Her Story – Feature 10

It’s been 8 years since I left my abuser, yet he keeps following me around. In the last 2 years I’ve moved 3 times to get away from him and he found us every time. We’re getting ready for move number 4 and this time I won’t tell anyone our new address because they accidentally disclosed the last 2 addresses.

I feel more and more overwhelmed every day, trying to cope with the regular routine of caring for 2 children, working fulltime and trying to manage and keep up with Court and all the requirements of Court, plus keeping a watchful eye out for my abuser. I have to make sure he doesn’t catch us off guard anymore…I need to protect my children, they’ve been traumatized enough.

I’m really tired of living like this…I want to make a good life for myself and my children, but it’s hard when we have to keep moving. It is so bad now that I had to quit my job of over 10 years because he knows where I work and has followed me home in order to see where we’re living. I had to make a choice between having a job, being able to independently take care of myself and my children and keeping safe. Keeping safe won over the job. To prepare for this move, I’ve separated myself from everything he knows about. I will be more careful this time. I’ve even changed schools for my children. I’m making it as difficult as I possibly can for him to find us this time.

I thought I knew all there was to know about abuse. My friends and I would talk a lot about what we would do if we met and started dating an abuser. But what we talked about and how I met and married my abuser were very different. When we met, he constantly talked about being open in his relationships. That what you see is what you get, and that he liked showing potential girlfriends the worst of himself, this way they know up front what they are getting into. So there I was thinking that him being a slob, was the worst there was. I could deal with that, I told myself, I was from a family of boys and I was the only girl, I was used to that.

My brothers liked him right away. He was that guy with contacts everywhere, who could get tickets to any game you wanted to attend. He would always talk about the celebrities he knows…the ones I never got a chance to meet because I’d just missed them by a few minutes or something came up and they had to cancel…you know how busy these celebrities are? All my family and friends were in love with this charmer, so when things started happening that bothered me, they all just said I needed to lighten up a bit, that I was always too serious and stuffy. But I started noticing that his stories were getting more and more outrageously self-promoting. When we met new people and he was in his element talking every one’s ear off…I would notice that some details of his stories were different from the version I was told when we first met. But that wasn’t all, his worst…being a slob, was not the worst thing about him by far.

Over time and only after we were married, I noticed that his sense of humour changed. If I stubbed my toe or hit my elbow, he would find it very funny and laugh continuously, or he’d pick up my cat and throw her around, supposedly to confirm that cats always land on their feet. Some of what he did to my cat seemed very cruel to me, but his response was always, “lighten up”. He started playing pranks of me. Pranks that I didn’t find funny, but would make him laugh for hours. One day I was getting ready to sit at the dining table for supper and as I was sitting on the chair, he moved the chair and I sat on the floor instead. Even though I hurt my back he still laughed and took every opportunity to remind me about the incident and laugh some more. His pranks were constant…we were walking home from the movies one night and as I was stepping to the side of a post, he pushed me back and I ended up hitting my head on the post. On another occasion, he wanted to see how much I trusted him and so we usually do things like one person close their eyes while the other person walked them home. This game was fun at first until he deliberately walked me into a pole one day. He thought that was hilarious and dramatized it for me on a regular basis. His pranks were constant. They got more and more dangerous, sometimes leaving me with bruises. I could not go through a day with him playing a few pranks on me.

There were other things he’d do like, push me while I was carrying a pot of hot water from the stove to the sink. Put his feet out while I was walking by and I would trip over them and sometimes I saw it coming and would side step only to have him use the other foot to push me over. Tip my glass while I was drinking so it spilled all over me and it didn’t matter if my drink was hot or cold. Hit my hand as I was putting a fork full of food in my mouth, sometimes the fork would hurt the top of my mouth. He’d walk through a door ahead of me, then slam it hard as I was walking through. These are just a few of the things he’d do in the name of pranking. In the early stages when I didn’t get hurt, I just thought he needed to grow up, but then when I started getting hurt all the time I didn’t like where the pranking was going and he didn’t seem to want to stop. He thought what he did was so hilarious and I just didn’t have a sense of humor, but I realized that what he was doing was gradually escalating to where I was hurt in a prank two to three times sometimes more per week.

It was hard to explain the reason for so many cuts, bruises and burns repeatedly, every week. He would tell everyone that I was super clumsy and uncoordinated and that’s why I was getting hurt all the time. He’d follow up this explanation by adding that I didn’t have any rhythm and couldn’t dance and couldn’t even walk properly to save my life. Some of our friends would laugh but some didn’t. In particular, one of his friend’s new girlfriend was not pleased with his jokes and she pulled me aside one day and talked to me about it. She told me that if he had to hurt me to keep himself entertained then our relationship didn’t seem healthy. She wanted to know how I felt about what he was doing and how it was progressing and I thought about it for a while then realized that it was affecting my confidence. Some things I could easily do before, was becoming more difficult because I was buying into the “I’m uncoordinated and clumsy” litany.

Over the next months, I paid more attention to everything he did and said and how I felt about it. I knew things were not going to change so I told him I was going to leave because he was hurting me all the time. He got even meaner and started yelling insults. He told me that no one would want me because I was so clumsy and always spilling and breaking things and hurting myself and blaming it on him. He twisted all his pranks around and explained them away by saying that I walked into him or bumped into him when I spilled a pot of hot water on my foot. Or, I wasn’t looking where I was going and tripped over his foot. This was completely not what happened and when I told him that he called me a liar and told me I needed to take responsibility for my actions. He also told me that I would never leave him because I was weak and couldn’t come up with a good thought without him.

I left. I took my children and my cat and we stayed with family until we found a place of our own. He’s been following me around since. He shows up everywhere…I hope this time he won’t find us because I’m really tired and just want to settle down with my children.