I suppose what started the Monster’s rage really isn’t important; it could have been any tiny detail. You never knew what would set off his murderous rampages. But on this particular night, and in his staggering state of drunkenness, it was the fact that I had transferred my wedding and engagement rings from my left hand to my right that drew his rage. Why would this catch him off guard, as we had decided months before to end this sham of a marriage and were scheduled to see a mediator in two days time?
Suddenly the Monster was behind me, picking up my left hand and demanding to know why I wasn’t wearing “his” rings. When I opened my mouth to speak, he began raving that I was “a Godless nigger whore. You don’t wear MY rings, that means we are no longer married as of right now, and since we’re no longer married I can do whatever the hell I want to you, and what I want to do is kill you”.
With that he stormed into the bedroom and came out brandishing his favorite handgun for threatening me and my son. He made great ceremony out of removing and reloading the clip, while gleefully announcing that I was as good as dead, and that he was looking forward to being the beneficiary of my $500,000 life insurance policy. When he stepped into the kitchen to reload his wine glass, I quietly crept into the master bedroom and locked the door. Heart racing wildly, I realized I had nothing to use to defend myself and that my cell phone was in my writing room upstairs. I silently removed a screen from a bedroom window and opened it wide, despite the icy February air; it would be my escape route if it came to that. I wasn’t going to sit still and let the bastard shoot me. Sure enough, minutes later, he found the door key and came barreling into the room, shouting that he was going to destroy all my framed modeling photos that were hanging on the walls in the hallway outside our bedroom, and that then he would come back to destroy me. I cowered in my chair by the open window, unable to move; my legs had turned to jelly. I was watching this tableau unfold before me and I could not will myself to move. I sank deeper into my chair, trying to make myself invisible as I resigned myself to my fate. Tears slid down my face as I thought of my 18-year-old son, and how this would destroy him, after already losing his dad to suicide. Odd sounds came from outside the door, then smashing glass for long minutes. Then…silence, nothing. After 15 agonizing minutes I could not control my curiosity and crept to the door, which was slightly ajar. There stood the Monster, holding a long board, surrounded by acres of broken glass and shattered picture frames. He seemed stunned by the destruction and looked quite bewildered. He stumbled back toward the kitchen, no doubt to refuel the wine glass yet again.
Moments later he barged back into the bedroom, again unloading and reloading the gun’s clip. “Stay where you are and don’t make a move and I may let you live til morning.” He laid the gun on the nightstand beside his head, fell facedown on the bed, and was soon snoring. I can’t explain why I didn’t bolt through the open window at that moment, or in the hours that followed. I had been ground down through fear and intimidation for so many months, and my muscles seemed incapable of obeying my brain. I remained awake and watchful and pressed into that chair until the Monster woke around 5am, dressed and left the house, while I feigned sleep. As soon as I saw the lights of the Monster’s car turn the corner, I grabbed my purse, cell phone, and laptop and hightailed it out of Dodge. I drove aimlessly for several hours, unsure of where to go for the help I so desperately needed. I had already approached the police and the legal system and met with no success. I finally decided to confide in one of my closest friends, from whom I’d kept all this horror, out of humiliation and wanting to keep a stiff upper lip. In short order, she had me in front of the Chief of Police of our tiny town, where I reluctantly sobbed out my story. Turns out, several of our neighbors had called the police due to threats they heard the Monster make towards my son, and fights they heard coming from our house. The Chief said he was powerless to act on these calls until I came in for help. He also was astounded by the bad information I’d received from the attorney and assured me threats alone certainly DID constitute domestic violence.
It is not an easy feat to be accepted into a domestic violence women’s shelter, but with the Chief’s help I was processed in a few hours later. This is not a place anyone would choose to go if they had any other viable options. I had numerous friends who would have taken me in, but I was afraid for their safety and that of their families. These shelters do the best they can with very limited resources. There was one tiny bathroom for a facility that housed 33 women, sleeping 3-4 to a room, with peeling paint and cockroaches running over the beds. Yet, that night, I slept as I hadn’t in almost a year. The bars on the windows, armed guards, and elaborate security procedures insured my safety.
You immediately begin lessons in safeguarding what precious few assets you might have left, how to evade detection, and self-defense. Group counseling is mandatory and you soon learn it is the fault of the Monsters that you are in this place, and not because of anything you have done wrong, other than trusting the wrong person.
I learned that my Monster was nothing special; all abusers follow the same pattern of wooing, violence, and then contrition, until the cycle repeats all over again a week or two later. It was the movie “Groundhog Day”, deja vu all over again. The same day I entered the shelter, the Monster was arrested. The arresting officer confiscated all his guns and found a handgun, complete with silencer, that the Monster had purchased that very morning; the receipt had a time and date stamp on it. It was clear that he had no intention of keeping the appointment with the divorce mediator and that February 21 should have been my last day on earth.
I have not scratched the surface of the days of hell and horror I lived though for ten months; this has been a mere summary to let you know what became of me for the eighteen months my two attorneys had a gag order placed on me restraining me from publishing my blog, for fear I might inadvertently reveal my whereabouts to the Monster. I have made three major moves in under two years, living the life of a nomadic gypsy. This will be the last mention ever made in this blog of that horrific chapter in my life and the Monster I allowed into my closet. Today, when I press publish, the nails are being hammered into his coffin. Good riddance.
I am currently researching and writing a book “The Broken Slipper, True Tales of Fractured Cinderellas”. It details interviews I’ve conducted with countless victims of domestic violence, law enforcement officers, and ER staff who have treated these women. Many lost their battle to live; some, like me, were the lucky survivors. If you have a story you would like to tell, please write me through the comments section below. All victims’ names and identifying circumstances will be changed or obscured prior to publication.