'The Secret Story'



As I'm sure you must know, there is much more to the story than what has been discussed here. There is a lot more to be said about the seven broken bones and countless black eyes, cuts, unexplained bruises, and markings, over the five years that we were together than what I have told you. 

I am still living with the emotional scars of that relationship. The first year we were apart I began to notice just how badly I was damaged. When I would be on a date, and if the man moved too suddenly or went to put his arm around me, I would immediately throw my arms up in defense, or flinch. This did not please my dates, as oftentimes this was in public and they didn't want on-lookers to think that they were abusive to me. 

I hadn't realized that I did this until it was brought to my attention, numerous times. But, as a good thing, I noticed that I could grow my hair out long without it being pulled out and having to trim and cut it to blend it in. I noticed that I had a more clear complexion.  I no longer had to conceal bruises and cuts with make-up. I could wear short sleeve shirts without trying to always hide the marks and bruises. I gained a little weight and looked healthier, got a tan, started to wear jewelry and not be afraid of being accused of 'trying to look good for someone else'. 

I could go out to dinner and actually look around at the people in the restaurant, without being accused of 'making eyes at someone'. I could laugh. I held my head up and made more eye-contact. I was becoming more fun to be with, less nervous, more at ease with myself and others. It took years to over-come most of the damage.

It's very easy to 'not like' Brute's family for smuggling him out of the state. But try to understand that it was probably the best thing that they could have ever done. If Brute had stayed, he may have ended up stalking me on another night, perhaps after leading me to think that he was over me. I might have let down my guard, and then he could have 'finished what he started' on a different night. 

I would have spent years looking over my shoulder. He's the type that if he ever saw me on a date with someone, he would have snapped, especially after a binge of drinking or drug use. I was able to heal and get on with my life, with him tucked away out of the state. It took me years to realize that fact. I spent many years being upset that he got away with what he did to me. I see things differently now. 

When Brute went out of town to escape trouble, he stayed gone. He has been in trouble with the IRS, drugs, and who knows what else. That's just what has gotten back to me. He married and has a child with this wife. Of course, they divorced a number of years ago.

He ignores the children I had for him. They don't exist, especially my daughter. I know that he and his wife have split up and reunited at least once or twice before they divorced, that I know of. 

I don't know if they have ever had an abuse problem. When you live that far away from people who know that side of you, you can do anything, who knows? But I do know that his life has been much more troubled than mine. Money, power, appearance....those are the things that are important to him and that family. Peace of mind, security, and comfort are important to me. Money and power and 'appearances' do not define me. 

I found out a few months ago (2004)  that Brute is now divorced from his wife. I am not surprised at all. And, of course, his family is blaming his ex-wife for the things that happened that led to the divorce.

His family has consistently blamed others for the short-comings of their own children. It's easier to blame us, then really take a good look at their own family. I accept responsibility for my own faults and flaws, but not these folks. I have never seen a more 'cult-like' family in my entire life.

Why do we do it? Why do we stay for so long with the people who do this? I have heard folks say that they would never stay with a man who laid one hand on them....that with the first hit, they'd be out of there. And like I said before, you never know how you will react in a situation until you are there. 

None of us made plans to be with an abuser. Of course, in retrospect, the signs were there that I was in a tumultuous relationship, right from the beginning. What the hell was I thinking when he admitted to me that he broke his ex-wife's arm by bouncing her off the garage door six times? He told me this during the first hour of our first date. Duhhhh. 

Oh, and of course, according to Brute and his family, it was all his first wife's fault that she got hurt. It's amazing. I could send Brute to the store for something and not see him for days. I was out of everything I needed, having to use pillowcases as diapers, yet, when he returned home and we got into a fight over it, his family was very quick to blame me. I was supposed to give him 'freedom and space'....uh-huh, this was easy to say, considering how his mother never had to deal with this. I was not supposed to be angry. And if the fight turned up violent, it was my fault, always. In his family's eyes, he can still do no wrong.

But today, personally, I know the warning signs that back then I either didn't know, or chose not to see. I am a completely different woman today. And I am not stupid. I wasn't stupid then....not really. So, why do we stay?

You stay because you already have a low self-esteem. Maybe you didn't have an affectionate background. Maybe you felt un-loved when you were growing up. And here's this guy...he's telling you that he can't live without you in his life. 

Imagine that....someone not wanting to live if you can't be in his life. You are the only one who understands him, the only one who cares, the only one he has to turn to, and you just can't bring yourself to being one of the people who turns their back on him, like everyone else has. You have to be there for him. He needs you. You are all he has in this world, his only reason for living.

And you believe this for a long time. You find yourself making excuses for his abusive behavior....he's stressed, if only he could get his truck back on the road, if only he could afford insurance to drive, if only he had a good paying job, if only he had more money, if only the landlord would get off his back, if only the family would get off his back....then things would be fine. 

And what of yourself? Well, if you can 'fix' him...love away his troubles, love him enough, care for him enough, be there for him when things go bad, and they always go bad. If only you could show him that no matter what, you'd never, ever leave him, then he'd be fine. And in the end, you'd be a worthy person. You would be the winner. You would deserve his love and better treatment from him. You will have 'stuck it out' when everyone else failed him, and he wouldn't explode into his rages anymore. 

And besides, you couldn't stand to be a failure at anything else. You feel bad enough as it is. But if you walk out on this relationship, on him, then you've failed at yet something else in your life. Can't you be successful in anything? You desperately need to be needed....you feel better about yourself if someone needs you.

How many of those big green vases from the 'apology-flowers' does a person need, anyway? How many 'I-want-to-make-it-up-to-you' gifts do you really want? How many 'I'm-sorry-for-what-I-did-to-you-last-night' cards are in that shoe box in the top of the closet? 

And the embarrassment. How can you tell people that you put up with an abusive relationship? After all, they just don't understand him the way you do. They don't know what it's like. So, you stay away from family and friends because you've run out of excuses for your injuries. And the funny thing is, when you get an 'honest' injury from a different source, you find yourself desperately trying to explain it away....but if it was from him, you would have been vague and scant about it. 

You feel guilty for putting up with it. You know what people say, you know what people think. You know how everyone feels about him in the family. You watch them fake smiles and warm hugs on holidays, and you know that down deep inside they hate his guts. But they will give you two hours of peace and happiness, because they know that when you get home, he's going to take it all out on you, because he knows they hate him, too. 

And you feel worse and worse, year after year. You can do nothing right. You are too weak to give up, to weak to get out. He's beat you down physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially. And if you were a fighter, like me, you take half the blame, and I still do. I am just as guilty as Brute was. I will always feel that way.

The guilt never leaves you, not really. And if you don't feel guilty for fighting back, you feel guilty for taking it for so long. For possibly putting your children through it. For putting your family through it. For staying in the relationship. You feel stupid....you feel like you don't deserve better....that no one will love you the way he does.

 Well, sweetheart, he's loving you to death!


Copyright June 13, 2000 Cathy Palmer-Scruggs / Catt Alexander


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