When you grow up in a verbally abusive home, abuse becomes the only love you know.
When I was sixteen I remember going up to my mom and asking her if she was worried that I too would find an abusive partner, like she had done many years ago. She had told me that she wasn’t worried nor had she thought about. I put my hand on my moms shoulder and said, “Good. Because I know what to look for.” And I walked away.
Two years later I would walk into an abusive relationship, that I would not walk out of completely for the next two and a half years.
I was eighteen. The world was ahead of me. I was tasting for the first time in my life the freedom of owning my car, working, and my money being all mine. I knew it all, just like any new adult does at that age. I had dreams of moving off to New York and writing. I had dreams of traveling the world. I wanted to get in my car and drive across America, crossing each state on my time. No cares, no worries. Eighteen and living! I had dreams.
Growing up I was never told that I was beautiful or special. I had my flaws pointed out to me by a bratty older brother. I grew up being told that my nose was too big for my face, that my forehead was too high, just like my dads. I grew up insecure about my teeth. I grew up insecure. My home, though not as bad as it could have been, was not loving like I wish it would have been.
I grew up in a home with verbal abuse. My dad treated my mom without the love or the respect that she deserved and this became my model of what love looked like.
(There is a part of me, that wants to ‘protect’ my parents and say that they didn’t have it easy growing up. They did not. My Dad had his issues, so did my Mom. I know that they loved me, in the only way they knew how. This, however does not change the world I grew up in, nor does it change the damage that was done to me. In writing this blog post, I hope to heal the wounds of my past and also help other women out there who are finding themselves in a similar situation, or have been in my situation. By sharing my pain, I do not intend to hurt those who I love.)
I grew up hearing my parents fighting all the time. The older I got, the worse it got. My Dad would get pissed off about something and storm out of the room, leaving a trail of anger and hate behind him. I became afraid to breathe in my home. What would set my Dad off next? There was a moment in my childhood where my Dad was outside yelling at me and my brother for something.
He was walking up and down the street and I was shocked that nobody called the cops on us. Many times growing up I was surprised I wasn’t taken away. At times I wish that they did come take me away. Maybe I would have wound up in a home that was loving and kind to me.
As the years passed in my home, my Dad got more and more abusive. The Dad I remembered as a little girl had disappeared. No longer was I my Dads little girl. I always wanted to be my Dads little girl. I hate myself as an adult for wanting that, for the older I got, the more I started to hate my Dad. The memories of him taking me to get Ice Cream were gone.
The sweet innocence of when he would take me to look at homes for me and my future husband. Memories that brought me happiness, tainted with the bitter taste of who my Dad was.
He controlled and yelled and screamed. My brothers learned to handle my Dad their own way. As I got older, I learned to handle my Dad by talking back to him. I did not respect him or his role as my father. I remember him telling me once that he demanded respect from me. It was all of us in our family car. My Mom was taking him to an appointment and I had said something smart ass to him. He looked at me and told me that he demanded respect. I looked at him and told him that he earned respect.
I must have been tired of walking on the egg shells my father’s presence had inflicted on me. Looking back now, I feel sadness that both of my parents were shorted love. Love that they both deserved and from my perspective, never received by their partner, or even their own parents. And so it rolled down hill.
My Dad passed away in July of 2001. Shock hit me. Relief hit me. He was gone. I feared he was still alive, and I would dream he was for several years after his passing. I had four years of living without abuse.
Shortly after turning eighteen I met my Ex-Husband. He was my first everything.
Our relationship started slow, but once it started, it went full speed ahead. Our first “date” should have been our last date. I picked him up at a movie store (back in the day when we still had those.) And from there we went to a street called Hill Top. It spoke to its name as it gave a nice view of my hometown. It was there, laying next to him that I would learn what an insecure young girl I was.
At some point he got on top of me and started grinding me. Though I do not fully remember my reaction, I knew inside I was not okay with it. I was still a virgin and his sexual advances threw me off. No man before this boy had ever touched me, kissed me, or showed a sexual interest in my body.
I was also over-weight. As I have been since I hit the wonderful stage we call puberty. This I believe would also play into not being able to leave him. I did not think that another person on this earth would want me. I should take what I get and settle with this. Ladies, DO NOT SETTLE.
After that first date we started spending more and more time together. My mom was around for some of it. If I remember correctly, she was recovering from a knee surgery when the Ex and I first started dating. I do remember taking him to meet her at the recovery center. That part is foggy at best, however, I do remember the bits of drama that would come over the next several months before the Ex and I moved to Texas.
I didn’t want to listen to what my family had to say about him. I was an adult, I knew what I was doing and as far as I was concerned they all could have stayed out of my life. It was my business after all. I started my rebellion stage here. I would sneak out of my house to go pick him up from work at two, three in the morning. He would call me for a ride and I would happily oblige.
It got to the point where I was never at my mom’s house. If I was, I didn’t really stop to talk to my family or hear what they had to say. I was staying with the Ex more and more. We would stay at a friend’s house or I would rent us a hotel room and stay there.
The night I lost my virginity, was not a night that was special in any way, shape or form. It was a month or so into our relationship and I had won tickets to a concert in Sacramento, CA. Naturally I was going to take my boyfriend with me. About twenty minutes out side of my hometown of Redding, I picked up a nail in my tire. It was shredded. Thankfully because of my mom, I had AAA at the time. After a long wait, they came and put the donut on my tire. There was a Les Schwab a few exits over, so I was able to get a new tire put on. All was good, but at this point in time we were not going to be able to make that concert. Sacramento was still three hours away.
So we decided to keep driving until we got to a small town. (I do remember feeling nervous my mom was going to find out that I had lied to her.) We got Chinese food and a hotel room. Yep. That was the night I lost my innocence. He was the boy I gave it away to. Though for me, when I speak of giving away my innocence, I don’t mean just my virginity. I mean the heart of a young girl who was fragile and believed in love. The heart of a girl who had been hurt by her father and would be hurt even deeper by the person who would be just like her dad. An innocence so sweet. So precious. Gone.
There was nothing special or loving about that night. I remember thinking to myself, “What was the big deal?” Not only with sex itself, but with saving yourself for marriage. I did not feel like I was going to burn in hell for giving it away. The young girl with the promise ring was gone.
One night when I was home, I had left my over night bag from that trip on my door. My brother, being worried about me, had decided to go through my stuff. He found condoms and told my mom about it. This started many a war and at that time pushed me farther away from my family.
The Ex would play mind games with me. Breaking up with me, using fear to control me. Making me afraid that I wouldn’t find another person on this planet that would want me. I was fat after all. Unworthy of love. How did I know any better? The home I grew up in certainly did not teach me self-love. The home I grew up in was broken it self. All I knew was broken forms of love. What I had found was normal to me. The relationship where I told my mom that she need not worry, I would find, I had found. Deep inside I knew I had. I would just spend the next couple of years lying to myself.
(To Be Continued)
This is my personal plea to you. If you know somebody in a verbally abusive relationship, please love them. Be supportive of them. Help them. As a survivor of abuse, I can tell you that I knew deep inside my heart and in my gut I was in an abusive relationship. I didn’t want to admit it though. Be there for them. The more you push on them, the more they will push you away. I was trained to protect my abuser in my mind.
Here is a good link written by Abby Rodman. Psychotherapist, Author, (abbyrodman.com) Her article, shared by the Huffington Post, highlights abuse signs.
Follow more of my journey on my YouTube Channel –