June 2010 – I first met him through my employment. I was HR and he worked for one of our vendors. We chatted in the office kitchen for a while. He asked if I was single and what church I attended and we realized that we attended the same church.
July 2010 – My mother passed away very unexpectedly in her sleep. The following week, he called me for a first date. After just burying my mother, I was nowhere near being interested in dating. We developed a friendship, met for coffee, and chatted lots of times about our own lives. He was just going through a divorce from his 1st wife, which he said was all her fault. I am an empath by nature and I wanted to help him in any way I could. I offered advice and listened to when he needed to talk. For months, we shared lots of things we had gone through in our lives. I was heavily grieving the loss of my mother. I shared with him my finances, which came along with losing her. Like many others who have lost loved ones, I felt my mother’s presence when a certain butterfly would come across my path. I shared this intimate detail with him. During those months, he pursued me. He wanted more, but I was not ready. He met someone else along the way. He told me he was seeing her and I wished him well. Months went by before we ever spoke again.
April 2011 – I picked up a 008 magazine and saw his engagement picture with his second wife. I remember thinking “wow- that was fast!” They got married in December 2011, due to her pregnancy.
April 2012 – I received a text from a random # saying, “How are you?” Since I did not recognize the number, I politely asked who it was. It was him saying he was in need of a friend to talk to. He was going through a divorce, which he said was all second wife’s fault. He came over and vented all about that divorce.
At this time, my son was 8 years old and had been recently diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. We were seeing a specialist in Houston, traveling back and forth. I was a single mom and he was there for me during this time, many times asking if he could bring my son fishing and to see the monster trucks, etc. We began spending lots of time together. He traveled with us to Houston. My son had to be hospitalized for a week in Houston, and he offered to stay with us. He told me that he had tons of vacation, and I welcomed the company and emotional support. (Later I discovered that he had been fired from his job, had no job at the time, yet still got dressed in his company polo each day to keep up the appearance of being employed.)
May thru March 2013 – During this period of time, he showered me with gifts, wining and dining me, doing all the things a woman dreams of. We did lots of traveling and spent lots of time together. We even put each of our homes for sale to move in together as we were planning to get engaged. My house ended up selling in a day and his rented out, so he moved in with me and my son, and we had his three children with his first wife at the times he had his visitation with them. He had a total of four children, although he never claimed nor saw the child born of his second marriage. We needed a bigger space to accommodate us, so I built a home prior to our marriage. During the loan and construction process, my realtor and loan officer both commented that he was very rude, controlling and made them very uncomfortable. I was starting to see some controlling tendencies but he did things in a way of assuming the role of the leader of my home, setting boundaries for my “single mom syndrome” with my son. His dad was also dying for the last few months and he struggled with this, being moody and mean at times. Once, he pushed me into the bathroom counter. I was black and blue as a result of that encounter. I had never come from abuse, nor had a man ever touched me in a violent way. He blamed it on his stress regarding his dad, said he was extremely sorry and I excused his behavior. I also lied to friends who saw my bruises. He would text me from inside while I was on the patio visiting friends, telling me to pull my sleeve down cause you could see the bruises (fingerprint marks)
April 2013 – His dad passed away. At the funeral, his family member asked me, “Are you ok? Is he being mean to you? Is he drinking?” I was floored but could not understand what in the world he was talking about. I couldn’t let it go but couldn’t get this individual to explain further or tell me why he asked that. It struck me that so many of his family members appeared to be terrified of him.
June 2013 – He planned a huge engagement in Kemah, TX, rented a sailboat and proposed to me.
July 2013 – He rushed to get married on July 13, 2013. (I later discovered that this was the anniversary date of his first wife’s second marriage.) It was a daytime wedding and was the weirdest day of my life. I had lots of mixed emotions, uncertainties, and felt as though I were walking on eggshells 24/7.
After our wedding, we got all dressed up and headed out for a nice dinner around 7ish. He was drinking at the table and I could tell getting aggravated easily. During dinner, I said that he needed to begin treating my son like his own now that we were married. I can remember his eyes looked evil. He started cursing and raising his voice. I asked for the bill and hurriedly got out of the restaurant. We left and he drove 90 mph all the way home. I can remember thinking that I was going to die.
When we arrived back home, he took my cell phone and threw it into the road. I walked into the street in my high heels to retrieve my phone, then into the house. He pushed me from behind and I immediately flipped on the wood floor. I asked him, “what the heck? why are you doing this?” He screamed at me and took my keys. I went into the closet in our bedroom to get away from him, and he came at me spitting in my face and calling me horrible names. He pointed his finger at me and pushed his finger into my cheeks saying, “your mother is dead! she is no butterfly!” (Earlier as I mentioned I shared a butterfly story with him about my mom.) He left that night and I called my sister freaking out. The next morning he texted me saying that he had issues and needed help. I honestly believed he had anger issues and was under a tremendous amount of stress and grief dealing with his father’s death. I STAYED. It continued. He slept at hotels once a week with fighting. I had him seek medical attention for his anger.
Between July and December 2013
On the Monday after our wedding, I called his first wife. My first question to her was, “Has he ever hit you?” We shared lots of similar experiences, and we concluded the phone call with the mutual words, “if something ever happens to me, he did it.” I heard her horror story of 15 years, and she was shocked to hear mine. Her last words to me were, ‘PLAN YOUR ESCAPE.’
I did not want to give up on him or our marriage, but things continued to get worse. His control over my life and my relationship with my son grew more and more.
One night, when his three children were visiting us overnight, he started screaming at my son. I went into the kids’ bedroom to ask what was wrong. He came at me and started spitting on me, putting his finger in my face. The kids were screaming, “Daddy, why you hurting Ms. Stacey?” He had me by the ponytail and hit me in mouth, bloodying my lip. My son came at him and said, “don’t you touch my mom.” He grabbed my son by the face and threw him on the ground.
The next day, everyone was sorry. I told my son not to tell anyone that this happened. Every night my son would cry to me. Being I had been a single mom for a number of years, I thought my son was jealous that his mother was with a man and he was not getting my undivided attention that he was accustomed to. I thought it was growing pains of blending two families.
At this point, I started talking to others telling them what I was going through. I found emails he sent his first wife, which were full of LIES! A friend of mine told me he sounded like a sociopath/narcissist. I had never heard the word Narcissist and started reading about it and OMGEEEE, I bought my first book on it and started highlighting the whole book as it was my life! I was living a LIFETIME MOVIE! The light had come on inside of me, but I still really loved him.
I sat my son down and promised him I would get us out of this. It is then my child confided in me and told me all the horrible things that were taking place.
December 2013 – On Christmas Eve, I finally had enough. I told him to get out and we had a heated argument. He packed his stuff and left angry. The next few days my sister gave me no choice but to file for divorce as our oldest sister had been murdered at a very young age and we both feared for my life! I filed for divorce and stayed at my sister’s house for a few weeks as he threatened my life.
I changed the locks on my home. He continued to stalk me. He was seen on my neighbor’s surveillance camera passing in my neighborhood. Strange things were going on at my house.
May 2014 – I was diagnosed with cancer! He continued to send me letters in the mail, plants at my chemo treatments, put cards on my windshield while I was at my chemotherapy treatments. I tried to keep the peace always with him, as I was scared and truth be told, I was still in love with the IDEA of who I thought he really was. I started counseling at this point to get over him and try to make a clean break. My counselor advised me that the best way to deal with this was to go “No Contact” – but that was easier said than done.
***The mental, emotional and physical part of this story is why I chose to be a part of VOICES of Acadiana’s Fab Four campaign. What you have read here is the very short version of my living nightmare. I consider myself an extremely strong, independent woman. I now see how easy it is to get caught up by these types of individuals. Fear is the instrument that keeps you tangled in their web. There are so many women that like me, get trapped and cannot get out. If my story sounds familiar to you, please reach out for help.