Military Special Needs Network

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Suffering in Silence: A Story of Domestic Violence

I am a military spouse, mom to a child with special needs, and am a current victim of domestic violence.  It’s a really hard choice to make to end the abusive cycle.  I know, because I haven’t had the guts to make it myself.  Here is my story.

My active-duty husband and I have been married for over 10 years and we have two children, one that has special needs.  For the first few years of our marriage, I was so blinded by love.  You see, I came from a low-income, single-parent family, and I believed in him and his promise of a better life.  I believed in him so much, that the things he began saying to me had to be truth.  He called me fat, irresponsible, not good enough, and I was lucky that he took me in.  So I fixed myself:  I went on a diet and lost weight.  I got a job and rose quickly up the chain in my market.  And my husband was satisfied, unless I asked for money.  He began controlling the checkbook and did not allow any spending money.  He took my paychecks and I became his slave.

He had a great social life – golfing with his friends and drinking every weekend while I worked.  Soon, my paychecks weren’t enough for his habits and he told me that I needed a second job or he would leave me.  It sounds so stupid for me to write that cliché – but when you’re 23 years old and you have nowhere else to go, that statement left me (and still leaves me) feeling unwanted and abandoned, and so I got the second job.

I worked 16 hour days and my husband was happy for a while.  I was doing exactly what he had asked of me, so he set out to find something else to take away.  He began criticizing my cooking and cleaning skills.  If his laundry wasn’t folded to his expectation, he would dump it out and make me do it all over again.  If he didn’t like what was on his dinner plate, he would throw it away and tell me how horrible a cook I was.  I would do anything so he wouldn’t abandon me, so I learned to cook and clean better.  I knew if I could keep him happy, he would keep me around.

Years passed and my children were born, and my youngest developed special needs.  He blames me over and over again and tells me to fix the problem and shut the kid up.  He is loud and degrading and will not spend any time with any of us.  We never know his mood and we live in fear because of it.

Fortunately, the military needs my husband to be deployed frequently, so we get long reprieves.  My babies need me so much and I am extremely lucky that I am allowed to stay at home during this tour of duty.  I make sure the house is perfectly spotless and clean, just in case he comes home.  My children and I thrive when he is deployed, but those times never last long enough.

When he is home, my husband makes me feel worthless and I always feel that there is something so wrong with me.  He is manipulative and claims that I should go see a doctor because clearly, I need help.  He criticizes my parenting and says my children are too fat.  He says that my lack of skills is what made my child have special needs.

I can honestly say that I want out of my marriage – I want this life of pain to stop, but sometimes I feel like I’m supposed to stick it out until something changes.  It would be so much clearer if I was being physically abused, but I’m not.  I can’t tell you how much I have wished and prayed for him to hit me, because that would be easy to justify and walk away from.  I am pathetic and stuck.  There is no way out of this trap.

I have tried to rationalize it in my mind over and over.  We have a horrific marriage, but it’s not physically abusive.  The children have health coverage through TRICARE and I don’t have to move back home to my mother’s one-bedroom apartment or live on welfare.  I can paste on a smiling face and can make sure my husband is satisfied.  I do not ask for money, time, or love from him.  I let go of those things a long time ago.  It still makes me anxious when he says “I am going to leave you.”  I wish I was strong enough to say, “Go ahead,” but I’m not.  I don’t know how.

As my children grow and see how weak their mommy is, I can’t help but want to prove to them that I am STRONGER than this.  But I don’t know how.  Honestly, I feel that saying “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” and by leaving my husband, I am somehow failing God.  I know there are resources out there to help me, and I’ve tried.  I have tried to seek help locally, and they all assure me that they will reprimand my husband, who, by the way, is much higher ranking now.  He never fails to bring that up when he is criticizing my appearance and how he deserves a prettier, more educated wife.  One that doesn’t make special needs babies.

He has already taken so much away from me, and I am embarrassed.  I am afraid of the consequences and that incredible fear has me writing this blog anonymously.  I don’t know what’s right and wrong anymore.  I am just trying to do right and get the help my children need, and if that means sacrificing myself, then I will.  But I just honestly don’t see a light at the end of my tunnel.  Thank you for allowing me to tell my story, although I have to share it namelessly.  I really hope someday I can be better.

7 comments on “Suffering in Silence: A Story of Domestic Violence

  1. Lily Rose
    October 26, 2012

    As a parent of a special needs child with autism, I am so saddened and angered to learn that a husband is blaming his wife for their special needs child. This is the mentality we’d have seen some 30 years ago when mothers were often blamed for this. It was terribly damaging back then and we have moved so far passed that point now. This letter is a cry for help. Parents of special needs children need even more support and should not ever have to made feel that they are unworthy. If anything, you are your child’s hero!! Please know that you are not alone. There are support groups out there. There are people that care out there that are incredibly effected by reading your letter. You can not let yourself feel isolated and suffer alone. This is the hardest step that you took by reaching out in a letter. The rest will get easier. Keep reaching out. Find a counselor and come up with a plan.

    If you are dealing with autism please get in touch with me on FB I’m Lily Rose and admin at (the closed group) Puzzle Pieces.
    Send me a personal message. The Special Needs Network is a wonderful resource. Get in touch with my friend Wendy.

    Thinking of you and wishing you peace,

  2. Angela R Duncan
    October 26, 2012

    I think i could have writtent his letter, but time and distance does make it better. Do not count the military for help, you will have to go to outside agencies, but since the kids are his, he is responsible for maintaining medical care for the kids but you will loose it (sorry) it’s the 10/20/20 law. Good luck, take care of yourself.

  3. Pingback: Help for Victims of Domestic Violence « Military Special Needs Network

  4. aysjaysandayches
    October 27, 2012

    I am so sorry you’re going through this… The best thing I can say is: You DON’T need a reason. I stayed in too many abusive relationships because “he never punched me in the face”. YOU deserve better. Your children deserve better. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. Good luck xo

  5. Fabulous. I agree.

  6. Someone Who Knows
    January 14, 2013

    If you can’t leave him for you, leave him for your children. What they see happening is what they will grow to believe love should be like…and then the cycle will continue. You DO deserve better. More importantly though, your children deserve better. Leave as soon as you safely can because eventually the physical abuse will begin. And contrary to your beliefs, that will not make it any easier to leave. Leave now!

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