(The following was written by Nicole Polizois and is shared on this blog with her permission.)
FREEDOM IS KEY
This is a story about domestic violence, not the type on the news in recent days, not flashy sexy TMZ worthy blows to the face, and not the COPS version assuring braless hysteria.
This is a story borne out of an early childhood fantasy, one that lingers with me even now– about appearing perfect so I could be rescued by a man.
I found many men, but I married George. An abusive man, in other words, but not just any abusive man. George was the handsome, charming and successful man who declared his love for me on our first date. He always called, sometimes 35 times a day.
A child of Greek immigrants, abandoned at age ten by his abusive father, leaving George and his brother alone with a depressed and helpless mother. His childhood memories blank, too brutal to recollect. He grew up on food stamps and worked as a busboy. He had a paper route. He went to college on a full tennis scholarship.
He didn’t knock me unconscious in an elevator like Ray Rice did to his fiancé. However, he did spit on me in an elevator while I was eight months pregnant with his son on our way to Lamaze class (a waste of his time).
He spat in my face and then came the usual rhetoric: “You’re a waste product.” You’re a shitty wife.” “You’re a piece of shit.” “Aren’t you embarrassed to go out in public looking like that?” “You look disgusting.”
Nothing I didn’t already feel.
No blow up preceded this incident. No alcohol or drug use. This was just George with no cameras to see, I had no evidence. No one would believe me. George kept his demons for only those who could never leave him. Everyone loved George, including my father.
The story is textbook. It escalated from there as it always does. It doesn’t ever get better. It doesn’t go away.
George would say, “I don’t have to OJ you, I’m going to get you to kill yourself.” I heard this so many times, as if recited out of a manual he carried along with his secret cell phone. His threat, if I voiced thoughts of leaving him.
I know why women “don’t just leave.” He picked me because I needed him like a drunk needs a drink. I needed him to take care of me. I believed him when he said, ”no one else would ever want you.” “You are going to be homeless.” “I’m going to take your son away from you.”
I am a statuesque blonde. I am educated and cultured. I have traveled. I speak languages. I roam with the best breed of cattle. I have appeared on the cover of magazines. We lived in a home overlooking the Pacific. I practiced yoga. The Harbor Day room mom. Stella McCartney’s top client. I drove an oversized black Benz. I helped raise millions for Oceana. I attended the lunches and Galas for Human Options. It didn’t matter.
There are few resources available. The law enforcement officers explained, “The Burden of Proof”–so unless the abuser is foolish enough to leave his handprints or is video taped, there is nothing they can or will do. Restraining orders are tough to get, and even when I had one, and he violated it, I was the one who begged the officer not to do anything. The last thing I wanted was to get him in deeper trouble. I still wanted to protect him. Attorneys, even the ones that advertise to be experts on Domestic Violence, will do nothing without a large retainer. They don’t, or won’t understand that the abuser has the financial power. The only accounts my name appeared on were the one checking account I had before our marriage and the $1 Million line of credit he extracted from our house.
His threat to leave me destitute was carried out, and no one could stop him. Forensic Accountants are a joke. The Family Court system is a dog and pony show.
FREEDOM IS KEY.
The moment I let that seep in, I really started to let it all go. I sold my belongings. I ached for the loss of my Mercedes, I still cannot drive by my former home. I remind myself it’s okay. It’s only stuff.
FREEDOM IS KEY.
I have discovered who I am without all of the things that hid or I thought was my identity. I became more than a fancy address and apparel. I stayed on my yoga mat even on the days I thought I couldn’t breathe. I started teaching again.
“Always fall in with what you’re asked to accept. Take what is given, and make it over your way. My aim in life has always been to hold my own with whatever’s going on. Not against: with.” ~ Robert Frost
While I practiced my yoga on a hot September morning two years ago, George lay on a garage floor. He shot himself in the head.
It isn’t the typical ending of a fairy tale, but my son and I are at peace. I am proud of my life now. I have a story I feel obligated to share. I held on in order to let go.
FREEDOM IS KEY.
by Nicole Polizois