Our system of help for women in bad living situations is broken.

Now that the divorce is over I can spill the details and believe me when I say Lifetime or the Stepfather movies have nothing on my marriage.

I dated my now ex for two years, we were engaged for one year, and then the “I do” bit went down, as did any love or respect he was pretending to have for me over the last three years.

Two weeks in he spanked me as though I were a child because he didn’t like that I disagreed with him. He did so in front of my father who chose to ignore it and would later let the monster back into the house three times after I had thrown him out. (Dad would later continue to site that he “Didn’t want to get involved.”) My ex progressed to controlling every aspect of my life. I wasn’t allowed out of the bedroom. I wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom unless he watched me do so. I had to watch his choice of tv viewing. I was not allowed to read. I was not allowed to bathe myself. I was not allowed to say no to sex, and the more I said no the worse it was. If he was in a really good mood and I had dodged most of the land mines that day and the stars were in perfect alignment, he would let me crochet. That was about the only “break” I ever got. He had our home phone disconnected so I couldn’t call for help and the only time I ever had use of my cell was under close watch. A few times I had been away with it but knew that since my parents couldn’t wrap their heads around what was going on and mom being so ill, I had no place to run to. I knew it was going to have to get MUCH worse before it would get better.

One day, a few weeks after his father had died, his mother called his to help her fix something. By some miracle I was allowed to stay in Springfield and I knew that ready or not, this was my chance.

The very second his car vanished from view I set about making police reports both in Springfield and Joplin, then I drove to the station and filed for a restraining order or RO for short. Well it was a long process and I had a lot to report, the whole time I’m doing this my parents are leaving angry messages about how they want dinner and dad NEEDS cigs NOW!!!!! Calling me everything but a nice person. Once complete I pick up smokes for dad and head home only to get chewed out as to where I might have been… When I told them where I was and what I had done they lost their minds. I was the bad person. How dare I drag him through the mud?!?! You get the idea. Well then they send me to Wendy’s to nab drive thru…. It was then I received the call from the state. My request for a RO had been denied. I was sacred and pissed but then my phone rang again. It was my husband. “What the Hell? You filed for a restraining order?!?” My heart felt like it was going to explode! I know there is no way the state contacted him several counties away at 10pm so I knew one or both parents had to have ratted me out.

I told him it was over and I was not talking to him anymore and hung up. When I got home I told my parents what happened. They both played dumb rather poorly and dad added “Well good. Maybe this whole thing will just blow over.” I freaked. I screamed. Then I packed.

I was able to reach a shelter in Bolivar that had a bed and I took off there. I turned off the GPS on my phone and in the middle of the night made a mad break for shelter. I was there just over two weeks. At the two week point my parents clued in and began to believe me. At the last day of my stay my full bottle of OxyContin was stollen from my locked locker and the only spare key is kept in the office and can only be accessed by a staff member.

My second stay at a DV shelter was here in Springfield. I was just about to go to court for the divorce when I had spotted my soon-to-be ex’s car in my neighborhood several times. Dad had also since gone downhill and while both parents have always been verbally abusive, he had taken to shoving me around as well. I had decided it would be safer to hide out for a bit. It was a great plan too until I caught a cold and had an asthma flair that landed me in the hospital for a week. Once released, I was deemed “To big of a liability to have around.” and set back into the Hell that I had just left. The same Hell I sit in today.

I am typing this behind a locked bedroom door on my phone, hoping, praying, trying, and dreaming that maybe the next day will be better than the last.

I am the woman the system has failed. I am the woman who was failed by her family along with it. I am a heartbeat away from being homeless or dead because I wouldn’t have a place to store insulin. I am anyone of us, at any given moment, should one tiny thing so much as shift.