I was married to a good man for 18 years, and we have three extraordinary children. Unfortunately, we had differences that we couldn't work out and divorced in April of 2008. He remains my good friend and is an excellent father to our children.
Only a few months after our divorce, I met a man who I thought was wonderful, and I quickly fell head over heels for him. An Air Marshal and Army Reservist, he had never married and had no kids. He seemed to love my kids, and when we married six months after we met, it felt natural and right.
But soon after we married, things didn't feel so natural and right. His facade began to crack, and lies started to show through. Such as the fact that he had told me and my children that he had a college degree in Criminal Law, but in reality he had never finished college.
When the verbal abuse started, I was not only horrified, but ashamed and embarrassed. It became apparent that I had made a terrible mistake, and yet I remained in a state of denial for several months as the wonderful man I thought I'd married simply faded away and I no longer recognized my husband through all of the degrading name calling and emotional manipulation. I cried nearly every day of the ten months we were married.
One night in February I called the police to remove him from my home because I was so completely terrified that he would physically hurt me or worse. When the police officers encouraged me to file an Order of Protection against him, that was the first time I'd heard those words.
I soon discovered that filing an Order of Protection against my husband was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It was devastating to think that I had to go to that extreme measure to keep myself safe. Especially when I was trying to keep myself safe from the one person who I thought had my best interests at heart. Someone I trusted and opened my entire life to. Someone I believed in. To have to cope with the fact that my husband never really loved me at the same time when I was also dealing with having to file an Order of Protection against him was beyond devastating. It was also an extremely lonely place to be. Sadly, I discovered that for much of the time we were together, he was having an affair with a married woman (who actually provided me with written documentation of their affair). The combination of the abuse and the betrayal have been horrendous to deal with.
I am speaking out and sharing my story with the hopes that I can reach other women who may be hiding in the shadows with their own stories of abuse. The only way to eradicate domestic violence is to lean on each other, stand up, speak out and educate. The main thrust of my message is: you are not to blame and you are not alone.