Editor’s Note: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Lovefraud received the following story from a woman who went public with her experience in order to draw attention to this terrible problem. The name she uses on Lovefraud is “Tormented.”
In 2008, I divorced my husband of 18 years due to differences that unfortunately we couldn’t work out. We have three amazing children together and remain good friends in spite of our divorce, which has made things much easier for all of us.
Just five months after the divorce, I met a man who charmed me from the very beginning. I thought he was wonderful, and I quickly fell head over heels for him. A former county deputy sheriff, presently working as an Air Marshal and in the Army Reserves for nearly 20 years, he seemed like one of the “good guys” – a really good, down-to-earth person with a lot going for him. In his early 40”˜s, he had never married and had no kids, which I thought was a good thing because I figured he lacked “baggage.” He seemed to love my kids, and when we married six months after we met, it felt natural and right. After all, I was 43, had been married for nearly two decades and knew exactly what I wanted.
What I didn’t realize was the fact that there were glaring red flags all over him. I guess I was either too naive or too trusting or both. For one thing, he had never been in a long-term relationship. And a few months into our marriage I discovered a box filled with photos of him with many, many different women over the years. Also, he had only one close friend. This friend of his attended our wedding, but only because we paid for the airfare and hotel. No other friends or family from his side bothered to attend. And the only wedding gift we received from his side was a $50 gift card to Pier 1 – from that one close friend of his.
Soon after we married, my new husband’s facade began to crack, and lies started to show through. Such as the fact that he had told me and my children that he had a college degree in Criminal Law, when in reality he had only taken a few online classes.
“Honeymoon” in Maui
When the verbal abuse started, I was not only horrified, but ashamed and embarrassed. I couldn’t believe the violent language that so easily flew from his lips, directed straight at me. When we went on our honeymoon to Maui, I ended up catching a flight home by myself two days early. I couldn’t begin to comprehend how a man could possibly yell at his new bride for hours on end, repeatedly calling her a f–king c-nt and scaring her to death while on their honeymoon. And his anger came out of nowhere, for no good reason. One night it was because I didn’t want to eat ice cream with him for dessert.
At this time, I was in between jobs and freelancing to keep some income coming in. I had the opportunity to work on a large, potentially lucrative business deal that I was very excited about. Out of the blue, my husband called up my potential client and accused him of having an affair with me. I was horrified and of course, lost the deal.
It became very apparent that I had made a terrible mistake, and yet I remained in a state of denial for several months as the wonderful man I thought I’d married simply faded away. I no longer recognized my husband through all of the degrading name calling and emotional manipulation. I cried nearly every day of the ten months we were married. My heart was bludgeoned, my self esteem utterly destroyed.
After the disastrous honeymoon, I insisted on marriage counseling, however our psychologist gave up after only four sessions. She said she was unable to help us work things out unless he received individual counseling first. When she mentioned the words “domestic violence” to me, I was stunned. I had no idea that verbal abuse was considered domestic violence, and I couldn’t believe that I had entered this devastating realm that I’d never imagined would be a part of my life.
Ten months after our wedding, I finally found the courage to ask for a separation. I told him that I needed two months of peace, to think about our relationship and where we should go from there. I realized that another divorce was most likely on the horizon for me, however I still held out hope that he would miraculously change and the abuse would end. I was desperate for that man I fell in love with in the very beginning to reappear. How could that good man have been replaced by this abusive, violent monster who obviously hated me?
Just five days after I asked for the separation, he showed up on my front patio unannounced and forced his way into my home. He had just flown into town, and being an Air Marshal who always wears a gun strapped to his chest, I could tell that he was packing by the bulge under his shirt. He paced through my home, yelling and at times talking irrationally. Twice he said that we should go into the bedroom and have sex, that it would be “good for both of us.” Terrified, I cried and begged him to leave. He yelled at me and said he would leave when he was ready to leave. He continued to pace and yell. Sobbing and shaking uncontrollably, I finally called the police. I had never called 911 before in my life, but I was so frightened that he would physically hurt me or worse. Later, when the police officers removed him from my property and encouraged me to file an Order of Protection against him, I was completely beside myself.
Order of Protection
I soon discovered that filing an Order of Protection against my husband was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was devastating to think that I had to go to that extreme measure to keep myself, and my children, safe. Especially when I was trying to keep myself safe from the one person who I thought had my best interests at heart. Someone I had trusted and opened my entire life to. Someone I believed in. To have to cope with the fact that my husband never really loved me at the same time when I was also dealing with having to file an Order of Protection against him was beyond devastating. It was also an extremely lonely place to be.
My Order of Protection case itself ended up being a lengthy, stressful ordeal. Along the way his attorney was very persistent about proposing a settlement since he would have been fired from his Air Marshal position if the Order of Protection remained upheld. In the end, I chose to settle and ended up with an even greater and longer lasting protection through a Court Order attached to our divorce decree, in addition to reimbursement from him for all of my divorce and legal fees. Presently, he can’t even enter the state where I live and can never contact me or my children forever.
During this ordeal, I started writing a blog as a way to release the painful feelings I was coping with while also speaking out to help other women going through the same kind of situation. Ironically, my blog has enabled women from his past and present life to find me online.
Horribly enough, I discovered that for most of the time we were together, he was having an affair with a married woman. This woman was shocked to find my blog and to learn of my existence. She emailed me the story of their affair, and I learned that while he was in the process of marrying me, he was simultaneously trying to convince her to leave her husband for him. I have no doubt that there were other women in his life at that time as well. The combination of his vicious abuse and his disgusting betrayal have been horrendous to deal with.
On top of all this, I contracted a sexually transmitted disease from him that has since been resolved through medication. It was discovered while we were married, and yet his response was to call me a f–king wh-re and accuse me of having an affair. He refused to believe that he was carrying an STD, which I’m sure he continues to spread around.
I am speaking out and sharing my story with the hopes that I can reach other women who may be hiding in the shadows with their own stories of abuse. I recently appeared on local TV news segments, as well as in our state newspaper. It’s terrifying to “come out” publicly with my story, but I’m hoping that by doing this I’ll make it a little easier for the next woman. The only way to eradicate domestic violence is to lean on each other, stand up, speak out and educate. The main thrust of my message is: you are not to blame and you are not alone.