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Monday, August 3, 2009

August 3

This begins like another recent blog. Today is August 3.
It's an anniversary of sorts for me. Three years ago
today... August 3, 2006. It was the most terrifying day of
my life. It was the day I left my abusive husband.
I guess you could call this part two of the story. On july
22, I made the decision to leave my husband. However, I
didn't actually leave until August 3. It was the need for
extreme caution and precise detail that delayed my
departure. I would only have one chance to do this. I had
to make sure it was done right.
Those 12 days were so horrible. I had finally realized I
needed to get out of the marriage. I had set the plan in
motion. But for almost two weeks, I was stuck in that
house. I had to pre-teen like nothing was happening. In
reality, my whole life was changing.
It was a chaotic time for me. I didn't sleep at all. I
could barely make it through each day. Yet, I had to.
Inside, I was a mess of emotion. Outwardly, nothing had
changed at all. At no point could I let the secret betray
me. My very life may have depended on my ability to hide
the truth.
To make matters worse, I had no idea what was happening
outside of my home. I had sent an email to my mother and
to my best friends online. I asked for help getting out of
this marriage. That was all the communication we had on the
subject. We didn't dare say more. My husband controlled
the email server we used. He had access to all incoming and
outgoing emails. I couldn't risk him learning of the plan.
So I was left in silence. I knew plans were being made. I
didn't know what they were. I didn't know who was
involved. I didn't know when it would happen. I was
desperate to get out and I was desperate for knowledge. I
had no choice but to wait.
Each day dragged on. I took care of JD. We played together
and I tried to come up with special things to make him
happy. I cried when my husband hurt me. I accepted his
sexual advances, even though his touch made me want to
scream. Each night I lay awake beside the monster I was
trying to escape. I wondered if the nightmare would ever
end.
Behind it all, however, was a bustle of activity. My parents
were in contact with several lawyers and a family friend who
worked for the police. My own online friends and personal SSP
were also involved, as well as others within my local deaf-blind
community. They had come up with various plans. It was like a
war plan. They called it "Operation Escape."
Under no circumstances could my husband know I was leaving
until we were safely away. We could not risk a
confrontation. He could beat me, even kill me. He could
flee with JD and carry out his threat that I would never see
my son again.
We also had to worry about the law. It's not a wise idea to
remove a child from his home county. The court could
decided I had no right to take JD and make me return with
him or turn him over to his father. My parents went over
the details again and again. There would be only one shot.
We all knew it. If we blew it, all could be lost.
I finally found out the plan on July 31. My SSP came for
her once a month session to help me with appointments,
phone calls and opening mail. She needs a name so i'll just
call her Sarah.
Sarah was, of course, involved in it all. She had been
helping me for about a year. For her to come on that
Monday would not alert my husband. It was the safest way to
let me know what was going on.
Sarah took me to pick up my leg braces from the repair shop.
It was the kind of thing she usually did. After, we went
to Bob Evans for lunch. The hard part would be talking
freely without JD overhearing anything. Sarah was ready for
that. She brought her pre-teen aged daughter along to keep
JD busy. While the children happily sat at the bar to eat
their lunch, Sarah and I were able to talk alone at a
table.
It would happen on Thursday, August 3. My parents and a
friend were driving out on Wednesday with two vans. They
would stay overnight at a hotel. Once my husband left for
work, they would come to get me and JD.
Using a speaker phone, I was able to ask my father
questions. Sarah signed into my hands to interpret for him.
After the call, Sarah and I made a list of everything I
wanted to take with me. She would type up the list and send
it to my parents. Each of the people helping with the move
would have a copy of the list.
Once at home again, I began counting down the days to my
Freedom. I counted how many meals were left to be eaten in
that house. I counted down the hours and even the minutes.
Time seemed to pass so slowly. I was both excited and
terrified.
I couldn't pack my things. That would give it away.
Instead, I began to clean and prepare. I had things as
ready as I could get them.
I had a scary moment when I couldn't find the key to my
parents house. It was on a key ring that would identify to
my husband that it was their key. If I didn't find that
key, my parents would have to change their locks. I began
emptying drawers and cabinets as quietly as I could. I had
a story ready about what I was looking for. But my husband
never noticed. I finally did find the key.
On Wednesday night, we went to McDonalds for dinner. My
husband made several crudest sexual jokes and got angry
with me because I hadn't written his new resume for him like
he wanted. I promised to do it the next day. I
concentrated on my count downs. I would not blow it.
It was the hamburger buns that almost made me lose it. On
the way home, we stopped at the store to get bread so I
could pack my husband's lunch. As I picked up the bread to
make his sandwich, I noticed he had also bought a pack of
buns. It was for Thursday night's dinner. It was a
dinner I knew would never happen. I was overcome with
sadness at the thought of a family dinner that would never
be.
August 3 finally arrived. My husband got up that morning
with no idea of what was going to happen. He kissed me good
bye as I lay in bed. I said "have a good day." I knew I'd
never be saying that to him again. I pretended to go back
to sleep. I waited.
When I knew he was gone, I got JD up and dressed. I told JD
we had a special visitor coming. I didn't want to tell him
more or do anything else until my parents arrived. I was
afraid my husband might come back.
My parents, a family friend, Sarah and her son all came to
help with the move. It was frantic and messy. We didn't
try to keep the house nice and neat. We didn't have time
for that. All I could do was sit on the couch as the
others ran about around me. I was shaking with fear. I
didn't know if I had the strength to go through with this.
We had only two mini vans. I couldn't take everything. We
focused on clothes, braille books, my adaptive technology
and special mementos. We got JD's bike and some of the
toys he picked out. Most of his books, toys and stuffed
animals had to be left behind. I lost many of my
possessions as well. I didn't care. they were just things.
We could replace them later.
The house was left in utter disarray.. My husband would
know something was wrong the second he walked through the
door. I had taped a lawyer's business card to his computer
monitor. I left him a message to explain that I was
leaving and why. I warned him not to come after me. I was
ready to call the police if he did. I wanted him to know
how serious I was. There would be no going back. It was
over.
We set off. Speed was crucial but we moved slowly. We
had two vehicles filled to the brink with four adults, a
child, a dog and a ton of stuff. It was 100 degrees
outside. We had an eight hour drive to make. We estimated
that we had a four hour lead on my husband. But he would be
in a faster car without children, dogs and luggage to slow
him down.
We finally arrived at my parents house. It was raining. We
needed to get the vans unloaded into the garage. My
mother's car was stalled in there. We had to jump the
engine to get it out of the way. It seemed like everything
was taking too long.
JD was restless after the long drive. he rode his bike
outside in the rain while my brother watched him closely.
The police and neighbors all knew what was going on.
Everyone was watching for signs of trouble.
I sat inside in a chair. I was still in a trance of terror.
I was thinking of how angry my husband must have been when
he realized what I had done. Three words kept repeating
through my mind. "He has guns. he has guns." I truly
believed my life was in danger.
I didn't know what to do. I was too scared to think. JD
sensed the tension and was worried too. We decided to go to
a women's shelter. It was the only way to ensure our
safety. My mother went too. I needed her for communication
and mental support.
Finally, well after dark, we were settled into the safe
house. I was considered high risk. Still, they were
equipped to keep me safe. JD laughed and played with other
kids. My mother tried to calm down. I just sat there. I
could not talk. I could not read. I could do nothing but
sit. I was truly paralyzed with fear. I did not sleep
again that night.
It was, indeed, the most terrifying day of my life. It was
also the start of my freedom. I wasn't ready to understand
or enjoy that yet. It would be a long time before I felt
safe and secure again. One thing is clear, on August 3,
2006, I found my strength and did what I had to do. Afraid
or not, I made it through. The rest would happen little by
little. One small piece at a time.

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