DOMESTIC VIOLENCE—How Did I Get Into Another Abusive Relationship?—Part 1

Not so happy bride?

There it was—a picture of my Daddy walking me down the aisle to be married. It startled me to finally notice, after all those years, the look on both our faces. There was no happiness or joy on our faces. We appeared as two serious generations who seemed to be walking to a gallows rather than an altar. It was not a “shot gun” wedding. I was still a virgin, even though I had been victimized by sexual abuse as a little girl, setting the stage for me to be receptive of mistreatment as my norm.

I remember the thoughts and statements I had after finally ending the 16-year marriage that had been full of emotional and verbal abuse, even going as far back as prior to the marriage, during our courting period. Over the years It escalated to physical violence. My conviction was, “I will never be caught in a bad relationship again.” But . . . the very next relationship was drenched in mental and emotional abuse.

The second time around I found myself married to who my counselor would describe as a sociopath. It was almost a game for him to make me think I was forgetful, or perhaps even losing my mind. He convinced me to have one checking account, in his name only. There was one catch. I was the only one working. Our income sources were my paycheck as a legal assistant and child support payments from my daughter’s father. I had no access to the bank account or the locking mailbox. He had the only key. So, when the child support checks arrived, he simply wrote “deposit only” on the back and into his account they went. When I got paid once a month, I endorsed my paycheck and handed it over to him. I was given money for gas and, if I could talk him into it, on occasion he’d give me a few dollars for makeup and the like. There were times I was told I would have to wear pantyhose with runs, because he did not have $2.00 to give me to buy another pair. My clothes were purchased at yard sales, even the clothes I wore to work and church. He convinced me we should apply for food stamps, and we got them. Looking back, I now completely see and identify this as financial domestic abuse. Yes, there is such a creature, and it exists in far too many relationships. It is a major source of power and control by abusers.

I eventually learned that my income was supporting the three of us—my husband, my daughter and me. But it was also supporting his other wife (Yes, as in a bigamist) and her two sons living in another state, as well as a girlfriend and her toddler who lived in a nearby town. During the process of my second divorce, I kept asking myself, “How did I let this happen? I’ve been abused again.” Was I too trusting of others—or merely that gullible and naïve? Was I that desperate to have a man in my life? Unfortunately, probably “yes” to all the above. My self-esteem was just that low and deficient.

Once more I began a new life—a single woman intent on never, ever crossing paths another time with an abusive man. I was single for a total of 17 years. I managed to keep most males at arm’s length for well over 13 of those years, refusing to even date at all. Then I met this guy. We saw each other constantly, at first. I fell deeply in love. He took me for granted, and life was like a yo-yo. One weekend we were in bliss, the next I was alone at my home while he left his to party with his friends. He would even share with me about the women he’d meet while he was out learning to dance. (Did I already mention naïve and gullible?). Our communication became less and less, and it was only by coincidence that I found out he had not only met another woman, but had married her. Thankfully, we had agreed to abstain from sex due to religious purposes, so back into the cave I went.

Carolyn is an advocate for sexual/domestic violence and assault awareness, also focusing on child sexual abuse. She is a Life Direction & Empowerment Coach, working with victims and survivors of molestation, sexual assault, domestic violence or spousal abuse, and bringing training to organizations seeking to help victims. Hennecy spent much time during October 2011, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, with media doing radio and television interviews. See Carolyn’s interview with Gayle Guyardo of NBC Channel 8 News Today Early Morning Show and her featured segment on the ABC Action News Emmy Award winning “Taking Action Against Domestic Violence” at orangeblossomwishes.com.

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