My name is Roxanne Martin and I’m a survivor of thirty years of domestic violence.
I’m not quite sure when I actually realized that I was in an abusive relationship. I met my ex-husband in 1987. I quickly realized that there was something not quite right in our relationship. He didn’t allow me to wear certain things and hated when I did things without him. Nothing much, but it did catch my attention (red flags).
My ex-husband and his siblings often mentioned that during their childhood their own father has been verbally and physically abusive towards them and their mother. Their mother left with them many times, but the kids would always beg her to go back to him, and she would.
Over the years, I witnessed first hand how verbally abusive my ex-father-in-law was.
At the beginning of our relationship, my ex-husband and I had been in numerous physical altercations. Most of my memories are of him choking me into unconsciousness. Others are of him slapping me so hard I got a black eye and being unable to hear out of one of my ears for several days.
He pulled my hair out in several spots, broke my glasses, and chased me with a knife.
Of course, there were many times he screamed and threatened me.
I would lock my daughter and myself in her room and sit and rock her back and forth, telling her it would be alright. We spent time in hotel rooms to ensure our safety. I would keep money and the names and numbers of hotels in my trunk just in case we had to leave quickly.
The physical violence did stop over time, but what remained was the verbal and psychological abuse. That NEVER STOPPED! He would demean me by saying things such as how stupid I was for thinking a certain way or believing a certain thing. He would criticize how I cooked, cleaned, and basically anything that I did was not right in his eyes.
He would often criticize me in front of our children or family and friends then just laugh. He may have thought it was funny, but I definitely did not.
Anytime I would try to leave after a particularly bad argument, he would always block my exit, throw things at me, block me in with his vehicle, or chase me down. I would return to him because I could not financially afford to be on my own. He would threaten my family, or say things like if I didn’t come back I would regret it.
…then came cell phones. Great invention, right? Wrong!!!
For those who have been psychologically abused, cell phones are just another way for the abuser to have instant access to their victims. Anytime I would do things with friends and especially with my family, whom he despised, he constantly harassed me via cell phone.
I hated it when his text tone would go off because I knew it would be some sort of threat or psychological manipulation. His threats would wreck my nerves and I’d become sick to my stomach. I would often just leave from wherever I was and go home to his silent treatment.
Our last years together were sometimes “peaceful” in a sense because I had grown so tired of the arguments (which I knew I’d never win). His constant negativity at life was just mentally and physically exhausting!!
We did begin to enjoy time away at the beach. These were peaceful times because no one knew us there and he actually seemed to have inner peace. Again, that wouldn’t last. The second we would wake up on Sunday mornings we would immediately pack up and head home. I dreaded those Sunday trips home. He drove so fast that I was always terrified so I just kept my head down and read all the way home. He had no regard for our safety. Eventually, our beach trips were no longer enjoyable for me.
In 2017, I was involved in a car accident. As soon as my vehicle came to a stop all I could think of was how sad I was; that if I died in that accident, I would have died sadly. I had shattered my wrist in five places and totally crushed it in another, yet all I could think of was how sad I was.
It was then and there I vowed to myself that I would make a plan to leave. I set a date of January 2018.
I had surgery to repair my wrist and went through months of occupational therapy. During that time my ex-husband was so supportive and kind. I couldn’t have asked for a better caretaker. I kept wondering to myself, “Why can’t you be like this all the time?”
When I returned to work that August, I took on extra assignments to make additional money. I set this money aside to prepare for my new life.
In November of that year, my ex-husband, myself, and our daughter took a trip to Pensacola to see the Blue Angels. It was supposed to be a fun and patriotic weekend for all of us. Of course, in typical fashion for him, he ruined our trip.
My daughter and I walked away from him to look at some t-shirts. He called and asked where we were and I couldn’t explain exactly where we were. He began shouting at me through the phone saying things like, “How can you be that stupid that you can’t figure out where you’re at!” I immediately hung up on him. He then called our daughter and she couldn’t explain where we were either. More yelling into the phone. Ruined!!
Then it was time for the night show. (My ex-husband and I had spent time picking out the perfect tickets on the Flight Line prior to us going.) We ended up not being seated where he wanted, so he cursed me out for buying the wrong tickets! Wait, he had helped me pick out those tickets!!! Why was I the sole blame for this??? Ruined!!!
On our trip home that Sunday, leaving at the crack of dawn, as usual, he got enraged at two eighteen-wheelers not allowing anyone to pass them!! Once he was able to get around them, he attempted to run one of them off the road!!! Our daughter and I were terrified and began screaming!! He turned and looked at us and began yelling at US for screaming!! My daughter told him that we could have been killed!!!
His response to her?
“I don’t care.”
That was the final straw.
I work for the public school system so we are off for Thanksgiving break. That week, I cleaned out my closets and placed things in a back bedroom closet. If he asked me what I was doing I planned to tell him that I was bringing things to Goodwill.
I rented a fully furnished apartment complete with furniture and all kitchen needs (plates, glasses, pots, pans, etc.). It would be available on the Monday I returned to work from Thanksgiving break.
I knew this would be the last Thanksgiving we spent together as a family so I was very quiet and nostalgic. You see, I hadn’t told anyone I was leaving. NO ONE!!! Neither of our children, my family, friends, or co-workers knew of my plan.
I knew that if I had involved anyone, they would also be a target of his vengeance.
Each morning, I had lists of things to do and items to take. I kept these lists in my pockets at all times. On Monday and Tuesday morning, once he left for work, I filled my car to capacity with things I knew he wouldn’t notice. If neighbors noticed, again I’d tell them it was things I was bringing to Goodwill. I would go to the apartment and unload my car and go about my workday.
On Tuesday I filed for an order of protection, which I asked not to be served until Wednesday afternoon.
When I got home from work that day, I placed trash bags and Ziploc bags in strategic locations. This would help with the final “sweep” of things I wanted to take with me. Once he left on Wednesday morning, I took my final clothes, pictures, and things he would definitely notice. I left a letter on the cabinet explaining why I had left. I informed him that I had put things in place to protect myself, and for him to contact my attorney if he had any questions.
I backed out of the driveway, blocked his number, called my sister, my two kids, and my supervisor. I then drove to my apartment and unloaded my car for the final time.
I went to work and began my day as if it were any other day. Only I knew it wasn’t. I knew this wouldn’t be the end.
UNFORTUNATELY, IT WASN’T.