Julia’s* Domestic Violence Story
I met Emilio in college. We were friends for a year and a half before dating. It was supposed to have been a one night stand, but he dithered and waffled even at that, even though he was the one showing up in *my* dorm room to ask me to sleep with him. He’d break up with me, and get back together with me, leaving me confused and not knowing what was going on. It took him months to tell me that he loved me.
He insisted that if he broke up with me I was to wait at least a month before getting involved with someone else to spare his feelings, and that I’d be morally wrong for doing otherwise. He got really angry with me and accused me of infidelity for letting another guy kiss me a couple days after he broke up with me. Yet apparently he thought it would be ok to meet someone and sleep with them while we were still going out and I’d be controlling for breaking up with him for it. More of his manipulations and double standards and crazymaking behavior.
A year after we’d been going out my family was getting ready to move to Richland. I was talking on the phone with Emilio. He said he might want to get together for lunch sometime with Ingrid from high school. I said that was fine. Then he said he might sleep with her. I said I’d break up with him if he did and he said that was controlling him. More of his emotional abuse where he twisted everything around.
In the first year of being married to him he got angry and threw one of the new flower glasses across the room and broke it against a wall. I still get really scared when people throw things. They were a wedding present for me from Mom’s friend and he broke one. I do not deserve to have my things broken. I remember now he threw a plastic glass against the wall and broke it too.
He also began threatening me with divorce for not playing plastic spaceship games with him. He always wanted me to do his hobbies with him but he would not do mine. Later he would make me watch wrestling with him getting really angry at me if I would not, he tried to make me be like him and not be like myself.
When I was pregnant with Annie Emilio got caught at work having cybersex. He said this was my fault that he almost lost his job because I would not let him have cybersex so he had to do it in secret. When I told him he should just not have cybersex he yelled at me, and insisted I let him have cybersex at home. Stress during pregnancy contributes to chorioamnionitis which is why I had Annie so early.
The spring that I was pregnant with Annie Emilio was going to take me to a movie. We got in an argument in the car while we were driving me to the theater. He got mad and said that he wouldn’t take me to the movie unless I agreed with him. I asked him to take me anyway and reminded him that he’d promised to take me to the movie but he turned around and said that I didn’t deserve to go to the movie because I’d argued with him. He punished me like a child and kept harping about it while driving home. I finally got out of the car when he stopped at a corner and walked home in the rain just to get away from him for awhile. I felt trapped because I was already pregnant.
The summer I was pregnant with Annie I was going to play music at something in the Tri-Cities. I’d paid the insurance a couple days late, and they sent a letter that it was cancelled. Emilio tried to stop me from leaving, grabbing me and grabbing my purse, even though it was paid and they had renewed it. I ended up driving out there without him the next day.
When I was pregnant with Annie we were driving back from my parents’ house in Richland. We stopped at a rest area on the way home. He insisted that I have sex with him right then in the car getting mad when I didn’t want to so I did. I remember moving the instruments around out of the back seat and brownies my mom sent home with us getting squished and him getting mad at me when I was trying to rearrange things carefully.
When I was in labor three months early Emilio drove me to the hospital. He parked all the way across the parking lot from the door like he always did to protect his car. I was having contractions and it hurt a lot. I told him it hurt too much to walk and begged him to get me a wheelchair. He yelled at me and said our daughter’s life was in danger and I had to walk as fast as I could to get to the hospital and that if anything happened to her it would be my fault. I was so scared and it hurt so bad, he just yelled and didn’t care. It took a long time it seemed like to get to the emergency room, the nurse put me in a wheelchair right away. When I was in labor he yelled at me once to stop screaming and push.
The morning after I had Annie, we’d both almost died and they took her away from me in a plastic incubator box the night before to go to another hospital, his mother called me to ask what I did wrong to have Annie early. I never received any apology from either her or him for that harassment. That is emotional abuse.
The day after I had Annie I remember washing dishes while Emilio sat in his goddamn recliner. Who does this to their wife who just had a baby? I had almost died the day before, and was sick from the infection.
When Annie was two days old I was washing breast pump parts. I was tired from pumping around the clock 6-8 times a day and he was home from work for the week supposedly to help me. I asked him to wash them for me so I could get some rest. He was on the phone with Lin at the time who he later had phone sex with (he admitted this the following April). He refused to help me. I told him that if he would not help me I could not breastfeed Annie, I was too exhausted. He said that if I did not breastfeed Annie he would divorce me and get the judge to force me to breastfeed her. I was so messed up from all the medications and just giving birth that I went along with it even though in the back of my mind I knew he couldn’t do that to me. When I brought it up with him later, he claimed credit for saving Annie’s life by forcing me to breastfeed her, and all his internet female “friends” that he was having cybersex or phone sex with all of them all agreed with him. I now know that this is a form of abuse called reproductive coercion.
The pump machine hurt and he made me keep doing it, I got so sore and it hurt, and I was too scared to tell anyone the truth of why I had to keep nursing her. I felt like a machine and not a person. He stayed home that whole week from work supposedly to take care of me, but what he did was have cybersex and be on the computer all the time, he never took care of me ever. I wanted to laugh when the lactation consultant told me that I had successfully breastfed Annie longer than any other mom of a baby born so early, she had no idea at what cost to me. He controlled me and controlled my body, this is one of the ways he dominated me. He also told me that if we ever were to have another kid he would insist that I not get any painkillers for the delivery because that is “best” never mind that lots of moms get them – he just wanted complete control over my body.
When Annie was in the hospital she was kept in an incubator to keep her warm. I was allowed to hold her out of the incubator a certain amount of time per visit. I was holding her with the nurse’s permission when Emilio showed up, and her temperature started dropping. The nurse said it was ok and I could hold her awhile longer, and Emilio started yelling at me for risking Annie’s life.
In December I started looking up chorioamnionitis and found it was likely to come back again in future pregnancies. I talked it over with my doctor and decided to get my tubes tied, and he decided he absolutely had to have more kids even though he was fine with having none before Annie, and started threatening to divorce me again, and his mother started getting after me too.
2 months after Annie came home she started having colic, she screamed all afternoon, all evening and most of the night. Emilio came home from work and took Annie for awhile, he was supposed to be giving me a break for a couple hours. She started screaming after he’d only held her a couple minutes, he tried to give her back to me after I’d already had to deal with the screaming all afternoon. I said no, I needed to go for a walk and get away for awhile. He chased me still carrying her and tried to stop me from leaving the apartment, I just tried to get away from him and get out and her head bumped into the wall. He said it was my fault that her head got bumped and threatened to divorce me and called me his future ex wife. We took her to the ER to get her head looked at, she was fine not even red or bruised but he threatened me the whole way there and kept yelling at me. He accused me of abusing Annie when I was just trying to escape from him and the house. This was unlawful imprisonment. He was trying to chase and trap me, it was not my fault, I have the right to get away from him. He held this over me and it made me scared to report all the abusive things that he did to me. I actually felt grateful to him that he did not tell the people at the hospital that I abused her even when I didn’t, and he held that over my head, another way that he controlled me.
This is also when the hitting/hair-pulling started whenever I tried to get him to watch his own kid, and he started having cybersex more and more. One time I tried to get him to get up and take care of her so I could sleep, he got mad at me for trying to get him up, and pushed me down the stairs. I pulled a knife on him and told him I’d kill him if he hit me again but I was stupid and kept letting him get away with it, at least I scared him for a couple months. He deserved to have me pull a knife on him, he should watch his own kid, he does not have the right to push me down the stairs. He is not a father and was not a husband. He threatened me over and over about pulling the knife on him, one more way he tried to control me and make me afraid of him.
In April he admitted to having phone sex with an online female “friend”. The next night, he stayed up til 4 AM, claiming that he was doing so to listen for Annie and take care of her if she woke up – but really he was playing video games and went to bed right when she woke up yowling leaving me to wake up with her at 4 AM, and get back to sleep maybe an hour later. She woke up again at 8, I figured it was his turn to wake up with her but he refused. I told him I was going to the barn to ride my horse so he would have to get up with her, seems fair to me after what a jerk he was the night before. He grabbed me and pulled me away from the door and blocked the door – unlawful imprisonment again. I screamed help and he put his hand over my mouth and his hands around my neck then he started hitting and punching me in the head and in my face, once he punched me so hard I saw stars. The police came but I was stupid and I lied to protect him. I hate myself for letting him get away with it I wish he was dead. He does not have the right to hit and trap me, he scared me into letting him get away with it. He threatened to divorce me again that day. That is how he controlled me. He acted like I deserved it for trying to get him to watch his own kid.
When Annie was 11 months old we went to Daybreak park. Emilio wanted to wade across the river holding her. I was worried and tried to protest but he didn’t listen. He waded across the river with her and acted so proud that he touched the other side with her like it was some big special deal. Then coming back across he lost his shoe. He insisted that I come get her and carry her back to the other side while he tried to get his shoe. My bare feet hurt on the sharp rocks and I was so scared I would fall and drop her. I remember the pain and the fear and the cold fast water and the overwhelming relief when I reached the edge of the river. My chest hurts and feels tight remembering.
The summer before we separated when Annie was two Emilio put me on an “allowance” while he was allowed to spend whatever he wanted. I had to sell my bowed psaltery at a pawnshop so that I could get an oil change for my car because he expected me to pay for the oil change out of my “allowance” for groceries for the family. Looking back this makes me really angry that I had to sell an instrument because of some jerk who was supposedly in love with me putting me on an allowance and controlling me when I took care of his child with no breaks.
When Annie was two we separated for awhile, he said he did not want to be with me anymore I was too needy and my self esteem was too low. This was just after his affair with Stacey though I did not know it then just suspected. He wanted us to get back together a month later, one of his conditions was that I was to no longer contact my parents though I refused. Classic sign of an abuser. There was a week before we separated while I was on “trial” and was supposed to convince him to want to stay with me. During this time I had several anxiety attacks and trouble breathing and he did not care when previously I was supposed to drop everything and take him to the hospital when he had them. We were supposed to go to his grandparents’ house for his grandmother’s birthday the first day that I was on “trial”. He would not go though his mother called him over and over. He would not go because he had promised Stacey that he was going to call her that night. He insisted that I go so that his grandparents could see Annie, and implied that it would make him more likely to stay with me if I went. Of course it did not he was just controlling me. So I went with Annie, hurting inside and wanting to die and trying not to cry, while they kept calling Emilio and trying to get him to come and humiliating me. During this week when I was on “trial” Stacey asked me how Emilio was in bed. Yet another way that they humiliated me. He kept denying that anything happened even when she asked that and acted like I was paranoid and crazy. I saw her send him an instant message that she loved him once and he acted like I was paranoid and crazy for thinking he was cheating because of it.
After the trip to see Stacey he’d play this “punch buggy” game that he said he learned from her where he’d punch me every time he’d see a Volkswagen. It hurt my arm and scared me when he punched me. He said it was a game but I think it was just an excuse to hit me. He also flicked my wrist with his fingernails and hurt me when I would say things that he didn’t like, and acted like he was being cute and funny for doing it when he hurt me.
The Christmas that Annie was two I had wrapped all the presents in gift bags the night before after putting Annie to bed. I got up early with Annie but Emilio still stayed in bed. I watched Annie while Emilio took an hour long bath – he did not leave me time to get ready because I was stuck watching Annie. I finally left her alone and got dressed as quickly as I could in about five minutes, I did not even have time to get a shower. While I was getting dressed she got the presents out of the gift bags. Emilio yelled at me then and the whole way down to his parents house for not watching her for those five minutes so I could get dressed and we were a few minutes late getting to his parents house. He yelled at me for an hour then embarrassed me when we got there telling everyone there that it was my fault that we were late. He ruined Christmas for me and made me cry. I don’t remember anything I got for Christmas that year but I remember him yelling and yelling. Strange how he would say we shouldn’t fight in front of Annie when he was doing something that bothered me but he had no problem yelling and yelling at me in front of her.
He began to accuse me of being manic depressive when I suspected his affair with Stacey, and act like he was the logical smart one and I was stupid and there was something wrong with me. There is nothing wrong with me that was not caused by him, one more way that he manipulated me.
The physical abuse stopped for awhile, I guess he was afraid of the police, but the emotional abuse and cybersex continued. Then a year or two later, when Annie was around two or three, we went to a dinner at his parents house. Janine insisted that Annie not get dessert if she did not eat her awful broccoli with crackers even though Annie was not her child. I went to put some cobbler on Annie’s plate anyway. Emilio grabbed my wrist hard to stop me and would not let go, everyone at the table saw it and no one said a word, my wrist hurt. I hate them all. How could they all see him hurt me and do nothing? They are bad people, all they care about is appearances – it means nothing to make everyone say grace before every meal when you let a guest get hurt in your house by your son at your dinner table.
When Annie was two or three Emilio was unemployed so he was home and I had been sick with a sinus infection for two weeks. I asked him to watch his own child so I could go to the doctor but he refused, even though this was in the afternoon he wanted to sleep. I had to take her with me so that I could go to the doctor to get the antibiotics that I needed, and put up with her screaming and fussing while the doctor was trying to take care of me. I felt like I was not allowed to be sick and take care of myself, he did not even want me to go to the doctor at all even though I was very sick, he acted like I was not worth taking care of.
I tried to tell him about my problems with the relationship and tried to fix things, he called my problems the laundry list and dismissed them. I felt like a not-person ever since Annie was born.
I did not play my harp from when Annie was less than one til when she was almost five, I never got enough of a break with her out of my hair and if I did Emilio was asleep and I had to be quiet or he wanted me to play stupid space ship games.
One time Emilio came to bed at 4 AM and wanted me to have sex with him. He said he was all worked up from having cybersex. He got mad at me and said it was my job as his wife when I refused.
I could not go to the store without Annie even when Emilio was home, he would insist that I take her with me so he did not have to watch his own child. He enforced rigid gender roles and stereotypes and acted like because I was a stay at home mom I had no rights to have breaks and he should not have to watch his own child ever. Janine helped abuse me with this too, when I told her I needed breaks and Emilio should watch his own baby she said I should “sleep when she sleeps” – getting sleep only in 1 or 2 hour hunks during the day. I had just as much right to a full night’s sleep as he did.
The summer before Annie turned two I was to play music at the Greenwood Faire, right before Emilio had his business trip and then saw Stacey. Emilio was to watch Annie for me while I played music. Instead he stayed up til 4 AM having cybersex with Eva and Stacey then slept all day – he did this to abuse me and isolate me and keep me from doing things that were important to me.
I stopped playing music at farmers markets and music festivals and just about anywhere in public after that because I could not rely on him to watch Annie even on weekends or when he was not working – he used not taking care of Annie to isolate me and dominate me and keep me trapped at home. When Annie was about 3 my friend Rebecca got married. It was on a Saturday so Emilio did not have to work. He did not go to the wedding but would not watch his own child, I actually had to have my mom hire a babysitter because he would not watch his own child. He acted like he should not have to watch his own child ever because he worked and I stayed home taking care of her – that is not right I had the right to breaks too.
The spring after Annie turned two Emilio went to a video game tournament in Seattle at the same time that Stacey was stopping over at the Seattle airport on her way to Australia. He stayed at the hotel for two nights. The second day I had a flat tire, I called him that morning to ask him to come home early and take care of it for me. That whore answered the phone from his hotel room, I asked her what she was doing in his room and she said “just hanging out”. Emilio took the phone and I asked him to come home early. I remember her saying “I think not” in the background. Emilio got mad when I asked why Stacey was in his room and accused him of having an affair with her, and said that I was manic depressive and paranoid. When all the time he was lying and cheating on me with her. He also got angry at me that I ruined his trip with her by calling.
I stopped going pretty much anywhere and doing pretty much anything at that time too because I could not rely on him to watch his own child. The only thing I kept doing was bellydance classes because my parents would babysit for those. I was too embarrassed to ask them to babysit her at other times because they would ask me why he wasn’t, or I knew that he should be watching his own kid and felt like we were taking advantage. Even when he was unemployed he would not watch her so I could go places, he just sat around in his sweats having cybersex.
He accused me of being manic depressive because I was depressed about his behavior most of the time when he was being a jerk and dominating and abusing me but I’d be happy and smiley the few times when he was nice. He acted like I was making up everything that was wrong and everything was fine and I was just picking fights with him, when really he was treating me terribly cruelly and had been ever since I got pregnant with Annie and probably before too.
He lied and covered up his online, phone, and in person affairs but he accused me for being paranoid when I knew that something was wrong. Even when he finally admitted what he did he said that it was my fault for not playing space ship games with him and that I was just as bad as he was – I never dominated him or cheated on him or abused him, he beat me down into nothing til I saw myself as just a caretaking machine with no soul.
The summer Annie was 4 I needed to register my car. It was hot and in July and the air conditioning wasn’t working very well. Emilio was still unemployed so he was home with nothing to do, he was just having cybersex again with Stacey and Eva. I needed to take my car through the emissions testing which takes a long time and would be hot with bad air conditioning. I asked him to watch Annie so she would not be in a hot car, he refused. I got mad and told him he should watch his own child and he was not doing anything important. First he pulled my hair to try to get me out of the computer room. I told him he needed to watch his own kid so she wouldn’t be in a hot car on a hot day and he was being a bad father and husband. He kicked me very hard in the shin, with his slipper on. He kicked me so hard I had a big bruise on my leg for a month, it was on my shin bone on my right leg. I lied and told people I ran into a car door, it was a huge bruise. It still hurts sometimes when I walk fast or run or if the cat walks on it or there is any pressure on it. There is a lump on the bone where he kicked me. He told me I deserved it for nagging him, he never said he was sorry. He is an evil nithing. I never reported it because I am stupid and still protected him. I think this is one of the times when I tried to call the police and he’d grabbed the phone from the hook and disconnected it, but it is hard to remember. There were so many times.
I still cannot bear having my hair pulled or hands on my neck or on my mouth or any pressure on my right shin.
Several times I tried to slit my wrists because I just wanted quiet and to get away. I was trapped and hit or threatened if I tried to take a break because Emilio would not watch his own child, and sometimes I was physically prevented from leaving. I figured if I was dead at least it would be quiet and I would have peace.
I was thinking recently about why did I never call the police or do anything when it got bad. Then I remembered that several times I tried to get the phone and call 911 and he disconnected the phone and grabbed it til I promised not to call and chased me when I tried to get to the downstairs phone and disconnected it too. I remember him chasing and scaring me laughing with this insane grin.
I remember him dragging me out of the computer room sometimes by my hair when I’d try to get him to stop having cybersex or get him to watch his own kid. I would freeze and go limp.
I remember him driving away so many times waving and smiling leaving me trapped in the house with Annie.
I remember him blocking the car when I tried to drive away and have a break.
I remember him yelling at me for crying in the middle of the night and saying it was like torturing him.
2 years after the divorce he emailed then called three times to threaten me about Annie only brushing her teeth once a day. He threatened to try to get custody of her for it because I was “neglecting” her. I told him if he tried I would report his abuse, and he threatened me again and said I could not get away with doing so. That is when I started getting sick from his threats, I had a fever of 105 the next day. He called three times trying to scare me and control me, he yelled and screamed at me for hanging up the phone on him never mind that he would do it all the time to me.
I always felt like I just needed to sit and cry for hours and never got a chance, there was always Emilio or Annie there and I was trapped.
I am still scared when he calls or comes over to pick up or drop off Annie. I am afraid having him in my house. I do not like to hear or look at him. I want to hurt him. I want him to be afraid of me. I want to never have to see him or hear him or get emails from him again, I want to be free of him forever. He is a bad man and I deserve to never have him in my life again. It does not matter that he is Annie’s father he hurt me over and over and he scared and threatened me and he is evil. I deserve to be free. My stomach hurts when I think about him and when I type this I want to throw up and cry. I get shaky every time I know he is coming and my heart beats fast, and it does when he calls too. It makes me rock back and forth in my chair when I type this and I feel my heart beating faster.
I hate having to contact him for child support, I think he pays it late to control me. I hate hearing his voice or seeing what he types. I get tense and anxious just getting emails from him. He never gave me a say in moving it to the 15th he just did it, same as when he reduced it by 100 dollars for supposed unearned income when I lived with my parents. He uses it to keep control.
I used to feel like some sort of caretaking machine – a robotic not-person.
I know now that Janine emotionally abused me. When she called that morning in the hospital after Annie was born and asked what I did wrong, that is what she did. She called almost every day for the first week when Annie was in the hospital trying to get me to have another “normal” kid. She treated me like I was some baby producing machine and Annie like she was defective and needed to be replaced. All of her horrible constant questions were emotional abuse designed to wear me down and get me to have another kid and make me feel like nothing so that they could dominate me. When she revealed my private medical information to their whole family and called them to get their opinions as to if I could get my tubes tied then called me the day before to try to talk me out of the surgery that is abuse. She treated my body like it was their family’s possession and not me, and treated me like a baby producing machine. She had no right to tell their family my medical information and no right to interfere with my body.
I remember I got so mad at him and his lies and his cybersex and his female internet “friends” that he was cyber-fucking and his affair and his phone sex that I spat on him once. I guess I should feel guilty but I can’t, I just wish I’d done worse to him I burn for vengeance.
I used to feel calm and gentle, now I am tense and always wanting to kill something when I am not tense and afraid. I get so angry or so scared that I shake sometimes. Sometimes I wish he would hit me again just so I could kill him.
I remember him threatening me with being a single mother every time I disagreed with him after Annie was born.
It was 2004 when the divorce was final, we separated in 2003. I think I only escaped as easily as I did because he had a woman he was having an online affair with all lined up to replace me, and was ready to trade me in for a new model. I am being treated for post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the abuse, and am left with permanent damage and constant pain and numbness in a major blood vessel of my right shin where he kicked me.
I am remarried now, to a wonderful man who understands the abuse and does his best to support and care for me and my daughter. I still struggle with having ongoing contact with my abuser, as I never reported the abuse before it was too late and it’s now past the statute of limitations, and the parenting plan gives him visitation rights. But I muddle through, with help from my husband, therapist, and support groups. In five more years my daughter will be 18 and I will never have to see or speak to my abuser again.
*Names have been changed to protect identities