OOP Survivor Blog

Four women and five children die every day in the U.S. due to domestic violence. Read President Barack Obama's Presidential Proclamation announcing his commitment to reducing the prevalence of domestic violence in our country.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Shit Hole of a Marriage

I do occasionally write fiction, so I guess you could take this blog post with a grain of salt.... ;)

On March 20, 2009, I married Neil Zucconi in front of a Justice of the Peace. My three beautiful children were our maid of honor, flower girl and ring bearer. They were so happy for me. Like me, they believed I was marrying a good man.

Fast forward to our honeymoon in Maui ... it's late at night, in our hotel room where my husband is pacing and yelling obscenities at me, calling me filthy names that I can't imagine anyone ever calling me.
Me: (sobbing, on the bed in the fetal position) I'm sorry I didn't eat ice cream for dessert with you. Please don't hurt me.

Back up to a few months before we married, when he is proudly telling my teenage son about the Criminal Law degree he got many years ago from a San Diego University.

Fast forward to six months into our marriage when things were very shaky, the verbal abuse had done nothing but escalate, and things got even shakier when we had this conversation:
Him - You love me, don't you? (sweet smile)
Me - Why? (holding my breath)
Him - (big sigh) I don't really have a college degree. I lied. I didn't want you to think I'm the stupid shit that I am.
Me - What are you saying?
Him - Really, I don't have a college degree. But I am taking this online class and I thought if I could get my degree online and just never tell you, then it wouldn't matter anyway because eventually I'd have my degree and it wouldn't be a lie anymore.
Me - So why are you telling me this now?
Him - Well, I'm failing this class (because I'm a stupid shit) and I need you to write my final paper for me so that I can pass. And then I can eventually get my degree and it won't matter that I lied to you about having a degree.
Me - So what else are you lying to me about?? For all I know, you could be having an affair.
Him - No, babe. I'd never do that. I love you too much. So ... would you write this paper for me? Come on, you're my wife. It's your duty if you love me.

Fast forward to September, 2010, when a woman discovers my blog and emails me to let me know that she had an affair with Neil the entire time he was dating me, engaged to me, and during the beginning of our marriage until she finally broke it off when his controlling and stalkish behavior started to scare her. She knew nothing of my existence until she found my blog.

Back up to February 9, 2010, when I went to court and filed divorce papers. I was terrified, beaten down by the abuse, beyond devastated, ashamed that I'd ever married him in the first place, (ashamed that I'd ever dated him, that I'd ever kissed him, that I'd ever given him 5 minutes of my time....) and still reeling from four days previous when I had to call 911 for the police to remove him from my home when I was terrified for my life. Shortly after filing for divorce, I filed an Order of Protection against Neil Zucconi.

This man brutally dragged me into the realm of domestic violence. This wasn't supposed to be my world. But since I am here, I am fighting back, sharing my story with any and all who will listen, and spreading awareness to help other women who deal with the insanity and chaos that exist in this realm. This shouldn't be their world either.

Please remember that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Twice as many women die from domestic violence than from breast cancer. Let's stop the violence.

Take what you want
Steal my pride
Build me up
Or cut me down to size
Shut me out
But I'll just scream
I'm only one voice in a million
But you ain't taking that from me, you ain't taking that from me ...
... Sometimes all it takes is one voice
"Strip Me" by Natasha Bedingfield


  1. This is a classic, all too common example of domestic abuse, and your husband was the classic textbook example of a domestic violence offender. Was he ever charged? Good for you for speaking out. You are doing a lot of good to help other women who may not know how to break free.

  2. What a master liar and manipulator.
    You did good, girl. You broke free.

  3. Kristin you are an amazing woman and a very talented writer. Thank you so very much for sharing your courageous story so openly with as many people you possibly can. My current husband's main focus was verbal abuse. I think some times society doesn't comprehend the reality of verbal abuse fully. It can be such a frightening experience for women because the abuser has crossed so many bridges they promised not to its difficult to know if there is an end to how far the abuse will go. Please keep posting! :-)

  4. Thank you, Rosy!! You are awesome for visiting my blog and leaving such an insightful comment. I'm so sorry that you've had to deal with abuse also. It's the worst. And I completely agree that society (and law enforcement) does not get that verbal abuse is just as damaging, if not more so, than physical abuse. They're both violence, and they only escalate over time.

    I heard something very wise yesterday....bruises fade and bones heal, but words stick with you forever. That is so true. I can still hear the sound of my abuser's voice and can envision the hate-filled expression on his face when he called me vicious, degrading names (ie: "you f**king b*tch").

    What kind of a man says that to his wife? On their honeymoon, no less?? And he had vowed before a Justice of the Peace to love and cherish me....

  5. Thanks to women like you Kristin for courageously sharing your story, more people will begin to open their eyes to all types of domestic violence and hold these abusers accountable for their actions.
    My husband was always verbally abusive from day one but as you mentioned, it escalates. His womanizing jokes that I had once thought were harmless and rather just an annoyance, soon become my nightmare.
    Not a week after I married I was a "worthless POS, a f**cking wh*ore...". Not only did he take it out me but also dragged my little ones into the picture as well. He blew up so easily, I never knew when that one day would come that I would take too long making his breakfast and he would end my life.
    I knew immediately after I married him that I was in deep water. I remember one morning I was in the bathroom doing my make-up and he came charging in yelling, "who the hell are you getting all prettied up for?!". I remember begging and pleading with him that day and spending about two hours trying to calm him back down and remind him we had plans as a family. It escalated very fast. By the time I left I truly feared for my life.
    I appreciate your voice and tenacity to speak up for women that are unable to or may never be given the opportunity. Thank you!

  6. Oh my goodness, Rosy, my heart sinks just reading this brief glimpse of what your marriage was like. (Were we married to the same man?!?)

    I think one thing that has been a real challenge to understand is how really great, smart women like you and me can end up married to absolute monsters. It has been so difficult wrapping my brain around that one. I finally just have to tell myself that I can't own this - I didn't do this - he did it. He targeted me, sucked me in, conned me and then hurt me.

    I'm hoping that through all of this writing/speaking out, that we can help prevent other women from ending up with monsters like we did. You make an excellent point that these men need to be held accountable for their unacceptable behavior.

    You are an incredible woman, Rosy, and you're fearlessly standing up and speaking out. You give me strength just by commenting on my blog. It's nice to know I'm not alone in this! Big hug to you!!

  7. I read what you went through and it brought back many memories. I endured almost 20 years of abuse. I have heard many ask my did I stay so long. It too started on my wedding night but I just kept justifying his actions and little by little he had me convinced that if it was my fault. I was to the point of being convinced I was completely worthless. I have raised our three children and look back and wonder how we survived. He led a double life that no one that new him ever imagined possible.

    This is an extremely condensed version: After affairs with women he switched teams and went to men. No matter your sexual preference it never justifies abuse to anyone. As an international pilot he met a kid (19 at the time) and my husband was 39 and brought him over from France, set him up in an apartment, put him through college and bought him a car, etc. All the while I asked to go to school and he accused me of not wanting to be a mother. At times we hardly had anything to eat and barely got by. He plotted to kill me more than once (I found lists and eventually the box in the garage with everything ready to go - gun, knife, rope, tape, shovel, axe, bullets, and so on). Once I found out what he was doing he became more than scary. He did a number on me and took a chunk out of my eye.

    I am now in school. Working on my Judicial Studies AAS and then on to my Political Science BS. I have a ways to go. This Sunday I turn 46 but look far older than I really am. The stress caused my thyroid to not function, my hair has fallen out and I have aged significantly. I had no idea how stress can destroy a body.

    I have been prompted by others to reach out and help others realize they don't have to stay in the situation and it will be hard but they can make it. My goal is to work with abused women and help them stand up for themselves and turn their lives around and stop the cycle of violence.

    Thank You for speaking out. Writing publicly about this is difficult and yet I hope that it reaches someone and know they don't deserve to be verbally or physically abused.

  8. I read what ABC15 wrote about your blog and it brought me hear to read it. I think its amazing that you wrote the blog as so many women can relate. It's so good you ended it fast. Its amazing how similar these guys are. I am 21 and unfortunately found myself at the hands of one of them when I was only 16. Mine was not only verbal it eventually became physical. Luckily when I was almost 19 it was finally over. I had enough, But I didn't know how to get away from him he was a leech that would track me down or show up at my job. Finally I called 911 and they arrested him and that was the end of it. I moved, changed numbers, changed jobs, changed my son's daycares everything.

    It started slow, I remember the day it started. I was going to visit with my girlfriends and he threw a huge fit saying I don't care about him and I cancelled with my girlfriends to prove that I did. Never did I think if you care about me you would get over it. That was the very start years of terror.

    I went to bed when he went to bed, He hated when I was nice to his friends so I wouldn't ever speak to them when they came over then he decided that was because I liked them. If I didn't come home on my lunch I was in trouble, If I was late home from work I was in trouble. I didn't talk much to my family, Nothing I wanted mattered, I cleaned I did everything I thought was right. But nothing I did was right. I was always wrong, It was always my fault, everything was always wrong because of me.

    I don't remember the first time it became physical. The verbal abuse and crippling fear of that was equally as bad. What am I going to do today that will set him off? What can I avoid doing so that doesn't happen? Little did I realize that no matter what I did he would find something wrong that day, some reason to throw a fit. A few specific times come to mind over the physical. I remember being so afraid I would always run into the bathroom and hide thinking that thin door would provide protection. It never did it was hole ridden from all the other times I hide there. He told me just open the door I'm going o get in anyways. He was right. I opened the door. He took my phone and throw it in the toilet. I freaked out he yelled at me saying I care more about my cell phone than him.. When I was freaking out that I had no ability now to call for help. He then made me stand up by pulling me up by my hair.then pushed me into the shower by having his hand on my check. Pushed my face to the shower wall yelling the usual "You stupid b you f****** c***" he then pushed me down by my shoulders, turned the shower on cold (I am fully clothed) and he walked away. Leaving me crying ashamed and in disbelief.

  9. Oh, Nicola, my heart goes out to you. Your story is so painful to read - I can't imagine living through it. It is amazing how similar the stories are of the domestic abuse survivors I've met. We all have been exposed to horrible men who attempted to control us. Seemingly harmless in the beginning, or so you think, but then the insidious abuse escalates until you are more afraid to leave than to stay. Especially if he's threatening you.

    Your description of never being able to do anything right is so true. It doesn't matter what you do because he will still abuse you no matter what.

    I am thankful that you broke free. That is a huge and terrifying feat. I hope you've been able to move on emotionally and spiritually. It's such a hard thing to do. But you have so much ahead of you to look forward to. Thank you so much for sharing your story here. You're awesome. And you will definitely help other women by speaking out.

    Warmest regards and a big hug,

  10. Dear Anonymous above (posted today at 3:25 pm),

    OMG, your story, and the fact that you broke free, is amazing. I can't believe what you've survived. And doubly amazing that you are reaching out to help other abuse victims. Many, many kudos to you.

    I hope your kids have been okay through the years. I can't imagine the challenges you faced as a mom with the horrific abuse going on. You are such a strong and courageous woman. I imagine that your health issues will gradually resolve themselves with time. It's incredible how we are able to heal, even from the worst forms of abuse.

    Good luck with your degree! That is very exciting - you have so much goodness to look forward to in life. And enjoy your upcoming birthday - get ready to start a completely new and much better year!!

    Kindest regards and congratulations,

  11. I have stories for days about the abuse and incidents that occurred. But honestly a lot of the other things upset me just as much. Like calling the police and them telling me theres nothing they can do if I want him to move out I have to give him 14 days notice... Or when I called police 12 hours after an altercation had happened, in which he had choked me while I had a necklace on which had small rocks on it which left some unusual bruises then the police accused them of being self inflicted, because I didn't call right away. Okay when your in this situation its all about survival I was surviving. I pretended like everything was perfectly fine, so I could take my son to daycare in the morning so he would not be affected by any of it. Then as I pulled in at home I called the police hours later.. they show up and claim self inflicted, threatened to arrest my mom was she yelled at the police officers about why they never send women out to DV calls because you probably all go home and beat your wives too (A little dramatic yes but seriously they couldn't have been any worse)

    In fact the time he actually did get arrested and taken away was because when they arrived he had drugs on him. (yes he was also a drug addict that I was completely ignorantly unaware of) So basically if he had not had drugs on him that night I have no idea where I would be now. But when he got his charges for court I was shocked that it was assault "Non violent Non repetitive". As if living through it wasn't hard enough, The fact that I never got any justice for it or validation still makes me upset to this day. It was violent. It WAS repetitive. It was the most horrific thing that had happened so far. And it ment nothing to anybody. To make a long story short, I absolutely hated him for over 7 months now just had no idea how to leave, what to do, where to go, nothing. I was surviving trying my best not to step on a land mine. I had been at the hospital sick (from all the stress) when I returned home I fell asleep on the sofa because I did not want to be anywhere near him. When I woke up at 4 am I decided to go lay down in there. It woke him up. He decided that I had not been asleep on the sofa that I had been out with some other guy and began the verbal and physical abuse. He told me he was going to kill me so many times that night and that if he couldn't have me nobody would have me. I just laid there and took it- I no longer cried at this point. Me crying always made it worse as he would scream and hit harder to make me stop crying. So I adapted and no longer cried during any of it. I lied told him how much I love him and want to be with him (trying to save my life) I do not remember how that ended. I do however remember in the morning waking up and deciding that this is over. I took my son to school. I parked by the side of the road outside of my apartment and called a DV hotline. The guy on the phone told me the names of some shelters to go to. I told them about the police not helping and my family really not wanting to deal with me because of him. I cried as I hung up a massive lump in my throat knowing I couldn't go to a shelter with my 6 month old... I then called his dad told him what had happened and that he is not welcome at my place and he needs to come pick him up. He said okay. I also called the police. Not 911 just the police. I dont remember what I told them but they said they would come. I couldn't face being there I did a U turn and did not return. His dad called me a little while later and said that he has picked him up. I was so relieved. I called the police and told him they don't need to come they said okay. Later that evening I was spending time with my family, when my sister/roommate called saying the police are pounding on the door. She opened it and the cops where looking for him and asked if they could look in the house my sister of course said yes. I told her to tell them that his dad picked him up and that I called to cancel the call and that I was sorry and would be home soon.

  12. So I came home, talked to my sister. I was so relieved I felt like a million dollars. I went into my room, laid my son in his crib sang him you are my sunshine. I was so happy. Until the moment I finished the song I heard his voice "Babe" I felt like I had been hit by a car, there I was thinking this was over. He was hiding under my sons crib. I could not believe this was happening to me. Why hadn't his dad told me he brought him back? Why didn't the police find him when the came in and searched? He got out and didn't say a word to me. Laid down on the bed. I did so also as I went to bed as he went to bed. I was laying there in total fear I knew he must have heard the police knocking on the door. The shock of feeling completely safe to completely terrified had overcome me I started crying quietly. Which I knew was a big no no but couldn't contain it he laid there for 5 minutes then without a warning out of nowhere he turned over and punched my in the side of the head, got on top of me and started punching my chest and trying to smother me with a pillow. Telling me to stop crying and that I called the F****** police on him and how could I do that and that if this is over hes going to kill me right there and the profanities you could imagine. For once I fought back. I had enough of this. My day of bliss thinking he was away from me was amazing and I was not losing that. I manged to slip out of his grip and ran like hell to my sisters room locked her door grabbed her cell phone and called 911. They got there so fast but it felt like forever as my son was still asleep in the crib in my room. When the cops pulled in I was too scared to leave my sisters room, so I through the keys out the window to the officer and I only came out of the room once I saw him being escorted down the stairs in cuffs. My son was perfectly fine, still sound asleep. I am so thankful to this day that he never ever saw any of the violence. They dropped the assault charge. He only got charged with the drug charge He was sentenced to 6 months in Nov of 07, but somehow ended up getting released on my birthday Jan 31 of 08. Nobody notified me. I for some stroke of fate checked the az public records a few days after my birthday just to see, I was astounded that they had released him. Unbelievably he broke the restraining order from the jail by writing letters to me (I didn't read any of them). I have zero faith in our legal system. I felt the charges should be terrorizing somebody, its a lot more accurate to the crime in my mind. Everyday I woke up afraid every night I went to sleep afraid trying to stay still as possible so he would not wake up.

    I think that domestic violence awareness should be taught in sex ed at the schools. I was 16 when I got into this mess. I never saw DV until I was in it myself. I hadn't a clue at first that this wasn't normal, that this isn't how this works, that love is respect not fear, intimidation, guilt. I think that with a little prevention at an early age would be very beneficial. I also have a hard time because, You don't tell anybody, you don't talk to anybody because it makes them uncomfortable, or they think you must be completely insane to be with somebody like that or be completely insane after living through it. You feel as if well its been a few years now I should move past it and not think about it and move on from it. I don't linger on it, but every now and then I want to talk to somebody about it. I sometimes feel resentful towards my family for not helping or stopping it, the police for not helping, the ER staff for not picking up on the abuse when I went to the ER for severe fatigue and anemia 1 day before the final assault, myself for even allowing me to be in that situation. Nothing felt better than seeing a therapist though. To hear the words "It's not your fault" "You did deserve help" "You need to forgive yourself". It was like the weight of keeping all this trauma was lifted.

  13. Nicola, I've read your story three times now and I just can't get over what you went through. The most chilling part was that moment when your world turned upside down - when your ex was hiding under the crib. That gave me goosebumps. It sounds like a scene straight out of a horror movie.

    I was like you - I'd never experienced or witnessed domestic violence until I experienced it, and until you go through it, it's nearly impossible to fully understand how completely it traps you. I used to not have a whole lot of sympathy who were in domestic violence situations - I thought they were too young or ignorant or weak to get out of those relationships. Well, of course now I know how wrong that stereotype is, and unfortunately how prevalent it is. I'm about to turn 45, I'm Ivy League educated with multiple degrees, I'm a very strong woman having been through a lot of challenges (I've lost a son, among other tragedies in my life), and yet my recent experience with domestic abuse literally brought me to my knees and I didn't know which way was up for nearly a year.

    I am appalled by the way law enforcement responded to your situation. That's truly disgusting and disheartening. I know that the AZ Coalition Against Domestic Violence is doing a lot of great work to change policies so that victims are not repeatedly victimized by law enforcement and in the court system. A lot more needs to be done, obviously, and I think it's so great that you're sharing your story so that others will learn of the kind of nightmare that happens too often to victims. The more we spread awareness, the more likely things will change.

    I'm grateful that you are sharing your story and so glad that you are able to write about it - I think writing helps so much in releasing all of that crap that we tend to store deep inside due to shame and embarrassment. You should be so proud of yourself for breaking free and moving forward.

    Another big hug for you,