Hey y’all. This is a long-ish story of how much life got flipped and turned upside-down, and I’d like to take a minute just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel Air. (Ok, sorry. Couldn’t resist though.) It is very real and my story. It is worth it so you, as the reader, can learn something and hopefully apply to your own life. Be safe. You cannot know somebody just by looking at them. Get to know their heart and who they really are.
One day, in 2008, I met who I thought was going to be the love of my life. Things were going alright. First everything started out with texting and messaging. Skyping was a bit later but still enjoyable. I knew I had found a great guy soon after I had moved to Florida and didn’t know a whole lot of people.
I drove to his house, where he lived with his grandfather, in St. Petersburg, FL… approximately 3 hours from my place in St. Augustine, FL. I had made that trip after work starting out about once a month then eventually became every weekend. I knew I found a great guy.
Since I lived on an Island, I always ran all the errands needed on the mainland before crossing over that tall bridge to get to the Island. After work, I had to drop off a package to be sent at the post office. There is only one post office in the vicinity so there were not many choices of where I could go to drop off said package to be sent to its destination. The line, sadly, is usually quite long all the time no matter what day or what time anybody needs to go. He had sent me several texts saying that I needed to leave the post office, even though I was close to the front to mail this package, and send the package another time. Naturally, I ignored these texts because I was not leaving til this silly package was sent. There was no reason for me to rush back to the Island to walk into an empty house for nothing. Once I got through the line, I went back to the house and jumped on my computer. He immediately called me on Skype and chewed me out. Naturally, I took the yelling at me and then sort of just brushed it off thinking to myself that he does not understand people have to do everything before going over to the Island because that is a waste of gas. **Red flag number ONE**
As time passed, we got over the argument and moved on with life. Or, at least I had thought. I made many trips down to St. Pete to hang out with my new amazing boyfriend. One time, he had called me and said something like “I need you here. I’m going to hurt myself. Take the day off and come down.” Naturally I freaked out and called my boss explaining that I have to go out of town for a family emergency. I went down there and tried to comfort him as best I could, stayed there overnight and then drove back the next evening after I knew he was ok. **Red flag number TWO**
In November of 2008, we had talked about getting engaged. I told him I would not focus on any kind of wedding plans until after I finished my 2 years of schooling. I needed the schooling to prepare to take the interpreting test for the state of Florida. I said “We can have a long engagement, or a shorter one. The time line will be no closer than two years.” He nodded and then proposed to me shortly before Thanksgiving and right after my birthday. It was a beautiful time, I will admit. He had come up to visit me so he could propose to me by the beach at night. The house I was staying in was 4 blocks from the beach. We walked to the beach, looked at the stars and then popped out the ring. Naturally, I accept and reminded him that I will not focus on wedding stuff til 2010. He nodded, in agreement, and I happily accepted it.
He was very supportive of me being an American Sign Language interpreter. I knew what I was going to do, so he had to accept what my career was going to be or he had to go. He was ok with not knowing where I was going or who I had to interpret for and we just went along our merry way. There was a particular incident that I had to interpret. The experience was something I had never experienced before. He was there for me. Every time I would scream in my sleep or twist and move so much that I woke him up, he would just hold me in his arms and tell me everything was alright. He showed me that he was my protector even though we were not living together at that time.
Fast forward through time, jumping up to January, I moved out of the house I lived in, as I was ready to live in my own apartment. Of course, he moved in with me and he had a job offer up in St. Augustine. I thought no problem. We were already engaged, going to marry in about 2 years and he and I had a job.
He helped me move my stuff, he moved in his stuff and we made things work. Amazing, right? One would think. Sharing an apartment with the one who proposed to you just a short time ago, being in your own apartment and able to cook what you want and not worrying about burning the pans.
Things were amazing, for a while. Then things started to shift. He started to control me a bit more, giving me orders, checking my phone and then things really started. There were times he would get short with me and yell at me a bit. I thought that was “ok” because I had made a mistake or didn’t understand so he got frustrated. Again, I brushed this off and looked past it.
Later on, when I went to work (in a school mind you) he would then have to sniff me down in the nether region just to see if I smelled like sex. He continued to accuse me of having sex with pretty much everybody in St. Augustine. While I was at work, doing my job, he thought it strange if I didn’t text him regularly. If I could not text him in a “reasonable” amount of time (about 5 min or less) he would yell at me via text and then I would be more yelled at when I got back to the apartment. I thought I was going to get in trouble pulling out my phone so often. I was being paid to be there.
The actions he showed started to become abusive. He would still yell at me, accuse me of having sex with everybody in St. Augustine, check my phone for texts and then made me choose.. it was MY choice... I had to choose between: being beat or have sex. Well, I’m no fool. Of course I would pick sex. Sex was better than being hit, slapped or something worse and will have a bruise that I have to cover up the next day. I taught myself how to go through the motions but not get off and not enjoy sex any more.
There were a few actions or words that were said that still remain with me today…
One afternoon my fiancé and I had a fight. I don’t know what the argument was about, but that is irrelevant. I was doing homework on the couch, like usual, and something set him off. He yelled at me and got so mad that he planted his wrist into the picture that was above my head on the wall and splattered glass everywhere. I, at that point, ducked my head down and closed my eyes hoping I would live through this scary part of my life. A few moments later, of course he was hurt and yet he was crying. He cried because he felt bad. I didn’t take the crying too heavily, helped him get the glass out of his wrist and then talked in an authoritative voice, “you have to now get the vacuum and clean up this mess.” He did it, he cleans it. I reminded him in the process that he had to vacuum the couch, the top of the couch and the floor all around it because Squeaky (my cat) likes to run behind, underneath and on top of the couch. I didn’t want any glass to get into his paws. He did. He cleaned up the mess he made and at least showed that he was sorry about what he did.
Think of how a kitchen is set up. Now close your eyes… Yes, go ahead and close your eyes just for a moment. You have the picture? Now let me paint a small picture for you. In front of you from your right moving to the left is the wall of the kitchen, stove and a counter area with the sink in the middle. The counter is specially designed into an “L” shape. The long part is the counters and the sink right by the corner and then a little bar shelf thing that was used to put our food on. He, for whatever reason, got mad at me. Have you noticed a trend that I can’t remember why he got mad at me? I turned around, standing by the sink cleaning the dishes in the corner and he grabbed my wrists. This was not any kind of a gentle loving gesture. He grabbed my wrists so hard and he threatened to break them. Then I couldn't do my job as an interpreter. Luckily for me, he and I were a little sweaty from being hot in Florida and I twisted my hands the opposite direction of which way he could not move his arms and pulled down. He had to let go by losing grip from twisting his hands the wrong direction and the downward movement. I think I surprised him and he backed up a bit when I got in his face. I became a bit gutsier for just a moment.
Things were still getting worse and worse for me. Why did I stay still with him even though he was doing all these things to me? He loved, or SAID he loved me and I truely loved him. He always said he was “sorry” and that he would “change.”
While I was at work, I sat in on a lecture about relationships. The person who was lecturing wrote on a white board “Good things” and “Bad things.” Nothing can be “gray” or “so so” because everything would be that way. He wrote several things that can be healthy in a relationship but then things that were bad in a relationship. As the lecturer continued, he wrote down many things in both columns. I evaluated my own relationship with his list of “good” and “bad” things. This lecture was in about April 2010.
Applying this list to my own life, I made my own list of good and bad things about my relationship. I made this list while I was at work so my fiancé could not see it or know that anything was happening.
There were, then, several times I had called my mother and told her what happened and that I wanted out. I was ready to move on with my life and get out of this awful relationship I was in. I wanted them to help me get him out and dad is present with me because I didn't want to get hurt, talked out of it or even killed. I told her that I wanted to wait until June, after school got out. I understood that I was highly busy during the school year interpreting at different schools and all around the community on top of the schools. I was trying to give him and myself a chance to “mend” things during the summer when I had more time to focus on just US with work in there here and there.
One day when I was working, my fiancé claimed he had arrived back at our place and it was ransacked. He didn't tell me this on the phone via a text. When I got back from work, I walked in to a complete MESS. I’m talkin a MESS! I had 4 wooden shelves that had a lot of displayed items and pictures. All of those items were on the floor scattered everywhere. In the office area, all the papers that were filed in plastic drawers plus more were thrown all around everywhere. I could not believe my eyes. He said somebody came in and did all this. I call the “BS” card. I, to this day, have no idea what he was looking for. I had nothing to hide, well… except for the fact I was slowly planning of how to either kick him out or things were going to drastically change for the better.
He had to go to a meeting that evening. I said, “Ok. I’m going to stay here and try to at least make a pathway from the door to our bedroom then tackle the office.” He nodded in agreement and left. I called my mom, but not to tell her what happened, to ask how my parents’ trip is in New Orleans and see exactly when they were going to get here to St. Augustine. They were soon heading back to their hotel on the bus from Bourbon Street. She quickly said “hi” then a few moments later said she needed to call me back when they both got back to their hotel. “Ok,” I said with no big deal. I hung up with her and then she called me back. Then both parents (on speaker) and I talked about their vacation and talked about when they were going to get here.
After a while, he arrived back to our residence. First thing he asked for was my phone and asked if anybody called. I said “I called mom and dad to ask about their trip. She had to quickly hang up with me because they were getting on the bus to go back to their hotel. Then she called me back when they got back to their hotel.” He, naturally, checked my phone to see if that was accurate. Apparently my mother’s phone number didn't show up in my phone that she had called me back. He, naturally, thought I lied about who I talked to. At this point, I am sitting on the floor as I was cleaning and picking up the office. I had some plastic drawers sitting in the hallway near the door put back together and he started to throw the plastic drawers at me and other stuff he could grab a hold of continually saying “Tell me the truth! Tell me the fucking truth! Tell me what is real.” I had my phone in my hand, shaking while pissed off and I looked at him straight in the eyes with the sternest voice I could muster, “FINE! You want the truth? You want something real? Calling the cops, that will be real,” as I was ready to hit the buttons on my phone to call the police. The next statement I will most likely never forget “If you EVER call the cops on me, they will have to arrest me for murder because I will have killed you first.” Please note the precinct was only 10 minutes from my place and I knew several of the police officers.
Needless to say, I walked on eggshells for the next few days until my parents got to St. Augustine. I did not piss him off and I did not say anything about that fight. I did not bring anything up because at that point, I was scared for my life.
When my parents arrived, I kicked him out with being protected by my father. Then I could really run my mouth telling him exactly what I thought about the past two years. The one thing that I kept coming back to was “If you really loved me… How could you have done all of this to me? If you really cared for me, why did you threaten to KILL me?” He called his grandpa in St. Petersburg to see if he could move back with him and say that I was kicking him out. Grandpa had no idea and he wasn’t going to tell him. I could hear him say something like “What? What happened?” My fiancé was avoiding the question. I opened my big mouth and yelled so he could clearly hear “He threatened to kill me!” Then his grandfather ripped him a new one. Finally he could retreat back to his biological father in West Virginia. He was gone and out of my life.
Being the responsible Kimber I am, I went to his work and said I kicked him out and he had to leave to go live with his family in WV. The owner, who both of us knew, explained to me that he had only applied there but never worked there. He looked at me very confused and I said I was sorry for wasting his time. Now, I realize he didn’t have a job for the past several months so what was he doing? Where was he going? Still today, I don’t know and I really can’t care.
As I was doing a nice deep clean, starting to get ready to move to where I am now, I found a used condom (not used by us) and found somebody’s thong underwear underneath our furniture. The thong was in a ziplock bag and had some kind of writing on it. I was collecting a small box of stuff he had left behind that I thought was important for him to have. For example, his birth certificate, passport, social security card etc. on top of this box, I put the thong inside and wrote on the bag. BUSTED ASSHOLE. He knew. He knew he was busted and I wanted him to know that there was no way I was ever going to take him back. At first, I left the option slightly open if he got help for his un-diagnosed bipolar he could come back to be with me. After I found the condom and the thong, there was no way I was EVER going to take him back. He had the nerve to text me, in July, to say that he was getting help and going to be better. I blew up his phone bad. I was getting ready to go to an assignment for work and I just laid right into him and text him exactly what I thought about everything that I had found out. He knew at that point, when I said “Good bye” that was foreal. I never say “Good bye” to anybody. Good bye is permanent. It is a phrase that I don’t want that person to depart with thinking that we are detached.
After I got settled into where I currently reside, I was convinced by a friend to go and get help. I was having nightmares continuously nightly in September and October. In October, my good friend that I would have trusted with my heart, convinced me to get help from somewhere. So, I did. I thought of contacting a local battered woman’s shelter and see if they have some kind of support classes or somebody to talk to or something. It was a start, right?
I told my friend I was going to go but I asked him if he could be close to his phone. I was highly nervous about going and wanted him around when I would text him for some kind of support, convincing to stay, tell him I’m scared out of my mind or nervous. He kept his word. He stayed “by my side.” There was a room that all of us sat in around a set of tables in a square. Each person went around and said why they were there. I was not at the end, but when they got to me I shook my head and they passed me. Normally, my personality is go first to get it over with. Not that night. At the very end, I shared my story. I shortened it a lot more than the above, but in short I said basically… “My ex-fiancé accused me of having sex with everybody, yelled at me all the time, and threatened to kill me. I kicked him out, with the help of my parents. He is in either WV or TN. I moved here, instead of living in St. Augustine and he does not know I’m here and will never find out.” The next thing that was said is unreal and incomprehensible. One of the head people of the group who work/volunteer at the battered woman’s shelter asked me, “Then what are you doing here? You seem so happy and things worked out for you.” I was speechless and pissed beyond belief. I am a red head, naturally, but kept my cool. I don’t know what I said after that, I was respectful as possible, but my fingers were flyin to my buddy. I did not participate or speak in anything else throughout the duration of the meeting. I almost got up and walked out but didn’t. I did not want to stoop to their level and be so rude. I sat there listening to everybody else to what they had to say becoming madder with what they are saying, what I know about the Children System here in Florida and what was said to me. When I tell some of my friends this story, they are speechless just like I was that day. I struggle, STILL, and they thought 4 years ago… “Why are you here? Your situation isn’t as bad.” Thinking back to that evening, running through all the stories I heard, I started to believe that my situation isn’t that bad. I got out, I don’t have to mess with a divorce, he is gone, he does not know where I live and I don’t have any children in the mix. I’m lucky. I’m still hurt in my heart and my head, but I am a survivor who did not end up in the hospital or 6 feet under.
Needless to say, I did not ever go there again and put a halt on getting help. The next step for help did not come until January to “start out the new year with a bang” and search for help again. I found a psychologist in January of 2011. We met once a week for 3 or 4 months. At that point, neither of us were gaining anything and he said something on the lines of “Well. Since we have said the same things and come up with the same solutions and problems a few meetings now, I don’t think you will benefit from getting my help anymore.” I just shrugged my shoulders, said ok, and left. I knew that would be more money now back in my pocket. The drive was an hour there, hour back and I threw in dinner somewhere because I didn’t want to cook when I got back to my apartment about 9:30 to 10:00pm and work started at 8:00 the next morning. I thought, again, I was a failure because I have now gone through two places that really didn’t think I needed help. Yet, I’m still having nightmares, being scared, and still mentally and emotionally hurt. I did not quite understand but accepted and moved on.
Now, my work has a program with lots of benefits. One benefit is setting up appointments with a psychologist once a month, free via the phone so I don’t even have to go anywhere. The first time I reached out to her and talked to her on the phone, I told her she is my third try. Third try is the charm, right? I explained what happened at the battered women’s shelter. She is still, to this day, surprised that they asked why I was there. She told me couple days ago, “Abuse is abuse. If you can see it or not, if you have children or not, if you have to go through divorce or not, it is still abuse.” Then I told her what was said by the last psychologist I met. She just kind of shrugged that one off. What still surprises her is the confrontation I had with the battered women’s shelter. This lady is STILL helping me with my nightmares (the three stories of the picture above my head, the kitchen scene and the threatening of my life scene) and anything else that comes up. I still have nightmares bad enough that I still wake up screaming or crying because of what happened 4 years ago.
If you get ANYTHING out of this story, remember… Abuse is abuse. It does not matter what kind it is, it is still abuse and go get help. Don’t let anybody tell you it isn’t too bad compared to somebody else's story. Look for signs of red flags. Take care of yourself.