**This is Part 1 of a series of posts…I don’t know how many there will be. As many as it takes, I suppose. November 1st was once the lowest point in my life. Now, all these years later, I am still struggling to find peace in the aftermath…to somehow undo the damage that was done. I have been painstakingly working through the process for several months and feel compelled to share my story.
Please understand I do not share this to invoke your pity or your criticism. In fact, if my sharing adds nothing of value to your life, it is not intended for you at all. I pray someone needs to hear it. Someone will benefit from my hurt. Therein lies redemption.
Please be aware that while this story does not include any specific details of my assault, there are aspects that may be difficult to read if you have walked this path. Please be kind to your heart and read only as you are able.**
I remember turning the deadbolt, but the darkness was everywhere. I couldn’t lock it out. My hands were shaking. A million thoughts and emotions crashing over me as I tried to process what had just happened.
How did I not see it? How could he have done this?
I remember trembling as I gripped my phone. I had to call my neighbor. No, it was too late to call her. Her children would probably be sleeping. My own were tucked in bed upstairs, blissfully unaware of what had just happened.
But she was the only one who had met him. The only one who knew who he was or why he had been there that night. She was the only person I knew in this whole godforsaken place that I was comfortable going to. I’d text her. Maybe she’d be up.
“—- is not a good guy. He’s not a good guy!” I sent,sobbing. She immediately responded, asking what had happened and over the next 24 hours patiently tried to walk me through the painful process of reporting. She kept my children occupied in her home so they wouldn’t see the police car outside and ask questions. She was an angel, and Lord knows I needed one.
A few days before I had gone to her crying, terrified of my now ex-boyfriend. We’d broken things off a few weeks prior, but he would be so sweet and come back, then turn on a dime and be horribly awful. He was drinking again. I was planning to move away in a couple of weeks. I just needed to make it that long. The closer it got to time for me to move, the more erratic his behavior had become. The drinking had gotten worse- so had the screaming,fighting, swearing and threats. He told me he was afraid he would hurt me. So was I.
I’d only lived there about 3 months. I didn’t really know anyone else yet. I had thought I was starting over. Getting a fresh start on life after almost two years of hell going through a divorce. I was going to get away and make a better life for me and my babies. I was so hopeful. So determined. And now this.
How had this happened? How did I end up here, falling apart by the front door?
Well, a couple of days before I had met a man who had expressed interest in dating me. I had politely declined. I wasn’t interested in a relationship. I was still trying to get away from the last one. No thanks. I didn’t need any more drama.
He asked about the ex and how I had come to live there. I had explained the situation and why I was moving. He was concerned for my safety. For the kids’ safety. He said he was fine with just being friends, he just wanted to make sure we were ok. I thanked him for his concern and went on with my moving plans.
Then I got a kidney infection.
It was the day before Halloween. My kids were begging to carve pumpkins, but I was in severe pain. I tried to take them to the grocery store down the street, but there weren’t any pumpkins left. He texted asking how I was feeling. I told him I felt like a lousy mother because they wanted to carve pumpkins and I didn’t have any.
There were pumpkins at the store right next to his office, he said. He’d be happy to bring some by for the kids. I was so hesitant. Should I let him come to the house? But how else would the kids get pumpkins? Would it really hurt? I mean, I was moving soon. Ok. He could bring over pumpkins.
When he had arrived, he had been so great with the kids. He asked them about what they wanted to carve on their pumpkins. He helped carve them and even cleaned everything up so I wouldn’t have to.
The next day he offered to help me take the kids trick or treating around the neighborhood. We got them dressed up and took them to McDonalds where they had a Halloween dance party for the little ones. He danced right along with them. I smiled for the first time in a long time. The kids were happy. Everything about him seemed so kind. Maybe this really would be a good friendship.
We sat awhile on the driveway watching the kids play in the cul-de-sac and he told me a little more about him. I already knew he was a soldier. He only had a couple of years left to retirement. He was thinking of going into law enforcement when he got out. He’d just always had that protective streak. Which was why, he said, he felt so compelled to look after me and my children until we could get out of this bad situation.
While he was there, my ex-boyfriend showed up, so we left with my neighbor to take the kids around the neighborhood for candy. He laughed and joked with my neighbor. She told me he seemed like a really nice guy to her, too. He had told her he was worried about me. He left when we got back to the house and I went inside to put the kids to bed again, but my ex showed back up. He was furious that I had had another guy around. The exchange we had that night still gives me chills to think about. He left and started drinking. I was absolutely terrified. I locked all the doors, pushed the dressers in front of them and sat down at the top of the stairs with my gun. No matter what happened, I couldn’t let anything happen to my babies.
I just had to make it a few more days. Then I would be safe.
My friends were worried sick about me. Then texted, called, sent messages on social media to check on me. This new guy went out of his way to be transparent. He talked to my friends and reassured them that he was going to keep an eye on me and the kids. That he wouldn’t let anything happen to us. He gave them his number.
And then it happened…
I was so caught up in trying to keep myself safe from my ex, I let down my guard. I never saw the monster that was waiting, hiding beneath his shining armor.
He would stop by after work to check on us, he said. We would call the police so they were aware of the situation in case something was to happen. Stay to make sure everything was safe so I could get some rest.
I never saw it coming.
I let him in my house that night. He didn’t break in.
The dressers in front of my doors didn’t protect me.
The gun I had carried everywhere for weeks was out of reach when I really needed it, because I thought I was safe.
My babies were asleep upstairs. I couldn’t fight him. He was so much larger than I was and I couldn’t take a chance that he would hurt my kids. After all…if he was capable of this…what else was he capable of?
It seemed so unreal. How could he do this? He knew I was counting on him to protect me. He knew I was scared. He knew I had no one. Was this what he had planned all along?
I tried to pull away. I begged him to stop. But that only made him angry. I didn’t know how he would react if I really upset him. I couldn’t take that chance. I’d have to just shut my eyes, pray it would be over soon and hope he would leave.
And now here I was. Used. Dirty. Ashamed. Broken. Locking my door…as if it mattered.
Because the truth is…
Monsters are real. So very real.
The problem is, they often look like really nice people…