I had been married nearly two years when the first assault happened. I’d married the man of my dreams. The man I thought I loved. He was older than I was but what a fun guy. We enjoyed doing things together. We went on vacations together. We exercised together. We wanted children together. We loved the same action and western movies. We read the same books and magazines. We’d go grocery shopping together and consider it a fun thing to do. We loved building stuff together. We loved getting lost in lumber yards or Sears tool & tire sections or at New York’s Annual Auto show. We even watched the same television shows together.
Little did I know once we were married, he’d still hangout at bars on the weekend as if he was still single. When I washed his clothes, I’d check his pockets first for loose change and then for packs of cigarettes. I’d always find slips of paper or matchbook covers from bars with women’s names and numbers on them. We never argued about his extra-curricular activities. Instead, we debated mine. I felt what was good for the goose was good for the gander too. I said so late one night after he returned from his favorite bar slightly high. He disagreed mightily. Talking with his fists, I ended up with a perforated eardrum and trip home to Mama and Daddy in Ohio to heal. I discovered I was pregnant. I threatened to stay in Ohio and raise our son as a single parent if he ever raised a hand to me again. He swore he’d never hit me again. I believed him.
My eardrum healed. I returned to New York City and lived with my husband. My pregnancy produced our son. For the next seven years, my husband lived up to his promise. He didn’t lay another hand on me. During those seven years, we didn’t have many major disagreements. One argument stands out. Though I can’t remember the topic, I do remember how my husband acted as if he was going hit me. I took a boxer’s stance then dared him to do it. Something in my face made my husband drop his hands and walk away from me. I wish I understood why that happened.
The seventh year of our marriage was difficult. We were in marriage counselling at the time. I remember telling the male counselor how I didn’t enjoy our marriage so much. Our togetherness wasn’t anymore. We didn’t occupy the same bed. We played musical chairs as to where we slept every night. If I arrived home before he did, I slept in the bedroom and he slept on the couch. If he arrived home first, he got the bedroom and I got the couch.
The winter morning of the second assault, we were discussing groceries at the front door of the apartment. Yes, I said groceries. We’d gone grocery shopping the prior weekend. Now, I was taking our son to school then I was going to work. He’d worked the night shift and was supposed to be sleeping. I told him I was sick of spending my paycheck on his cigarettes. I didn’t mind spending my money on food for all of us; snacks for all of us; and other essentials like cleaning supplies for all of us, etc. I did mind buying his cigarettes. I explained how cigarettes activated my sinuses in a bad way and he should use his own money to buy them. I’d given up asking him to stop smoking in the house, because it always led to long-winded arguments and solved nothing. That morning, I tried a new tact asking him to buy his own pleasure sticks.
Little did I realize that I pressed his last button and worked his last nerve that morning. I won’t describe the beating he gave me. I will say I was hospitalized for about 8 hours then released with a promise to follow up with my primary physician.
Throughout my pain, the one thing I never understood was how my soon-to-be former husband’s reputation wasn’t damaged. When our mutual friends asked me why I was divorcing him, they didn’t believe he assaulted me. And they had no problem expressing that believe to me. Our friends went on and on about how great my husband was to them. How he helped them with x, y or z. Or he helped them during some personal emergency. Or what a nice thoughtful guy he was because he did this or that. Or he was Mr. Wonderful for whatever … just fill in the blank with his array of deeds filled with goodness.
My husband’s saint-like mask never slipped to reveal the wife-beater he was to his friends. And he never apologized to me. He even lied to my parents and his own family claiming I started the fight. My family witnessed my black and blues from my neck to my ankle on my left side and the stitches in my left knee that caused me to use a cane for six weeks. My family never believed his story. His family believed the lies he told them. Our son was caught in the middle between parents who loved him but might not be good for him.
When I watched the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, I was reminded how abusers and assaulters don’t wear nametags describing their misdeeds. How they are good at reading people and seducing people into believing they are the good guys in the world. How they even manage to play the hero role when it suits them. How they befriend just the right people to sing their praises.
Most importantly abusers and assaulters, rarely show their violent tendencies to outsiders. Like my husband, they like to keep their secrets all in the family whenever possible.
My advice to survivors of sexual abuse and assault is fight for your rights. I won a yearlong order of protection because I had excellent union lawyers and I documented my battle scars as per advice from a battered wives’ hotline. The divorce was settled in my favor. His custody demand for our son was also settled in my favor as well. Finally, create a support group for yourself like I did. Other sympathetic women will help you get through the rough times.
Remember to RESIST, ENLIST, INSIST, PERSIST & VOTE
Thanks for reading,
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Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/G1wbiODFQC8
Ask David: http://askdavid.com/reviews/book/lesbian-fiction/16483