My Story Part 1

During my childhood, my family moved frequently. We never started and finished a school year at the same school. My childhood dream was to live in the same house, go to the same school, so I could have friends and not always be leaving.

After reaching adulthood, I realized my parents had been functioning alcoholics. Weekdays were normal, but you never knew what to expect on the weekends. I grew up watching my mother defer to my father on everything. He was truly the "head" of the household. When they divorced, I was devastated. My mother's drinking became an everyday occurrence, and the responsibility of myself and my sister fell to me. At fifteen, I was in charge of the family.

I met my husband-to-be, Curtis, in 1978. We were introduced by a mutual friend. I was 19 and Curtis was 29. By the beginning of 1979, we were living together. I believed Curtis was everything I had never had in my life; stable and responsible.

In June 1980, we were married at the courthouse annex in Clearlake. Curtis did not want a large wedding, as he had one for his first marriage and didn't want a repeat. The only people present were my mother and sister. Curtis had no family there, but did invite a co-worker.

Once we were married, Curtis became more controlling. The control started so slowly, I never realized I had lost myself until everything and everybody was gone. He didn't like one of my friends, so I wouldn't see them until there were no friends left. He didn't like the outfit I wore, so I wouldn't wear it again. He didn't like where I worked, so I changed jobs. Around the house, he didn't like what I cooked for dinner, I didn't hang the laundry properly, I didn't replace items correctly after I dusted. I needed his constant direction to get things done correctly. In whatever way I had failed, I would attempt to correct my shortcomings. Nothing I did was ever enough.

Our son, Christopher, was born in 1983. The added pressure of caring for an infant, on top of the daily pressures imposed by Curtis was overwhelming. When I finally had my fill of Curtis' bullying, and told him I had had enough, the physical abuse started. Up to that time it had been limited to emotional and mental abuse.

The first time Curtis struck me, I packed my suitcase, took Christopher, and left. I had no where to go except to a local hotel. The only people we knew were friends of his choosing, who only knew the "public" Curtis, they would never believe him capable of violence towards me.

Curtis was waiting for me at my job on Monday morning. He asked me to please come to the house that evening and talk to him. That evening, he cried and told me how much he loved Christopher and me, he promised to never touch me in anger again. I believed him. I wanted to believe him. I had everything I had always wanted- a stable home, a husband, a family. If Curtis was more critical and controlling than I had thought, I would just have to try harder not to mess up, to do things the right way. Of course, nothing changed, the emotional and mental abuse continued with the physical abuse for whenever I attempted to assert myself.

To the outside world, ours seemed the perfect marriage. When in public, Curtis was an entirely different man than the one I lived with. I never knew what I would say when we were out that would cause me misery when we got home, but there was always something.

In 1989, my mother had to be hospitalized because she was drinking herself to death. She could not make her health decisions herself, my sister was out of state, so her health decisions fell to me. After a lengthy hospital stay, she was discharged to a nursing home for long-term care. I found a nursing home located between my home and office, so I could visit often. She was able to be released to an apartment of her own after a year. I helped her find an apartment nearby. Our relationship flourished. We had never been closer; she was truly my best friend.

During this time, I became pregnant, but suffered a miscarriage. I was devastated. Curtis couldn't understand, or wouldn't understand, why I continued to "dwell" on the loss and didn't move on.

I gave birth to our daughter, Leslie, in 1991. Because I had to return to work, Mother stayed at our house caring for Leslie and being there when Christopher came home from school. I don't know how I would have managed if it hadn't been for Mother. She was my lifeline.

In 1995, Mother was diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer. She was referred to MD Anderson Hospital in Houston. Surgery and chemo treatments were of no use. Mother hung on long enough to celebrate Leslie's fifth birthday in her hospital room. A week later, she was gone.

During this same time period, we began to have financial troubles. Of course, this was just another example of my failings. I would have done anything not to have to hear Curtis once again tell me what was wrong with me. I began to use company funds to pay our bills. Naturally, I was caught, fired, and charges were filed. I received 10 years deferred adjudication.

Curtis now had what he had always wanted; me at home, no friends, no family, no job. I was totally under his control.

The arguments had become so loud and violent, that at age 13 Christopher would put himself between his father and me. Curtis had never hit either of the children, but I began to worry about what would happen now that Christopher was a teenager and had started to stand up to his father.

The final episode occurred at dinner one night. Curtis spilled his drink and I didn't jump up fast enough to clean the mess. He struck me so hard that I was knocked over backwards in my chair. He then threw all the food from the table on top of me. Both children ran, Leslie to her room, Christopher outside. I told Curtis to get out of the house. Eventually he left. Christopher and several of his friends were waiting outside for Curtis to leave. One of the older boys asked if I wanted him to get a gun and spend the night. I assured them that we would be fine. Christopher wrapped chains around all the doors, so he would hear his father if he attempted to return. I couldn't believe my life had deteriorated to this point. Little did I know, it would only get worse.