Category Archives: Why Battered Women Stay

The Last Straw-Attempted Kidnapping of Our Daughter

The last straw in our relationship–the decision-making tie-breaker– (attempted kidnapping of our daughter) occurred one day in late winter. My grandmother had let slip to my now-ex, that my mother had said that he was lazy and wouldn’t work and that she now was starting to agree. My ex decided that I was to no longer speak to my mother until she apologized to him. A few days later, he was scrolling through my phone to
his sister’s new phone number” into my phone and found that I had called my mother. He was livid! He’d wanted me to tell her that I wouldn’t talk to her until she apologized. I didn’t. He asked, “Why not?! Why were you hiding it? Because you know it’s WRONG?!” He said he was going to drive to his office 45 minutes away to get some info off of his computer from where I’d left the first time. (Who knows what THAT could help!) When he saw that I didn’t seem to care, he said, “and I’m taking (our daughter) with me!” We moved to the bedroom. He ordered me to get her ready. True to form, I started getting her shoes on, then said, “No! I’m not helping you get ready to take her!” He put her shoes and socks on while saying, “I’m going to take her and there’s nothing you can do to stop me!” I said, “Well, I’ll do everything I can to stop you!” There was NO way I was letting him leave with her, as he had threatened to take her away before and said I’d never see her again. (Real good for your 2 year-old daughter, huh?!) He’d planned on running off to his family’s if CPS was going to take her away from HIM. (They never threatened to take her from ME, as I wasn’t the one being aggressive in front of her). At this point, he left the room and I got out my recorder. He didn’t know I had it out and was recording the altercation. Our daughter was still with me, of course. I wasn’t going to let her out of my sight. When the argument moved into the living room, I laid the recorder on the kitchen counter under some papers so it would be sure to record clearly and so I could have my hands free. He was getting stuff ready to go so I had a little time in between to arrange it. I tried to keep the conversation out of the kitchen, to avoid the looming proximity of knives. He grabbed her from my arms and tried to take her out the front door. I blocked the door. He opened it anyway. He pushed me out of the way. I yelled, “Help!” out the open door. No one was around. We lived in the middle of nowhere with no neighbors near. I grabbed the keys from the key-ring clock, sending it smashing to the ground. I didn’t dare grab for our daughter as I was afraid she’d get hurt and didn’t want her to be in the middle of a tug-of-war match. Then, my recorder malfunctioned (this could only happen to ME!) and started playing back our recorded conversation. We stood there for a moment trying to figure out what had happened. He was livid. He flashed me an evil look. I went for my cell phone which was laying on the counter. He knocked it off onto the floor, away from me. He said, “What are you gonna do, call for help?” I said, “no”. I knew that would be impossible. He said, “Good, because I’d be long gone before anyone got here.” I knew he was right. I reached for our daughter. He was holding her in his left arm. He had a crazy look in his eyes. With his right arm, he grabbed my by the neck, then instead of choking me, like I thought he was going to do, he just pushed me down onto my knees. Our daughter flew away from him from the push and she started crying. He didn’t drop her, but she was flung pretty severely and was pretty shaken up. I think he realized then what he’d done. I think his first instinct was to strangle me, but he couldn’t go through with it. He knew it was wrong and even HE couldn’t do it. (OR was it that he knew the consequences of killing me? or was he afraid he couldn’t physically DO it and I’d kill HIM?) He then said that I had the power to stop this, that if I called my mom and told her that I wouldn’t talk to her, he’d stay. Frankly, I didn’t want HIM to stay, but I wanted to keep him from taking our daughter. I wasn’t scared so much of him physically as I was that he’d take our daughter. He proceeded to tell me that this could all be stopped if I’d just call my mom and tell her that I was not going to talk to her until she apologized. I agreed to do it. He finally handed her to me. She had been crying and reaching for me. My mom knew the call was coming from our conversation a few days before, so she didn’t think anything of it. What she didn’t know was what had happened just prior to the call. I was hoping she’d hear our daughter in the background repeatedly crying to me, “Why did Daddy try to take me?” My mom didn’t hear her. After a brief, awkward, mostly silent conversation, one of us hung up the phone. My N-ex asked, “Do you WANT this to work?” At this point, I had NO desire to make it work, I just wanted to keep us safe, so I said, “There is nothing I want MORE than for this to be the relationship that I want!” That part was true, but I knew it would NEVER work if he didn’t make changes or even SEE that he had a problem. He backed off then. This took place in late morning. We had been having problems getting our gas to stay on. We had to keep going down and fixing it at the valve. Well I say, “we” because he wouldn’t let us out of his sight. I continued to be solely responsible for our daughter’s care but he watched me like a hawk, afraid I’d leave. And I WOULD have! So, three times, we had to walk about 1/4 mile downhill to check the gas. Me and our 2-year-old. Later in the day, during our daughter’s nap, as I was laying with her (as usual) the heating repairman came. I considered putting up a “Help!” sign in the window but I was afraid of how the repairman may respond. I was worried that he’d either tell my ex or that he’d not understand my sign. I hated to involve someone else but I was even more afraid that he would tell my ex somehow and it would make matters worse. So, I didn’t. He insisted that we go for a walk in the evening toward dusk. We walked out to the field. I was a little scared to get out where no one driving by could see but it wasn’t anymore isolated than in the trailer where we lived. We made hay houses out of the leftover hay with our daughter. It was a very tense walk.

He asked, “Where are we?”

I said, “I think we should separate for a while. I have some sorting out to do.”

He replied, “So you think it’s better to work it out without talking?”

I said, “I just need some space to figure out what to do.” Then he tried to get me to admit that everything that happened that day was my fault. He wanted me to say that it was all my fault that “it had to come to this”. I eventually admitted that it was my fault, even though I didn’t believe that it was. I was afraid of telling him what I REALLY felt. Then he asked, “So, will you write on a piece of paper that this relationship problem is all your fault?” Finally, I got mad and I said, “No! This relationship problem is NOT my fault and there is NO excuse for what you did today! It doesn’t matter what I say or do to you, there is NO excuse for that!” He said, “Ha! I caught you lying on tape! I recorded it on my phone!” I don’t know what he thought he was going to accomplish with this. He probably thought he could manipulate me with it. Later that night, he gave me a hug and said, “Sorry about today. That was bad.” That was the first and only apology I’d EVER gotten from him in seven years of marriage. He was back to the guy I had loved. He was calm and loving. That night, after I got our daughter to sleep, he ran his fingers through my hair till I fell asleep as usual while we were watching the tv show he knew I liked, as usual. But I’d seen that look. That scary, crazy, insane look. My gut said “Leave”. I knew if I didn’t leave now, I may never get another chance. I knew I had to go.

…And You Let Her Go (Why We Stay)

There’s nothing sadder than seeing your child cry when they have to leave you and forcing them to do it anyway, even when they are only going to their other parent’s house. Our daughter often says she doesn’t want to go to Daddy’s. I don’t ask her for this information. She tells me. She tells Grandma. She tells her cousin. She doesn’t want to go. She cries because she has to go. She cries when she thinks about it. In the car today driving to the

drop-off location, I looked back to see tears streaming down her face in the silence before the sob, mouth open, face red, tears coming down. We had decided to walk the last little bit of the way. I ended up carrying her instead, arms wrapped around my shoulders, legs wrapped around my waist, in one big, last, long hug. She won’t hug or kiss me in front of her Daddy. She knows he won’t approve. She is only allowed to hug him. She knows she is to pretend that she loves HIM more when she is with him once she gets there. So, it was the last hug she was allowed to give me until she saw me again. She didn’t want to let go until he takes her from me. She doesn’t fight. She knows it’ll hurt his feelings if she expresses her true feelings that she doesn’t want to go with him. So she went. It is just so hard to let them go… And you let her go. 🙁

I’m of course, referring to the song “Let her Go” by Passenger. My daughter watched the Budweiser commercial repeatedly, which has the song on it. I found the commercial on YouTube after the Superbowl. I thought she’d like it because of the Clydesdale horses. She did. After she’d watched the commercial a few times, she started to sob. I asked why she was sad. She said it was because it makes her think of having to go to Daddy’s and leaving me. I think the part that got her were the lines “only hate the road when you’re missing home” and “and you let her go.” She knows how hard it is to let me go, and how hard it is for me… for ALL of us. Kids know so much more than we give them credit for sometimes. It has never gotten any easier for either one of us. We accept it, but it’s just as hard saying goodbye now as it was in the beginning. It makes you resent the other parent, though he has a right to see her too. It’s just hard. No one said life was easy, I guess. I know it’s not easy for him either. If anyone asks why a person might stay in a bad relationship, even where there is physical abuse, this is one of the reasons that we subconsciously know. It hurts to be separated from your children! It hurts every time they leave. It hurts

them. It hurts us parents. Let someone who doesn’t understand that go through leaving their children for 5 days at a time or more for some mothers. How would they feel if they only got to see their children every other weekend?! I strongly believe that the fear of the worst (which sometimes happens, by the way) causes some parents to stay in a bad relationship. It is often less scary than what COULD and sometimes DOES happen.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be beat than lose my child. The court system isn’t fair. (See One Mom’s Battle link to the left under “Resources” for those who don’t already know). Am I sad I left? Hell no! I’m SO glad every day of my life that I’m free… but there are downsides too. It’s something you can’t imagine until you go through it. My point is: don’t judge someone without knowing the circumstances. Battered women stay because they have good reason to. It is an extremely difficult decision to make and there are thousands of factors to be weighted that those that have never had to go through it may not realize. I was fortunate enough to get out after only one comparatively minor physical incident (and years of verbal incidents). While it would seem that more severe violence would mean an easier decision and a hastier exit, I believe it would lead to more conflict about sending your children to live solely with the abusive parent, even if only for a weekend every other week. Who is there to protect them? It is a society-imposed nightmare that no one should have to live through and few truly understand. Children DO end up with abusive parents, both verbally abusive and physically abusive. It IS scary. REALLY scary, sometimes, scarier than living with someone who might hit you every once-in-a-while and appear to love you the next. …Chime in readers! 🙂