Eviction number two. I managed to scrape up enough money for a nice place, and we were there a month. I spent almost every night we were in that apartment there alone. With no dependable phone, outside of town, and a building filled with people I did not know. It was made clear I was not to open the door to anyone or leave while he was gone, except to go to work. I am sure he had someone watching the apartment to report everything I did and every person that came in and out of the building. He always knew everything, right down to the time I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.
I started cooking everything when we moved in to the third place, because he had taken to threatening me that he was going to poison my food. A few times, I would have sworn I tasted something that did not belong, and he became irate when I refused to eat it. I was annoyed that I had to do this, too, because I did everything else: all calls, doctors, prescriptions, legal / financial paperwork, looking for work for him, drafting for him, working my own job, cleaning, laundry, dishes, and now the one last thing that I had a break from was now mine.
Eviction number three. We stayed at a hotel for several weeks. During this time, he got me to leave my job. We were supposed to be moving out-of-state. Fortunately for me, the job I would have had was rescinded, but it also meant I was trapped with him all day, every day.
And still the violence worsened. He had taken to hitting my head in the middle of the night and starting arguments over delusions he had. I had no privacy left; he even made me shower and go to the bathroom with the door open. If I dared close it, it meant that I was hiding something. He would attack me in the shower. When I was cooking. Watching TV.
Someone helped him get the next apartment. Here is where I suffered the most. He turned it into his party house, and he outright tormented me. He started slamming my head against door frames until my ears bled, profusely. He started pushing me down and dragging me around by my hair. Punching me in the stomach. Continued beating my legs with metal bars. I still have repercussions from this. He had knives stashed around the apartment. He had weapons I didn’t know about.
He beat me to get my 401K, and I relented after a few hours, because I wanted it to stop, and I wanted him to leave. He would beat on me with his dirty, drugged up friends sitting on my couch downstairs, because I told him to get the trash out in the dumpster where it belonged. He started having his dizzy drug-crazed street women trick for free drugs so he could continue to binge. One day he called me over saying he had something to show me, and he promptly put a handful of bullets in my face. Just because I show you the bullets, it doesn’t mean the gun is in the apartment. Kevin had people constantly watching me, reporting back to him whatever they saw happen.
By this point, it was now a well established routine that I would be forcibly kept awake for days on end, and then he would allow me to fall asleep only to wake me up by punching me in the back of the head. I refused to sleep with him. He would beat on me for days on end overnight while I tried to sleep. I refused to relent, as did he.
Eventually each time, it would come down to the point where I could physically no longer endure the pain, and I face the humiliation and give in. So he would stop. So he would leave me alone. He would never rape me; he wasn’t the type for this. For him, it was about holding the control and proving that he had total control over me. And eventually I tired of this choice, and I simply refused to make it. When I stopped giving in, he came even more brutal in his punishments.
And still his drug abuse worsened. Eviction number four. We tried to stay with someone, but we ended up sleeping in the car. We finally found a place, and things just kept right on plummeting. The last night in this apartment was too traumatic to go into great detail about. (The story is posted on my blog under the post “The Great Pork Rib Caper“.) I will say I did not sleep, which was a normal occurrence. From 9:30 that night until 7:45 the next morning, he terrorized me. I had a hammer waved in my face, was back against the wall and punched in the head repeatedly. Hit in the side with what I think was the knife sharpener. Threatened with a 2 x 4 he pulled from the closet. Backed up against the wall and slapped across the face. Hit in the face with a shoe. Punched over and over in the head. When he tired of using his fist, he grabbed a can out of the kitchen cupboard and repeatedly hit me in the head with that. He also waved a switchblade in my face and had it pointed at my throat before I left for work.
At first, I was like a deer in the headlights: scared and having absolutely no idea what direction I should go. I just knew that I had to get out. There was no planning for what came after. I felt a shroud of loss, defeat, and finality wrap around me as I pulled the door closed behind me. As the key turned in the lock, I sighed heavily. What do I do now that I have nothing? Is this what I really have to do to escape this monster? Once I do this, I am not coming back — for anything.
I hesitated for a moment at the top of the stairs, and as my hand lifted off the banister and I walked down the stairs, I cut my losses and accepted the fact that everything I now owned on this earth was this androgynous outfit he forced me to wear, and the disheveled contents of my purse. When I stepped off the last tread on onto the creaky wooden floor, I turned and looked back, hoping he wasn’t watching. He was not there.
Still feeling tense and unsettled from the last ten hours of abuse I will ever have to suffer, I said a prayer and opened the entry door. The bright sun and birds singing in the tree in front of the porch made the chill in the air a surprise. It was a beautiful December morning, and the gargoyle standing in the living room window watching me with shifty eyes was unaware that he was about to see me walking away from the apartment house for the last time.
Saying that I had nothing at that point was true and untrue at the same time. By my estimation, I escaped with everything that I needed: my life and hope. And fortunately in my case, even with no possessions, I had my job. I do have to acknowledge the fact that this was only the case because, when faced with my unemployment soon to come to a close, Kevin pressed me to work.
He wasn’t ready for the free money to end, nor did he want me out of his sight. His appetite for drugs won out over the control, and I was given an eight hour reprieve from him five days a week. Had he allowed me any breathing room, I would have brought my financial documents to work and locked them in the bottom drawer of my desk, but he had exclusive control over all aspects of finances. I was just expected to hand over the money, and when I resisted every time, I was duly punished.
I say my being allowed to work was fortunate, because for so many being abused, this is not the case. They are held hostage within the walls of their home and to be able to work is a lifeline they are denied. The abusers know that their victim will eventually seek to use this as a means of escape, as I did. I believe in my case that it was a blessing to be with an out-of-control addict at this point, because he was so desperate for more money to get high, he was willing to let me escape the confines of my prison to get it for him. Even with this escape, it was still incredibly difficult to get away from him.
He had ridiculously focused radar to pick up any change in my thinking. Kevin knew when I was thinking about leaving him, and every time he tightened up the choke hold at just the right moment, all without me revealing anything to him. But that morning I left, he was so unstable and unfocused in his actions, I believe I could have done just about anything and he would have been blind to it. His anger would get so out of control that he would “black out,” as he calls it.
I remember stories he told me of the things he “woke up” to doing to the mother of his children. By the simple rule of logic, she should also be dead several times over. We were both saved all those times because something snapped him back to reality at just the right moment.
Despite the innumerable times I explained to people why I was okay to be broke, carless, staying with others, and pretty much owning nothing, so many of them chose to focus on the objects that I left behind, and they relentlessly pushed me and tried to bully me into going back to that place of torment to get it. I wanted no part of this. They were things. How could anyone view these to be so important? Did they already forget the danger I fled? How was my life debased to be equal with replaceable material possessions? I had to remind them that had Kevin killed me — and he would have killed me — that they could not resurrect me from the dead. But I could go to any store at any time and buy plenty more things.
Let us not forget that everything I had owned was tainted with violent memories of varying degree. Never again did I want to lie down to sleep at night and be reminded of all the times he dragged me across the bed by my hair, onto the floor, and across the room to a corner where he could pummel me with wanton abandon. Never again did I want to look at the drawers he had his clothes in, the same drawers that doubled as hiding spots for paraphernalia, and be reminded of all the punishments I received for throwing out his tools and flushing broken pieces of rock down the toilet. The knives he would threaten me with and ultimately almost used on me. The makeup I had to buy in an attempt to cover the black eyes. I wanted to wash my hands of it all and be done. I wanted to start from zero.
My parents went back against my wishes and got what was left when Kevin was evicted in April. It still sits out in the storage barn. I have not looked at it since December 14th, and I will never set my eyes upon it again. It can rot there. They can burn it, bury it, sell it, use it for target practice, give it away. I will not mourn it. I will not miss it. It is just a pile of some things I used to own once.
So I walked away, owning nothing, and I had no money until the next week. While I was completely neurotic and scared for my life, there was a sense of relief on some levels, because from this point on, I could live without him hovering over me waiting to pounce. And it would take a while, but I would rebuild my life again. I could confront my faults and fix them, and I could work on beginning the tedious job of erasing his voice from my head. The complete and absolute freedom from him and the fact that I am alive is worth more than anything on this earth. There are no possessions in any amount that can compensate for that or be able to achieve the same peace of mind.
I may have atrocious credit, a mountain of debt, and a long road ahead of me before I can be completely self-sufficient, but I am alive. I am alive and well, I am baptized, I have friends, a social life. I can go into a store and buy whatever I please. I can leave the house wearing makeup, jewelry, and dress clothes with my hair done and not worry about what punishments will befall me later.
But most importantly, I have my life, my freedom, and love. I spend most of my time smiling and laughing, not crying or pleading with an uncaring monster to spare my life. Not dodging punches and slaps or things being thrown at me.
About the Author
My name is Amy. I am not what one would consider to be a typical survivor of domestic violence. However, there is no such thing. I am a self-professed geek who prefers documentaries, biographies, and history over drama and action. My time would be better spent in galleries, museums, and bookstores than anywhere. I speak three languages and have plans to learn more. I play flute and piccolo and regret not continuing with piano.