I remember the first time I saw him. He was the spitting image of my type of guy—a real tough guy. He was respectful when we spoke in passing. And then one night I received a text message. It was him, and he introduced himself and asked if we could get to know one another.
My first reaction was surprise because I never gave him my cell phone number. He admitted that he had gotten it from a coworker. This was perhaps the first red flag, but I didn’t heed it because I liked him. We started talking, developed a friendship, and soon became romantic. He was incredibly respectful and wonderful with my young child. Two months later we moved in together.
In hindsight, I knew so little about him. But it didn’t take long for him to start sharing more detailed information about his life. He had been an abused child, growing up with an alcoholic father.
I soon found out that he was an alcoholic as well. His drinking led to uncontrollable angry tirades. He had a sketchy employment history and a broken marriage. But what really shook me up was when he told me that he had been involved in serious gang activity.
What in the world had I gotten into? How could this have happened to me? I had made a gigantic mistake, and I felt sick. There had been red flags, but I ignored them because I thought I was in love.
One night when he was drinking, he flew into a rage. He began verbally assaulting me and accused me of having an affair. In his mind, all of our problems, including his drinking, were my fault. His rage then escalated into physical threats against me and himself.
This was not the only incident like this— I knew I had to leave. This man was damaged, and I wasn’t willing to put my child’s life at risk in order to try to repair him. We left soon afterward.
His story was sad, but I couldn’t solve his problems for him. Everyone has a past, good and bad, and I am not a judgmental person. But this man’s past was beginning to affect my future and my child’s future, and it was not going to be for the good. I could see how the bad from his past ruled him, and that meant it would rule me and my child too.
I never thought I would fall victim to a man who fit the profile of an abuser; the type who creates such intense fear that I sought protection in a domestic violence shelter with my child. Ending up homeless seems like the worst thing possible, but I was relieved to be in a safe place. The only place to go from there was up.
No matter how much love we gave him, only a professional would be able to give him the help he needed. I refused to gamble with our lives and be exposed to an environment that was not filled with love, happiness, and peace. Love is powerful, but an abuser doesn’t understand how to accept love or give it. Time and true love have helped to heal the emotional wounds I suffered in that relationship. I hope for the same for him.
Editor’s Note:For more information and support for you or someone you know, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233.