Me: Do you ever think about the times you put your hands around my throat and choked me? What were you thinking when you were doing it?
Him: No, I had low blood sugar, don’t remember much.
Me: That is a lie. You weren’t low either time. You were angry.
Him: Well anyway if you have something to say about the kids cool I have tried to forget all that other stuff
Me: I’m glad you can forget it. I can’t. You caused forever pain to me and you were never held accountable for it. You’ve never admitted it. It’s not fair.
Him: …I’m done with this nonsense.
Why is it that I need to know why? Last night I had this conversation with my ex. It’s been a few years since we divorced, but last night was the first time I’ve ever asked him the question. I needed to know why? Was he intending to kill me? Was he just enraged and lost control? Was he trying to scare me? Why do I need to know after all this time?
My ex was not your typical batterer…he didn’t try to control me at all. He didn’t isolate me from my friends or family, he didn’t keep tabs on my every move. He didn’t fit the mold of what I see day in and day out here in my line of work. Maybe that’s why I needed to know. Was it just me? Did I bring out the worst in him? Would he do the same things to his next wife?
Yesterday I sat through a training for law enforcement titled Assault by Strangulation: Investigating and Documenting Cases. The class was meant to assist law enforcement when responding to domestic abuse calls involving strangulation. The instructor talked a lot about the neurobiology of a victim and how they react during a traumatic event. Part of the class was spent watching a 20 minute video that related to long term domestic violence suffered by one woman in New York. The woman had lived with physical and emotional abuse from her husband while her children video taped and participated. It’s purpose was to help the class understand why women don’t leave and instead stay and put up with the abuse for years. I’ve seen it before, but for some reason yesterday I had a very different emotional reaction to it. It made me angry. It made me angry at myself and it made me angry at the abusers out there. I was so mad at myself for staying and putting up with the abuse and letting him get away with it. I never called the police. I never made him accountable for his actions. He tried to blame it on his diabetes or say that he didn’t remember. He did have diabetic lows that would cause him to get physically violent, but that was not the reason we fought. I am sure of that. I lived with him long enough to know the difference. He just wouldn’t admit it. I’m sure his family and friends believe his story and excuse him from what he continued to do to me sometimes in front of our children. That’s what makes me the most angry, that I allowed my children to witness this. I let them think it was ok. Now I have to make sure they know it wasn’t ok without trash talking their father. That’s not easy, but it’s important that I not try to influence their feelings for their father based on things he did to me. I was also angry at the abusers for putting women in these horrible positions. I was angry because many of them don’t even realize what they are doing and how terrible it is.
Last night was the first night since I left my ex-husband that I cried about what he did to me. It was the first time that I allowed the pain to come out. It surprised me. I didn’t realize how much it had affected me and hurt me. As I cried to my husband, he tells me that I’m the strongest person he knows and calls me his hero. I laughed…how can you say I’m strong as I’m sitting here sobbing? How can I be your hero when I stayed and put up with an abusive husband? I didn’t feel very strong, rather I felt pretty weak in that moment. I just wanted to go to bed and forget that it ever happened. Unfortunately, I can’t. I even dreamt about it and my husband had to wake me from the nightmare as I woke him screaming or fighting, I’m not sure which this time.
It’s not fair that I have to live with the pain and the ugly reminder of what he did to me, yet he never has to answer for it. He’s never going to have to be accountable for what he did. I’ll never know why and he just gets to forget about it…the nonsense. I guess for me I just have to accept the fact that I’ll never get the answers and it’s my fault he won’t be held accountable since I never reported it. I have to find a way to put it behind me.