It’s day 23 of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Today’s In His Own Words is the second part to Kyle’s story.
Yet, despite all of this, like a good lapdog, I held on due to my beliefs about correcting my past mistakes and not letting God down. But the constant fighting was starting to wear on me. In fact, I was developing grey hairs from the abuse and never knowing what was going to set D off. Even days like my birthday there was no reprieve, as she would use days like this to emasculate me or make it about her.
She would want to have a party for her “special man”, then complain about how much of a loser I was for not planning my own birthday party or making enough money to support her ever growing list of demands. It got so bad that I started to snap. I became very angry and would yell a lot during these times, which of course then became about my “gross” anger issues instead of whatever proceeded the incident.
She even started doing this in public, like gaslighting me by whispering something in my ear such as “I saw this _____ while I was out in the other day shopping. It was very pink and effeminate just like my pussy of a husband.” She was hoping I explode and hit her. She was particularly mad because I felt there needed to be more accountability for her actions. I’d tried very unsuccessfully to resolve these issues over the years, which only led to D martyring herself – until I begged and pleaded for her to stop by giving in and allowing her to continue with her actions unabated.
This all came to a head when I got hurt about a year after my final reconstructive surgery. I had gotten severely injured in a sports competition, and needed a lot of time to recover. Meaning, that while I was still working and providing (by using my savings to cover the difference), D had had enough of her “loser husband.”
She escalated her violence, blamed me for ruining her entire life, and refused to help me, even when I could barely get out of bed. In fact, I liken this time to being like James Caan’s character from the movie Misery with D being Kathy Bates. I was becoming a budding writer and had received a book contract on a trip to NYC a few months before I was injured.
So, there I was injured and could barely get out of bed with Kathy Bates, D, abusing the crap out of me. Around this time, D even blamed me for being abusive since I was getting angry at her for not helping. Plus, I was reducing our spending to make ends meet, so I was trying to “keep her trapped.”
It was during this time that my epilepsy started to get worse from the stress, especially as D wanted to know why I was such an abusive monster. She would even make fun of me for being a “retard” while I was having seizures. This was my tipping point. I knew that something was horribly wrong in the State of Denmark.
I was already dealing with so much abuse that it was crazy, like D charging at me causing me to shout with my hands up, “D, I love you, but not now. I need space. Please back off.” Then, she would crash off of my hands onto the floor when I had been backed into a corner with nowhere to go, claiming that I was beating her up. Little did I know at the time, she could see I was nearing the end of my rope, and she was developing her own exit plan, involving a smear campaign and the police.
D claimed that I needed therapy for my horrible upbringing (which is true but not for the reasons she thought) and if I didn’t change my ways, she was going to leave me and call the cops, particularly if I ever laid my hands on her again and continued to yell. “Putting my hands up” was a defensive move while she crashed off of me. I felt deeply ashamed and broken.
I was never the type to yell at a women, like “would you just shut the eff up”, and even when mad, I rarely hit things, like a pillow against the wall or shadow punch in the air. But I had been abused for so long that I believed that this intense anger originated from inside me and not D, so I was shamed to my core.
I broke down. I couldn’t even look myself in the eye anymore. I truly believed that D was right. I was a monster. “A monster who was so horribly scarred that could never be loved or be healed”, as D put it. So, I pursued therapy through a local referral to a psychiatrist, AVFM, Shrink4Men, and read every book on the subject about anger, co-dependency (like Melodie Bettie’s work), narcissism, and setting boundaries.
This is when it hit me. I was still shattered as a man, but it was because I was being abused to the point that D had stolen all of my positive traits. And those she couldn’t steal, she tried to destroy. Further still, she forced all of her negative traits on me, blaming me in the process of her projection. Now was I/am I perfect? Heck no. I was a broken person who needed help for my own issues, but at least I knew that I had to get out of my relationship.
I sat D down one night to try and work things out. After spending the night arguing instead, I realized the situation was unsalvageable. And yet, in true “White Knight” fashion, instead of just leaving, I said I would give her six months to turn the situation around where we would both get therapy and try one last time to make things work. Otherwise, “destroying me in the divorce and the threat of me going to jail” wasn’t going to stop me. (D had previously threatened to destroy me if I ever left her. Worse yet, when she claimed that I was an abusive POS, she had run away from home a few times only to come back later and forgive me. Then, give me some great makeup sex, but only before telling me that she had called a shelter and gotten some literature. So, if I ever left her, she would call the cops. She would even go so far as to leave pamphlets out about domestic violence for me to see to reinforce her threats.)
After out talk, things seemed to get better. D started to come around and our relationship got better for a few months, but then D began to disappear and wanted to go out by herself and not be around. I started to think that maybe she wasn’t coming around after all. Yet, between D’s continual spending and paying for my medical treatment, I was too focused on trying to pay our bills to have time to create a better escape plan.
I found out that she was having an affair, but I was stuck. This is when it ended, I came home from work one day to my home completely cleared out, bank accounts cleared out, and nothing left but a Dear John letter on the floor telling me how I was an abusive monster who could never change, so D had to flee for her life. Further, I was to never contact her again.
Needless to say, I was in shock. I even played into her game of trying to get her back. Fortunately, I sent Dr. T some emails, and while her responses were terse, they were very blunt. I got the message. I came to my senses and realized, “What am I doing? This is my opportunity to cut crazy from my life. So, just let her go.” I instituted a strict “no contract” policy with D, and only communicated through text and email, even when she would call at 1am trying to pick a fight. (So, much for never contact her again.)
I was able to mitigate some of the damages in the divorce settlement, but it did come at a cost. I got D to admit on tape that I was not abusing her. However, she had already taken most of our assets, and while I wanted revenge so badly, I agreed to let them go in exchange for her not pursuing the abuse charges. I also was able to cut free from alimony because I shamefully (in my opinion) blackmailed her with the affair that she had been having and the sizable amounts of money that she had been hiding that would have come out in court.
We also agreed to let an arbitrator handle the discussion on the financial side of things, even though I didn’t realize that D had already picked and primed the arbitrator against me. But I figured, I can be free even if it means being homeless because it’s still better than going to jail and losing everything else, so I acquiesced. Though, based on Dr. T’s advice, I had compiled a long list of things that D had done to try and mitigate the abuse charges to defend myself as best as possible in the event that D changed her mind.
And with lighting speed, we were divorced; mainly because D’s mom works at the Capitol in the state in which I live. Her mom was able to influence the judge to push the divorce through uncontested, which was another reason I deeply feared D’s threats of pressing DV charges against me. (I later found out that it was so she could get remarried less than six months later.)
All in all, I lost about $100,000 between the assets, a lack of remuneration for our remaining communal property, past due bills that I had to pay, and the managing of the debt with which I’m left. This doesn’t even count all of the bills I paid (yep, I paid them all), trips, and gifts that I bought over the years.
However, I’m a hard worker, and without being strapped with years of alimony (we were together for nine years), I’m able to start working myself out of a hole, which is good. Because if our marriage had lasted too much longer, any negotiation wouldn’t have mattered. I would have been stuck paying D alimony the rest of my life. I was at least smart enough to never have a child with D, even though she tried a few times. The toughest part about all of this has been the smear campaign that D has waged against me. Not only did I become isolated from my family again, as I had been working to rebuild my relationship with my parents, but I lost most all of my friends and business customers in the process, since D went behind my back and told everyone stories about me being an abuser.
I hold myself accountable, too. I refused to set boundaries in the beginning of my relationship with D. I should have had more respect for myself and walked away when those warning signs and red flags were popping up early on, most especially before I legally tethered myself to D. And while I’m upset about how things turned out, I’m ultimately responsible for myself and my own actions. So, I must live, learn, and never repeat. If you hear my story and it helps you do to the same, then I’m truly grateful for having gone through everything that I did.
Thank you, Kyle.
In His Own Words/In Her Own Words is a joint effort between Shrink4Men and AVoiceForMen to help raise awareness about the invisible victims of domestic violence, men. If you would like to submit your story, please follow the guidelines at the end of this article.
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Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD provides confidential, fee-for-service, counseling, consultation and coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.