This blog will be uncharacteristically short; but I feel the need to strike while the iron is hot. To say that the events of the past few days have been triggering for me is a vast understatement. Every time I see the video of him hitting his wife brings back the shock and awe of being squarely punched in the face–and suddenly dropping to your feet to clean your own blood off the carpet. That was one of the last times I got hit. It was then that I began developing a plan to leave. I would like to share it with you. I understand that this plan could get into the hands of an abuser and they can be looking for these tips; but that is a risk I am willing to take.
Here is how I left.
I waited until we had a time of peace, though hard to find, I finally got a period of time where there was peace, and he was out of town.
I opened a checking account in my own name and began putting money in it.
I bought gift cards for grocery stores and places like Walmart so that I could have some provision in the early days and weeks of going it alone.
I packed bags and put them at different friends houses all over the city; took enough that would keep me clothed but left enough so that he would not notice.
I left the country, literally. My friend put the trip on her credit card so he could not see where I went.
I lied to him about where I was, this bought me a few days while I was waiting for him to get served with papers. I remained calm and like nothing was different.
I told my attorney I essentially wanted nothing but out. I did not want a long and drawn out divorce.
I secured pictures of all the bruises and cuts from over the years, that, incidentally I had emailed to a friend. I was ready to use them as evidence if I needed to do so.
I made a doctor’s appointment I didn’t need and I told him. He is a mandated reporter. He told me I had 24 hours to leave or he would call the police.
That same doctor took pictures of the gun sized bruise and cut on my head. They are still on file in his office.
When I came home I moved 250 miles away. I went to where I had some strong support but it would be difficult for him to get to me.
I borrowed money, having no idea when I could pay it back, to make this happen. He did not put me on any checking accounts, he always gave me an “allowance” which I did save but it would not have been enough.
I worked for him so I started to secure employment in my new city; fortunately for me I have a skill set and a college degree that did not make this hard for me, I understand that is not true for everybody.
I held my precious golden retriever’s head in my hands and cried as I tried to tell him what was going on. That last night he slept, literally, with his hand in mine.
I picked friends that would hold me accountable to the plan. Once in action it could not be undone.
I walked around the house with the day’s edition of the newspaper (to prove the date) and took pictures of all the valuable stuff in the house. Turns out, I would not care about that “stuff” but that is a good way for him to claim those things have never existed.
I took screen shots of bank account balances, again, I never asked for any money but I didn’t know that at the time.
I was medicated. When I went to the doctor he gave me meds for anxiety and nausea.
I said goodbye–to each room in our “dream house”–the one 3 blocks from the beach. But the truth is, there wasn’t one room in that house without a violent memory.
I took my DVDs, but I left them in the box so he wouldn’t notice they were gone.
I wrote an operations manual so that he could run the business.
I called his mama, who I love to death, and had what I knew would be my last conversation with her. I remember her specifically asking me how it was with him out of town, my words to her were “peaceful, really peaceful”. She laughed but I knew then that I was going to run from the darkness and into the light, I was going to get peace and I was going to get it at all costs.
I had (and still do) code words to say to my friends that means “send the police”
I kept (still do) the GPS feature enabled on my phone and changed all passwords that he would know how to track me by my phone, but my friends could (still do).
I refused to look in the rear-view mirror. I definitely did not think leaving him was going to be as hard as it was and continues to be. It has been 7 years and he still is a threat to me as I was granted an indefinite order of protection from the man who vowed before God and our families to love me forever.
When I got back to the states, I made a doctors appointment to prove to my doctor that I did leave and to receive the results of blood tests he ran on anybody who was in a situation like mine. I tested positive for one; it attacks my mitral valve every year.
I changed my cell phone number.
I gave him a PO box for the little bit of money that I did ask for; I used a friends address for my drivers license that first year.
I had people that checked on me everyday–they knew I needed protection from him; but they also understood the depths of pain that I was walking, wading, crawling, swimming and sometimes drowning–they knew how deep those days were. In fact, somebody still checks on me everyday.
All of this sounds easier than it actually is. I hope some of these tips will help anybody who needs a plan. Get people. I can not say that enough, get people. You can do this. You got this. You are so worth it. More on my story here.