Why Didn’t You Leave? Karen’s Story and The Reason Behind this Site

So what happened?

Sometimes the story of Why We Didn’t leave needs to be told.

The Love Story

I met him online, he said he was US military about to finish his term, we chatted for hours. He was sweet, kind and a little charismatic. Originally from South Carolina, he really played that southern charm.

I flew away from my family in the UK to meet him in Arizona. He did everything right, pulled out chairs, opened doors, got me flowers. It was just 2 short months later when he proposed. I was told that we were like Romeo and Juliet (was this a flag?).. Met me at work for lunch every day, called me and texted me constantly

The Begining of the End

We had a great couple of years, or so I thought. Over those 2 years, he changed how I dressed, my hair, my friends. It started with how nice I looked in one outfit. Then he would ask me to wear it all the time. It was so sweet I wanted him to be happy, so I did anything he asked. He wanted meatloaf every Friday, he got Meatloaf. The first Friday I didn’t make Meatloaf, he threw the plate at the wall. Then he would tell me I was ugly/fat in other clothes. I was only wearing what he wanted, speaking to who he approved of and I still thought how sweet and amazing he was.

How wrong was I? Hindsight is amazing

But what I didn’t know, he was military but had been dishonourably discharged. This was for behavior unbecoming years before and was using the military as a pick up line. That he was bipolar but refusing to be medicated.

The Blame

The first time he hit me, I was late from work. He said he was worried, scared and it was a reaction. It was probably because his dad beat him and he didn’t know better. He was sorry and wanted to change, he begged for my help on his knees. The I’m sorry line was repeated 100’s if not 1000’s of times after that.

Over the course of the next 4 years, I was beaten, choked, a pillow held over my face, a knife to my throat, my head hit against a concrete floor and held under the water in the pool. Every time I had ‘done’ something to cause his anger.

The Lies

There was always the accusation of me having affairs, with men and women. He accused me of not honoring our marriage vows. The threats he used, the fact that I was from the UK. I was working hard on a visa, working full time. This was used as a threat to get me deported at any time he chose. He limited my phone calls with my family, saying how expensive they were and he wished we could afford for me to have more time. Told me I couldn’t have social media accounts because that’s how our finances could be hacked. I mean looking back I see the control, the narcissim, the parania.

On more than one occasion I was beaten till I lost consciousness, have scars and a lot of mistrust. I really dont trust most men and they better not have a southern accent.

He started telling me if he couldn’t have me, no-one would. How he knew where to hide me so I would never be found. He would watch serial killer shows and say things like, I would never make that mistake.

The Moment

One day I woke up and realized I was going to either die staying or die leaving and at least leaving I had a fighting chance. I had a friend (gay, who I had been accused of multiple affairs with). This friend had never pushed me on anything, and just said he was there for me no matter what. I told him everything, he held me as I sobbed and told me it was going to be ok. He had a friend that worked for the sheriff and they broke a taillight and had him pulled over. The idea was to buy me some extra time to leave, turned out he was on a suspended license with bench warrants, so their idea for an hour so I could report turned in to days.

These two friends moved me in the middle of the night, fully armed because they were afraid of what he might do to me.

I got a restraining order, but he measured the distance and stood exactly 12 inches outside the restraining order so legally he was in the right. I had to quit work because we were getting hang-up calls and him standing outside my place of employment.

The Divorce

In the divorce he wanted me to pay him $2000 a month for Spousal Support as he had refused to work for 3 years. He lost his cool in the courthouse and threatened to smash my face into 1000 pieces, that he could get to me anytime, anywhere and after that, he got zero from me in the divorce as the judge ruled my request to be reasonable.

So he went to all our banks and drained every last penny. Then went to Walmart and wrote several bad checks that I would end up having to pay for.

He also had falsified tax reports for the previous couple of years so I was garnished and lost all my refunds for a couple of years to pay back what he had basically stolen.

The Aftermath

I became reclusive and was sent to a therapist and psychiatrist for trauma. There I was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety and as I became more withdrawn. I swear he was still stalking me for a long time. Eventually, I was diagnosed with agoraphobia. I was heavily medicated for 2 years to even function, I still can’t have anyone touch me without me knowing it’s going to happen. it resulted in me not being able to work for a couple of years and when I did return I was terrified all the time.

I met my husband in 2009 after being terrified of putting myself out there. He showed me how I could be treated, respected me and the fact that I am not a touchy feely person. I don’t do hugs, you cant touch me without me seeing where the hand is coming from. Ive been with him for 10 years now and we have 5 kids. I stayed in my home for the first 7 years of our marriage and slowly came out of the house over the last 3 years. I have been rebuilding my confidence.

The Decision

The reason I have now chosen to speak out publically is that there is one question I was asked over and over again. Even from the therapist.

Why didn’t you leave? Along with the comments of I would have never put up with that, I would have left after the first hit. I believe this question hurts more than helps. It puts doubt in our mind to whether we could have avoided it. And you know what, knowing what I know now, I can see the signs. But we can’t when we are in the middle of it!

I feel that its something we are programmed to say, the sheer horror of hearing these stories. we don’t want to imagine it, let alone understand why someone would be in it. Especially when it seems they are choosing to stay there. So we are working on changing the perspective. On having an understanding of what goes on in these relationships to how it happens what is said and the mental state of those affected. More importantly, giving survivors a voice and those that haven’t endured the opportunity to see a new way to handle it.

Do you have a story to share? If so come here to this page and submit your story to help provide hope and insight

10 comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Karen. I can’t imagine your bravery as you survived through those years. Your bravery then and now is inspiring.

    1. Thank you so much, I just hope I can inspire more to share their story so they can help make the impact that this is not ok

  2. Wow!!!! This is such a touching story. I’m so sorry for what you had to endure. Really happy for how far you have come now. Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Thank you so much for your supportive comment, I only hope I can inspire more to come forward and share their stories

  3. I think unless you have been in an abusive relationship, or even with someone who doesn’t treat you with respect, you can’t understand that leaving isn’t always that easy. We would all like to think that the first time it ever happened we would walk out the door, and maybe many of us do, but most don’t. I think through sharing your story you can help others realize it’s better to leave sooner, rather than later, to avoid the trauma and pain.

    1. I agree, it’s so hard to see from the outside looking into why it doesn’t happen, I wish it didn’t happen to anyone

  4. First, I just want to say how brave you are and I mean truly. It is so hard for survivors to speak out. I work for a non-profit that specializes in helping survivors of domestic abuse. As a survivor of child abuse and witnessing domestic abuse against my mother, I understand how hard it is to leave. And further more how hard it is to see in the moment what is really going on. I am so glad you had those two friends who helped you. And I’m really glad that you have found your happiness. Healing from trauma takes a long time. I have been in recovery from PTSD for several years. I still have certain triggers that I know I will always have to deal with but I accept that. I have found my happiness. I just really want to reach out and tell you that you’re amazing! I look forward to your future blog posts!

    1. I am so glad you have found your happiness, you deserve it and thank you for your supportive words. If you feel it’s appropriate, could you reach out with the details of the nonprofit, I want to start sharing resources and organizations that are available so others see there is the help.

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