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Black Eyes, Blue Tears

From: B.F.

Tonya married a man much older than herself, 8 months after they were married the beatings started. I begged her then to leave and never go back, she left and kept going back. The man knew I hated what he did, he and I never got along, I could not accept what he did to my daughter...

Many times Tonya has called me in the middle of the night, off I went, brought her home, but she always went back. She had 2 children by this man, Casey and Donald, my grandchildren. This man always told my daughter if she left him he would kill me...I told her more than once to never let him use me that way...her life was too important, but she stayed and endured it for a few years.

I was always there for her, finally it dawned on me that I couldn't help her until she was ready for my help...That was the hardest thing I have ever done...but I knew she had to finally want my help.

That time came in February 1998...she called me here in North Carolina where I live now, she was living in West Virginia, (I was born and raised there). He had beat her bad this time and had taken the children from her...and this was a man who drank and used drugs all the time. I told Tonya I was on my way, off I headed to Parkersburg, West Virginia. It usually takes 5 1/2 to 6 hours to get there, I made it in 4 hours, but along the way I was stopped by 2 state troopers, one in Virginia and one in West Virginia. I begged them to just give me my tickets and let me go, they knew I was upset, asked me why and finally told me to go get my daughter....

We got the children back, went to a motel to spend the night, and was headed to North Carolina the next morning...and that's exactly what we did. I will not call that "thing" a man, in my book he never will be one...I will call him an "idiot," as that is exactly what he is! He showed up here in North Carolina 2 weeks later, tried to get Tonya to go back with him, she always told him NO.

He found a job in High Point, stayed there and was constantly around her begging her to take him back! She was so afraid and she told him she didn't want him back, he refused to listen.... Then, he was still here in July, he took the children from her, legally he could do that as Tonya had not lived here in North Carolina long enough to file for divorce. I got a call, he was seen in Ohio with the children, Tonya and I headed to West Virginia. Fortunately, I still owned my home at that time in Parkersburg, West Virginia, so Tonya and I headed there. We went to the police, they couldn't we set out to find the kids on our own. We looked for 3 weeks...I never left Tonya alone, thank God.

We finally got the children back August 9, 1998. We all stayed up pretty late, then headed to bed knowing we were once again headed home to North Carolina.

August 10, 1998: A Day I Will Never Forget Tonya had gotten up and headed to the bathroom, friends that she used to work with were stopping by to see her before we left for North Carolina. The children and I were still asleep. All of a sudden, I heard a crash, then Tonya scream! I knew he was here...I ran, picking up a steel bat on the way...I intended to knock him into next week. As I got into the living room, he had Tonya around the neck and throat, told me if I didn't drop the bat he would break her neck. I dropped the that point my adrenaline kicked in and I was angry! Angry that this "animal" had broken through my living room window at 6 in the morning with a steel pipe...he knew exactly what he intended to do that morning!

At this point the children came running in, grabbing me by the legs and screaming. This animal looked at his own children, told them to pray becasue he was going to kill their I was ANGRY! At him I went, how I got between him and my daughter, I don't know, but I did. I backed Tonya into a corner and stood in front of her, I reached up and hit that animal in the mouth. Was I afraid? No...I was not. I was mad, mad that he had the gall to break into my home and tell my grandchildren he was going to kill their mother. I told him no one was dying today, if they did, he'd have to start on me first. I couldn't get to the phone, but the neighbors heard the screams, and Tonya's friends pulled up at that time out front. I pushed Tonya to the door, told her to run and leave the children and I there, she wouldn't. I finally pushed her out the door, standing behind her.

The idiot had picked up the bat, came out and waved it around Tonya's friends, telling them he'd kill them too. They said nothing to him, nothing, just watching him. Somehow he got in front of me, took the bat and hit Tonya in the back of the head with it...I will go to my grave hearing that bat crack against her skull.

The friends left, went and called the police, the police had 5 calls that morning. The idiot ran, the police came and he was not there...he couldn't stay and face what he had done. He was caught 3 months later, charged and indicted with malicious assualt and 3 counts of burgualry. I thought maybe this time the system would work and this animal would be put away for along time! I was led to believe by the police and The District Attorney's office that he would go away for along time....

WRONG! I received a call in January of this year, 2000, that the state of West Virginia had made a plea with this idiot! The only charges that would be made were "Unlawful Assualt!" Unlawful Assualt...can you believe that? Breaking into someone's home with the intent to try and kill them...and charges are dropped...what message is this to the victims of domestic violence? That the abusers can do it and get away with it? This "animal" spent from June 1999 to January of 2000 in jail, bond was set and he was released. He sued while in jail for visitation rights with the children and was awarded them...and I will add that these children are afraid, they will not sleep in their own rooms. Right now the only thing that Tonya and I can do is to show up in court and tell how we feel as victims..and you can bet I'll tell Judge George Hill exactly how I feel.

It is my understanding that this animal could only receive 1 to 5 years, with 7 months already served...there is no justice in this at all! Here in North Carolina I have set out to bring attention to this issue and will continue to do that...and for over 2 years I have been my daughter's shadow. Yes, she and the children still live here with me and we look over our shoulders constantly, and we don't know what we're looking for...but because of this "animal" we have to. If it would take my life to protect my daughter and grandchildren...that is a price I will gladly pay!

With the passage a few years ago of the Violence Against Women Act, Congress made clear that the fight against violence is a priority issue...but many states let these victims down. There is still so much more that needs to be done. Domestic Violence is everyone's problem. We as citizens are responsible to let these victims know that we take the problem of domestic violence very seriously. We are responsible for bringing attention to this problem, so that no one ever feels afraid to report a case of abuse. There is no excuse for domestic violence and there is no excuse not to take action against it. I urge everyone to join me against bringing this never-ending problem to legislators, judges and police department's attention. Let them know that abusers need to be punished more... In the words of another: "Domestic violence is physically, emotionally, and/or sexually controlling or forceful behavior that creates or maintains an imbalance of power between two adults in an intimate relationship. Domestic Violence ranges from severe humiliation to slaps, to name calling, to rape, to beatings and even death." In my own words: "Abuse is a pattern of hurting someone. It doesn't even have to fall into any particular just is...especially if the abuser has been told that those actions hurt...The pain is deep, real and understandable no matter whch "type" of abuse you suffer and all abuse is serious."


Is this Love?
from: Kim E.

As I sit here waiting for him to get home, I wonder will there ever be a way out of here? Will I ever be free of the damage he did to me and my son Travis? Will I ever feel the peace inside of me again? I pray to God, asking him to let me out, to make it safe, to get me out alive! When will the day come for me to leave?

It's almost time for him to come home from work. My stomach starts knotting up and I start to shake inside. I try to remain calm, so that Travis won't sense my weakness. He must sense it though because he starts to clean up his mess, picking up his toys so that daddy won't yell at me.

He's only three and he's already trying to be the peacemaker. I want to cry knowing the pain he's going through. He knows that things aren't right. What have I done to him! The truck rolls up the driveway and I become tense. I wonder what kind of mood he's in. Will we have a good night? He walks through the door, beer in hand and Travis runs to him for his love. Travis gets a hug and then he goes to the kitchen to put up the beer, knowing he's checking to see if it's clean. He picks up a washcloth and starts going back over the counters. Nothing is ever good enough.

Cars start to pull up in the drive, as he strolls throughout the rest of the house. Friends again! Will they ever leave us alone? Do they always have to be here? Another party. I go to my room and stay there waiting to be summoned to do something around the house to please him and his guests.

I'm so tired of it, I just want to scream, to run away from life. He comes into the room and goes straight to the closet, the drugs come out. I sit alone in the bedroom waiting for everyone to leave, knowing that he will be so messed up the fighting will begin.

As I hear the front door shut, I go to the living room and make myself comfortable on the couch, hoping he will just go to bed. He does, I'm safe for the night. Travis gets up on the couch with me and we go to sleep. He doesn't sleep by himself anymore, he sleeps with me, his safety, or maybe he thinks he's keeping me safe? Months pass and it's only getting worse. I quit doing drugs, knowing if I don't I will never get out, he will always have me under his power. I start attending church and rebuilding my self esteem. I stop cleaning the house and waiting on him and his friends, and the fighting get worse. He starts staying out more and more, not coming home some nights.

You'd think I'd be at peace knowing I have the house to myself, but I sit and worry, wondering where he is. Is he hurt, in jail? I call around half the night, finally giving up to sleep. Why do I have those feelings of guilt when he's not home. I search for answers knowing that part of me still loves him, but knowing it will never change. Part of me wants him to change so bad, to love me. But I know deep in my heart that he doesn't want to change and you can't change someone who doesn't want it. His friends and drugs are more important. I asked him to stop but he just laughs at me and then we begin to fight. I give up! I move out of the bedroom, into the guest room, where Travis is still by my side. I'm planning my escape, hoping it will be a peaceful one. He knows something is going to happen, but doesn't know when. The fighting gets worse and I'm scared, Travis is scared.

The night came when I had enough, I asked him to leave. He laughs at me in a drunken rage, the fight begins. He takes off out the door, yelling at me that he won't ever come back. It's over. I almost feel relieved but I know he will be back, that it's not over. He just doesn't let things lie. I close the door and minutes later it opens again. He charges at me and takes Travis from my arms. I grab Travis and he starts grabbing at me to let go. I won't, I tighten my grip. He grabs a handful of my hair and pushes me down as he rushes out the door with Travis. I rush out to the car and get in before he takes off. Travis jumps into my hands and I start to get out of the car. As I'm getting out he punches the gas and I start to fall. I jump knowing that I have to miss the tires. Knowing that I have to keep the car from rolling on my son. I fall on top of Travis and the car door grabs my shirt, I'm sliding now with the car. I'm praying to God that he stops the car. He slams on the brakes. I scurry to get off the ground, but he gets to me before I can get up. He tries getting Travis from me again, pushing me onto the ground. Travis hangs on to me for dear life, screaming at his daddy to stop, to leave us alone.

All I can think of is that he's going to kill me and Travis will be left with him. As he's punching me and kicking me in the head I want to black out, but my strength for Travis keeps me conscious. I scream, kick and bite hoping he will let me go. As I look around for someone to help I see someone out of the corner of my eye. I see a shadow. The neighbor is outside from across the street. He hides behind a tree in his front yard watching as I get the shit beat out of me. Why doesn't he help me. What is going through his mind to just sit there and watch as me and my child are going through this. I hope he burns in hell for it. I hope he answers to God for what he didn't do.

My ex gets in the car and leaves. Travis and I sit outside and cry. Travis tells me that we have to leave, that daddy will be back to hurt us some more. I go inside the house and I call the police. They ask me if anyone is hurt. I look at Travis and he has a baseball size lump on the right side of his face and I start to cry even harder. I ask Travis if anything else is hurt and he tells me his arm. I look at it and there is road burn from being dragged. They ask me if I'm hurt but I tell them I don't know. I told them about the hair he pulled out and the scraps on my body, but other than that I wasn't sure. The police tell me to lock the doors and stay inside. I tell them that my son doesn't want to stay inside cause he's scared daddy will trap us there if he comes back. So I tell them I'll be waiting outside for them.

The ambulance finally shows up and they can't come to the scene until the police arrive to make sure of their safety. It's taking forever for the police to arrive so the ambulance driver comes to the house and tells us to get in that they are taking us to a safer place until the police can get to us. They have to backboard Travis because of his injuries. Then they backboarded me. I couldn't breathe, I just wanted all of this to be over. At the hospital, they told me that CPS would have to get involved because there was a minor involved in our dispute. I told them I don't care what you do I just want it all to be over with, for him to never come around again. They checked Travis over, and he was ok, just minor injuries. Thank God.

I came out with a couple of broken ribs and some minor head injuries and minor wounds. But I knew I was finally out, that it was over. We were alive. That morning CPS showed up at the house and my ex was there. They asked me what he was doing there and I told them that he came back a couple of hours ago and I was afraid to call the police. They talked to all of us alone, even Travis. Then they talked to all of us together. They told me that they thought that what happened to Travis was an accident, but he would be under supervised visitation until further notice. They told my ex that he had a drinking problem and that he needed to get help. They also told him that he needed parenting classes that he wasn't good around children, and then they proceeded to say that because of the laws in Texas that he just lost all rights to his son. That he would never get custody of him because he hit me. Wait a minute, what did she just say, did I hear her right? Did she just say that he would never have custody? Did I just win the battle, the battle I was fighting to keep Travis away from such a monster?

It hit me like a ton of rocks, a gush of fresh air went through by body and I was finally relieved of all that was inside of me. I couldn't believe what I had just heard. They told my ex that he had to leave and told him that he wasn't allowed back or allowed anywhere near the house. They also told me that I should leave the house and go to relatives or friends for further safety. I did, and that's where I stayed for one year.

The Judge awarded me everything, the house and everything inside that belonged to me, but I didn't care. I didn't want to have anything to do with him or what I was given when we were married. I gave it all up for my son. It was hard for Travis to understand but it was my way out. My way of saying to my ex that the things that he was fighting for didn't matter to me, the only thing that mattered to me was my son. It's sad to say but my ex gave up Travis for the house. THE HOUSE. He fought all that time to take Travis from me and he traded him like a possesion. How dare he. I've been living on my own now for a little over a year. I've been divorced for over 2 years, and been away from him for over 3. I don't remember the day I was divorced and I don't really care. The date that I do remember is December 7, 1998, the day I was freed! Free from him and the person I had become when I was with him.


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My Husband Molested My Daughter:

From Cheryl M.


When Melanie was 5 years old, her father and I were seperated. We both wanted custody of our daughter and son. The kids at that point were kept from me by his parents until the court ordered me custody. For a year after that I allowed visitation with his parents. One day, my new husband was bathing Melanie after one such visit, when he noticed a bad rash on her vaginal area. He couldn't believe his eyes. It looked prickly and red in color. He yelled for me to come at once. When I saw it, I started to shake. I questioned my 6 year old. She said in tears "grandpa did it mommy." I gasped. I asked her "what did grandpa do?" She replied "I can't tell you, mommy. He will make you dead." I knew then that my worst fears had come true. The things you only hear about on TV or in the newspaper. I called 911. They sent over a very nice social worker to talk with Melanie. Since she was so young they had to handle this very delicately. To make a long story short, Melanie had been sexually molested by her step-grandfather (her father's step-father) for 2 years. He would take her for drives in the country and stop in fields and molest her. He would show her pornographic pictures and movies and say "see, everyone does these things." He would masterbate on her and then throw a towel at her and say "here, you clean the shit up." He would shove his penis down her throat and make her swallow his sperm and she would gag and not be able to breath. He would insist she keep it in her mouth. It was horrible to say the least. The police arrested her grandfather and he confessed. He said he had caused enough pain. Too bad he hadn't thought of that before. He served a little over 8 months in jail with 10 yr probation for her life in hell, the hell that would haunt her forever. We thought this was the end. We got justice, for whatever it was worth. To help Melanie try to heal, we moved to my new husband's fathers town in Houston, Texas. We seeked therapy for Melanie, but it seemed to really not help. Melanieand I would then have weekly sessions together, a healing time. It helped. Our lives seemed to be good. For once in a very long time, we could wake up and notice the trees and flowers and what month it was. Our dark days started to turn brighter. From there we moved on back to Norfolk, Virginia, where the abuse had happened. Since my husband was raised there and all his connections for work, mother and other relatives lived there we figured it was best. So we did. Money was very tight, we were both young, so we rented a 2 bedroom trailer. It was a very small trailer but, hey, it was home. I decorated it the best I could. The bathroom was so small. The washer and dryer were in there with the sink, toilet and tub. That was it. But we made do for years. My husband was a driver for a moving company. He was becoming very successful. We were able to move away to a beautiful part of Virgina, Roanoke. In the mountains, our dream place. We went to church, we had a child together and we were a family! We had the American dream. I adored him! He was so good to me and my children. Melanie began what I thought was rebelling at 12 yrs old. She would be so rude to her step-dad and to me. One morning at breakfast, she came in and she smart mouthed my husband. I remember smacking her all the way down the hallway to her room, saying "this man has given you everything, how dare you disrespect him. You will never raise your voice to him again". And she didn't. What happens next is beyond belief. It will make your skin crawl as it has mine. It was a Thursday in 1989. The children as usual got up and left for school. I watched them as they walked skipping along through the school field which was in sight of our home. Looking at the mist on the grass, I thought this is the life. I am so happy. My husband then left for work. I felt like Donna Reed, really. I had it all. Three beautiful children and a dream husband. That afternoon, everything in my life would change forever. Everything would die. My life would be forever disfigured. Melanie came running home after school. She was yelling "mommy, mommy" I still can't get that sound of her wale out of my mind. I ran in fear something had just happened to her, little did I know it had been for a very long time. She said to me "mommy" in an almost baby like voice, "I have to tell you something mommy... Please don't hate me please!!!" I said "what melanie! Tell mommy what??" Thinking to myself, "oh ok so you failed a test, you got detention for not behaving." The next words out of her mouth, were the second most horrifying things I had ever heard in my life! "MY GOD WHAT MELANIE," I said "tell me." She said in just a loud blurt, "Michael has been molesting me mom!!!!!" I went blank. Could it be possible? The very man who made me aware of her grandfather? The very one who watched me crumble to nothing. I just stared at her and said "WHAT???" I hurried her into our home. I said what Melanie "what????" She said "mom, Michael has been molesting me." I looked again at her in tears and said "when, how, where," my face getting flush, my voice starting crack and my legs getting weak. She said "mommy it has been going on since we moved to Texas." I couldn't take what I was hearing. I paced. I felt so many emotions all at once. I didn't know what was happening. She said "I wasn't going to tell you but I had to, now." She went on to tell me she was scared. She had her period for about 8 months and she didn't know what it took to get pregnant, so she asked her friend at school. Well from there her friend talked her into going to the school counselor. She then asked the woman if what they discussed could stay between them. The counselor swore it would never leave the room. Melanie began explaining what her step-father was doing, before she finished the second sentence, the women picked up the phone and dialed the social services. Melanie felt so betrayed. Melanie again felt an adult could do her wrong. She said to the women, "what are you doing??" She said "Melanie I must report this by law, I must." Melanie started to cry and beg "oh please, no." The woman asked her if her mother knew. She said "NO!" The woman said well we must tell your mother. Melanie begged to please allow her to tell me, Melanie wanted me to hear this horrifying news from her own mouth. She knew I was fragile. She knew I had been in bed sick with a break down years before. She knew what this was going to do to me. The woman agreed she would allow Melanie to tell me. But she stressed "it must be done today, social workers will be at your home tonight." Melanie began to explain to me all of what had happened to her. How Michael started molesting her in Texas, while I worked the graveyard shift at Dennys restaurant as a waitress. I remember being so mad at her for locking her door to her room and told her never to lock it again. I said to her "what if there was a fire and I needed to get to you Melanie." Little did I know she was trying to protect herself. Those thoughts come back to me. She told me that when we moved back to Norfolk in that trailer we made our home, he would place her up on the washer and dryer and he would perform oral sex on her and make her on him. That small bathroom. She said that it started to get even worse, if you can imagine worse at this point. She said lately that he would come in her bedroom late at night, after bringing me hot tea and a snack and rubbing my hair softly with his hand to sleep. He would enter in the dark room with a pillow, while she was asleep or sometimes just pretending to be asleep acually laying in fear, knowing what was about to happen. He would quickly place the pillow over her face to were she could hardly breath. He would then pull down his pants with one hand while holding the pillow firmly with the other, he then would pull her pants down and rub his penis on her vagina. She knew what he was doing, she would squeal with horror. He would tell her shut up. He would then spread his sperm all over her. She would just shake and cry and pray. She would ask God why?? Why again?? Why me?? Why?? He would often remind her of my fragile state and how this would end my life, my sanity, and how it would make me hate her for telling. She kept this secret for 5 years. There were so many things that happened then to her. He was so cruel and so hateful in his acts. At that point I called on a friend of mine, John, to come to my place and to take Melanie for an ice cream cone. I told her she must go and let me handle this. I never doubted her story. I hugged her tight and I told her I loved her. She left. I was enraged!!! I picked up a picture of him and I smashed it against the wall. It seemed to happen in slow motion. The sound of the glass breaking. I called him on the phone at work. I told him he needed to get home now. He begged to know why, what was so urgent. I said "it is about my child, now get home, damn it,now!" He said "I am on my way!!!" I then did the worst thing I could have ever done! I called his mother and grandmother in Norfolk. I told them what I knew. They said they would be on their way. God, I wish I could go back and change that call! I said "but that is a 5 hour drive," but she said they would be there in four. Michael arrived home in a panic. His face was pale and his voice firm. "What is going on" he said. I said "Michael, you have been molesting my daughter!" He denied it a very short time. I told him I was going to take her for tests and they could tell if he had any body fluids on her. He then began to cry and tell me "yes ok, I did it." I wanted so much for this to be a bad dream. I told him to get out!! "Leave" I said! He did. His mother arrived with his grandmother four hours from the time I called her. She heard from Melanie, who had arrived back home shortly before, what had happened. She seemed to be a bit taken but not really shocked. Little did we know when he was 15 he had been convicted of sexual abuse of a 10 year old girl he was baby sitting for. She started to tell us how this was going to destroy our lives, how we could get counseling, how they would take my children because this had happened before. Melanie and I started to panic. Not knowing what to do. Knowing reality was it could happen, social services then called. I was so scared. I live for my children, I thought i cannot lose them, never. They told me they needed to speak with Melanie and would arrive Friday at 10 am. I just said ok. We hung up. Michael's mother then asked her mother to go in the room and play with the other children while we talked. She complied. Michael then called again. He had called every half hour since leaving. His mother talked to him and told him he should come over so we could get all the facts and straighten this mess out. I was ready to hear anything at this point. I didn't want to lose my children. My God, what would I do without them I thought. When Michael arrived, Melanie went back with the other kids while we talked with his mother at the kitchen table. She stressed to him she needed to know the truth so that she could help. I look back now and think "yeah so she could help her son." She said "we must tell Melanie to tell the social workers this was not true. That it was a dream she was having from her former abuse." I agreed. "Anything keep my kids" I thought. But I agreed with terms. Never was he to date anyone with children, never was he to be alone with children, and he had to get therapy. So we talked to Melanie, who already wanted to stop all this from going any farther. She and I were very close and the thought of being seperated was not thinkable. We went along with the story. We stayed up all night long going over and over again what she would say. The next day when they arrived she told them our version of the story. They questioned her for 3 hours and left. They then came back and questioned her again and then they left. They notified us by letter that no charges where going to be filed. That the charges were unfounded. Melanie and I rejoiced. They weren't going to take my kids! My mind at this time was racing. I was in a deep shock. My world was gone. My marriage was dead. I was mourning having my family back. It was like truly a death. One minute your world is so happy, the next it is torn apart. So, after several weeks, we decided to try to get back as a family, that in a marriage you must forgive. I tried. I could not make this work. I hated him so badly. I was having thoughts of how I could kill him painfully. I was so mad. Then I had a flashback, one I had not had before. The thought of me slapping my child down the hallway as I was telling her to respect the very man who had violently molested her the night before. I was at a new stage. You know, everything goes in stages. So I wanted a divorce. We did divorce. But we still had to keep this secret. We kept the secret for years, while Michael kept that letter, it was his freedom, his lifeline. He kept it neatly folded in his wallet from 1989-1996. He knew. He knew that one day Melanie and I would know we weren't the criminals. We would not be seperated. It was 1996 when Michael met and moved in with a women who had 3 little girls, aged 6, 8, and 10. Melanie and my hearts stopped when we learned of this. Melanie, now a mature 17 year old, said "Mom, I must tell, I must protect these children." I said "Melanie how? They cleared him. No one would ever believe you now." Then I remembered something my mother said to me many times, "if there is a will there is a way." I was determined to find one, and I did. I went to Radio Shack. I bought a small tape recorder, and I became very friendly again with Michael. It sickend my stomache. I hooked my device to my phone and I called him. I told him I still loved him and wanted him back. I was so sick with disgust at my words to him. I told him I wanted to leave my husband and come back to make our family work the way it used to be. But, I told him that I had a problem letting go of what you did to Melanie. I learned alot that day. I learned all the years when I thought what was I blind, how could I sleep through her squeals for my help. Only that day did I find out by his own words that he was putting NYTOL in my tea at night! You know to help you get your Z's. I was horrified. Oh god. He told me he needed to tell me that because he knew I was living with unwarranted guilt. He then went on to say "Yes, I molested Melanie but I am well now, I read a book. I know I am better now." I thought "yes, I got him!" I was an Matlock!! I did it. Shortly after, Melanie pressed charges and because of the tape and, believe it or not, his mother who testified to what she knew. He was convicted! He was convicted! Melanie again got justice. We went to court he pleaded not guilty. The judge didn't buy his story that we convinced him these things happened. He sentenced him to 18 months in jail and 18 yrs probation. No contact with minors under 15 and he now wears an ankle braclet to monitor his every move. Oh by the way he is back with   supervised visits to her home where she resides with her girls. So we have a lot of work to do on the probation end of sexual abuse cases.

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Just Walk Out

Nancy E. B.

Standing in the shower with the warm water running down her face, Susie can taste the warm, salty tears mixing with the shower water as she opens her mouth to sob. Oh no, she cries as memories of herself as a girl of fifteen sitting in a corner crying and holding her stinging cheek come flooding in on her like the water pulsing over her face.

Why must I keep having these horrific flashbacks? I’m out and I’m safe, so when will these memories stop haunting me? I have to find a way to purge this agony from my mind. Pouring the creamy liquid atop her pile of wet golden curls, Susie lathers up her hair, digging her fingernails into her scalp. She tries to purge the pain from her mind by scrubbing her scalp fiercely. It just doesn’t work; it never works. So the show begins rushing to the front of her mind like a horror movie that she can’t tear her eyes away from...

In the 1960s, times are hard for Susie and her family. Her mom has one too many mouths to feed. Susie's father had left them and remarried before she was a year old. It is easier for her mom to just give in to her daughter’s constant pleas to marry this older man who has promised to take care of her and provide for her. Believing he will fulfill his promise to care for her precious daughter, she signs the papers and they drive to Dillon, South Carolina where her daughter is wed.

"Just promise me you’ll let her finish school," Mom pleads with John.

"Sure, I promise," he agrees.

Susie exclaims to her new 21-year-old husband, "It’s unbelievable! I’m fifteen and mom let me get married!"

The young bride looks forward to a Father Knows Best type of home where life is perfect and discipline is gentle and loving. Two weeks pass and her marriage is blissful until... One evening while Susie is packing the things in her old bedroom to take with her into her marriage, John is helping her and comes across an old diary of Susie’s. He flips through the pages and sees that his innocent girl-wife has actually had a crush on another guy before he met her. Susie tries to play this off thinking its no big deal. All of a sudden John is shouting and calling her names! --SLAP!!!--- Down comes his raised hand hard across her soft young cheek as he shouts, "Let me tell you one thing, little girl, you had better let that be the last time you ever lie to me!" John storms out of the room leaving Susie dumbfounded.

What in the world just happened? The words themselves hurt Susie worse than the slap did. This was the man who loved her? What had she done so wrong? Feeling guilty for upsetting her new husband, she promises herself she will never do anything to make him angry again. One month after they married, John moves Susie to Manassas, Virginia a town far enough away from her family and friends that she cant be influenced by them, as John put it. Things aren’t going well in their relationship and he blames it on her family’s influence. "Honey if we can just be to ourselves, I know I wouldn’t be so edgy all the time." Family influence? In the 1960s, families do not interfere with fights between married couples, primarily because the woman almost always ends up doing something stupid like turning against her own family to defend the animal who is abusing her! Susie begins to grow lonely while John is at work. She has no phone or any way to contact anyone because she has no idea where the post office is or how she would get there since she couldn’t drive. She is still a child lost in a big world and needing her spouse to protect her. One really warm day she has the door to their matchbox trailer open trying to get some air when a little boy about six years old comes by and makes friends. He says, "Hi, my name is Bobby and I need an empty bleach bottle so I can make my baby sister a bank. Do you have one?" Susie smiles and says, "Hello, my name is Susie. I have one that is almost empty and as soon as I finish washing the sheets out in the bathtub, you can come back and get it." Bobby leaves Susie to her work not knowing that he has somehow stepped on the toes of a married man. That afternoon John answers the door and Bobby asks, "Where’s Susie?" Johns face turns red and he shouts in a rage, "What the hell do you mean Susie?! Are you referring to MY WIFE?!! Her name is Mrs. Stipes, you little bastard! You don’t have any business here. GET OUT!" John screams at Susie that she is never to refer to herself by her first name again. Hurt by this, Susie writes to her mother the next day telling her how unhappy she is and asking what she should do. Not having a stamp to mail her letter with, she stuffs it into a shelf thinking she may one day send it. This was not to be. John finds the letter. This is to be one of the worst beatings Susie will receive in her marriage to John. He beats her until she cant stand up any longer. Cowering down onto the floor on her knees, she begs John to stop. As Susie takes her hand away from her bruised and swollen lips, John sees the blood on her hand. John realizes he’s gone too far and he cradles Susie in his arms begging her to forgive him. "I didn’t mean it, I love you and would never do anything to hurt you!" He promises to never hit her again, a promise he will make with nearly every beating. Pulling herself away from the horrible flashbacks, Susie, now safe and warm in her own cozy apartment, walks over to the refrigerator and takes out an alcoholic cooler trying to force herself to relax and put some of these memories out of her mind. She sits back in her beat up old velvet winged back chair (one of the few things she managed to retrieve from her 27 years of marriage) and stares at the TV screen only to be reminded of the evil that men are getting away with as the verdict of a confessed woman beater comes back as innocent and he becomes a free man. Bending over to cry like a wounded animal into her cupped hands, Susie lets go of all the pent-up anguish she has been holding inside since the beginning of that nine-month trail. Although the trial was for murder and this is what O. J. Simpson was pronounced innocent of, Susie still felt like he was guilty. She has seen that angry look in the eyes of another abuser and knows what they are capable of. As she leans back in her chair thinking she has cried it all out, fresh tears well up inside of her as the flashbacks continue to haunt her. Susie really loves John and misses him so very much when he is working, especially since he forbids her to make friends that she can talk to while he is away, so she is dreadfully lonely and lives for her moments with her husband. Standing in the door, her heart aches for just the sight of him. She knows it’s time for him to come home from work and she is standing there waiting for a glimpse of him. Just as she catches sight of him coming around the corner, her heart leaps with joy and she throws her arm high in an excited wave. As fate would have it at just the moment John sees Susie wave a car full of rowdy teenage boys speeds by between them hooting and hollering at Susie. She barely pays them any attention because she is so relieved to see John is finally home. John jumps out of the car and pushes her into the trailer. He starts to scream at her as he repeatedly slaps her with the back of his hand, "Slut! What are you doing waving and flirting with those boys?! When will you get it through that stupid head of yours that you are a married woman and you belong to me now!!!!" Once again after the beating, John takes Susie into his arms and rocks back and forth shedding tears of his own, "Oh Susie, I’m so sorry. But you have to be careful not to make me so angry. Sometimes, I swear I’d rather kill you than think of you with someone else." Frightened and hurt, Susie begins to realize something beautiful inside of her is dying. Slowly the love and trust she felt for her husband was beginning to fade. There are just so many signs, that young Susie does not know about, that warn how this man will never change. During the 1970s, Susie tries to leave John several times. On one of the first occasions, John stands in her mother’s front yard screaming and crying in a fit of rage after Susie’s middle brother, Wayne, turns him away from the door. Finally, everyone’s nerves get so upset that the police have to be called to get him to leave. When Susie is in her eighth month of pregnancy with her first baby, John comes home from work in a particularly sexy mood. Susie suffers from chronic morning sickness. This is not like the usual dizzy spells that send a woman to the bathroom in the morning during the early stages of pregnancy. Susie suffers from constant nausea and vomiting around the clock. She constantly fights dehydration and weakness. She was on three different medications before they found one that helps her to at least cope with daily life at home. But this doesn’t slow John down. He complains if she pulls away in time to run to the bathroom, but after Susie vomits on him a couple of times he tries not to stop her. On this particular day, Susie is trying to cook supper. They are sharing a house with her older brother Bubba and his wife and two children who are sitting in the living room at the time. As John slides his arms around Susie, she turns the stove off with a groan, "I really don’t feel well, honey. Please don’t tonight." Susie tries weakly to pull away, but John spins her around and slaps her hard, "You are my wife! I have husbandly rights." He starts pulling her out of the kitchen but she manages to pull out of his grasp. She lets out a whimper as he grabs her by the hair and starts to pull her out of the kitchen. She tries to keep up with him but he is moving too fast. Just as she grabs onto his wrists to lighten his pull on her hair, she falls. John doesn’t slow his pace one bit. He marches right past her own brother who is sitting on the couch with his wife. Bubba has a pained look on his face but doesn’t say one word to John as he drags her across the floor by her hair like a caveman. Tears are streaming down her face as she desperately tries to stand up so the pain in her head will ease up. John throws her on the bed and demands his husbandly rights. Later, Susie lies crying and Bubbas wife does all she can to ease the situation as John sits crying and begging Susie to forgive him. Some time later, the beatings take on a new twist that made it impossible for her to endure. John had been brutally beaten as a child by his own father. To him, discipline means a firm hand, or belt as is usually the case with their little girls. At first it is just the two daughters. Two little toddlers doing toddler things like writing on the wall with crayons. John never punishes just one child. He would punish both of them to make sure he gets the right one or as a warning that they should prevent each other from doing anything to upset him. Off comes his belt. Susie buries her face in her hands crying as she hears her little ones screaming. The sounds of leather striking the soft flesh of her babies is more than she can bear on more than one occasion. She has to stop him! Stepping between them, Susie pleads with John to stop. He gets furious and grabs her very hard by the arms and slams her against the wall and shouts at her, "How in the hell do you expect me to teach them anything if you’re going to interfere?! They’ll never respect me if they know you’ll come to their defense every time!" Susie thought to herself, "Respect? Respect you?" Something isn’t right here. She is determined to get her children away from him. Susie takes a job as a waitress and leaves John once again. This time Susie hopes to make a safe home for her children. Starving would be better than watching him beat her children and having him beat her and call her degrading names. She then petitions for and gets custody of her little girls. John calls and comes around constantly using the children as an excuse to see and badger Susie to let him move in with her. Johns always late with the child support or misses it all together. The bills pile up and the girls are hungry. Susie just can’t do it on what she is earning. She knows she can go hungry but not her girls. The social services told her it would take up to 60 days to process her application. John is being particularly nice and very convincing that he had changed. She needs so much to believe him. After six months, Susie gives in and lets John move in only to have the abuse start all over again. Unlike victims of strangers, victims of marital violence have legal, financial and role relationships with their assailants, making it difficult to decide what to do about the violence. Women do stay in violent relationships "for the sake of the children." The fact is that most children say they would rather live with one parent than in a violent home. If not separated from a violent father, children often repeat the observed behaviors in their own adult relationships, thus perpetuating the cycle of violence. Susie is not aware of this or she would have tried harder not to go back to John. During the calm/honeymoon stage, a man can be very loving and caring, showering his partner with affection. The batterer is frequently described by the victim as a good father and a considerate partner, especially in the calm/honeymoon stage. Susie looks back and remembers the night of the conception of her third daughter with bittersweet sadness. She knows in her heart there were so many good times and she loved him still even after all of the abuse. She tried desperately to hold onto those good times. She really loved her husband more than her very life, which HE treated so poorly. Things seem to calm down. John is happy with his job and for the first time in years he is actually holding a regular job. He’s becoming good friends with Bubba so they all move into a trailer park near each other. Ali, Susie’s sister who is two years younger than she is, has a baby boy! John wants a boy so very much that Susie’s heart softens toward him. "Gee, its been months since he’s actually hit me," she thinks. "I want to make him happy and try one more time to give him a son." Nine months later, their last girl is born. Susie could do no more. In a last effort to please him, she names her daughter Joan, trying to make it as close to his name as possible. It doesn’t take long after that for John to return to his old ways. With the birth of her third child, Susie is becoming a woman at 21. She begins to look at her past and the hell she has gone through as a girl. She starts to get really upset with herself for not standing up to John regardless of what the consequences would be. She starts to see the girl of her past as a separate being and she feels bad for not having been able to protect her from what she went through. She will not allow him to hit her baby! She found herself taking more and more abuse as she refused to allow John to beat the children. Her sister Ali sees what is going on and she becomes her main source of encouragement. "Susie, you’ve got to get away from the jerk before he kills you!" She pushes Susie to go for her GED so she can get into college. It isn’t easy. The first thing she has to do is take all her babies and walk the fifteen blocks to the library to check out books so she can study for her GED. There was no way John would let her take classes at the high school. She never lets John know what she is doing until the time comes for her to go and take the test on a weekend. She has to convince him to drive her to the testing center and wait for her. (John always waits for her anyway, to make sure she didn’t sneak off with some guy!) After the test, she drops into the car seat exhausted. John smirks, "Gee, you gave it your best shot; its over now." Susie thinks it is all over. However, it is just the beginning. Six horribly long weeks later, Susie gets a large envelope in the mail from the testing center. Her hands shaking, she opens the envelope and something with a golden seal on it falls to the floor. She slumps to her hands and knees and picks up her official GED. She can hardly believe her eyes. "My God, I did it," she whispers in awe. Susie cradles the diploma against her chest and rocks back and forth crying with joy. She cries because she knows this is her first stepping stone to freedom. After seeing the movie called The Burning Bed, which is about domestic violence, Susie really starts to take charge of her life. She sees for the first time in her life that she is not alone and this is a problem faced by many women. This gives her the strength to take the necessary steps to enroll in a local community college. This is where she also gets a job and is finally able to take care of herself in hopes that one day she will be able to get out of this situation. The physical abuse mixed with psychological abuse and threats continue. The precious love that Susie once felt for John is replaced with a desperate desire to be the only person on either side of the family to remain married to just one person. John grows older and Susie becomes physically stronger and more aware of her rights as a person. The mean and hateful abuse continues until one day John has a stroke and for a couple of years is very dependant on Susie to take care of him. From this point on, the psychological abuse intensifies to make up for his physical weakness. Several years of this go by and finally Susie realizes the girls are grown and married but she is still too emotionally weak to leave John. Her nerves are growing worse and she’s constantly falling apart. Johns insecurity because of his not being able to hold a full-time job (like he ever did), is making him project his failures onto Susie and she feels it weakening her further still. She tells John that she must do something to build her self-esteem. A friend at work, who knows how John is treating her, recommends a woman’s support group at the YWCA. John thinks this is just some more classes she is taking, so he doesn’t question it. He hates for her to take night classes but he knows that she gets a nice big financial aid refund twice a year as long as she stays in school, so he allows it. Going to the YWCA group sessions gives Susie a whole new insight into what is and has been happening to her for so many years. For nearly a year she gets counseling and learns how she has a lot of help and support when she feels she needs to get out of a dangerous situation like domestic violence. Her plans start taking on more meaning, but she still has doubts. Susie decides to go see a lawyer to see what happens to her if she leaves her disabled husband. (Some people were telling her that it wouldn’t be worth it, to just stay and take the abuse or she’d have to support him for the rest of her life.) Does she have grounds to walk out? "More than likely," is the lawyers reply. They never like to give a positive answer. Then he surprises her with the same words her sister said years ago, "Look, no matter what the cost is to you, the man’s a jerk, leave." Susie still has doubts. She is just plain scared to death that it will fall through again and she will end up back with him. Then the lawyer says the words that will ring in her ears like a silent song prompting her to take action: "One day, you’ll have taken all you can take, and you’ll just walk out." Susie thinks about those words for weeks, "Just walk out." After years of trying, Susie knows the love she once felt is nearly dead between them. John has emphasized over and over how he controls her. One day Susie comes home from work to have John greet her at the door with an angry face and he starts to badger her, "I want to know exactly how much money you’re getting for going to school! I have an RV sitting in the backyard and I want $2,500 to pay for it." (This happens every semester. Susie gets money to pay for books and tuition. There is a little left over to ensure transportation or any other living expenses incurred going to college, but John always makes a big purchase and Susie has to pay for it.) Susie is hedging on giving him the exact amount because she knows he will take it all. "I’m really just too tired to discuss this right now," says Susie as she puts her purse down on the TV. John sits in front of the television and shovels mouthfuls of food in (that he has prepared for himself since he is home all day) as he snarls, "I’m tired of you lying to me." Susie sighs and walks into the kitchen. She’s just too tired after working and going to school to fix herself supper so she slowly walks to the front door and stares out. John is talking but she can only see his lips move. She hears something about him dragging her up to the school and making her go before the financial aid counselor and have him tell him how much money she is getting because the university prohibits this information being given to anyone but the student. John has that scary hate-filled look in his eyes as he spits out while eating, "If you’re lying to me again, I’ll throw your shit out in the street!" Maybe it was the horridly mean look on John’s face, or maybe it was the thought of being humiliated once again, or may it was those words, "You’ll just walk out" ringing in her ears, but Susie just goes totally numb all over and calmly walks to the TV and picks up her purse. She turns to John and says very softly, "I want a divorce." (Words she’s never used in any argument.) Then she just walks out. She floats out to the car as if on a baggage ramp. She drives to her sister’s where she stays until John realizes she’s not coming back.