As of November 5,
2004 my divorce is filed in the St. Charles, Missouri County Court, and is
To para quote the Bible. "Woman thou art Loosed."
July 1-2004 I finally did what I have wanted to do for many years now. I have filed for divorce and my lake home is under contract for sale and my little mobile home here in St Charles, Mo. will be my permanent residence, at least for now. It should be final in a few months as this is a peaceful ending.
I am looking forward to this next phase
in my life and the inner peace of knowing I will no longer have the past still
surrounding me and I can put that part of my life in just that, the past,
and I can begin to heal emotionally and physically in that respect. Maybe
now I will be able to forgive my self for ever having been with someone like
that and having allowed such happenings to have occurred in the first place
and not having the strength and courage to change it.
Never again will I allow abuse of any form in my life even if it means excluding certain family members and friends who are not supportive of me and my decisions and choices of what makes me happy now, be they right or wrong. I have had to learn to grab my self happiness along the way where ever I could in this empty marriage, now I am reborn, I am grown, I am free and I have to answer to no one.
I put 33 years of my life into that past and I am getting a late start on a new beginning, but the time is right, now. I have been with this man since I was 23 years old and oh so dependent, but I will go on to face and embrace what ever fate brings me in these my senior years what ever the struggles, and be assured in the knowing, with the help of dear friends and God's grace I will SURVIVE!
Paula, "Simply Angel"
I am dedicating this page to all victims of domestic violence. Survivors and those on the road like myself.
My Own Story
My story is not much different than any
other story of spousal abuse. It might not even be as traumatic or eventful
as many we have read about or seen on TV, but it is mine. I suffered no broken
bones or lasting outer physical scars. Just an inner scar as big as my inner
self and an ache in my soul that will stay with me till I die. My pain was
real, from the beatings that sent me to the emergency room, to the pain of
isolation from friends and family. Isolation is an all too common factor in
abusive relationships, you either or isolated by him with threats or choose
to out of embarrassment. This was my choice.
As we all know, no pain is as bad as our own. The abuse is over, but the pain is there for me, for the wasted years I endured this and for the knowing it was by my choice. For the loss of my youth dedicated to try and make a go of a no win situation. And the guilt of having sense enough, but not using it to leave, and the slapping insult to my own intelligence for having been with someone like that in the first place. This all comes later trust me, you will grow into your self. Like they say hindsight is 20/20.
There are no reasons or advantages to writing any of this down and posting it on my site, other than to perhaps sway someone who is hanging on to a mentally or physically abusive relationship in the hopes that it will fix itself. Nor can I write every detail, this is only a condensed short. We are talking about over thirty years now, even with the physical abuse having ended some 20 years ago.
I will not call myself a true "Survivor" yet as I still am in this relationship, still fully financially dependent on this man, but I have at least taken the necessary steps needed to end the personal aspect of this arrangement. That is a start, in what may be the hardest road I ever walked. From now on I can only take it one step at a time.
In the beginning, I admit it, I believed my self truly in love with my abuser. I wish I could give you a logical reason for this, there were none.
He was just someone that came along at that time in my life and perhaps loneliness or the fear of it delusioned me. I had just that year finally had the courage to leave my Mothers house and make a life of my own, at the age of 23. Home life with her had been more than mundane, my father had died when I was 15, ending her own abusive marriage. She was a very controlling and religious fanatic woman and had become very dependent upon me both financially and as a helpmate for my two younger sisters. I can recall no signs of affection my entire childhood, between my parents or toward me. I have no real family memories. I myself am a clinger a hugger and lover of affection, thus I crave it. I had, a few men friends prior to this but had never had any real emotional relationships . Our constant moving as a child also had made it impossible to have even lasting friendships with other children. Most people did not meet her approval anyway. Perhaps this is why my heart was so ready for love when I was finally able to leave, I was free to care about whom I pleased right or wrong. Now don't get me wrong, I am in no way blaming her or anyone else for my own life choices. I am a true believer though that we seem to follow certain patterns instilled in us within our environment and social status. More than likely any child of an abusive home will end up in that same sort of environment either as the abused or as the abuser.
We met when I was 23 and I gave birth to our daughter at 24 alone, I called him and told him he had a daughter and he was more than put out that I was holding him up on the phone, because he was on his way fishing. I later learned that he had taken some old girl friend he still snuck around with along with his parents that day. He never even came to see her till she was 3 months old. I never found him attractive or even personable, but when young eyes are blind, you only see what is in your heart. And if your heart is hungry you become emotionally hooked. I had my warning signs before we married, and many of them, and they would escalate to a much higher level later. Still I was determined to make a go of this on and off relationship, especially for the sake of our daughter. In most of our cases its an embarrassing situation, with a need to fix it, and to have the relationship deteriorate can bring about a lot of I told you so's. And if we think we love them and there is a slightest chance of change we will hang onto that till the end. We finally married when I was 27, with a very meant ultimatum. I often think, would it have still continued if we had not.
Alcohol was the main factor of abuse in my case. Even though as I had mentioned my own Father was an abuser, alcohol never played a role in that, his was simply of irrational jealousy. Dealing with alcohol was a whole new world to me. In the times when he was sober, which I would come to realize were few and far between, the physical abuse would not be there, even though there still were times when his words were less than kind. This is where the hope came in, its better, its going to work out. The time came when he could go no longer than 2 months sober. With each drinking spree the abuse would continue and grow more severe over the years. He held a factory job and spent many weeks on layoffs and was even free to drink on the job, so drinking could be a day in and day out life style for him. My nights consisted of abuse or seeing him semi passed out on the couch with drool running down his chin. I one time kept a big calendar going and checked off every day I came home from work and found him passed out on the living room floor. I had 30 checks on that calendar in a row. If it had not been so pathetic, it would have been comical, sometime during the time I was gone he had to have gotten up and gone to buy some more, and then passed out in the same spot on the floor? Yes this is what you want your family and friends to see. My neighbors were totally aware of him, they seen enough and heard enough, and some offered their friendship but I pretty much stayed to myself. But I could at least rest as long as he was out.
He did try a few times, well really a bunch of times, I give him that, he would quit and be very sick and promise that, that was the last time. This was what kept me hoping, is this not what we all hear? One year he even spent a month in a dry out ward at our local hospital the whole time vowing to become a counselor as soon as he was released. Two weeks later he was back on it. At that time I was working at a bank as a bank teller, yea that was a laughing stock joke job to him and he never let me forget it. But it was constant with no layoffs. I spent many of those little paychecks at the local motel, me and my kid, just to get some sleep so I could go back to work the next day. He not only was a hopeless drunk but a horse junky and lost more money at the races than we could cover sometimes.
All the classic symptoms of abuse were there, the beatings, the belittlement, the lies, the cheating. I was ugly and nobody else would have me. Looked like hee haw there for a couple days when he smashed my face into the kitchen floor and broke a front tooth. He had taken the insides out of the telephone that day so I could not hear or be heard if it rang, real rational right, and I didn't know it and when I spoke louder, "I can't hear you" he thought I was trying to call the police I guess and threw me into the kitchen floor. I had, called the cops on him many times as had the neighbors, and even had mug shots of my broken face to use as evidence, but I never followed through. I went to work on more than one occasion with visible bruises and marks and remnants of black eyes after having missed a few days work.
You can't have friends or even want your family and friends around in a situation like this. You make a lot of excuses. And their choice of friends are people just like them and you long for the company of coherent normal talking adults. At least I could escape through my job. And if I didn't have enough to deal with, the family scene was no better. On my side I would know the resentment towards him and on his the total lack of support on my behalf. He would watch me and take something I said or did and twist it into some horrible scenario lie, (like the time I chased some dogs out of my garbage can, and the story goes how I was out there screaming like a wild banshee with guns and every thing) and run to his Mommy. I called him a MF one time and he told his Dad, in the full term, and the old man came running after me cane and all, like a lunatic, claiming I had accused his wife of sleeping with their son. I can't believe the things I said and did!
He was a huge Mommys baby. He went to their house almost daily. And he always had a place to stay if needed no matter what was left unattended at home. They never thought, or refused to believe he had a serious problem and to them everything was my fault after he got through telling them all these lies. I guess I drove him to drink. It was okay to be like that, well maybe, that's how they had led their lives. Never mind the fact his first wife left him for the same reason. They were not the brightest people I ever knew. It was almost a weekly thing to have to go there and eat and be insulted in one way or the other by this witch of a woman. She reeked of beer and was very unkempt and should have been the last person to call someone names. She told him I was a Hoosier, he did stand up for me once, he said Hoosiers don't wear makeup, yea I always did like to fix myself up, but I still was ugly to him. He should have been used to ugly by then. She took the title. She would call my own Mother and tell her all these bad things that were supposedly done and said by me. Sounds like a snitching old backstabbing battle ax to me, and that's just what my family thought of her too. She even went in my purse once to see how many packs of cigarettes I had in there, so she could throw that up to me. "You suck" she said, "you just suck, anybody who smokes that much just sucks", she was real articulate too. I did smoke and I smoked heavy, I was a nut case and I still suffer from the physical effects of all the stress and turmoil.
She loved to bring up his first wife to me and would even go drag out some pictures. I met her in person a couple of years later, and was much amazed that she was not the beauty queen and perfect individual I had been compared to on more than one occasion. There was constant insults about my smoking, my looks, or my cooking, you know those snide kind only somebody receptive of them would understand. And I could outcook her when I was 10 years old. She always made sure she sent him something home to eat. Years later when the old man died and she could not entertain anymore, and she would come to my house on the holidays, she would rave on and on about how good Paula can cook. Bitch! Maybe that's why I lost all my teeth from clenching them all those years. And the insults with the money, well now that was funny. The old man was always trying to give us money $2.00 here or on a good day maybe $5.00. Puleeeze, I told you I was 27 when I married him not 12. The bestest one though was on one of my birthdays, and we happened to be at their house again,( yea that's what I say, "what a way to spend your birthday") and my thoughtful husband had not given me anything yet, so she says, seriously, "give her $10.00 and let her go to Walgreens and buy her self something." I think I got lockjaw on that one.! No one ever stood up for me against him, they believed every drunken lie he came to them with, and I had to sit around and socialize with these people. It took me many years, but I finally ended all that. I refused to go to any of their houses or social functions. And many years later after he had quit drinking, they didn't have enough good things to say about me, but the damage had been done and I have no use for people like that, I was the same woman that they had jeered and ridiculed and let him stay with them, instead of trying to make him have some responsibilities to his marriage. Where was any of them when I had my baby. His Mother laughed when I had called and told her I was pregnant. They never one time wanted to see the baby or sent her anything. They waited till after we got married, 3 yrs later, to become grandparents. Where was any of them when I was laying on some emergency room table, or needing a ride to work because he had pulled the wires on my car to keep me from going anywhere. Where were any of them when I was emotionally and physically drained and could have used a helping hand or baby sitter to let me get some rest. My Mother watched my daughter for the first 3 years of her life while I worked, and I was not about to to burden her any other time of the day or night. In my eyes they were worse than him, at least he had a pitiful excuse.
Now don't get me wrong. I got myself in trouble lots of times with my big mouth. I would have never tried to fight back physically, but I could shoot off my mouth and get knocked around for that. I have a fierce temper when I get mad, and I got mad on more than one occasion. Most of the time though you are so beaten down you just sit there and take it. I knew though , I was smart enough to know that I had to wait till he was sober to make any kind or retaliation or be prepared to take flight one way or the other. He thought he was being especially mean to me one night when he took his hand and judo chopped my coffee table in half, well I got this short handled ax and finished the rest and then the front picture window and then the car windows. Do you know what he could have done to me with that ax if he had caught me, the cops were there by now. I was safe for that night. They had locked him up a couple of times "for protective custody" .
Ever have the barrel of a gun in your back when you are trying to go out the front door? That's probably the worst feeling I ever had in my life, my blood ran cold. I had heard that expression before, but it does, you just chill from the inside out.
I had things maybe a little better than a lot of women, because I did work and could at least go to a motel if I had to, I had never even heard of a shelter back then. I had made sure I didn't have any more children, I had always thought I would like several, but under those circumstances it was not even an option for me. It was hard enough to make do for the one I had. I might as well have been a single mother during the drinking times, he never gave me a cent. Thank God he never was abusive to her, though he did not claim her as his for the first 5 years of her life. Only then, did he finally give her his name. On one occasion he did however throw her across the room onto the sofa, for trying to pull him off me.
A lot of the times he would leave on his own and go to his Mothers, or I would go to a motel, then other times I would be sleeping or pretending to be, in my own bed, and he would come in and jerk me up and force me to listen to his ramblings of the night or punch me for no reason. I have had big bald spots in my hair a couple times from having it pulled out by the roots. I have been blessed with a very thick head of hair and this made it possible to comb it in another style or pin it up somehow to cover the holes. I was a working girl, and I needed my hair.
I made a couple of attempts to end this. I actually packed up my clothes and my baby and my bird on one occasion and went back and stayed in my Mothers basement for a few weeks, only to be back home with more promises and lies. Into my marriage 5 years, I filed for divorce, and within 3 or 4 days of it becoming final, I canceled it and lost the money for it ,on another broken promise. It was around this time that I started cheating on him. I had always been so proud that I had never done it during our marriage, everytime we made up and things were good for a couple of months. I am not saying I went out all the time or even that often, just once in a while. But I did spent more than a few nights in bars trying to drink too, I never could drink or hold my liquor, I was just so desperate for men's company. I had told you the longest he was ever sober was 2 months, then he would drink and be drunk for many months. See this is another example, do you hear what I just said, I am in a bar trying to get men's attention, now who in that bar is any better than what I have at home.? But it was attention and it was affection if only for one night. I had several affairs over the years after that and continued to as they come along.
About 20 years ago he took a permanent layoff from his factory job, it finally folded up for good. And he took an interest in the flea market business. I had come to the end of my wits end with my bank job and had quit shortly before this too. We started the flea market business hitting all the outside ones for a few years, he was still working a little at the time in the factory, but after a short time he was making in one week end what he made all week in the factory. Soon he had to take his final severance pay, his factory totally went under. Our Business grew and we made money, really big money. I guess having a sense of pride in his work and knowing he was going to have things in life, he quit drinking, he quit for good, for real. He is still in this today, with his own permanent store inside a large inside flea market. And still sober.
End of story? No. About 15 years ago, we were doing so well, we decided to buy a house at The Lake Of The Ozarks. This was all new and exciting in the beginning, and we were still traveling to St. Louis every week end to work. After a few years I started getting that old closed up isolated feeling and wanted to start staying in St. Louis by my self more during the week. We had purchased a mobile home to stay in for the week ends. Every body I ever knew was in St. Louis, and I had not one person to talk to at the lake. To compact this story even more, during all this time I was getting older and coming to my senses even more. Things were not the same, I was realizing just how little feelings I had left, and was developing more and more of a resentment to him to the point of repulsion. I had never been able to forgive him for the things in the past, to forgive him, to me would have made it all right and it was far from all right, but now the feelings were eating at me, relentlessly. The alcohol had taken its toll on him years before in certain aspects, leaving nothing left of a marriage bed. In all frankness, there was nothing left. I wanted out, I finally truly deeply wanted out.
I have asked, I have begged for a divorce, for the last ten years or so to sell all the property and give me my share to try and start some kind of life.
This is not feasible in over thirty years of a relationship a lot is accumulated and much to lose. I am now staying in my mobile home permanently, with no intentions of ever going home. He stays here on the week ends, with much aggravation to me, so he can continue to run the store here in St. Louis. But I don't work, he pays all the bills and totally supports me . I am totally dependent on my captor, this is another form of mental abuse, and do you have any idea how degrading that it is. This is his option as I want my total freedom or else its divorce so he has no choice but to allow me this life style I choose to live now, or do the dissolvement as I wanted.. Everybody thinks I am nuts to complain about an arrangement like this since I can do as I please, kinda like being a kept woman without having to put out. But still he is there to check all the bills , to see every penny I spend, to watch my every move, after all he pays for it. Be like moving in a jail cell after you get paroled. I have waited till I am really too old to try and go back out in the world and work enough to make a decent living. I am 55 now and not in exactly the best of health and hearing impaired, so the opportunities would not be exactly thrilling. I know I can't keep living like this, I need to find a way to make my own money so I can finally end this abuse, this mental abuse. So you see just because the physical abuse stops does not mean the mental abuse will, you will create your own mental abuse. It will come back to you I promise every time you relive or rehash the past, and if the past is in your life still, it will never go away. Don't make my mistake, get out ,get help while you can, be independent, be your own woman! My physically abusive past was over 20 years ago, but the dreams and flashbacks and bad memories are still there, maybe not as frequent or vivid, but there none the less. I can barely hold a civil tongue with this man, knowing I am trapped, with no foreseeable way to be totally free. Today on Oprah I know it was a rerun, but the whole show was victims of horrible crimes forgiving their wrong doers. Strangers, who had raped them and murdered their families and other such heinous crimes. They said the forgiveness helped them go on with their lives. I commend these people for that kind of spirit and attitude, this is not part of my nature, I don't think I could be that strong. Strangers, but to me the worst kind of abuse comes from one who has told you he loves you.
© Copyright 2003 Paula Scola
Please visit the wonderful websites below and the links provided within and also those on My Links page.
One Day At A Time-midi
Also this amazing poetry site, which also contains some heartbreaking poems of abuse.