Take heed at the first sign of abuse — and get help

I did not suffer a mental illness and neither he nor I used drugs or alcohol

To the editor;

I found Dale Bass’s articles on domestic violence in the Jan. 16 edition of Kamloops This Week interesting.

It is difficult for me to revisit the subject of domestic abuse again after so many years, but I do so in the hope my story will empower others to seek the resources available to them today, but denied women in the mid-1950s.  Abused women were not only isolated by their own husbands, but by society as a whole.

It was deemed the victim’s fault for her partner’s violence. I stayed in the situation for many years, not because I liked it, as has been suggested by various people, but because I had children who needed me to stay sane and care for them.

I certainly did not love my husband, but I did fear him.

I did not suffer a mental illness and neither he nor I used drugs or alcohol.

My husband was 16 years my senior, was handsome, had a good job and insisted he loved me and the children. He did not abuse the kids.

As a child, he had been the victim of abuse. The violence in his childhood home was so bad that when he stepped on a rusty nail while fishing, and the resulting blood poisoning caused him to fall into a coma for a week, he was sent to the hospital in Vernon and abandoned by his mother and stepfather.  He was eight years old at the time, afraid, sick and obviously suffering brain damage. I am not rationalizing his treatment of me as being reasonable behaviour, because it isn’t.

I have forgiven him because he is dead, but I have not forgotten the incidents of violence, nor do I think any type of physical or mental abuse is acceptable — because they are not. They changed my life. They robbed me of the joy of being married, of having a home and friends and they took away from me the vibrance of being a young mother.

The morning I discovered he had locked me and the children in the house when he went to work was terrifying.

He tore the phone out of the wall and took my coat and shoes.

When he came home that night, I told him I wanted to leave.

He threatened me with more violence and, when I stood up to him, he pushed me down a flight of stairs into the basement. I had two black eyes, a sprained ankle and a bleeding nose.

He said he was going to put me in a hospital that had locked rooms because I was insane and that I would never see the children again.  He then raped me and tried to choke me.

I left because I realized the next step was probably murder.

I had already lost many battles with authorities who said there was no use helping me because I would just go back to him.

No one would listen to me when I wanted to charge him with assault and rape. I was told the main reason men abuse their wives is because they had a sexual relationship before marriage.

It was still assumed I had given him liberties even after I said it didn’t apply in my case.

The following day, he locked me in again, but a travelling salesman came to the door.

When I told him I couldn’t open it because I was locked in, he hesitated only a minute before asking me if I wanted him to break down the door and get us out. I said yes.

He drove us to his own home, where his wife gave me shoes and clothes for the kids. He then asked where I wanted to go.

I trusted a complete stranger who luckily was a good person. He took a day off work to drive us from Penticton to Kamloops, where I got help from my parents and assistance from a social worker.  What a wonderful woman!  She allowed me to make my own decision. It made me feel worthwhile and did a lot to restore my self-esteem.

I no longer believed my husband’s opinion that I was too stupid to get a job and too sinful for even God to bother with me.

He had threatened me with loss of my children and went so far as to say I would be sent to an insane asylum because it was obvious I was crazy.

My message to girls out there is to take heed of the very first sign of abuse and promises that it will never happen again — because it will.

Beth, Kamloops, B.C.

(Full name withheld at request of the writer)


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