Thursday, September 18, 2014

Aftermath

This week marks One Year since leaving what may have been the worst relationship of my life.  I've debated whether or not to talk about it, because the details are hard and the story isn't pretty.  But at some point, you need to let go of the things you've been holding on to and that is what I'm doing.  If I can help one person, if one person can see something in my story that helps them... then it isn't in vain.  This is my story.  

The Incident wasn't over yet.  As I sat in the car with the 911 Operator on the phone, she asked me to open the garage door so I could see the Officers when they arrived.  I watched my ex walk by with the TV to the garbage and then walk back towards the house shaking his head and glaring at me through the back window.  He wasn't outside when the first officer showed up so I can only assume that is when he went back up to our apartment and sent me the text calling me pathetic.

The first Officer who responded walked around the corner of the door and I remember letting out the biggest sigh of relief.  I was still scared, but I've probably never been so relieved to see a Police Officer in my life.

The Officer spoke with me before asking me to go in the house.  My ex was on the sidewalk speaking with another officer.  The man who had spent the last few hours calling me names and wishing "diseased" children on me before throwing a television off a balcony was downright jovial and sociable with them.

I was humiliated.   I was sobbing when the first officer arrived and (as inappropriate as this is) he was good looking which only heightened my embarrassment.  I remember interacting with three, maybe four, officers that day.  I remember feeling like I probably looked like just another statistic to them, and I was afraid they weren't going to help me or take me seriously.  I was even more afraid that they would fall for his act and leave me there with him.  There were three cruisers parked around my house in the middle of the afternoon for everyone in the neighborhood to see.  I had three officers in my home and the apartment was trashed.  I had stopped cleaning, caring or trying and it showed.

They left me in the house to go talk with him.  I didn't hear what was being said because my mom called and I quickly tried to explain what was going on.  When I hung up the phone, they were explaining to him that they were arresting him for Disorderly Conduct.  As I stood in the front room watching them arrest him, I felt numb.  I wasn't sure how I was supposed to feel, but I felt nothing and wondered what would happen next... would he be back?

The Officer explained that he could be released as soon as he posted bail and could come back for his vehicle but there was a No Contact order in place until court.  It was explained to me that he would be able to come and get his things with a police escort.  The locks were changed before he even posted bail.  He came to get his vehicle an hour and a half later.  He didn't even so much as look at the house, just got in the car and left.

I spent that evening at home packing up the rest of his things and moving them outside of the apartment and in the days that followed he would come with a police escort to get his things from the porch where I had left them.  This would happen twice.  

I was put in touch with the local domestic abuse and advocacy group in my area and spoke with one of their Crisis Advocates.  My work schedule left me unable to attend any kind of group therapy with them or get much assistance outside of talking with Crisis Advocates over the phone.  I was trying to work and remain independent and functional while keeping myself safe and I wanted help.  The times I was able to meet with someone, they were incredibly gracious enough to stay late to meet with me.

The thing they don't tell you is what the Aftermath is like.  The humiliation.  The stress.  The anxiety.  I spent the next few weeks not sleeping well at night.  

I had to tell people we broke up, which left a lot of questions because I hid so much from the outside world.  He had met me for lunch at work the week before.  People knew our relationship had problems, but for many this seemed to just come out of the blue and many people had questions.  There were people who doubted my version of the story and implied that perhaps there was nothing for me to be afraid of because "I never had any problems with him.  He seemed like a nice guy".  There were people who expected us to get back together and in the weeks following often asked if I had heard from him and if he'd apologized yet.  I just kept repeating, "He can't contact me.  We have a No Contact order.  If he does, I will be calling the police".

I was angry at myself for letting the entire relationship happen.  I was angry at the messes I had to clean up.  I was stressed and embarrassed because I needed to see a doctor because he had said he had been cheating on me and I was afraid he'd brought something home.  I was humiliated because I had to tell people what had happened so they knew he wasn't supposed to show up.  I hated myself because the relationship had changed me into someone I didn't like.  There were times when my reaction to the abuse was just as bad as the abuse, and he used those times to threaten and shame me, and tell me I wasn't any different and didn't deserve better because I wasn't being better.  I was angry at myself because I had stepped in to take the abuse for others...his daughter, the cashier who couldn't do anything when his deli chicken rang up at the wrong price, his family member who had made him angry.  I knew he was going to be telling people stories about me that weren't true, and I was mad because he was going to be lying.  I hated myself for letting this become my reality.

I spent my free time and weekends cleaning up my life.  I bleached the floors and shampooed the carpets.  I cleaned all of the nooks and crannies.  I scrubbed the toilet and the shower and the sinks.  I was on a mission to eradicate him from my household because I felt like he was still there in so many ways.  I wanted every smell, every thing, every cell gone from my life so I could reclaim my space.  I lived with the shades closed and rearranged the furniture so he wouldn't know the layout of the apartment if he came after me.

My body was so tuned to the schedule I had when we lived together that I would have anxiety attacks every night at the time he usually came home.  If I wasn't home, I felt like I needed to be so that I could be inside with the doors closed and locked and so that I knew everything was OK there.  Every night as the clock ticked up to the time he used to come home I would grow more and more anxious.  I would find myself listening to the passing cars.  Listening for him. 

My heart would jump into my throat and my stomach would clench every time my cell phone made a noise.  I received calls from restricted numbers sometimes twice a day which would send me into a panic.  I later found out the Crisis Advocates call from blocked numbers and didn't leave messages, but those calls left me in a panic time and time again.  I ended up deleting a lot of things from my phone simply to stop the consistent dings and rings from notifications from various apps.

When I would leave or come home, I would look up and down the streets for his vehicles.  He works in my neighborhood and I would see him driving around, often doing a slow roll past my house or around the corner.  When he was arrested, I had asked the officers about it and was told that as long as he didn't approach me or the house there was nothing that could be done about him being in the area.

I would not hear from him again until the day before Thanksgiving, two weeks after the case had been resolved.  It was then that the harassment began.  He believed I owed him things, but when I requested that he email a list of the property he believed was owed to him and I would present it to my lawyer, he responded with threats to call the police for accusations I still do not understand.  He never sent the list.

The harassment would continue with him sending me a long rambling message the week of Christmas.  When I didn't answer text messages, he began sending me game requests through the Word with Friends app.  When I would reject the games, he would send me messages through the chat feature asking me what what wrong with me, telling me that I wasn't myself, accusing me of keeping his things and taking his daughter's things.  Once even pleading with me to talk to him because something was going on and he didn't know who else to talk to.  I never responded, but I took screen shots of all the messages and emailed them to myself on as many email accounts as I could.  Soon the messages were coming almost daily, sometimes multiple times a day.

He was escalating again.  The messages were mirroring the behavior I had seen and experienced before he threw the television off the balcony.  When he sent me a message telling me to jump off a cliff, accusing me of keeping his things, and calling me a "hooker and a prostitute" I went to the police department.  I had asked him not to contact me.  I had not been responding.  I felt I shouldn't have to deal with someone sending me those kinds of messages anymore.  The officer I spoke with said he was toeing the line of harassment, but he would be calling and speaking with him and asking him not to contact me further.

I haven't heard from him since, but I still had so much more work ahead of me.  I didn't realize how much my life was going to change in the coming months in how I looked at the world, even changing my friendships and how I looked at the people around me.


If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse, please call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233  or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). They have people on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week who can offer support and lists of resources in your area.

Other resources with information about Domestic Violence and Abuse:
HelpGuide.Org
Symptoms, Treatment and Recovery from Emotional and Psychological Trauma

2 comments:

  1. You sound so very strong to me! Thank you for sharing this story with the world. You are an amazing person!

    ReplyDelete