Only this time he was sloppy, he completed his dirty deed in a public place in front of friends and neighbors. He thought he would be smooth, but I had angels looking out for me. A woman seen what he had tried and approached me. She put her phone down on the table between us and said “either you can call, or I will for you, but no one deserves to put up with that.” And yet even after everything this man had put me through I still couldn’t bring myself to pick up that damn phone. This woman- we’ll call her Angel- picked her phone back up and called the sheriff’s department. Angel sat down with me and began to tell me of her own battle with domestic violence until the police car arrived outside. She then greeted the two deputies and brought them to me to collect my story.
The two deputies approached and asked me if I would be willing to talk with them about what had happened. I agreed. I proceeded to tell them about the most recent incident that had taken place that evening. One of the deputies noticed a small piece of the bruise on my left bicep that had peeked out during our conversation. He asked if I would please raise up my sleeve, I did as he asked. He then asked me if that was from him, and I told him yes. He asked me what it was from, as the entire bruise stretched from my shoulder to just above my elbow and halfway around my bicep on both sides. I explained to them the night that I walked through hell and back out two weeks prior.
After about two hours of talking to the deputies, an advocate and have several digital images taken of my entire body, Simon was arrested and taken to jail. My three children and myself were then moved to a safe house, where we were picked up by my mother and moved to Utah.
It has been 3 years and 5 months since we left. I now work for a mental health company, in their Domestic Violence shelter, and am able to work with women who are now going through similar situations. My children and I are now using the tools I get from my career to cope with our situation and move on with our lives. We are finding new things we enjoy everyday and thriving in our new lives.
“She has been through hell, so believe me when I say, fear her when she looks into a fire and smiles.” — E. Corona