Charming & Cruel, A Classic Abuse Story
By Amber W.
I started casually dating just to get my feet wet after the divorce.
I met a couple of nice men, but no spark. Then I met “Dan.”
Dan was charming, funny and good-looking. We could talk for hours. And, he was a successful and celebrated Silicon Valley engineer.
He sent sweet messages:
Good morning to my sunshine. Could not sleep because I had thoughts about you all night. You are an amazing woman!
I’ve never felt this way about anyone, before.
I was a bit skeptical at first, but he kept it up, constantly texting me, emailing me, calling me, saying,
I’m sorry to keep bugging you but I’ve never been so entranced… You have cast a spell on me.
He sent songs that reminded him of me. He took me out every day and we had great times together.
God, it was magical. The sex was phenomenal and we could not get enough of each other.
I fell for him hard.
He pushed for quick commitment
Then he wanted to meet my kids. I said I’d introduce him when I knew we were in it for the long haul. But every day he’d bring it up. He saw me in his life forever and wanted to meet his future step kids, he said.
I felt bad. I questioned myself. I wanted to make him feel like I loved him as much as he loved me. So I brought them over for a casual dinner one night and he was so nice. He liked them, he kept telling me. They were so well behaved, cute and smart. And they reminded him of me. I was hooked.
Next he pressed to meet my parents, dad first because someday soon he would be asking an important question. Dad said he was a keeper and I’d be stupid not to marry him. Mom cautioned, “Be careful. Don’t go too fast.”
But just a couple months after we met I told my friends that, “Yes it’s really soon, but I know we will be married.”
Three months in he began pushing me to move in with him. He hated not seeing me every day. And the kids would have their own rooms in a nice neighborhood with good schools. And it would be cheaper because I’d only have to pay half the rent.
One day when I came over his son was helping to move stuff out of the spare bedrooms for my kids so that they could stay over when I had them. I thought that was one of the sweetest things anyone had ever done.
Not long after he asked to meet my ex-husband so that my ex could see that he had nothing to worry about. I agreed.
A jealous rage
He me my ex, and everything went fine until we got in the car. He closed the door and started in on me, yelling,
You were flirting with your ex right in front of me! And since you’re still friends you must still want each other. I don’t want you ever talking to him again!
I said I’d done nothing of the sort.
My protest didn’t help.
I thought that if I stopped talking to my ex for a while Dan would see that nothing was going on, he’d chill, and everything would be ok.
But that’s not what happened.
Dan said he thought my hesitance to live with him came from a lingering love for my ex. So I caved and moved in. I thought that would make everything better.
He told me not to bring anything from my first marriage because he did not want any part of my past relationship in the house. That seemed strange and I questioned him on it. He said he wanted to make all new memories as a family together. I kept thinking, “What the hell is wrong with me? He’s just trying to create a wonderful family life and love me and I keep questioning him.” So I stopped.
But after I moved in things got weirder. If I was five minutes late from work he’d accuse me of cheating with my ex. I told him he was crazy. He suggested carpooling to work. It would take less time, less gas, and he wouldn’t have to worry about my ex. I agreed but was not happy.
When I had the kids he’d get angrier, saying they reminded him of their father. I didn’t want them to see his anger and started walking on eggshells trying to keep the peace. It got to the point where I would breathe a sigh of relief when they left because he’d be less angry. I began leaving the kids with their dad more and more. I just did not want to fight anymore.
If I didn’t log onto chat and be at his beck and call he’d get mad and fight with me by email or text. If I didn’t respond he’d start calling my work. Or, he’d show up for lunch and act like everything was fine, but once we got in the car he’d start in on me.
Control. Rages. Insults
I could only make what he wanted for dinner. I had to serve him and clean the house all the time. Because me and my kids were making the mess so I needed to be responsible and clean it up.
He said I was fat and lazy because I did not want to clean every second. I was stupid because I did not make as much money as him and I did not have a degree.
On the weekends I could not make plans because I had to wait and see what he felt like doing and just go with it. If I did not it would start a fight.
I couldn’t go out with friends because if they were single I was going to cheat on him. I couldn’t go to the gym because too many guys would hit on me.
I lost friends and gained 20 pounds.
I was getting heartburn, constantly afraid something would set him off.
But then he started saying I should go back to school… and then saying that the only reason I was with him was that I wanted to go to school and he was my meal ticket. So I told him I would not go to school to prove I loved him for real. That made him happy for a little bit.
Not long after I heard him slam the door and yell, “You Bitch!” I asked what was wrong and he said that I was the problem: “You did not wash my clothes!” He said I didn’t want him to have clean clothes for work because I was mad that he wouldn’t let me go to school. I said I’d wash them right then.
That’s when he went crazy. He shoved the table I was sitting at with such force that it pinned me up against the wall. He grabbed my lap top I’d been working on and threw it across the room. Then he shoved everything off the table, knocked down a shelf and threw all the movies and books all over the house.
I pleaded with him to stop. He looked like he was crazy. I was so scared. I told him to calm down or I would call the cops. He got in my face and said that he would make it worthwhile going back to jail for assault. He grabbed my cell phone and threw it across the living room.
I was terrified. I thought that if I moved or blinked he would kill me so I just froze. He went back into the bedroom and I heard him searching for something.
Then I realized that was where he kept his hunting knife. I crawled under the table to break free, grabbed my phone and ran to my car. I just drove around crying, I did not know where to go or who to call. I did not want anyone to know what was going on. I felt like it was all my fault. I knew I needed to move out but he was in control of all the money.
A realization: he made excuses to harm me
I called Dan to see if he had calmed down. He said he had and that he wanted to talk. So I went back to the house. He said he loved me but was upset because I wanted to put school before him and his needs. He said that I was very selfish and only thought about myself. He wanted me to stay with him and said that everything would be ok if I just didn’t go to school.
It was then I realized that he was doing everything he could to oppress me. I told him I needed to think about it for a little bit and that I was going to spend the night at my dad’s.
Dan started calling me at work, he emailed me like forty-five times a day, and the texts were too much to handle. He hacked into my emails and started showing up at my work. I filed a restraining order and it was served.
The court date came for the restraining order and he begged me: “Drop it and I will never bother you again!” Because if the restraining order went though he would lose his security clearance, and that meant no job.
It’s not love. It’s abuse
It took a couple of really good reality checks for me to get it through my head that he was not going to change. But I did finally stay away for good.
He still tries to contact me once in a while but I just ignore it or remind him that I could get another restraining order if he does not stop. Then he is silent again.
The sick part of all this is I still care for him. I still miss him. When he was good, our relationship was magical. When he was bad, it was like living in hell.
Even though I miss and care for him, I know that I have to stay way, otherwise I know he will kill me eventually. I have no doubt about that.
I used to have an open heart
I have a lot of trust issues now. I recently went on my first date and it was really hard for me. All I could do was listen to every word and try to read into everything he said.
It takes all I have to be able to just hug a date and thank him for a nice evening. Kissing for me is the equivalent of asking for sex on the first date because that would make me have an emotion that someone could use against me. I think that every guy is out to use me.
I have a hard time with any kind of constructive criticism. If someone mentions that I should do something as a kind gesture, I instantly tell them that I will not do it just because I am afraid that it is a control tactic.
I have an internal war with myself every waking moment. I used to have an open heart and trusted at face value. I was emotionally strong and loved fearlessly. Now I won’t let anyone in and I won’t let myself feel any emotion because I am afraid that they will use my emotions to control me.
I am determined to break thru from all of this. I hear it just takes a long time. But in the end, I will never be the person I used to be because he has changed me. That makes me really sad because I loved who I was before.
This was written by one of my students who asked me to use her name. For her protection I am only using her first name and her last initial.
In an upcoming post I will post the signs of an abuser.