Today….4 years ago….the first step….

It’s hard to believe the difference in my life today compared to four years ago on this day.  You see four years ago today was the day I finally got the courage to put an end to an immensely unhealthy and abusive relationship.  I was scared….I tried to break it off with him several times before and had always been lured back. Promises were made and broken.

There’s part of that abusive relationship that I’ve never written about.  I’ve rarely spoken of it, only the advocates at the shelter know the whole truth.  Why haven’t I wrote of this before, you ask? Because it still hurts too much.  Not so much what happened in that relationship four years ago but my inability to stop it.  I have guilt about what happened….why couldn’t I put a stop to it.  Why?  How could I let this happen and not take measures to stop it?

Was it the immense cloud of grief that consumed my life because of my husbands death just the year before? Was it the panic of isolation, the sense of not wanting to rock the boat?  The need to feel secure in a relationship….rather than….

Sigh….I’ve never blogged about some of the things that happened.  I suppose part of it is because I feel like a failure for not putting a stop to it.  How much is remembered? Does the hurt still remain?  Do they remember as I do?

Whom am I refering to you wonder??  Who is this vague “they”? I shudder at the memories.  My brain screams “Why didn’t you call the cops?” “Why didn’t you press charges?” “How could you let that happen?”  and the biggest most troublesome one….the one that will haunt me for a long time to come…..

“Why didn’t you stop him from hurting your children!!??”

Yes!  There! I said it!  He hurt my babies.  I did stop him, but not soon enough.  I didn’t press charges.  Why didn’t I call the cops?  Why???  What kind of mother am I that I thought…..what the hell did I think?  I don’t even know.  Looking back a lot of that time is still blurred by the cloud of grief I was in.  I know I felt trapped….I mean I was living in “his” home….I remember always walking on eggshells.  I remember him telling me that he’d had a relationship with the Shelter Advocate as a way to try to control me and keep me from reaching out for help. There was so many lies….so much power and control.

The worst of it was his inability to deal with Cecelia’s disability. You see he just didn’t have the patience let alone any understanding nor empathy for what it was she was going through.  Sure he read about autism….he lorded it over me….how much he read compared to how much I’d read and how dare I not read every book he suggested.

He always knew best.  He thought he could “break” her.  What do I mean by that? If you know anything about autistic children you know that they are always on the move.  It’s hard for them to be still.  Back then Cecelia had such intense sensory processing issues that she was just completely overwhelmed all the time.  He thought if he just restrained her….let her scream….that that would fix her.  That she’d eventually stop. She didn’t….she’d scream and scream and struggle against him.  She’d struggle so hard that she’d burst the blood vessels in her face.  Making her look as though she’d been polka dotted with a purple marker. That was just one of the things he did.  He was so strict, so firm, so controlling.

I don’t know how many times he did this to her.  I shudder at the thought.  He’d only do it mildly around me….except one time….the one time he just wouldn’t stop.  I screamed at him to stop.  I threatened to call the cops.  He let her go.  My poor girl….why didn’t I press charges?  How many other times had he done this to you? You had no words….no way of telling me if he was mistreating you.

Why??? Why!!?? Didn’t I press charges? I can’t answer that question now because I don’t know why I didn’t press charges.  If anyone were to do anything remotely resembling that today I’d not only press charges but probably get physical myself in protecting my child.

There were other incidents….other forms of abuse my children were subjected to.  I had a real wake up call when he went to spank Glenna (who wasn’t even a year old yet) because she was pounding her hands on the highchair….I happened to reach for her hands at the same time he took a swing at her.  He hit me instead of her….sigh….thank goodness for that!  My hand/wrist/arm was throbbing/red/swollen from the strike….he used a book….why is it so easy to see how wrong it is now….but then….then….

I’ve been told by very wise and experienced DV Shelter Advocates that my reaction or lack there of was completely normal. The power and control of domestic violence leads us down many paths that when we are in the relationship we cannot see as we now can….from the outside….hindsight….hindsight is 20/20….sigh….

Not all was lost during those dark days….I survived….but most importantly I learned.  I’ve found myself….I’ve found my courage and most importantly my intense instinct to protect my children has returned….no longer am I lost in grief….no longer do I blindly trust!  In my opinion, there are just some people who should never be around/have children, especially not chidren with special needs. It takes a very very special person to care for and love a child and an even stronger person to care for and love a special needs child.

I will never again so lightly enter a relationship with a man because part of me will always remember the abuse my children and I suffered in Bristol Bay.  Just now…..four years later….am I even starting to entertain the idea.  Sure I know that there’s probably men out there who love and cherish children that are not their own but….sigh….but….it will take a very long time and very special person to prove to me that such a person can be in my life. There will always be questions in my mind….”How much did he hurt her?  What happened when I wasn’t there? Will she ever be able to tell me if he did….does she remember? How cruel was he?”  Questions that will never have answers….questions I can only hope will be forgotten ….erased by many many happy memories since then and to come.

I’ve learned to not be rushed, to put my children first but most importantly that life is a choice!  I choose to NEVER let someone hurt us again like that.  I choose that, god forbid, I find myself in such a circumstance that I will follow through….I will press charges….to the FULLEST extent of the law!  Children cannot defend themselves….it’s our jobs as parents to protect our children….no one elses.  We are their parents…no one ….no matter what happens….can ever change that.

In my job….well for over half my life….I’ve been a mandated reporter.  It’s a necessary evil that should not have to exist for children should be cherished.  I think morally everyone should be mandated reporters.  Is it easy?! Oh heck no!  It tears a bit at my heart every time I’ve had to make a report of harm….but I know in my heart that I must do it.  We have to be the voice for those who don’t have one or cannot use theirs!

I take solace in several things today…..

  1. We’re safe….
  2. We survived….
  3. It could’ve been worse….
  4. I’m strong enough to share this….one of the hardest pieces of my life….
  5. I hope in this sharing I can help others escape the same fate
  6. I am me! I am proud! I know who I am! I know where I come from! I know where I’m going!!
  7. Never again will I give that power to someone else….it is mine and mine alone.
  8. I have a choice….
  9. I have a voice….
  10. Life is awesome!

About annstrongheart

About me...hmmm where to start. I'm a proud single/widowed mom of two beautiful girls who currently works full time for the local Tribe. Life. Is. AWESOME!
This entry was posted in Ann Strongheart, autism, Domestic Violence, DV Shelter, parenting and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Today….4 years ago….the first step….

  1. I am so happy for you and proud of you that you have reached this day when you can say with confidence that you are in charge of your life and family! You have been through so much, come through the darkness of loss and abuse and triumphed over the obstacles you faced. Life indeed is awesome!

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