Written by: BTSADV Survivor
I’m a 29-year-old married mother of three. When I was 14, I fell in love – or so I thought. My relationship with my oldest son’s father who was 18 at the time started out great. We laughed, played around, and talked all night, and we were ALWAYS together.
My father who raised me was sick and had multiple back surgeries. One weekend, we drove out to visit my mom. During that visit, my ex asked my mom if he were to get an apartment if I could live with him. My mom said yes. Shortly after that, he got an apartment across the field from my mom’s place.
One day while my father was in the hospital, my ex came and moved all my stuff out so I could live with him. We knew my dad would have forbidden it. Everything seemed to be going great at first, but soon everything changed. The first night he hit me, I was in shock, maybe even blindsided. I never thought he would have done this to me.
I ran to my mom’s crying and bruised. Her husband (who was not a good man) went over to the apartment to talk to my ex, and eventually, she made me go back. The beatings didn’t end there. There were many nights that I had to hide in the bathroom trying to get away from him. He would pin me on the bed and hold me by the ears until they were physically bruised. I often had fat lips and bruises on my arms, legs, and back.
There was an opening to the crawl space in our bedroom closet that he would threaten to throw and leave me in. I was scared every time he would come home because I never knew if I was going to get a beating or not. After every beating, he would cry, hold me, and tell me how sorry he was and promise that he would never do it again. Again and again, I would forgive him.
After months of beatings, I finally was able to get out and get back to my dad. When I was finally back home with him, my ex and I started talking again. I was then 15, and he was 19. Everything was going great just like it did in the beginning.
Shortly after this, I found out I was pregnant. I was so scared. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know how to tell him, and I definitely didn’t know how to tell my dad who already disapproved of our relationship. My son’s father tried to convince me to have an abortion, but I couldn’t imagine doing it. When I told my dad, he was extremely upset, but he hugged me, told me he loved me and assured me that we would get through this. He scheduled my first doctor’s appointment.
During my pregnancy, our relationship started to become toxic again. One day, we were fighting, and I tried leaving when we were at his mother’s house. I was screaming and running down the hall. He grabbed me, threw my head into the wall (making a big hole), and then shoved me on the ground where I landed on a paint bucket. His mom got in her car, and I jumped in the passenger side. I remember he came running out mad that I was leaving, and he hit his mom in the face through the window giving her a black eye. Yet, I still stayed with him.
When I was pregnant, my ex and I walked up a mountain where he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I said yes. The day our son was born was one of the happiest days of my life! My dad, even after his back surgery, slept on the hospital floor with no cushions next to my bed while my ex slept on the fold out couch.
Things were great for a few months. We moved into an apartment and had our family. One night while I was holding our son, he asked me what kind of formula our son needed. In frustration, I replied, “You should know; you’re his father.” He got upset and threw his pen at me, hitting me in the face and almost hitting our three-month-old son. Of course, I lost it. I put our son down and asked why he would do that – which resulted in another beating.
One night, his best friend took our son into his room and rocked him while my ex dragged me into the room and beat me. One time he gave me a huge black eye. My dad was coming over that day, so my ex was scared and worried about what we would tell him. So, my ex, my friend, and I came up with a story that they “accidentally” elbowed me in the eye while playing basketball. My dad didn’t believe it.
One night, he beat me so bad there was blood all over our bathroom. I had such a bad headache he gave me my medicine to help me sleep along with my anxiety and depression medication to help the pain. That night, I nearly died. He woke up the next morning to find me blue and barley breathing. He called his mom who rushed over. She told him to call 911, and while he did, that she cleaned up the blood from the night before and went through my phone and deleted all the photos I had of the beatings because they knew the cops would be coming.
I remember being taken downstairs on a stretcher and being rushed to the hospital. When I was being pulled out of the ambulance, I remember opening my eye and my dad was running towards me with tears in his eyes. The hospital staff said my ex and his mom wanted to come in. I told them, “No; he’s going to kill me.”
They tried to say I had attempted suicide by taking the medicine he gave me that night, so I was sent to a mental hospital for a 78-hour hold. After the three days, I was released because I wasn’t a danger to myself or anyone else. And again, I went back.
In April 2007, just after our son’s first birthday my ex, my best friend, and I were all in his car driving. He asked to see my phone, and I wouldn’t give it to him. He then punched me in the face breaking my sunglasses. I quickly dialed 911 and threw my phone so he couldn’t get it. He got my phone, hung it up, and continued to hit me in the face giving me a fat lip. He also took my friends phone. That’s when he grabbed my throat and started strangling me. I eventually passed out. I did manage to bite his hand.
When I came to, I demanded he take us to my dad’s to drop us off. He did, and then called his mom. He took the keys to our apartment and refused to give me my things, my son’s things – and our son. Six days later, they still wouldn’t let me have my son because they knew I would take him. I filed a police report at the end of April. I still had visible bruising to my head, mouth, arms, and throat.
That day, I promised my dad I wouldn’t go back. He begged and begged me to leave him and to stop defending the worthless piece of shit that he is. But I loved him. He was the father to my son, and even though I knew that when things were bad, they were really, really bad. But I also knew that when things were good, they were great.
All I ever wanted was our son to grow up in a happy home with both of his parents. However, I knew that would never be. The next six months were hard. They wouldn’t let me see my son often, and when I did, it was only for a few hours and only when convenient for him.
During those six months, my father became sicker and sicker. My 6’9” 280-pound dad was dying before my eyes. He was now only 150 pounds and could barely keep himself up. I was taking him to dialysis every three days for three hours each day. He was getting weaker and weaker. I found out from my father’s doctors – despite his request not to tell me – that my dad was dying. He was diagnosed with an extremely rare blood disease called amyloidosis which kills within six to nine months. I found out on month three.
At the end of October, his mother filed for custody of my son. Twenty days later, my father passed away at a young 47 years old – just 16 days before my 18th birthday. I found my dad that night, naked at the bottom of the stairs. I tried giving him CPR, but his body was cold and his eyes sunk in. I screamed on the phone with 911.
When they arrived, they had to physically pull me away from him. They said he had been gone for a few hours and took me outside. I kept breaking into the house and running back to him trying to hug him. I never got to say goodbye. I never got to tell him how much I loved him and that he would always be my hero, no matter what.
They shut me in the back of the ambulance. I didn’t know what to do. So, I called my ex. He came over right away. He opened the ambulance door and held me as I cried. Since I was still a minor, I had to go to my moms, who lived in a different town nearly an hour away. My ex had my dad’s body sent to the funeral home his grandma used to work at and scheduled the funeral because I was a complete wreck.
Six days later, we had my father’s funeral – conveniently the same day as the custody hearing for my son. I didn’t go to court that day. My ex’s mother won custody. I was to have supervised visits with my son upon her discretion. My ex was to have our son Tuesday or Wednesday nights for three hours and one weekend night. I didn’t see my son until he was six, because if I was to see my son, I was also forced to be with my abuser.
I did start seeing my son when he was five, and I was pregnant with his brother. During that time, I was told I was not allowed to tell him I was his mother. I was to be known by my first name. I was forced to be at his house alone with just me, my ex, and our son. My ex watched my every move. I became uncomfortable, so I stopped going.
The next seven years I cried, wishing I could be there to watch my son grow up with his younger brother, to watch them play and teach each other things. I spent countless hours finding ways to see photos of my son. His father and his girlfriend had me blocked on social media.
Then in April 2018, my world changed. My son found me on Instagram! He told me his name and asked if I was his real mom. I’ve been waiting for this day for years. I knew this day would come, and it was finally here. I was so, so incredibly happy. Of course, I responded with a yes.
We talked for a little bit through his friend’s Instagram. It was at his 12th birthday party! He told me that he found me after seeing me blocked on his father’s social media. He wasn’t able to talk long, but he said he would talk to me on his friend’s phone at school that Monday. It was going to be his birthday.
When I didn’t hear from him, I became concerned and sent his friend a message. I got a response, but not from my son. His friend said, “Sorry, his dad found out about him talking to you, and he got mad. He’s not allowed to talk to you, and he told the school. I’m sorry.” Upset, I asked him to please tell my son happy birthday for me.
I messaged my ex on Instagram demanding answers and got nothing. I found his number through his business website and messaged him again demanding answers. He then called me, and I learned that my son now suffers from a neurological convulsion disorder. My son has severe anxiety when he becomes stressed.
After talking with my ex, we got on a routine of talking to my son every two weeks. In August, my husband, our kids, and I flew out west to have a weekend visit with my son. That weekend went amazing; my husband, kids and I all had an immediate bond. Everything was going better than I ever imagined. That was until the last twenty minutes of our trip. My son started asking about coming to live with us. He was adamant that his dad would never allow it and that I would need to go to court.
Our son was begging me to go to court. I didn’t understand why he was so adamant that his dad would never let him come visit since the weekend had been going so great. We were about to do our final ride on the go-carts when my son finally told me. He told me that his dad had been abusing him.
It took everything in me to not bust out in tears. All these years, I convinced myself that his father would never hurt him like he hurt me. My son didn’t know about our past. He didn’t know the awful things his dad did to me. I held back the tears and continued listening. My son then told me that he was hospitalized just recently before this trip because he had thoughts of harming others, and he also had been having thoughts about killing himself.
My heart shattered. My sweet little boy was living in the same nightmare I did eleven years ago. After that last ride, we had to say goodbye. I promised him I would get him out of that hell, and I won’t break that promise. My ex didn’t allow me to talk to him for three weeks after that. He allowed us to FaceTime one Sunday. I knew his dad was watching us, so I wrote him on a note pad that he needed to tell his therapist everything he told me. He said he would. I told him to trust his therapist because she will help. She didn’t. After that phone call, my ex told me that we were going to stop communication for a while.
My son started sneaking his grandma’s phone when she was sleeping to message me. He’d use his friend’s phones to talk to me when he was at school. He told me how he wants to come home. He told me that they told him it was illegal to talk to me to scare him from trying to talk to me. They were to allow him to talk to me during waking hours, but they still refused.
That’s when they filed an emergency motion to restrict contact. They now wanted me to have no contact with my son. For the past few months, we have restricted call times, because of this. They knew he was finding a way to talk to me any way he could.
We are going through a nasty custody battle now, where I have to relive the nightmare I was once in, no matter how hard this is for me, I know it’ll be worth it in the end. My days in hell are over. I am not who I once was; I’m not a victim. I’m a survivor! I won’t stop until my son is home, where he belongs!
**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org, chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777, or send a private message through our Facebook page.
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