January 8, 2013

A Beyond Survivor's Story: Girl Without Shoes - Part 2

Last week, I introduced you to Margaret Marie and we learned of some of the terrifying abuse that she survived. Here is Part 2 of her story ...


Two years had passed and my life was looking much better. My son and I were very happy; he is so precious to me. I continued to work at my state job, had made a great real estate deal and was debt free. I vowed that I would be very careful about other relationships, since I had such a bad first marriage. I had also found a relationship with the Lord, so I was more optimistic that my life was going to change for the better. 

I met a man who said that he was training to be a pastor, and was setting sound for a Christian band that had cut an album. I was convinced that he was who he appeared to be. We dated for two years before we were married. I did not want to rush into things. He never missed church and pursued active involvement with the church; it all looked so safe. I had not been healed totally or delivered, which I believe is why I fell into the same trap a second time. 

We married, and the night of our honeymoon I found myself in the Adirondacks, in the middle of nowhere, with a man I did not know. He sat staring at the wall, and would not speak to me. I know now that he was experiencing a dissociative phenomenon. I saw problems coming right away. The first year was the only decent year of our marriage; everything went bad after that. 

This man had all the classic "cookie cutter" characteristics of an abuser--none of which I had noticed in the two years before the piece of paper uniting us had come into play. How does somebody do that? It's called manipulation! He began to control me. Everything that I did, he had to control. He began to have tantrums when he did not get his own way. He isolated me from my family, my friends, and the people who could speak into my life. There was no one who could speak into my life or give me any support for what was really going on in my life. After we were married for two years, my second husband was driving us in a truck. It was my kindergartner, my new son, and me (who was pregnant with another baby).

Some other young man got in my husband's way as he was driving out of the school. He had just picked up his little sister who was five years old and was in front of our truck. My ex-husband went crazy and started to deliberately smash repeatedly into the young man's car. The little girl was screaming and my kids were screaming because of the height of insanity that we were all experiencing. This would be the first of many 'reckless endangerment to a child' charges (there were four children in the two vehicles) that would be filed against him. There were multiple 'assault' and 'assault with a deadly weapon' charges that would be lodged against him over the next 17 years. He is currently registered as a child abuser in this state.

I never knew when I would have a gun to my head or pointed at someone else. He would awaken me at knife point. He shot a hole through the floorboard of my car as I drove to work one day. He took an ax to my car and chopped it to the point of rendering it nonfunctional. I still had to pay for the car. I was beaten and raped, and property damage was almost a daily event. Over the 17 years, my children and I witnessed physical (property damage is also considered physical abuse), emotional, mental, spiritual, sexual and financial abuse by this perpetrator. 

I personally feel that the term 'battered women' is a non-functional term. Statistics reveal that in most cases where there are women, there are children. When domestic violence is occurring in a family, it is more appropriate to say 'family abuse' or 'battered family.' Of course there are always exceptions to this statement, dependent upon who is in the family. We were a battered family. In all those years, our lives were threatened in some way almost on a daily basis. The level of this abuser's destructiveness served to keep us all convinced that he was capable of destroying us just as traumatically as he destroyed everything that he put his hands on. 

I had tried to leave him multiple times. We were in safe houses a few times. He would draw me to court and I would be mandated to allow him to see his children whenever he wanted. I have three wonderful children, two of which were his, a boy and a girl, and the other son is from my first abusive marriage. These children witnessed the destruction of seven table and chair sets, multiple phones, computers, and all of my antiques. I had a beautiful antique piano, the back of which was ornately carved. He shot holes in the ivory keys and used an ax to scrape the carving off. He destroyed every piece of furniture in the house. The children knew that he had many affairs, and when confronted about his infidelity, he would destroy property. At one time I was paying a mortgage and there was nothing left of the interior of the house; no furniture, dishes, walls. He even tore the toilet out of the floor and threw it and it smashed. We had to go hide during this time. 

He drew me to court, and sent the police looking for me so that I would get the subpoena. The children would have to lose time at school. They would lose belongings and would have to see the results of this destruction at some point, even if they were not always there when it happened. We spent a lot of time at the library. The children still love the safety and quiet of libraries. Every time I would get an order of protection, the abuser would go to court and fight to see the kids, even though the kids were terrified of him. 

Abusers will use the court system as another avenue to abuse the family. They will use the kids as pawns to pull their victim back into the cycle of abuse. What many people do not realize is that abusive people pursue their victims in an obsessive manner. People say, "Why don't they (the victims) just leave?" Victims are stalked, called obsessively, manipulated, lied to and terrorized by the perpetrator in whatever manner possible. 

In the US, 75% of the victims of domestic violence are either killed or severely injured when they try to escape the cycle of abuse. As indicated earlier, this abuser was arrested multiple times. He came from a family that had money, so when he got arrested, they would bail him out. Each time he got out, we were in grave danger because he would be angry about the arrest and look for revenge. 

I became depressed, even to the point of suicidal ideations, because I saw no way out! The only reason that I would not do such a thing to myself was because of the children; someone had to be there for them. Someone had to teach them that there was a different way to live. I taught the children that what was happening was wrong, illegal, and a criminal activity.

I always planned our lives so that the kids would not be left alone with him (if possible). This was especially true once I began to plan a way of escape. I would pick them up after their after school activities. All of them knew how to call 911 at a young age; they knew to run to the neighbors if he started to get violent--especially if I was being attacked. It was a treacherous way to live. I taught them an emergency plan. These kids had to grow up way before their time. 

I started planning the day of escape. I pulled all our important papers and items together (birth certificates, social security cards, insurance papers, pictures, clothes, etc.) and put them in the trunk of my car (which was packed full). I kept counsel with the domestic violence program advocate. I was now waiting for God's help to make sure this final escape happened. I had to surrender this to God--that this time would be different. I had collected many pictures of damaged property for court education and just wanted the time to be right. The abuser had gotten out of so many charges before. I have got to say that I am not sure why this repeat offender was not locked up.


Check in next week for Part 3 of Margaret Marie's story. 

Learn more about Margaret Marie's published works at http://margaretmarie.com.
Margaret Marie is a credentialed rehabilitation counselor, holding the degrees of Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Studies, and Master of Science in Psychiatric Rehabilitation. She has an extensive clinical background working with individuals with various disabilities. She is a survivor of 47 years of living with abuse and violence, and has counseled many people from abusive families.

Margaret is an avid speaker in schools, churches, and other community agencies, and is an advocate against violence in our homes and lives. Her great desire is to see people set free from the cycle of abuse. Her message is simple: “Your life has a divine purpose, though you may not know yet what that purpose is.” She proclaims that with God’s help, people can overcome their circumstances instead of allowing their circumstances to overcome them.

In her presentations, Margaret shares strategies for people who may be stuck in a cycle of abuse, and is always ready to share a message of how to be an overcomer. “Through God, all things are possible!”

You can contact Margaret Marie at overcomerpublishing@gmail.com.

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