I was asked this question last week by a victim I worked with while at the County Prosecutor’s office. This is a woman who called the police last summer because her husband had “spanked” her. When the police showed up, she was outside waiting. She immediately pulled down her pants and said “Does this look like a joke?” What she showed the police officer was a very bruised bottom. When I read the police report, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. On this particular incident, she reported that her husband spanked her at least 60 times with a wooden paddle.
There was much more to this story that I would slowly uncover. This woman had lived a horrific life for almost all of her 50 years. Starting at a very young age, she was sexually assaulted by her own father. He continued to assault her until she left home.
When she was just 20 she got married. Shortly after her marriage, her new husband started physically assaulting her which later turned to sexual abuse and torture. The torture included being spanked and put in the corner when she didn’t do as he wanted as well as having a catheter inserted when she didn’t ask permission to use the restroom. For 30 years she experienced some type of abuse almost daily. She suffered some of the most unthinkable experiences. She was steadily belittled and put down. She was told she was a loser, a failure, fat, ugly, stupid…the list goes on. She believed him. She thought she was a loser. She was even forced to participate in incomprehensible sexual acts with him as well as others.
She has 3 children, 2 of which belong to her husband, and the other is presumed to belong to her own father. The story gets worse…all three of her children were sexual assaulted by her husband and it is believed that he assaulted their grandchildren as well.
This is an evil evil man. The most evil of all men. Fortunately, he now spends his days and nights behind bars and hopefully will for quite some time.
Now it took this poor woman over a month to start to cooperate with prosecution. She was afraid to go against him. She still loved him. Abuse is all she had ever known. She had never had a normal life. She hadn’t ever been alone. She didn’t know how to live alone.
With a lot of support, she has come to see him for who he is, but she still struggles. Of course she is still going to struggle. It hasn’t even been a year since she had him arrested. She hasn’t seen him since he was arrested other than in court once or twice.
Unfortunately she doesn’t have any family support and actually, they treat her pretty poorly. They walk all over her because she never learned how to stand up for herself. She and I still talk pretty regularly and I try to build her up and provide support for her. When she asked me when she will get better, I tried to explain to her that it will take time. She has suffered abuse for over 40 years so it’s not going to get better right away. She has to give it time.
How much time is enough time to get better? Well there is no real answer to that. Each person is different. Some people can start to feel better right away and others take longer. It’s important to stay positive, reach out to those who can uplift and support you, and have lots of patience. Those things will help while rebuilding a life free of abuse. I tell her she is going to have bad days and that’s ok. We all have bad days. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Stay strong and push through it. I believe she will make it through in her own time. She deserves a better life.