I met him when I was 16 and he was 32; a prominent man in the community. He had a good job, was politically active and so on. He promised the moon and stars and soon after we got married (it was a catholic wedding), the controlling started right away. I had no friends, no family; and then the beatings started. He was evil! After marriage I found out he was a drug dealer, had another wife, a girlfriend and children. A true psychopath. He beat me because he wanted to beat himself for his evilness.
I had our son when I was 21. I tried often to get away. The priest said I had to endure it. The police wouldn’t believe me. He made my life worse, so I would go back. We had a property in another part of the state and he decided we needed to move there and buy a business. Everyday, he took money and blamed our son for stealing. He would chase customers away from the business and say I wasn’t doing enough to get more business.
My father got sick and was hospitalized. He had terminal cancer and any day we would lose him. The whole time dad was in the hospital, the man would call screaming and demanding me to come home to open the business – because we we’re losing money. All the while, he was at the bars and he couldn’t open it. My father told me to leave him, that I would be better off and he promised I would. I did! I walked away with the clothes on my back. Six days later our business burned down. I had to go back to the area. I went to the domestic violence centre and they helped so much. I got myself and my son into therapy. We went daily for six months and then weekly, then monthly through the years of the trials. He was arrested, charged, and convicted of arson.
He is serving 16 years in federal prison. I will never forget when they told me his sentence. My thoughts were, “I will call that even…he imprisoned me all those years, now it is his turn”. Still to this day, 10 years later, I go to court every three months over something to do with him, our properties and divorce. We suffered dearly. I walked 2 miles to work, every day 7 days a week, I glued my boots together several times, if I ate it was by the charity of others. Public assistance denied any help because I had accessible/disposable property, I appealed the decision, it took 8 months before I got one dollar of food stamps all of my earnings went to the rent and utilities. I never once spoke badly about him, all I would say is, wait; you will see what I actually had to live with. All the while, he’s drunk in public making terrible statements about me giving away my possessions, 2 DUI’s and several harassment charges. With the very small population of the area we were under public scrutiny over the fire. Police, FBI and the insurance investigator asking questions of everyone.
We stood tall, went to church, volunteered at the very same food bank that fed us, volunteered at our soup kitchen that fed us. I cleaned and babysat in exchange for meals. We smiled at everyone even when we knew they were talking about us.
The mile stone I remember most is an agent said to me, with the extensive interviews we have completed not one person had anything bad to say about you.
I still have my ups and downs, got remarried and realized it was wrong and quickly got rid of him. Some say I have trust and commitment issues. I am not ready to be open to being hurt again. I am enjoying being alone. In time, yes, I will but for now, as I say happily looking for my third husband. So I am not giving up. In retrospect looking back Dad was right. Every bad day without him is better than any good day with him.
In paying it forward, always remember to be grateful and thank everyone that gave you the extra hand, the extra push, the incentive to keep going. Always remember to be everyone’s cheering section, positive messages to all you meet, because you never know who needs it.
Life is good! I have a wonderful job, my son is doing great, and I have all the love I need from my friends and family! I never let his words destroy me. He could not beat God or His goodness out of me. The best thing in my life that I learned is to pay it forward… show others the way… stand strong in the face of evil… to pray for strength and tomorrow is another day. Love and peace to all survivors.