Kerri (a pseudonym) survived verbal, physical and sexual abuse from her children’s father.
Can you describe who your abuser was and how the abuse began?
He is my children’s father. The abuse began with manipulation and lies. Financial abuse. Then came the physical and sexual abuse.
Can you share more about your story, as much as you are comfortable?
At first I told myself it wasn’t that bad because he didn’t hit me. He didn’t even hit me until one year after we broke up. I was stuck living with him and didn’t know where to go.
It was on Thanksgiving 3 years ago that he punched me in the face in front of our children while drunk driving in the snow to go home. It was scary. I feared for my kids’ lives. We got home and he stole my phone so I couldn’t call the police and he threw me around the house cornering me with chairs, smashing my phone, throwing things at me and unpacking my bags I was trying to pack to leave. I left in my car while leaving my kids behind because I felt he would kill them or me if I tried to make them and he chased me on foot up the road throwing rocks at my car and he punched my side mirror out.
The abuse kept getting worse the more control he was losing over me. He wouldn’t watch our kids so I could work the opposite shift as him. Once he finally let me work, he could feel himself losing control and he was spiraling. He would call my work and ask if I was there. He would show up at my work and cause scenes- like throwing all of my belongings in the parking lot up the road before we made it to my work. I had to make sure dinner was on the table and the house was spotless by the time he got home and I had to leave for work, otherwise I would hear about it.
There was zero privacy regarding my time, my work schedule, my conversations with friends, my body. One time he set up a hidden camera in the bathroom to watch me shower when he wasn’t home. I would wake up in the middle of the night and he was watching me. He did this for days until one night I woke up to him sexually assaulting me while my child was breastfeeding. I told him I didn’t know he was doing that and I didn’t want it, and he told me that I was enjoying it. I said I was sleeping and it was not okay. And he did it again the next night.
So I finally left. I moved me and my kids in with a stranger & rebuilt from nothing- not even our own bed. The abuse did not end there. Even two years after I moved, he came into my home unwelcomed because he saw a random car in my driveway. He flipped a man out of my bed and was threatening him, and then shoved me around in my driveway while my daughter was in my arms. I feared what would happen next to my kids and was trying to get them out of his truck safely. He was throwing things at me and kept raising his fist.
How did you feel during the time of the abuse, and what happened or changed to help you get out of the situation?
Every day I was miserable. It affected my physical health, I was so sick. I could also see it affecting my children’s mental health. I felt hopeless, but I had faith. I thought I’d never leave but something about touching me when it was unwanted and made clear how I felt about it, didn’t sit right with me. I was no longer the mom I wanted to be and I had to do something to change. My kids to deserve to see a mom who is happy.
I went into work and spoke to the new girl. I couldn’t stop crying and she told me to sit with her. She told me she had a room with a bed in it and I could bring my kids and dog. I told her I couldn’t accept that but I appreciated it. She told me the offer was always there. It was after the second night of the sexual abuse when I thought I was going to die if I tried standing up for myself, that I decided I would take the only step I had in front of me and just go for it.
What is life like now that you have gotten out of the abusive situation? How has it become better?
It was really hard at first. A lot of times I have felt lost. But I have such a clear mind now about what I’m willing or not willing to accept, and I have solid boundaries. I have learned to love myself, and all of my flaws & I know my worth and will not settle for less. I take a lot of time for myself. I go for hikes and spend a lot of time outdoors to clear my mind. I love writing and often find comfort and peace in writing my story for other women to read and feel hope. That is what saved me to begin with; reading others stories and seeing what I was feeling was not crazy.