Travis Air Force Base California, it’s where I was born and it was my first duty station as an Airmen First Class. I was working in what was known as the Flight Kitchen which was located on the flight. Being on the flight line meant interaction was limited to the guys who delivered meals to the planes. It was in this kitchen that I met my first husband.
In the beginning…
There was nothing magical about our “love story”, he was two years younger and it showed in his maturity but he was cute. As I got to know him better he revealed he was a virgin and I think it was this one endearing quality that I latched onto. He had decided early on that he wanted to share that with his wife.
Dear John letters…
The first six months of our relationship was spent emailing while he was deployed. I don’t know what it is about a deployment but they make feelings appear more intense. Once home he wasted no time proposing. Thanks to an aunt my ex was able to get court side seats to watch the Kings and the Warriors. The Kings being my favorite basketball team this was already a great date and then it happened…during double over time. I can’t even tell you if he had gotten his knee down to the ground before I made him get up. Who asks a person to marry them during double overtime?! As quickly as we were engaged, we were getting married.
Before flying to Illinois to meet his family and we made the decision to get married before returning home. I didn’t tell anyone in my family that I was eloping, except for my mother. My connecting flight was delayed which meant we wouldnt’ be able to get our marriage license until the next day.We were technically married on Friday the 13th of February in 2009 but because the license wasn’t 24 hours old yet it had to be dated February 14, 2009. The foreshadowing is unreal, I know. There we were, dressed in military blues, standing in his mother’s living room. I have no pictures of this day. Our first night as husband and wife was spent with another couple in a hotel room drinking the alcohol only I was old enough to buy. I didn’t know it yet but big changes were to come.
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde…
Within two weeks of being married we were expecting a baby and almost immediately after confirmation, I was married to a stranger.
It was cute at first, I think, he always wanted to be with me. Then I was never alone. We ended up working opposite shifts, him in the day and me at night which gave way to his infidelity. I caught him in another room, texting his ex girlfriend. I tried to play it cool but my curiosity got the best of me and I became private investigator. Three months pregnant and there I was reading about how disgusting my husband found me, how he made a mistake and will always love her.
Confrontation made his grip on me tighter. I started losing my friends because I was too busy with my married life to make time for them. Family members brought to my attention that one night he wasn’t allowing me to be alone with family. While I don’t remember why he was upset on this particular evening I do remember him slamming on the brakes so hard, the seat belt left a red mark across my chest. This was also the first night i heard “I’ll kill myself if you ever leave me”
I was confronted by family…
In the summer of 2009, my cousin stated that her and my grandmother felt I was in an abusive relationship. I was floored that I was being confronted by the truth. I went into ultimate denial mode and stopped speaking to my grandmother.
Abuse of choice…
My ex husband’s physical abuse of choice was choking. Placing his forearm against my throat while pinning me to a wall. Placing his forearm over my throat as he pinned me to the bed, straddling my “fat stomach”. If I had not been pregnant I’m certain he would’ve killed me. Stealing my keys and phone to prevent me from leaving happened weekly. Without even knowing it I was completely dependent upon him, I didn’t do anything without him or without him knowing.
If there were an award for mental warfare, he was at least nominated. My previous sexual experience meant that any male I spoke to was someone I wanted to sleep with. He was going to make sure that everyone knew what a slut I was and threatened to share intimate details with everyone I knew. When his infidelity was confronted his typical excuse had something to do with how fat or ugly I was. Who would ever want me? Maybe someday, someone will love me.
Addisyn was born three weeks before her father deployed and this deployment saved my life. I overheard him during one diaper changing telling our new born that if she “didn’t stop crying daddy was going to spank her.” For the first couple of months i allowed a diagnosis of postpartum depression mask my abusive marriage. Don’t ask me how but I managed access to his emails… I learned of the affair he was having with a woman who had children older than him. I kept this knowledge to myself and started to rebuild myself as I waited to serve him with a divorce.
The worst day of my life…
The day after he returned we spent the day getting tattooed. When it was his turn, he gave me his phone and it was time for me to gather any information i could in order to get out. My hands and voice were shaking as i read messages to a friend, this was it… i was leaving him and he wasn’t going to be able to fight his way out of it.
I tried to keep him calm as we drove the 45 minutes to collect our daughter, he pulled over and refused to take me to my daughter until i told him i was leaving him. That night he went out. What a relief, until it turned 3am…there was no sign of him and I had to work at 6am. He came home around 4 and as he slid into the bed next to me he asked “are you really going to leave me?” “Yes.” In the moments that followed the world moved in slow motion.
Is this really happening?
His foot was planted firmly in my back before I flew out of bed. I landed on top of an electrical strip which left a scar on my thigh from impact… “I’ll fucking kill you if you leave me!” I looked through the bedroom window, which faced the kitchen, in time to see him grab a knife before making eye contact with me. I don’t know how he moved so fast but before I could grab my phone he had it and my keys. His next move was to stop me from running out of the house.
You know the movie scene in horror movies that show women throwing things down behind them as they run away? I ran around our kitchen table knocking chairs down behind me just to keep a distance. He held a decorative frame in his hand as he screamed at me for destroying our family. The frame ended up lodged in a closet door and I scrambled to pick up the glass while he went to grab the baby who was now crying.
The calm before the storm…
Everything stopped for an hour and then my dad called. My dad was calling because I had asked him to take my daughter so i could go to work. The phone was thrown at me and because i could only manage one word responses my dad headed to our apartment. My phone was again taken and now I couldn’t have my car keys, I had no choice but to bang on a neighbors door. They didn’t answer. He refused to let me leave with our daughter and i had no choice but to leave without her.
Once I agreed to leave without Addisyn my phone and keys were thrown at my feet. The door was opened and I was shoved out with the door slammed behind me.
Still reversing from my parking spot, the phone calls started. He was now threatening to kill himself in front of our daughter. My dad was doing his best to soothe me with his words as he raced to get to Addisyn. As I approached the gates to the air base i realized i was now going to have to tell my supervisor everything that was happening. Phone calls to security forces and local police were made before i could finish my story.
The gate code wasn’t required to get in thanks to the amount of cop cars in the entrance. Why so many cars? Is that a SWAT truck? There were no faces, there were no voices, I only saw the men directing their weapons up at my dad as he walked out Addisyn in arms. Behind him moments later was Eli. He was refusing to come out and after a while agreed to allowing my dad in, there my dad convinced him to hand over Addisyn and turn himself in. I can still feel the look he gave me as he was loaded into the cop car.
If you know, suspect, or are at the hands of domestic violence get help!