October 7, 2010

DV Awareness Month RE-POST - "The Emotional Abuse"

He was emotionally abusive.

His behavior was very hurtful to my heart. It was like he went out of his way to make sure that I didn't feel good about myself. Very rarely would he compliment me. I could go to the hair dresser and come back looking pretty darn good. Most men would naturally compliment the women in their lives when they come back fresh from the salon. It would be strange and unnatural if they didn't.

Well, the unnatural is what Jeff would do to me. I would walk in and when I saw him, I thought his face would light up and he'd tell me how good I looked or at least that my hair looked nice. He would say nothing. It would be as if I just came back from the laundromat or something. Not a word. It would hurt my feelings, but I'm sure that was the intention behind his silence.

He would find more fault and reasons to criticize me, than to encourage me and lift me up. He operated under, "If you have something nice to say, DON'T!" When our daughter was about a year old, I wrote what I thought was a cute little rhyming story for her and was proud of it. I shared it with Jeff and I don't remember what he said, but I remember how it felt, it stung. After he was done ripping it apart, I felt stupid and small and didn't want to share anything I wrote with anyone ever again.

He didn’t support any of my dreams or goals. He didn’t support the things I liked to do or was interested in. Our lives became about him, his interests and the things he wanted to do. He would criticize what I watched on TV if it were not something he’d watch. Yet any of the trash he looked at was fine. I have always had an interest in the law and eventually got my A.S. in Criminal Justice, which was to be the first leg on my journey to law school. So naturally, true crime shows interested me. He would make comments about me being so morbid.

In 2005 I started writing and publishing a newsletter for my family. I would write short articles on spiritual matters, family, news that you don't hear on regular TV, and anything else that would be helpful or of interest to other people, and my mom would print it on her professional printer and mail them out. I got a lot of positive feedback from my family about them. I wrote this newsletter for a year and not once did Jeff look at them and give me a positive word about it. Yet, some people in my family would take their newsletters to work or show their friends and then some of them wanted to get on the mailing list too.

I like listening to gospel music for a number of reasons. It lifts my spirit, it ministers to my soul and it allows me to offer praise and worship to God. After rebuilding my relationship with God, I became less and less interested in secular music and really didn’t listen to it. Not to mention that to me, most of the music out in the world was crap and the singing lousy.

He had gotten me an MP3 player for Christmas about 2 years ago and when I finally figured it out, I filled it up with gospel music. Well I had it with me and was listening to music as we walked around one day at the Botanical Gardens with our kids. Instead of just enjoying the nice day and beautiful scenery, he had to find something negative to focus on with me. So he asks me in a condescending tone, “Why is that all you listen to?” I gave him the same reasons that I just mentioned in the previous paragraph. But he wouldn’t drop it. He kept needling me and saying stuff until we were arguing, ruining yet another family outing that was supposed to be fun.

He would disrespect me when it came to other women and let me know that he was a man and he could look at naked women if he wanted to, when I expressed to him that it hurt me when he did. He would let his ex disrespect me and call any hour of the night, and kept his daughter away from me because his ex didn't want her around me.

He spent our first Thanksgiving with his ex and their daughter and I wasn't invited. He made these plans behind my back and when I complained about it, he cursed me out and hung up the phone on me. I bought Christmas gifts for his daughter one year when he was broke. I also stayed up until the wee hours of the morning wrapping them by myself along with gifts I had for my son. I think Christmas is for the children and I didn’t want her not to have gifts from her father. As we got ready to go into NY and give them to her, he let me know that I wouldn’t be coming upstairs with him. He told me that I wasn’t welcome. He screamed, “That woman don’t want you in her house!”

But I responded like most abuse victims do. I pleased my abuser and did what he wanted me to do, confused within myself as to why I couldn’t just say no. When we got there, I guess he sensed that I might leave while he was upstairs, and I had it in my mind to do just that. So again he pleaded with me not to leave. And although I tossed the idea around while he was up in the apartment with his ex playing Santa with the gifts I bought, I obediently stayed and waited, feeling like a fool the entire time.

He took the Christmas presents that I bought and wrapped for his daughter to their apartment alone because he said that I wasn't welcome inside.

But apparently my gifts were...