According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.
One mom shared the harrowing story of a how her marriage to her high school sweetheart ended in abuse-and how her kids were the reason she ultimately left him.
“My husband, my kids’ father, we’d been together since we were 15. We were high school sweethearts. We got married when we were 21 or 22 in 2011. And then it got rocky. Of course, before we were married, there were a ton of issues, but you figure you get married and stuff would die down. It wouldn’t be so bad. So we ended up getting married and it ended up getting worse as far as the fighting and the screaming matches.”
“I was working full time. He wasn’t really working; he was always in between jobs, so that caused problems because he felt like he was confined to the house. I told him, ‘You can always go to work.’ He just chose not to. That was the issue that started all the arguments, and then really most of the time we argued, it was about the kids or financial stuff and it started getting really bad. I would say the last year we were together the police were called several times. ”
“The police came out about three or four times. The last time they came out, he took my cell phone and he shattered against the fireplace and he started hitting me. He actually picked up the TV we had in our house, and he pushed it into the wall. So that made a big hole in the wall. The kids were in the house, but they weren’t in the room with us. He kicked the TV, he picked up the TV and shattered it all over our kitchen floor, so glass and stuff was everywhere.”
“The police got called, and they actually issued a Children In Need of Care Case, and so we had to go to court. In the midst of this I was actually 6 months pregnant with my youngest baby. We ended up going to court and DFCS was involved and we completed that. But it still just was a lot of him putting his hands on me–at least two to three times a week. Then it got to the point where we were on Section 8 housing, and because of the domestic violence and the police being called, they actually terminated my voucher. So I had nowhere to go.”
“His grandparents offered us a place to stay, given that we were still married, so we ended up moving in with his grandparents, and it got worse. It got very bad. There were times when he would hit me when I was driving or when he was driving he’d reach over and hit me or if he didn’t like something I was saying. He punched me one time and I don’t even remember what I said, but whatever it was must have pissed him off pretty good, because he stood up over me and punched me square in the mouth in front of his grandparents. I knew in the back of my head that I had to leave, but it still didn’t register. The final straw was my kids were in the house and it was maybe a few days after the Fourth of July. I was planning my escape before then because I knew I had to go because it was really bad.”
“I knew I had to go so I was trying to get out. I was trying to make arrangements for me to get out. The two weeks before I was planning on going with the children, we got into it really bad because I found out he was actually talking to a really good friend of mine. They were actually involved in a relationship together and had been for over a year, unbeknownst to me. So I found out about it and it ended up being a big ordeal. He ended up actually hitting me a few times. He pushed me down the stairs. We were actually tussling and fighting in the garage and we were almost to the floor fighting in the garage. I managed to get up. I don’t know how I managed to get up. I took off in the front yard. I was trying to call the police. I was trying to get my keys. My keys were still in the house. He followed me when I went inside because I was like ‘ I need my keys I can’t go anywhere I need my keys,’ so I managed to go inside and at least try to get my key and in the midst of me getting my key again, he grabbed me by the back of my neck and my hair, dragged me outside and then I was on the ground. He picked up the shovel and was ready to hit me and the only reason why he didn’t hit me with the shovel is because the next-door neighbor came outside and intervened.”
“The police got called. I left before the police came and went to a police station. He had bruises and I had bruises–because I just got tired of it I wanted to defend myself. I told the cop, ‘If you look at our history everything is written down. The police were always called for domestic violence.'”
“He took pictures because I was bruised and my face was all split up. I did rip out some of his hair, so they told me that if I had been there at the scene when they arrived, we both would have gone to jail. I was like, ‘That’s it. I can’t risk my kids being taken. DFCS was already involved. DFCS had already been called on him two weeks earlier because he was directing his anger at the kids and he actually had my friend in the apartment.”
“One day I didn’t say anything. I made a couple contacts with a domestic violence shelter. I quit my job last minute. I told them something came up. They were very understanding. I left like I was going to work with the kids. We got up, did our normal routine. He went to work. As soon as he left and I knew it was good for us to go, I took whatever we literally had–I think we had three pairs of clothes–and we left and I haven’t been back since and he doesn’t know where we’re at. We’ve had contact, but it’s mostly him wanting me to come back and I’m not doing that.”
“I think this time really did it with the kids being involved, because before I was just looking at it as, ‘Well, he’s just hitting me, he’s not hitting the kids,’ but the kids were noticing and they were getting upset, because they’d know what was going on. When it was just me, it was still not okay, but at least it was just me. I have to make sure my kids are safe. I have to make sure that they’re able to live a normal life. So I packed up everything we had, a little bit of clothes, and we left. I was thankful my last employer advanced me my check so I didn’t have to come back and they didn’t have to mail it to me. I cashed my check, I filled up my gas tank and I moved. I just never looked back.”
“I basically just cut off all communication with him. If he wants to call, I let the kids call him, but they call from a private number and he doesn’t know where I live. He doesn’t know my whereabouts and I’m happy. This is the first time in years I’ve actually felt free and not walking on pins and needles because the second I walk in the door he’s mad about something or something I didn’t do. My kids and I are getting our life back right now. They’re happy, I’m happy. Everything’s going in the right direction. Things have been looking up.”