goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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How It Happened To Me

I met him when I was 10 years old; he was 16 and to me he was totally cool. He was dating my oldest sister for a short time and after a few months she felt uneasy so broke off with him.

We had an issue with communication in our family. My parents wanted us only to express “positive” emotions, so her concerns about him were never brought up.

Meanwhile, my mom had essentially noticed he was a bit of a lost one who could benefit from a healthy family and so, “adopted” him. My sister never said much of anything whenever he showed up for dinner, but she always had a lot of homework those days.

He went off to VietNam for not one but two tours as a Green Beret. Special Forces, rah rah. Mom was so proud. He never told us anything, just brought gifts for each of us whenever he returned to the hometown and ended up at our dinner table again.

So, when he proposed 12 years later, I sort of knew him but only realized later that I had no idea who he was. I thought since he cherished his “home away from home” at our house, he understood and believed in the kinds of ethics and love we exhibited.

I was eager to get away from New Jersey and he offered a route away. I was such a fool. Naive. Innocent.

And so I jumped in, prepared to love this man until death do us part.

But on our first few weeks of marriage he wanted to invite another woman to join the two of us on his boat on one of Nashville’s lakes. I suggested he should not; that we could enjoy some “special time” in a secluded cove, but he was not on the same wavelength.

I had a friend from college visit and after dinner I drove him to where he was staying the night and he asked me how I was. He saw clearly that something was not right. I denied it. All was fine.

Still in the reserves he would go spend his weekend up at Fort Campbell where he worked in the hospital. He was trained as a medic and had dreams of becoming a physician’s assistant but had no sticking power in his studies. He would leave the house to go to school but I noticed he never worked on any homework. One day a woman called asking for Sargeant X. I gave him the phone and he took it into the bedroom for a private conversation that included a lot of laughter and lasted over an hour. When he came out he told me that she wanted to know who had answered the phone. He had not told her he was married. npr_abuse_

One day while riding in his sister’s car we were struck by a truck. My head hit the side window hard but I recovered my wits faster and told her to put her foot on the brake as we were headed to a ditch. . When I called the place where he was hanging out (he should have been in school) he told the person who took the call to tell me he was in class. I told her to tell him we had had an accident and where it was. Believe it or not, he was there in about 15 minutes, an illegal driving speed was evident.  But he did not go to me. He enveloped his sister in a warm and caring hug.  She had started sobbing as soon as she saw him, and told me to get out of the way.  On the way home he told me her stomach was upset and I needed to make chicken soup…from scratch…and have it ready fast.  I was glad I had some in the freezer.   But he never asked how I was and since I had a raging headache for 3 days, I probably had a concussion.

I needed my wisdom teeth extracted. He came to pick me up about 2 hours after I called him I was ready and then dropped me at home and took off to join “the guys for a drink”.  I truly felt unloved.abuse power wheel

But I was raised that all issues in marriages can be worked out and that there would be no such thing as divorce in our family. So I tried all different things. I tried being nice and sweet. (okay, it was not as hard a stretch at age 23 as it might be now…quit laughing) I tried to be firm and strong back at him. He only raised his voice and got angrier.

My sister, his old flame, came to visit with her husband. She told me later that he hit on her, but at that time she shared a technique she had been learning while pursuing her master’s’ degree in psychiatric nursing. The treasured “When you do such and I such I feel this way” which is a fairly non confrontational alternative to “What the hell are you doing treating me this way!”  He got angrier with that one also.

There was no way to escape his anger. Basically, there was no escape.  He had the car and a motorcycle and never gave me a set of car keys.  He often would leave the house on a weekend day on the motorcycle, taking the car keys and not tell me when he would be home.

All this is classic emotional abuse. It was my fault there were red lights. It was my fault it rained. It was my fault if I did not automatically intuit what he wanted for supper. But I kept hoping things would get better.

My period was late one month, something that never happened. Yes, I prayed. I knew children with this man would be a mistake. The prayer worked a couple of days later.  Thank you Lord.

And then he announced we were going on a honeymoon, about 15 months into our marriage. He wanted to go scuba diving at Grand Cayman. Cool. I also learned to scuba.

But I anticipated a new beginning. I bought a new negligee and was ready to play the  excited and eager bride. He had selected a place to stay on the eastern side of the island, far away from all the touristy things. I loved it. It was a small place where each room had a slider out to the beach.

I suggested we go for a walk on the beach and he angrily said no. He then proceeded to rape me.

Some people believe that in a marriage there is no such thing as rape. I anticipate a lot of women snorting when they read that statement. We know, so without getting graphic, let me explain.

When you want to make love you spend a bit of time making sure your partner is relaxed and then titillated. That caresses and kisses help build the energy and help the juices flow.

When you have a man who has no concern other than where to put HIS body part, it can be a long, dry, painful experience.

The next evening, when he expected the same activity, I smiled in what I hoped was a sweet way and suggested we make love.n-WOMEN-VIOLENCE-large570-427x178

He hit me.

Immediately I knew he could kill me.  I grabbed my clothes and went out on the beach. I sat there, waiting for him to come out, to apologize, to realize he had chosen something very wrong.

After 3 hours I went in. He was snoring.

The next day he told me he would prefer if I would leave. From Grand Cayman. When he had the money and the tickets and was supposedly the man who had promised to care for me.  I stayed.

Grand Cayman has a bit of a volcanic section called Hell. It has a post office and I actually had enough chutzpah to send him a postcard at home that said simply, “The next time you tell me to go to Hell, I will remind you that you drove me there.”

He was not amused.

Everything came to a head about a month later when my parents came to visit and he was rude, even to my mother, someone who had always given him love.  She said to me “I don’t understand how you can stay with him” and the gates permitting me to leave opened.

I left the next day, after my parents were gone. Three weeks later he came over to my friend’s house where I was staying and tried to rape me again. I was able to get him to leave.

Valentine’s Day came and went with no comment from him, not even a “I know we’re in a tough place but we can work this out.” I filed for a divorce the next day.

I had nightmares for years.

So when I see women in a similar situation, particularly women I know and consider friends, I don’t avoid the issue. I want them to know I have been there and they need not stay there.

Most never make a move. Most continue the same way.

Someone posted today on facebook that about a third of all women have been the victim of domestic abuse. I think that number is low. no silence

 

 


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Once Upon A Time

She was young and it seemed he had always been in her life. Years before he had dated her older sister and although she had ended it, the mom saw the guy had a poor home life and so “adopted” him, telling him he would always have a place at their table.  He came often, spending hours, bringing gifts, even to the little girl.

He was a war hero, a Green Beret. It was a time of divisiveness in the nation. The girl hated the war but she felt some pride that he took that challenge and faced something she could not even imagine. He showed her some shrapnel scars but told no stories.

The summer she was twenty he started making his moves. He kissed her in a way brothers don’t kiss sisters and it confused her.  She was off for the summer on a job and he wrote often. She found she looked forward to his letters and when he suggested she come to where he was working for the summer instead of returning home, she agreed.

The first night he made her comfortable and did not touch her. The next day he made small moves and by that evening, she was prepped. Things progressed and when he finally drove her home, he declared he loved her. She responded, as her mother had taught her, to the words of promise.

She still had two years of college to complete, but she had been taking extra courses all along and by taking classes that next summer, she was ready to graduate a semester early. They got married and he whisked her away to his home, 1000 miles from her family. It was an adventure.

She got a good job following her graduation. She sometimes had to travel and used a company car, as she had none of her own. He would not let her use the car, often taking his motorcycle and leaving the car sitting in the driveway.  She did not press for a key, as her mother had taught her that the man is the boss.

He’d come home angry. He hated his job.  Each day, as her mother had taught her, she would try to be pleasant, to ease him out of his foul mood. Days later, weeks later, months later, she tried different tactics to reach him. When she tried to be more reflective, speaking calmly but clearly that his action was affecting her, he got angrier.abused-woman

Each night, as her mother had taught her, she prepared for sex by inserting her diaphragm. Just about each night he would force his way into her unaroused body and she would send her mind somewhere else. She did have one niggling thought that if there had been any foreplay to get her aroused, maybe he would not take so long to climax.

He took her to a range to show her how to shoot a gun. He gave her his .357 magnum as the weapon to shoot. It was heavy but she aimed as he instructed and somehow hit the center of the target. She stopped there, handing the weapon back to him. For once she had the position of being the one causing confusion. It was clear he wanted to intimidate her. He never pulled the guns out again.shooting range

She discovered she had a breast lump during some rough sex. In the days before scans and needle biopsies she had a surgery scheduled and signed away her boob if the tumor was malignant. He told her not to come home if she was deformed. It was benign and he picked her up, making her wait a few hours for him to get her.

Finally, 15 months into the marriage, they took a belated honeymoon. She bought a new negligee and anticipated a walk on a secluded beach culminating in some reawakening of the passion he had claimed prior to the marriage.  He refused to go for a walk on the beach, ripped the new gown to shreds and continued as always. The next night, when she plainly said she wanted some love making, he hit her.

Immediately her head cleared. Suddenly she knew she could no longer be the compliant wife, the good little girl there to please her man. In that one strike she realized that he could kill her.

It still took another month before she told him to leave the house and not come back for 3 hours. She had been sharing what was happening with a girlfriend who came to rescue her. She moved out that day, New Years Day 1977 and started to get her life back.  She had nightmares for years, but over the years, she learned to rely on herself. That a man could be a good companion but was not the keeper of her life.wiser now

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We have men in this country who believe that women are playthings, not people with equal rights. That there can be no rape in marriage, that the man should just take what he wants. Some of those man who speak that way hold public office and at least one is running  for the Republican party nomination for President. He is highly popular and it confuses me that any woman could be in reality and prefer him.

Our daughters need to be taught that they are precious and deserve equal and fair treatment. Our sons needs to be taught that women must be respected and  treated with love. They all need to be taught that lust is not love and that choosing a partner needs to be based on behavior and actions, not words.


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Life is Too Short for This

He told me I was worthless.  I knew I was pretty together and he was a troubled person. I tried to speak to him. He was silent.

He told me dinner stank. I knew I was a pretty good cook and it was very edible. I asked him what he would have preferred. He was silent.

He told me he was going to divorce me. I told him I was pretty tired of him throwing that one out in the air and he was not to bother to say it again. Just to act on it if he truly felt that way. He did nothing.Depression stock

He told me I was repulsive. I knew my added five pounds was not great, but better than his added 20. I told him he didn’t look so good himself. He yelled more.

We went on a belated honeymoon. I bought a new negligee, hoping for a new beginning. I asked him if he would like to take a walk on the deserted beach in the moonlight. He raped me.

portrait-of-a-worried-girl-sitting-on-the-beach-with-the-sea-in-the-backgroundThe next night when he made his moves I told him I wanted him to make love to me. He hit me.  It was the first time and I swore to myself it had to be the last.

I threw on some clothes and left the room, sitting on the beach 30 feet in front of our room for 3 hours. He never came out. He was snoring when I finally went back in. The next morning I told him we needed help. He said he was fine. That I was the problem.

I was 23-years-old and I knew I deserved better than this.  But I was stuck in a place still trying to “fix” it.  And on it went, for another few weeks, until I finally had the strength to call a friend to come get me and told him to leave the house so I could pack. He grinned, grabbing the car keys and headed out.

He was not happy when I filed for a divorce.  I had nightmares for months.

Now, I hear that this football player beat his fiancee unconscious, dragged her out of the elevator and has just been kicked out of the NFL. Supposedly he is in counseling since this is his first offense (that is known). I wonder if the woman, who married him after this attack, is also in counseling.cycle of violence

I have several friends who are in marriages where they are emotionally abused and sometimes physically threatened by their spouses. They stay in the marriages for a number of reasons that usually include the needs of the children as well as the financial dependence on that spouse.domesticviolencekids

Life is too short for living that way. We try to get to know the other and yet many people never develop the ability to truly talk, to share happy or sad, with their partner. We mistake lust for love and then we hide behind silences and forced smiles, trying to put on a facade to fool others.

No one is fooled. Your kids are not fooled. Your friends are not fooled.

They are confused.