Thursday, October 17, 2013

Abuse takes many forms

Abuse is not just physical. That is what is in the news coverage most often and unfortunately, that is the type that most everyone denies even exists. Society in general has brushed it under the carpet so much that people tend to think that it won't happen to them or I would never put up with that.

However, as in my previous post about bullying and how it escalates, abuse escalates as well.

We promise to love, honor, cherish (and we are afraid to say obey in most cases these days) our spouse on the wedding day.  But when you are cut off from family and lifelong friends because he doesn't like you hanging out with them, find out why.   If the reason is valid, perhaps they only call when they want money or need a ride somewhere, then that person is what I refer to as an energy vampire because all they do is drain you of your positivity and good nature.  If there is no valid reason that he can give you, then please be very careful.

My first husband did his best to destroy a friendship that dates back to my 8th grade year in Junior High.  Thankfully, my friend never took no for an answer and she and I are still in contact to this very day. I was not allowed to have friends overseas unless he approved of them and even then, depending on his mood, that could change daily.  If I spoke to another soldier too long, I was flirting or trying to embarrass him. 

He also kept money from me. Even though I kept up with the bills and balanced the checkbook, he was out there getting cash out whenever he wanted for a random car repair (he was always tinkering with his 72 Satellite Sebring) or lunch with his buddies.  But, when I asked for money to eat lunch after the spouses meeting, he rarely said yes.  I was told to go home and fix a sandwich.  Yes, money was extremely tight on an E-4 salary overseas in 1990/91, but I was made to believe that I wasn't worth the money.

So, inevitably when a check bounced or there was not enough money when he wanted it, I got yelled at, hit and pushed down the stairs.  It started out as a fight about money and ended up with me being hurt and having to hide in our quarters until the bruises healed.

The only way he would let me spend money was if it was for the children. I remember one time while I was pregnant with my 2nd child and my mom had sent me money for a new dress.  So I kept the money and the next time my friend and I went to the PX, I picked out a nice maternity dress and bought it.  I prayed that my husband wouldn't notice the new dress in the closet. So I took the tags off of it, washed it and then hung it in the back of our closet.  I was afraid to tell him that my mom had sent me the money for the dress.

What did all this teach me at the ripe old age of 21? It taught me that I was worthless and only good for having babies. So I put all my energy into taking care of my children. My children are what helped me make the decision to leave Panama and come back home to Tennessee. I will write about that later.

Please be aware that abuse can be mental, physical, sexual, and financial. You do not have to put up with the abuse. Please tell someone and ask for help!