real life

"The first time my husband hit me."

I overheard a conversation one day at a restaurant, a woman said to her friend “if my husband ever lays a hand on me, I’m gone.” I can only assume they knew someone who was being abused and were referring to that situation as she offered up her opinion.

Funny thing, I’ve always had the same opinion. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve said the same thing, until it happened to me.

I think it was a long time coming, there had always been a roughness of sorts. Since my kids were born, when they would cry at night, I would get in “trouble” for it so to speak.

Once, while I was 8 months pregnant with my second son, I was being screamed at in the middle of the night because I heard our first son crying. I went into his room to quiet him down hoping my husband wouldn’t know I went in there, he didn’t like me comforting our kids at night if they cried.

After I rubbed our son’s back for a little while, I could feel a presence in the room. I can still see it. I can still feel it.

When I tried to leave the room, the screaming began. I managed to make it into our bathroom where I ended up on the floor covering my stomach. I wasn’t hit that day, but I knew for sure the day was coming.

Flash forward a bit…

"After I rubbed our son’s back for a little while, I could feel a presence in the room. I can still see it. I can still feel it." Image via iStock.

The first instance that crossed the line came on in 2011. We were taking our kids to my parents for dinner, when our youngest started throwing a fit in the car. He does that, he can throw some crazy fits, he especially could when he was younger.

At that time, my parents lived close to our home so we were not in the car long. However, my son was screaming and kicking the back of my husband’s seat while he was driving. He kicked until his shoes fell off. My husband was furious.

Naturally, that would make any parent upset but this wasn’t that kind of upset. He was yelling at me to fix it, saying his fit was my fault. We pulled up in my parents driveway, opened the doors to get the kids out of the car and that is when it happened.

He picked up my son’s shoe and hit me on the arm with it as hard as he could.

I managed to say something along the lines of “you can’t do that to me.” Then, I froze. It hurt, it hurt bad.

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"I was in shock, I couldn’t take in what had just happened and I had no idea what to do." Image via iStock.

We walked into my parents house, my arm was red and burning hot. My sister made some kind of comment about us having an attitude. I was in shock, I couldn’t take in what had just happened and I had no idea what to do. Hardly able to move my arm for about an hour, we continued on through the day trying to act as normal as possible.

I should have spoken up right then at that moment but I didn’t.

Over the next few days, very little words were spoken between us. He never apologized, he never addressed it. We had been through marriage counseling in the past, I decided to call the marriage counselors at our church to see us again.

He believed marriage counseling was a joke, just a time for me to tell all the bad things about him that he didn’t believe were actually bad so eventually, he stopped going.

I wish I would have left but I didn’t.

I met him when I was 17 years old, I became an adult with this person and at that time, I had nothing but excuses for his behavior. I kept thinking maybe it was a mid-life crisis or a hard time at work. My mind tried to make it go away but it was still there, it changed the way I was around him. It changed everything.

Now, there was an extra element of fear involved.

I didn’t tell my family, I flat out did not know what to do. This is something that happens to other people and all of the sudden, it had happened to me.

"This is something that happens to other people and all of the sudden, it had happened to me." Image via iStock.
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We had only two instances of physical abuse in that last year of our marriage but it was two too many. The second instance happened only a few months later, I didn’t call the police, I called our church marriage counselors. He was confronted and I went through intense counseling trying to understand what was happening. My marriage counselor told me to give him an ultimatum and get out.

I kept hanging on, I couldn’t let it go.

Looking back it’s weird, it felt like a spell of some sort. It keeps you hoping, it keeps you guessing and thinking it was your fault, it keeps you locked in. Sometimes, I would get real and think that’s it, I’m getting out. That would always be about the time, our pastor would quote divorce statistics in a sermon or preach about fighting for your marriage no matter what. Then, I’d get hit with guilt about thinking I could get out and I would decide to stay.

Everyday was a war in my own mind.

I knew I would not stay if it got anymore intense, I was forming boundaries in my mind, it just took some time to get there. I was also working and on television every single day and teaching in churches all over the place at this point. I couldn’t imagine in my head what people would think of me if I filed for divorce. I hate to say I thought about perception but I did.

The first time it happens almost feels like the worst because the line is crossed at that point. There’s no going back, there’s no way to undo what happened and from that point on you live in the fear of it happening again. It’s like a fuse gets lit but you never know when it’s going to blow.

I think it’s natural to give excuses, to think it’s your fault. But, it’s not. Let me also say it is no more ok for woman to hit a man than it is for a man to hit a woman. Women do not get a free pass either.

I wish I would have stood up for myself and left. Every situation is different but I can tell you I didn’t deserve that and I know with 100% certainty that was not the marriage God wanted us to have. Period. I stuck it out another 8 months or so and then it was done. You can read about that here.

If you’re in an abusive situation, even if it was only once, get help. Call a counselor, call the police, call your mom, call someone. Don’t let it be a secret, what lies in the dark destroys us, let it be brought to the light. If there was a first time, let it be the last time and get help.

It is not your fault.

This post was originally published on BlogHer.com and has been republished here with full permission. 

Sarah Roe runs the popular blog Money Saving Queen. You can follow her on Twitter here, and on Facebook here

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