If you have read my previous article, you were made briefly aware of my experiences with domestic violence with “John Doe”. I never will give his name. This is solely for awareness purposes. I brought up certain things that cannot and should not be tolerated in a relationship as they will lead to inevitable abuse of some form. As much as I would LOVE to jump to the happy, joyful life I live now, it’s just not realistic and frankly not appropriate.
It is important for me to dive a bit further into specific situations that occurred so that I can shed some light on the reality of being an enabler; furthermore, providing people, especially women, the tools to recognize the warning signs. It is important to know that due to certain things I went through, my brain has wiped some of them from my recollection. And it took me awhile to accept that and understand why it’s OKAY to not remember everything, it’s just apart of my experience.
❗️ I also must make known some content will be graphic and might be triggering to some people. Proceed with caution ❗️
Warning Sign One ⚠️
Consistent lying and hiding things
This was an early on sign I was too young to decipher. He had a need to do drugs (marijuana, etc) and I was ultimately the one thing standing in his way. I went against my gut despite him hiding the act behind my back and finding out from one of his friends that he never stopped, nor intended to stop. I will later down the road expand on my opinion about addiction’s effect on mental illness. Ignoring this sign led to poor money management, risking job opportunities, further damage to his already fragile mental state, and opening the door to future lying.
Warning Sign Two ⚠️
Never following through.
Time and time again, whether it was after a rage outburst or getting caught in a lie, he would always apologize and say he would do better.
Things would go so well for about a week, then we’d be right back at the drawing board. A time where this was very prominent was when we discussed counseling or therapy. His lack of consistency in an effort to better himself would often result in outbursts of rage and emotion.
Unfortunately, nothing we had planned to help solve this issue was followed through. It is important to acknowledge this behavior because it will lead to both people lacking trust and ultimately, ignoring it will lead to enabling the abuser. I was a textbook enabler. I kept believing him and saying, “Maybe next time he’ll mean it and do something about it.” It never happened.
Warning Sign Three ⚠️
Verbal aggression, extensive cursing, & name-calling.
There were times in our relationship, and outside of it, when he would choose to yell and make a point that everyone in our apartment building should hear him. Within the yelling, there would be name-calling and total disrespect for me as his girlfriend/wife. I will admit that there were times when during an argument that I should have left him alone and walked away, but I chose to stay and try to talk it out. It never ended well for me. I ignored his personal warning signs in order to try to solve our problems. That was wrong. However, I believe there is no excuse for verbal or emotional abuse. Ignoring or making light of aggressive yelling and name-calling led to just that – verbal and emotional abuse.
Warning Sign Four ⚠️
Destruction of personal property.
This was also an early warning sign and I chalked it up to him being an angsty teenager. There were several times where this progressed, and also what I personally believe led to the physical abuse in the end.
There was a specific time where he explained to me he got mad at his parents and he punched a hole in his wall. He hid the hole behind his clock. I never told his parents. I never thought it’d happen to me or with me. Well, it did. We would argue, and it would escalate to him punching a hole in our first apartment. I had to lie to the complex and tell them he fell and that’s what caused the hole. One time, he totaled his car and when we went to get his belongings out of it, he punched a large dent in the hood of the car.
Another instance, which made me scared for my safety, was when we got into an argument while I was away from home, and he went into our garage and took a knife to everything that was cardboard and paper and shredded it. He also took my box fan and demolished it. Before I got home, after he apologized for whatever it was we argued over, he told me not to go into the garage because he did something he was not proud of. Well, I went into the garage and I was in utter disbelief of the damage. I never told him or brought it up.
The final time this happened was when we decided to try to work things out before we called the divorce final. We came back after a night out and we got in another argument. He became violent and shoved me. He then threw a picture frame at me and it shattered, destroying the precious contents inside – my uncle’s obituary. That is when the police were called by a listening neighbor.
But again, I chose to ignore this and clearly, I should not have. This is toxic behavior and ultimately led to physical abuse.
Warning Sign Five ⚠️
Total disregard for human life.
Some will argue this is a characteristic of sociopathic tendencies. I am not a medical professional so I cannot draw any conclusions or assumptions. I can only share what I experienced. This began, not early on, but about the last 3 years of our relationship. We would be driving and when cars would cut him off, or maybe just not drive properly, he would make a point to see if they were elderly. And if they were, he would say something along the lines of, “Thank God you don’t have much time left because…” And those words would either be introduced with, or followed by, yelling and cursing, then aggressive driving.
Never in my life would I think that those ideas of his would trickle into my personal family life.
In 2017, my grandmother passed away. This was one of the hardest things I ever had to deal with. However, what was very important to me was that she saw me get married, which she did in 2016. After our separation in 2018, he made a remark on social media that involved my grandmother. It’s honestly burnt in my brain…
Well at least her grandma got to see her marry before she croaked, so I guess that means she wins lolJohn Doe
The disrespect and disregard for human life, my grandmother’s life, was a big sign. I was doing the right thing at that point, though. I was already gone and we had nothing to do with each other at that point.
Warning Sign Six ⚠️
Physical changes in appearance when in a rage.
This is probably the biggest sign I had that I honestly could not ignore. I just lived with it. This is a description of what I saw when he would have a rage outburst. This is a combination of mental illness and lack of self control.
Again, his mental illness was not a contributing factor to why I left. It was the lack of care on his end to do something about it despite his family’s extensive efforts.
It was almost like you’d see in a movie where a person would transform or morph – like the Hulk. When he got uncontrollably angry, his green eyes would turn black, his forehead would throb and you could see his veins. He would get this side smirk where the left side of his face would twitch. He’d develop this condescending laugh/chuckle. His fist would ball up. He would grow almost, it seemed, in size. He would pace around, shoving and throwing things. At times, if he was angry with himself, he would punch himself, pull his hair, cry. I was always so scared. For himself and for myself.
If this was a result of mental illness, it was clear he was suffering. But there was nothing I could say or do to convince him to get the help he so needed. I cared deeply for him and his health. Everyone who knows me, knows this to be true. I do not judge a person because of this. But this falls within a warning sign because, I never removed myself from the situations, I stayed and tried to calm everything down. It always ended with him saying, “You make me this way. You make me do these things.”
This is a classic sign of manipulation in order to make me feel crazy or like I deserved the abuse – gaslighting.
With all this being said, I do not share my experiences to criminalize his actions. I don’t anticipate anything to be done. I don’t want any hate being spread. I am fully over what I went through. It mostly humbles me and allows me help others. That’s the goal of this all.
This isn’t revenge. This is education.
Candid conversations discussing experience with domestic violence and domestic abuse has always been taboo. It’s time to end that. It is OKAY to talk about it. It is OKAY to not be okay. Do not hide and do not protect the abuser. Acknowledge being an enabler. Acknowledge where you went wrong. But never tolerate any of these events in your life as they are toxic, destructive, debilitating, and can be fatal. And if you find yourself as the abuser, seek help immediately. It is never too late to better yourself and the ones you love. Address it now and make sure you are grounded in your values for the future.