Let’s start from the beginning I guess….. 2017, I was a single mom, and engineering student, I was living and loving life. I was a little wild, I loved to dance, I loved to be the center of attention, I was unapologetically myself. I had my son at 19, his dad was in and out of his life, he lived out of state and would pop in occasionally to visit, for the most part it was just me raising my son. I would hire sitters occasionally and go out with some friends on weekends but It was just the two of us most of the time. I struggled with depression from time to time as an overwhelmed single mother, but nothing ever too debilitating, I kept going and would pull myself out of it (not always on my own, seek help!) and all was good again. I loved my life…. Then I met [L] (or Voldemort as I also like to call him-he who shall not be named) He doesn’t deserve a name. I didn’t get one as a victim, I was my initials, or Jane Doe, or [NAME REDACTED] as far removed from a real person as they could make me. But now it’s my turn to tell my story, so he doesn’t get a name either. L- for loser, or liar, lousy, lazy… Some days L is still for “Love”.
We met the summer of 2017. God, I was head over heels for this charming bartender who only had eyes for me — I know what you’re thinking “you idiot you dated a bartender.” Yes, I did but I thought it would be okay, I had bartended before– anyways. He was exciting and loving, he wore his heart on his sleeve and I fell hard and fast. He told me he had an ex-girlfriend he was living with, but she knew it was over and he was just stuck there. The way he framed it made me believe that he wasn’t in a relationship with her any more and it wasn’t until after talking nonstop for almost 2 weeks that he told me he “hadn’t really broken up with her”. I told him to figure his shit out, and with in a month he had not only left her but also lost his place to live and was now living at my house with my son and I….. “only or a little while while he was finding a new place” HAH.
He never left, but things were soooo good in the beginning, I loved him and he loved me. We could laugh and have fun but we could also talk about all of our hurts and truly understand each other in ways I hadn’t felt with anyone else before. I was sucked in so quickly to the whirlwind romance. Things were PERFECT, too perfect, for the first 6 months of our relationship. It was this perfect little bubble in the beginning that made it so hard to leave in the end- but we’ll get to that.
In all of this perfection, he was reeling me in. There were red flags that I didn’t see before any of the abuse. We were so happy that we didn’t spend time with anyone else, I quickly quit going out and hanging out with friends. I only had time for him, he consumed my entire life. He talked down about other significant people in his life, he was always comparing me to his ex and how much better than her I was at everything (he did a complete 180 but again I’ll get to that). When he did start the abuse it was slow and subtle, we shared all of our past hurts with each other (remember?) so he knew exactly where to press to hurt me the most. It started small, “I heard you were with so and so once, what the f*** were you thinking?” “You never finish anything, you’ll never graduate” and slowly over time little those comments got worse. They turned into getting drunk and accusing me of cheating, or, better yet, calling me a slut for someone sitting down next to me at the bar while he was working. I was head over heels for this guy, cheating was the furthest thing in my mind. I thought I was the luckiest girl ever. The cutting comments went on for months and over time they weren’t always when he was drinking, he started being mean sober too. I would cry, I would lecture him the next morning when he was sober, I tried to explain my feelings and he just didn’t get how hurtful he was. He would apologize but it would happen all over again time after time.
I started to get brave, I started to talk back. I wasn’t raised that way, I didn’t come from a family that cut each other down, it didn’t come naturally to me like it did him. My parents are wonderful and in love and I strive to have a relationship like theirs some day, over 20 years and still going strong, I say this to say I had a great example of what love should be. But finally I started to get angry, how could he keep doing this, if only I could give him a taste of his own medicine…… So I started to cut back and things only got worse.
[L]: You’re such a f***ing slut look at the guys you’ve slept with etc etc etc
[NR]: Oh yeah [L] where the f*** were you last night? Do you think I didn’t notice you got home at 5am? Who the f*** were you with?
That night he spit in my face. He shoved me and when I tried to run away into the living room and grabbed my phone to call 911. He tackled me and threw my phone across the room. I woke up with bruises the next day, he had slapped me across the face, it was the first time he had ever hit me. He had shoved me a time or two before but this was the first-I still struggle calling it an assault, he didn’t actually hurt me, not badly. Not in comparison to what else was to come, this hardly even registers anymore. But that was the first truly physical altercation we had. He doesn’t remember it at all, or at least he says he doesn’t. I didn’t bring it up the next day, I didn’t bring that night up until months later. That next morning I couldn’t process it, I was in disbelief, denial, the man I love hadn’t really just hit me, it was a fluke, it had to be….. but I also remembered all the times before when he would throw stuff, or scream in my face, or stand over me when we were fighting and all of those little sparks of fear I had ignored back then were suddenly very very real. So that day I just went about everything like it hadn’t happened. But I was done fighting back, It was that night I realized talking back or trying to hurt him back when he was being hurtful to me only ended worse for me. He sent that message loud and clear. He says he doesn’t remember, but he was soooooo loving for the next few weeks. I don’t believe it.
We finally had some peace in our relationship, for a moment. But nonetheless, over time he started to slip again. He went back to the usual bullshit so I sat him down sober one day and I told him enough is enough, we’re getting you into an addiction counselor you have a problem. (See at this point I still thought it was a substance problem, not a [L] problem). He pushed back a lot, but finally I scheduled the appointment for him, and I drove him, and he finally decided to see an addiction counselor. Within the first 3-4 sessions he came home and told me “[Counselor] doesn’t think I’m an alcoholic or an addict. She thinks I’m just a situational alcoholic and addict and that my biggest problem is you.” Then he laughed. He knew he had addiction problems. We had talked about them pretty extensively by that point. They actually became his new scapegoat for all his bad behavior. “I’m sorry I did- Insert horrible thing here- someone gave me -insert any kind of drug here- at the bar and I just wasn’t thinking. I know I have a problem and you know I’m working really hard on it.” He was pretty pleased he had someone to cosign his bullshit now and thought it was hilarious he had convinced her he didn’t have a problem. He loved that in his mind, his ability to pull the wool over on her made her inferior to him. [L] loves to feel like the boss, important, in control, superior.
**I just realized I went to say the month and year of the next major incident but I don’t want to break his anonymity here, not that he doesn’t deserve it, but this isn’t his story this is mine. I don’t want someone to be able to go back and figure out who he is and share this with him at some point. So I’ll go with just vague time frames from here on out.–
So at this point we’re a year into our relationship, he’s on anabolic steroids, he’s a garbage can addict, he’s an alcoholic, He’s paid his HALF of rent twice. He’s occasionally helped out with groceries, and when we went out on dates, the few times we actually went on dates I usually paid. This sounds pretty horrible like “UGH [NAME REDACTED] why wouldn’t you have left by now?!?!” and I get that, I should have…. but it wasn’t as bad living with it as it sounds when I type it out like that. He was still that loving guy 90% of the time that I fell in love with. He would sit with me in the kitchen, sometimes begrudgingly, while I cooked. I was a damn good cook, in my family we show love through food, and it was something he always praised me for. We could still talk about 95% of everything, as long as it wasn’t his bad behavior. Everynight I would fall to him rubbing my back. He still ran and played with [Baby] and the dog. When he was home and sober he was fun and loving and the other parts of his life really didn’t overlap too much with his home time with me. I was able to separate the two mentally because it was just easier.
We had a fight about his issues and he decided he was going to move in with a friend, he needed some space. ( I think he realized how bad his addictions were getting and how volatile he was at this point so he couldn’t keep getting away with it if he was living with me?). We hadn’t broken up but we were pretty damn close. One night that weekend I was in a terrible mood, it had been a rough day, and he was working the early shift at the bar, off at 10pm. He promised me he would come home as soon as he was off and we could spend time together. Notice he was still calling my house home even though he had moved out to get some space earlier that week. 10:30 rolls around and I start calling, where are you? He says he’s on his way. 11 o’clock he quits answering my calls. Midnight I get a snapchat of him drinking at the bar with his friend dumping me. I was devastated but at this point we had played the back and forth dumping game so many times, I wasn’t going to go look for him. [Baby] was sleeping and I just was too emotionally exhausted to try.
The next morning he called me sobbing. “I’m so sorry, I messed up, I love you soo much, please come get me can I please come home and just put this behind us blah blah (bullshit!)” I was still pretty pissy from the night before and I asked where he was and I told him I’d be there in a bit. I was busy, I had sausage cooking for [Baby] and he was just going to have to sit there and wait and think about what he had done. hahahaha, was I wrong. He fell back asleep. I don’t know what he was on, but when I showed up to pick him up he didn’t even remember calling me. He was drunk and belligerent, he called me crazy for showing up after he dumped me, he was just horrible. I got our dog (which he had taken) and put him in the car with my son and went back up onto the porch to try and get him calmed down and figure this out. It was a covered porch with just a little doorway to get in and out. I was trying to talk and he grabbed me by the throat and shoved me backwards into the wall. I managed to get free and pulled my phone out to try and call 911. He bit it. Literally he bit down and tried to bend it. He had a mouth full of blood and glass. I remember him bleeding from the glass and had blood on my hands and face from where he repeatedly threw me down to the ground of the porch. He finally started to calm down and sat down in a chair, still partially blocking the entry to the porch, and I tried to get past and every time I did he would punch me in the legs or hips. I finally got past and he followed me and ripped my keys out of my hands. He used the lanyard they were on to fling them as far down the block as he could. I ran into the street and stopped a car and they called 911 for me, but they didn’t stay and wait with me. [L] took off on foot, no shoes, and the police arrived and took my statement, they took pictures of my throat and legs where he had left bruises and they told me they would do their best to find him.
I called two of his best friends and his mom and they found him and called him in, he was arrested that night. That was his first PFMA (partner family member assault) charge. This was only the beginning of the real crazy……