We’d pulled off the highway and into a distant parking lot at 2:00 AM. My husband got from the vehicle and went to get something in the luggage compartment without saying anything. I had been confident I was really going to die. I sat wondering how he was going to kill me. Would it be a gun? A knife? A tire iron?
I put my hand on the car door handle, but I knew I would not be able to outrun him. Maybe it was better if I did die… it would be the only way I could escape from him. In my own head, I begged him to simply go ahead and stop it all.
After eight years of marriage, those were my thoughts on that cold day in March 2011. Why really would I believe those matters? He’d never even hit me. In fact, individuals in our neighborhood believed we had the perfect marriage. Nonetheless, I ‘d come to understand that I had been emotionally abused.
“You were wed to a predator,” my therapist told me, once I sought help after my divorce. “You were barely 20 when you met him, quite sweet, and had very low self-esteem. He targeted you.” My heart stopped and I rattled off reasons why she was way off base.
“You’re a He emotionally battered you, which is very hard to heal.” Afterward she began listing the characteristics of an emotional abuser as I replayed our relationship within my head. In treatment I might come to see his behaviours were indications that I was wed to a mental abuser.
Here are the traits that made my husband an emotional abuser:
He built me up and said he would be my teacher. Our love affair started off quite passionately. My husband (we’ll call him “Tom”) was 11 years older than me and a lot more experienced in relationships. Despite my insecurities, Tom made me feel like the most awesome man on the planet. I shouldn’t worry since he would be there to educate me, although he said that I had had very sheltered upbringing. I trusted him and lost my virginity to him. I felt like such a grown-up – outside on my own for the very first time as well as in an “adult” relationship! I had been so in love with Tom that I did not notice the maltreatment start to creep in.
Disorient and he tried to confuse me. A month or so into our relationship, he began to take a keen interest in how I presented myself in public. When we were going out, he’d ask me questions like “Why are you wearing that?” or “Why did you say it like that?” under the guise of trying to help me be perceived better. Of course I’d go together with his ideas because I considered he was attempting to help me and listen to him. In the weeks following, he started to vex me about instil doubt in and matters I was very familiar with. One time, he explained he’d pick me up from a friend’s house in a particular time, and then insisted I was supposed to pick him up, and yelled at me! Cases like this began happening over and over again. I felt like I was losing my mind. And the more I’d “mess up” the more frazzled I Had become. However he looked so hurt that I questioned if I actually WAS doing that.
He broke down my self esteem. In order to “keep me in line,” he began to make me feel insecure about my looks (which wasn’t hard to do). He would say things like “Why are you currently wearing make up? You know I hate make-up, so there is clearly some guy you want to impress, huh?” Of course I adamantly said no, that was followed up by, “You should not be wearing make-up anyhow, infant. Your skin is horrible and that is making it worse.” The confusing part about all this is that things he would say always had a small truth to them. I used to be going through puberty, my skin was that of a teen. However he’d blow them up to epic proportions to make me feel like I had a severe “illness” that nobody else had. The result was me always being self-conscious in public. I needed to demonstrate to him that he was the sole one I adored, and that I needed so badly to be “better,” so I quit wearing make-up and traded my dresses for cargo pants. However, nothing was appropriate.
He accused me of flirting. Eventually, any attention I received from other guys, real or perceived, infuriated him and caused him to lash out at me.
He made me believe I was emotionally unbalanced. I sank into a deep depression due to the demands of the relationship. I was frequently late for work, usually because I’d done something “awful” to him the night before and had to correct it. I felt in every aspect of my own life the same as a train wreck. Shortly, I went clinging like a life raft to Tom and lost my job. I wasn’t recognized by my family and they were terrified. They blamed Tom for my decline, but I fiercely defended him. He was the only one trying to help me, in the end! Up until this point, I had never had a fight with my parents – we were fighting with all of the time, which added to the extreme anxiety of the situation. The depression became worse. My hair was falling out. My skin was. I was bleeding all month long. I had no job, my friends were freaking out, my family was scared and mad, and I did not understand which end was up. One night, Tom solemnly sat me down for a heart to heart.
???Baby, you???re crazy,??? he said. “I’m really frightened for you. You came from a messed up family that changed your reality. Now that you’re out in actuality, you can not survive.”
I sobbed in total and complete confusion. “You need me to move in to your place and rehabilitate you,” he maintained. “I love you. And I want us to work. But you are going to need to listen to me.”
I was isolated by him. In my melancholy and despair, I believed an angel had come into my entire life. In my 20 years with this world, I didn’t know how I Had become so busted. But it didn’t matter now – because Tom was there to pick the bits up. Weeks after, he convinced me to marry him, every one of the while making it resemble it was my notion. In reality, it was because he needed a visa to remain in the united states.
My family was devastated and showed up at our apartment wanting to get me outside. I used to be brainwashed at that point that I refused go together. At the end of their wit, they attempted phoning the cops knowing I had been controlled and emotionally abused, that. But it was not physical mistreatment, so it wasn’t a crime. This turned around and used it as ammo to wound and isolate me farther – painting himself as my caring husband who was getting the cops called on him by my crazy, over-possessive family.
He physically intimidated me. Things were so difficult between me and Tom that several times, I began thinking perhaps I Had get back to my family. This made Tom extremely mad and he’d list all the ways he was looking to help me and most of the ways keep me and my family was trying to command me a child. The more he’d be questioned by me, the more upset he’d become. He had start breaking things or perforating through windows. He explained that I was the person who made him act that way. And being that to everyone in our neighborhood, he was the “nice guy” that was the first to help old ladies cross the road, I considered he was appropriate.
He controlled my finances. I became so brainwashed that Tom had entire control over every action I made – without even having to say anything. He never had a real job and asked that I work while he developed these endeavors he was working on (which never came to fruition while we were together). Her husband would be supported by any good wife as he tried to establish his profession; that is precisely what I did – working two full time jobs and donating my eggs for cash.
Through an extreme stroke of luck and hard work, I started making a very good wages and became a marketing director in a young age. Several of my writing projects were bringing in promise and money – so Tom softened towards me a bit. He was spending this cash as fast as I had been making it.
Because the jobs, I was in the world more, out of – and I had been triumphing! My self esteem started enhancing. The things Tom had constantly degraded me for, employers saw as “assets” and paid me well for them. I found the more as an individual, the better I did that I trusted my own instincts. Separately, when I had been at corporate celebrations, I began to see how other men recognized that my marriage wasn’t healthy and treated their wives.
Standing As Much As Mistreatment
Eventually, I stood up to Tom. The mind games and control poured out of him to the point where he said that we needed to move away from these individuals who were “bad effects” on me and possess an infant immediately. Though it absolutely was my aim stay married and to work things out, I would not back down. That is when I found myself in that parking lot believing I would expire…the wake-up call that ultimately compelled me to leave.
Unfortunately, my story is fairly common. Mental maltreatment is becoming specialists and an outbreak tout it as being the most debilitating type of domestic abuse. It makes no bruises that are visible, but the wounds are much more difficult to fix.
With my family and friends beside me I worked through my pain. In the midst of my healing, I wrote The Gingerbread Pimp – a musical predicated on my story, composed by my longtime pal and collaborator, Will Collyer. We presented the piece to an audience of celebs domestic abuse survivors, as well as the public this past July in the esteemed New York Musical Theatre Festival.
I turned 30 and can’t believe my life is now. I live in a beautiful small house on a calm road, have my incredible family and friends next to me every day, as well as a very rewarding job among inspirational folks – proof that individuals can get over quite a lot…we just have to take actions and know when to ask for help.
Molly Reynolds is a musical theater writer whose work continues to be seen throughout her native Los Angeles and The Big Apple. The Gingerbread Pimp is a dark musical comedy predicated on her personal story of domestic abuse and was most recently seen in the New York Musical Theatre Festival July 2013.