I recently was witness to an abusive relationship. I was not in this relationship but I saw the signs. There were never any bruises or cuts or abrasions to warn for physical abuse, but mental and emotional abuse screamed out like an angry, scared voice.
My husband’s niece and her three kids and her fiancé had come to Texas to start over since the sudden death of the kids’ father a few years back. Our niece had met someone who seemed to accept the fact she was now a widow in her twenties with three young children all under the age of eight. Our niece quickly found a job here and started saving money. Her fiancé found a job and had some trouble, but things happen.
At first the hints were small, so minute that I almost didn’t catch it, of course this isn’t the type of thing one goes in search for. I had mentioned he had some trouble with his job. The trouble was, he quit. He didn’t like it there and quit knowing he was now responsible for three young lives. He quit without telling his fiancée, my niece why he quit or that he quit. He just didn’t tell her. When she would ask why he wasn’t going into work, a fight would start. He would yell at her for no real reason.
He didn’t look for another job. Instead he sat around, eating my food, playing my husband’s Xbox, making a mess of my house and not helping to clean it up.
Then I noticed little things that didn’t make since to me. It was my niece’s birthday. My husband’s side of the family all came over and surprised her with a cake and presents. I had made a huge dinner for around 15 people. We were having a good time. The fiancé, left without staying to sing happy birthday or see her open gifts or even eat. He stayed in his room the whole night. I passed it off as maybe he wasn’t feeling good.
The next couple of weeks were pretty hectic. I was preparing my dog for the birth of her first litter, doing some writing projects and catching up on my long list of gifts I need to make and send before Christmas. My niece was off of work that day and wanted to spend it relaxing. She had bought some scented candles and bubble bath. Some of you will understand this is heaven to most girls and women. Just relaxing in a bath with a good book or music or even both, without any interruptions is bliss. He wouldn’t let her take a bath alone. Seriously?! I had the kids making crafts with me and painting. The “adult” was acting like a child. He wanted to go in there with her, even though she had expressed the desire to be alone. I then begin to notice that my room was her only “safe haven”. He had to knock before coming in; I had a lock on my door. She was free. He didn’t like not being able to know what we were talking about or doing. The fights and spying started. He had her own eight year old son spy on her every minute she was away from him while at home.
Is that love? No, it’s not.
He would check her phone. Tell her how to dress, how to spend her money she made. Tell her what she liked, what she disliked. He would tell her he loved her so much, that is why he was like the way he was. When she refused all this, he became physical.
He of course chose to physical abuse her when my husband was at work. Just me, my daughter and her kids where home. I heard a scream. I walked towards the back of the house where their room was. Sounds of violence increased. I banged on the door, it was locked. He yelled at me. “NOT YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS!”
I immediately texted my husband, he called me right away. He was on his way home. My daughter took the kids upstairs to her room for refuge. I called 911. I banged on the door and told him that my husband was on his way home, I called the police and that he needed to let her out of the room. He opened the door and pushed me to the ground. I saw behind him in the dark room, my niece, face bloodied, crying, makeup smeared, shattered soul. She tried to come to me, to help me up. He pushed her back down. I jumped up, ran to our hall closet, got our baseball bat and came back at him. I swung, hitting him in his knees. He lashed out at me only hitting my leg as he went down. I told him he was lucky I didn’t have one of our many shotguns in my hand. He said some flavored words intended to hurt or make me angry. It didn’t work. I was already angry, but not for me, for my broken niece in the room. The police and my husband showed up at the same time. I had told them to send an ambulance for my niece; now they looked at her abuser as well.
Things are calm now. The circus has left town. He spent the night in jail and is now in Georgia, miles and a couple of states away from my niece. She is blaming herself. She is hurting. She misses him or the person she thought she knew. She knows good things are in store for her and her children. She keeps apologizing to me. I tell her there is no need to. I don’t tolerate abuse. Even if she was a stranger and I witnessed it, I would say something. Her wounds are healing, her heart is slowly catching up.