Monday, October 15, 2012

Swept Off My Feet #domesticviolence

Ann's story is a perfect example of how one can get swept into a "love relationship," by somebody who moves a bit too quickly, and then find oneself on the receiving end of emotional and physical violence. (See The Gift of Fear for tips on recognizing red flags - even at the beginning of a dating relationship.)

Ann's story is also a perfect example of how being a recipient of domestic violence does not necessarily ruin one's life. She has gone on to leave her abuser, have a successful career and fulfilling romantic relationship.

Guest post by Ann Odle.

I was never a big “dater” in high school or in college; so when I met my (now ex-) husband, to say I was “swept off my feet” is an understatement.  He was the playboy of the office—divorced, older, fun-loving and energetic.

I was the newest hire when we first met; and we quickly ended up in the latest edition of the office gossip chats.  Within a few weeks, we were “exclusive,” and he kept telling me he was falling in love. I couldn’t really say that I was falling in love with him; looking back on it now, after all these years, it still seems more like I just was along for the ride and didn’t know how to change things.

My first mistake was in missing the amount of alcohol we consumed (mostly him, but I drank too).  I knew he drank; it usually made life easier when he did.  He always said he was a mellow drunk.  In fact, it wasn’t until I subconsciously knew there was a problem that I noticed that violence began to surface.

It started as a vicious temper, violent words and punching walls.  It was so text-book too; the apologies, flowers and promises (which were promptly broken during the next outburst).  And things went downhill even quicker, once I agreed to marry him.

via Daya Houston

Then one night, we were at the county fair; it was a week night, both of us working the next day and I remember that I was just exhausted.  We were listening to a country band, when he decided he wanted to dance; and kept insisting that we were going to dance.

As I said, I was tired and kept refusing.  I remember raising a cup to drink out of it and then the cup exploded in my face.  There was beer all over me and I watched in slow motion as he smacked me in the nose with the back of his hand; I could feel blood in the back of my throat and knew that my teeth were loosened by that blow.

The next thing I knew, I was being dragged by my hair--across the fairgrounds, through the exit and out to the car.  To this day, I am still amazed that no one, no one, made any attempt to stop him, to help me, to do anything!

Once we got home, he promptly passed out on the floor; I remember grabbing a baseball bat and considering what kind of damage/retaliation I might inflict.  But I did nothing, except keep that bat next to me in bed for the next few weeks.

I would like to tell you that I left that relationship right then and there; but I didn’t.  It took several more months of fights before I finally found the strength.  Even then, I couldn’t help feeling that I was the one who failed.

That is until one day I was visiting with friends who knew both my husband and I; and the woman turned to me and said, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but since you left XXXXXX, I like you so much better.”

“It’s not that I didn’t like you before; it just seemed like you were only a shadow of what you are now.  You’re funnier, smarter and just plain nice to be around now.”

That’s when I realized that I had allowed myself to become “one of those women;” the ones who give up on themselves, in order to be with a man.

Today, I’m happy to say that I am my own person; I’m with someone who wants me to be me, not to be there for him.  I hope someone reads this story and sees themself here; that they won’t be like me and turn away until it’s too late.

For years, I refused to see myself as a victim of domestic violence—but that is exactly what I was.  Looking back and acknowledging the situation I found myself in, has definitely changed my perspective.

Ann Odle is a single,Southern California girl with absolutely no plans for moving out of state, but has big dreams for traveling all over the world.  In the meantime, she works full-time, runs a home-based business on the side and updates her blog, Ann About Town, as often as she can.


Domestic Violence Resources

National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)  TTY- 1-800-787-3224 
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (includes downloadable guides for helping women in abusive relationships)
RAINN - Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network 1.800.656.HOPE
National Alliance on Mental Illness, aka NAMI

National Clearinghouse on Family Violence - you will need to opt for English or French

Women's Aid - 0808 2000 247

Australia & New Zealand:
Domestic Violence Information Manual - phone numbers vary by territory

For Male Victims:
Why Men Stay in Abusive Relationships

Please join me in thanking Ann for sharing her story.
If you'd like to share your own story, there's still time.

Guest post ideas & info here.