Living With Domestic Violence

How I Survived Living With Domestic Violence

Feature photo by Canva

Domestic violence word cloud concept – photo by Canva

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Meeting someone charming I worked with

I was 19 years old, lived with my parents in Denver, Colorado, and was working at a hamburger place where I met a good looking and funny guy who’s family was friends with my boss. I had just gotten out of a relationship, so was not looking to get involved with anyone, especially someone you work with.

We worked together a lot, and so we developed a friendship that became an obsession for him in a very short time. I also found out he knew my boyfriend I just broke up with.

Within a few weeks with his charms, he convinced me to go on a date with him. He took me to a restaurant and when he went to the restroom and a man came up to me to ask a question, and Mike came back from the restroom very angry and asked why the guy was talking to me.

I told him he just had a question, but a fight almost broke out, so I asked if we could leave. He had been drinking, so I was seeing a different side of him.

Instead of taking me home, he took me to a place and parked. While we were sitting there, a car drove up saying they had a flat tire, and he thought I was flirting with them, so he slapped me in the face really hard, and threatened them to leave.

The next morning my face around my lips was swollen and I was able to hide what happened. He never apologized!

He continued to think I was flirting and blamed them for what he did. Being co-dependent, I wanted to fix him, which is not a healthy way to view a relationship. I had my own childhood issues I was trying to deal with living in a dysfunctional home with an alcoholic dad.

He had become obsessed with me and I ended up marrying him

He had become obsessed with me and talked me into marrying him – photo by Canva

Within a couple of weeks, he said he wanted to marry me, which is not what I wanted to do, but I was afraid to say “No”. Everything was happening so quickly my emotions felt out of control! I had not met his parents and he had not met mine, but his mom knew what his plans were.

He decided we would elope and we went to New Mexico in front of the justice of the peace with witnesses from their office. I wrote a note to my parents before we left. It was a quick trip with no honeymoon, and we moved in with his parents.

This was NOT how I wanted to get married! We lived in a room in the basement. Not only was I married, I now had to get to know my new in-laws. His step-dad worked in construction and was really quiet and his mom worked at Albertsons.

He had a sister who I became good friends with. Things seemed Ok for awhile. I got a job as a waitress at a small diner next to a grocery store. He would go to work with his dad.

Shortly after I moved in I found out that he and a friend almost beat an old man to death with a tire iron, and he was waiting to go to court. I was brought up as someone who obeys the rules and did not get in trouble with the law, so I knew I had made a mistake and didn’t know how to deal with the situation.

This should have been a warning sign that he was prone to violence, and had I loved my self and not been codependent, which I didn’t realize until years, I might have left him then.

My parents were sad and disappointed that I seemed so impulsive in marrying him. Once they met Mike, they were not impressed and voiced their opinion of him, creating a sense of tension in our household.

When his control took over my life

His control took over my life – photo by Canva

As time went on, I saw that his mom had a pain killer addiction, as she would slur her words, and wouldn’t always be coherent. His step-dad would sit in his favorite chair and just watch what went on.

Mike would start coming into work, checking up on me. We would have meetings and he would show up then, and make a fool of himself, embarrassing me. People were seeing this was not a healthy relationship!

A woman who was the manager of the grocery store bakery next door would come into the diner and I would wait on her most of the time. One day she asked if I might be interested in working for her in the bakery. I said “yes” and started to work there shortly after that.

Now we were able to afford to move out into a nice apartment. Then my life started to become even more of a nightmare! When I got paid he would take my paycheck, and give me $5! He was taking control of my life!!

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His mom would call every day incoherent and was also trying to control our lives! The only time I felt some sense of control was when I went to work.

Physical abuse starts in front of my friends

My husband burned my lip with a cigarette in front of friends! I ended up walking home at night by myself in pain and mad – photo by Canva

One day when I was driving, an older lady hit our car and he was ready to sue her. He was bound and determined to take her for everything! I was able to talk him out of this, as the insurance did pay.

We ended up buying a Firebird that I didn’t get to drive much. He loved the power it had.

One night we went over to some friends of mine apartment to visit, and he got mad at me and took a lit cigarette and burned my bottom lip with it.

My friends did not know what to do, and I was in pain and mad myself, so I got up and walked for a long distance to get back to our apartment. He had also left and of course beat me home and I could not get in the apartment, as he had locked me out and refused to let me in.

I went to a payphone and called a friend who said they would come and pick me up. In the meantime, he eventually let me in and made sure that I knew he was in control. He had a Jekyll and Hyde personality!

While working at the bakery I became friends with one of the guys who worked in produce. It was a fun place to work.

The lady who hired me was leaving, so she asked if I would like to be the manager. I did not have self-confidence at that time, so I told her “thank you” but I was not comfortable working in that position and in telling people what to do.

He starts partying with other women when I was at work

Husband partying with other women while I was at work. I came home and heard them through the front door. He bragged about it! – photo by Canva

One night, when I came home from work and I was getting ready to open the door I heard females voices and another male voice. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! He was partying and doing who knows what!!

I ran out and went to a payphone again, and wasn’t sure who to call, but ended up calling the guy in produce. He came and picked me up and took me out for coffee. He was so kind and caring, something I wasn’t getting in my marriage.

After a few hours he dropped me off at our apartment, and my husband showed me pictures of who was there and boasting about it!

This is when I had enough!

“I have had enough”! I stood up to him and left. – photo by Canva

Here is when I said, “I have had enough”! He had dropped me off at a laundromat to do laundry. It was getting close to closing, and the security guard asked if anyone was going to pick me up.

I told him that my husband was really late, and he said if he didn’t pick me up he would give me a ride home. Just as I was getting ready to ride home with him, Mike shows up mad at the security guard and almost got in a fight with him, as he thought he was trying to pick me up!

That was as they say “the straw that broke the camel’s back”! I decided I was going to stand up to him and leave, as I did not deserve this type of treatment and not having my own life without someone trying to control every aspect of my life!

My nightmare was not over

My husband drove up on an overpass on the freeway and stopped and pulled out a gun to try and shoot at a van that I was in with friends. Luckily, he didn’t shoot. – photo by Canva

I moved in and rented a room with the produce guy’s sister and husband. My nightmare was not over, as he drove by where I lived and honked the horn for days.

Then one day when I left work and was walking to my car in the parking lot, I noticed the gas cap was open, and sugar had been put in my gas tank!! It took some time to get the sugar cleaned out. Luckily, I worked with some wonderful people, as they helped me when I was without a car.

We get through this, and then one weekend when I was going backpacking in the mountains with a couple of friends, I noticed Mike drive by on the freeway to an overpass, where he got out of the car and pointed a gun at us!

He pointed it directly at us, but there was nothing we could do to avoid the bullets if he started shooting! Now I knew he was watching me and what I was doing. We kept driving and watching to make sure he wasn’t following us.

After the weekend I decided to get a restraining order, as he was scaring me and was escalating his attempt to show he had control over me. I was not going to live in fear and take a chance he might hurt people that I care about!

I decided to leave Denver in 1976, as he gave threats that he would find me no matter where I relocated to. I was with him for 9 horrific months! I just wanted to start over without looking over my shoulder all the time.

“You can recognize survivors of abuse by their courage. When silence is so very inviting, they step forward and share their truth so others know they aren’t alone.” ― Jeanne McElvaney

My new life

I was finally free and happy to have escaped from him and find a new life!

When the Internet became a way of communicating, I worried he might be able to find me. He did find my younger sister and tried to get her to tell him where I was. Of course, she did not tell him and said if I wanted to contact him, that would up to me. Luckily, we have not heard from him since then.

I did marry again when I was 27 to someone who also grew up with abuse from an alcoholic dad. My new husband was a good man, but once we had our son and he started doing drugs before high school, we had no idea he would become an addict at a young age.

Our son just turned 40 and has been clean and sober for over a year, and finally found a sponsor, goes to AA meetings, goes to a psychologist periodically, and on medication for anxiety, depression, ADD, among other things, that he should have been on years ago.

We are just praying this time he gets it and can be strong enough to stay sober and find a way to live in a society without alcohol or drugs.

See how you can survive domestic violence! – photo by Canva

Closing thoughts

I was one of the lucky ones you had the courage to leave and took the chance of knowing he could come after me and possibly kill me! I just couldn’t live my life in fear. Growing up in an alcoholic family was bad enough.

I did not find out I was codependent until after I had remarried and had my older son. I first, married when I was 19, so now I was dealing with codependency, I didn’t know I had when I was married to a violent and controlling man, who I wanted to fix, but did not know how to accomplish that.

The definition of codependency is a behavioral condition in a relationship where one person enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement, so much so that they can’t function independently. Emotions, identity, and approval are defined by the other person. Be sure and read my post below for details.

I was trying to deal with so many emotions about family and relationships. I saw the yelling and control, as a normal way of behavior and a hurtful way to show love, as that is what I saw for my first 20 years!

There are so many women who have similar stories and some have not lived to tell their story. I just wanted to share, and give some tips that saved me. This is not advice, but what I learned from living with someone who was abusive and what I found out after getting professional help.

If you have lived a traumatic childhood, you can lose your self-esteem and self-confidence, feeling like you deserve to be treated in an abusive way. You can be attracted to abusive men as that was all you knew growing up and thought that was normal behavior, or you saw your mom abused.

NO! This person does not love you nor does he know how to love in a normal way! Love yourself enough to call for help and get out of your situation.

My older son’s dad watched his mom, brother, and sister, be abused for years. He spent high school protecting them any way he could. Then my son’s grandfather started hitting on the kids, so his grandmother had enough, and they as a family found a way out! Women will do anything to protect their children!

If you feel you are in a dysfunctional and violent relationship, as hard as it is, find a support system with friends and family to help you get out of this situation as soon as possible! Find a psychologist to talk with who deals with domestic violence.

  • When you meet someone, no matter how charming they are, Google them and find out as much as you can about them before you date. See if they have a record. This might sound like you are going overboard, but it could save your LIFE!
  • Go with your gut, if something feels wrong, there is a possibility there is something wrong. Ask your friends and family what they thought of them if they have met this person.
  • See what type of relationship they have with their family. Do they seem secretive and not talk about them much. Are they distanced from their family?
  • Do they drink a lot and get violent when they drink?
  • Do they have a bad temper and explode easily over something that didn’t justify intense anger or yelling.
  • Do they say they love animals but you see them abuse their pets?
  • Do they do things to control you and not let you have any independence?
  • Do they talk negatively about women in general?
  • Do you feel threatened in certain situations you have been with them?

If you feel your life is in danger here is a hotline you can contact: The Hotline which has different ways to contact them in order to get the help and support you need and information that can be helpful. You can also find support groups on this hotline.

Here is an article from Mayo Clinic on how to recognize domestic violence patterns and seek help!

Know you are not alone and you do not deserve to be treated this way!!

If you found this post useful, please comment below with your feedback, or share with friends and family. Thanks!

Here is another post I recently wrote about codependency that can be helpful if you or someone you know is struggling with this – My Story And Struggle With Codependency

See you soon, Denise

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Posts may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases and collect a small commission at no cost to you. This helps my blog to keep going. Thank you! For more info, read my disclosure policy.

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20 thoughts on “How I Survived Living With Domestic Violence

  1. Wow this is so heartbreaking that you or anybody ever goes through this and that you’re considered “one of the lucky ones” I’m so glad to hear you were able to escape his control and your son is doing good. I think this article could help so many people who feel trapped in a similar situation.

  2. Thank you for your feedback, Ashley! Yes, that is why I wrote this post, to help others who might be in the same or worse situation to have the courage to call and ask for help and support. I understand their fear, but the fear is what gives the abuser the strength to control the relationship.

  3. Reading or hearing about domestic violence always gets me really angry. I am sorry you had to go through this but I’m happy you were able to overcome it and move on. Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Thank you, Kimberley! It makes me really angry too! At such a young age, I never knew I was going to be strong enough to leave. Having a good support group also helps in loving yourself enough to take that step. Fear and no self-esteem is what can hold so many women from leaving and getting the help they need!

  4. Such a scary story. When I was in college I helped to set up a domestic violence awareness non profit. So even though I’ve never been in that situation, it taught me a lot. Unfortunately, abuse can happen to anyone, and it’s always so hard to get out of, but sharing your story may help someone to take those first steps to breaking ties sooner rather than later.

    1. Thank you, Laura! So glad to hear you were involved in helping women be aware of domestic violence. Being aware can teach you so much about what to look for before you get in a violent relationship. I feel sharing our stories can be helpful in touching someone’s life who might be experiencing a similar situation.

  5. So glad you survived and are able to share your story to help others. I been there, just agreeing to avoid conflict-attacks, it’s hard. Thank you for being Brave!

    1. Thank you, Felicia! It is like living with a time bomb that can go off at any moment. The control they have suffocates you! Glad to hear you were able to out too!

  6. Wow, I am so sorry you had to go through this abuse. You are strong and I am so proud you were able to escape that horrible person and make a good life for yourself.

    1. Thank you, Gina! I appreciate your kind words. We just need to spread the word to other women so they know they are not alone and can find resources to help them in ending the abuse!

  7. Wow, Denise, I’m so sorry you had to go through this. Thank you for sharing your story, as I’m sure it will help many. The tips you provided are so valuable. Much love ???

  8. I just want to say that you’re an inspiration mam, have been following your amazing write ups for some time but didn’t know all of this has happened with you.. I hope you’re living a great life right now!

    1. Thank you, Ajay! I am, and through obstacles, we might encounter in life we can become stronger, and share to help others living through similar situations. I appreciate your kind words!

  9. This is a great post. My mom went through this with my dad, so it hits close to home. I learned alot hearing from my moms experience and your experience, I hope this helps people going through the same thing. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Janette! Sorry to hear your mom had to go through this too, and hope that she is in a better place now. The thing is children also become involved in this abuse that can damage their emotional well-being as they grow into adulthood!

  10. Thank you for writing about your story! It’s very inspiring. As a police officer, I obviously dealt with domestic violence a lot. Everyone thinks they would do it differently if they were in the same boat but that’s simply not true. Even the most confident person can become a victim of domestic abuse.

    1. Thank you, Heather! So true, as they can be so charming and fool many people. We just have to be aware and look for red flags and dysfunctional family relationships when possible. They look for women they can control. I am sure you saw some awful situations!

  11. I just read about your story Miss Denise, and your story is similar to my mama and papa. We have to hide and lived farther, so he doesn’t know where we are. I’m glad you ended up marrying a good man on your second marriage, and I hope your son gets better soon.

    1. Thank you, April, for your encouraging words! I am sorry you and your mom had to go through this too, and that you found a better life in the US. Life can be hard and we aren’t always promised perfect relationships. When those relationships become violent and toxic, we need a strong support system to help us get out of the situation and love ourselves enough to realize we DESERVE to be in a caring, loving relationship.

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