“I could confidently say that he never hit me.”
“He had squeezed my arms until they were black and blue, dragged me from one room to the next by my hair, strangled me, shoved me up against walls, and held a gun to my head, but he had never hit me.”
In preparation for this blog, I tried to think back to when I first started making excuses as a child. I am sure it had something to do with not wanting to go to bed or my plea for why I deserved the last Little Debbie. While I am uncertain of my first excuse in life, I am very certain of the first excuse I made for my abusive (ex)husband.
My first date with Cody was pretty typical; we went to dinner and carried on a conversation with ease. Cody had just built a house, and he was eager to show me his new home. Within a few minutes of being at the new house, he noticed that the painter had gotten a smudge of paint on the light switch cover. Cody immediately went into an angry rage. The house was empty of any furniture or art work, so the volume of his voice echoed all through the house. I thought: “What was I witnessing? Should I listen to that inner voice and run like hell? Or was he just showing off? Surely he was just showing off, right?” I convinced myself that his reaction was just an attempt to appear manly. It was the first excuse of many.
Even after we had been together for a couple of months, we’d already had our fair share of arguments. He hadn’t put his hands on me; he hadn’t yelled at me, in fact, his emotions weren’t even directed at me. I really liked this guy, but his temper was becoming much more than I could handle. I had one foot out the door.
And then, everything changed in one defining moment that changed the course of my life. I went from a strong individual, to an abused woman in a matter of seconds. It happened the day Cody and I had a fight and I told him our relationship was over. I had a few things at his house that I was packing up; he stood and watched me with a look of anger and then he disappeared. When I finished gathering my things, I walked out of the room and saw him sitting on the bathroom floor with a gun to his head. I remember standing there in shock. I listened to him cry about how no one loves him and everyone leaves him. In that moment, I quit putting myself first and I became responsible for how he felt. I ran to his rescue and promised him I would never leave.
We were married about a year after that incident. By that time, I was drowning in a sea of excuses. Cody had manipulated me into alienating myself from my friends and my family. I started to believe that my friends were bad influences on me because they tried to convince me to leave him and they were “just jealous of our strong relationship. I started to believe that my family didn’t support because “they were jealous of our lifestyle.” There was no one to save me.
The one excuse that kept me in the marriage for so long was that I could confidently say that he never hit me. He had squeezed my arms until they were black and blue, dragged me from one room to the next by my hair, strangled me, shoved me up against walls, and held a gun to my head, but he had never hit me. And when that day did come, I was so emotionally worn out, that I made excuses for the hits.
The final hit came in the summer of 2006. I don’t remember the cause of the argument, but I do remember that wakeup call that the final hit provided. It was the most important and defining moment of my life: Cody hit me in the face with the back of his hand. The hit was so hard, that my body spun around before collapsing to the ground. I hit the floor and opened my eyes and saw our 3-year-old daughter standing in the doorway. She had witnessed it all. I realized then, that the longer I stayed in my marriage, the more likely she was to fall into the same relationship. I knew I needed help. I had tried to leave in the past, but I always gave into the false promises of Cody becoming a better man.
I remembered seeing a phone number for a domestic violence hotline on the first few pages of the phone book. I called the number and began my journey with Safe Harbor. Everything my counselor told me sounded familiar. She told me all the things that my friends and family had been saying for years. But, to hear it from a third party was something I craved. Safe Harbor provided me with the validation that I needed. They made me understand that my excuses were all lies that only benefited him. Most importantly, they showed me that there was life at the end of my dark tunnel.
I knew I needed help. I had tried to leave in the past, but I always gave into the false promises of Cody becoming a better man.
I started to believe that my friends were bad influences on me because they tried to convince me to leave him and they were “just jealous of our strong relationship”. I started to believe that my family didn’t support us because “they were jealous of our lifestyle.” There was no one to save me.