When I decided to get married at 19 my friends were all jealous, I had met the one. He was tall, in the military and came from a strong religious family. I walked down the aisle with a huge smile thinking about my happily ever after. He deployed shortly after we were married, I was so proud to be a military wife. I wrote him daily, was overly involved with everything for his unit and the ship he was on and even made sure that I spent holidays with his family even though he wasn’t there. I wanted everything to be perfect during his deployment and when he came home.
Shortly after his return he started changing. He wasn’t the loving man that I married. I just pushed it out of my mind thinking that maybe it was just the difference of being home versus ship life and finally living as a traditional married couple. He started commenting on my wardrobe, my weight and ‘helping’ to make slight changes that would make ME feel better about myself. It didn’t take long before the verbal became physical.
Seven years ago I found the courage to leave that relationship and move forward. I left that night with nothing but a backpack and no where to go. Being young and married, I was so focused on being a ‘good’ wife that I spent four years convincing myself that everything was ok. It’s not like every day was bad, he did apologize each time, these were all good things that meant he was sorry… right? After weekly trips to the emergency room, watching my hair fall out, my weight fluctuating drastically and a plethora of other medical issues, I finally realized that his apologies meant nothing. Being hit, thrown, pushed and verbally abused and humiliated was not ok.
I would sneak into the house to get clothes while he was at work. The day the lease was up, 2 months after I left, I had to get the rest of my belongings so I coordinated it with him and the military lawyer that I would be there alone. He showed up while I was there. He held me against the wall and choked me, for the first I wasn’t afraid. I had finally surrendered that I would die at his mercy. I will never know why he let me go but by the time I got off the floor and caught my breath he was gone.
Three months after I left my husband I finally told my family that we were no longer together however I didn’t tell them why, I was so ashamed. I knew that there was a stigma and stereotype associated with victims of domestic violence; I didn’t want that following me. I didn’t want people questioning why I stayed, why I didn’t leave the first time. I knew that no one would understand the amount of control that this man had over me.