Editor’s note: This is the second installment in a five-part series on domestic violence.
DARKE COUNTY — Adele (not her real name) thought she met the man of her dreams.
The 20-year-old Darke County woman got married earlier this year to a person she met last year at the county fair.
“From the beginning, things started going fast,” Adele said. “We met through a dating app, set up a time to meet at the fair and started seeing each other. He was working in another county and seemed put together and established.”
But, things started changing even when they were dating.
“If I would be late, he got upset with me,” she recalled. “I started getting anxious. I always had to answer his texts. I was really stressed out, holding two jobs and wanting to spend time with my family.”
She said it was her parents who were really the first ones to realize something was not right.
“He seemed very controlling to them,” Adele said. “I, of course, was happy. It was no big deal. But, it was causing a lot of rifts between me and my family. I didn’t want to be in the room with Mom because she would always talk to me about it.”
The man she met proposed to her in December.
“We continued dating,” she said. “It got to the point where my parents on Valentine’s Day told me I needed to find some place else to live in two weeks. We were set to marry at the end of March but ended up getting married in February.”
After their marriage and, because he is a member of the military, the couple subsequently moved to a base out of state.
“Over time, there were more and more things he was saying how he felt and got upset with me,” according to Adele. “He said I didn’t care or loved him enough or appreciated him,” she recalled his actions. “What really woke me up is when he pulled out a revolver one time. I was afraid he would hurt me or him. I felt he was being very manipulative but didn’t know. I stepped out of the room after a few minutes. He said he was scared and never held anything [gun] this long and it really scared me and made me fear for my life or he’d take his own life.”
She also said that one time she was feeling down, and he told her she was overreacting.
“I told him I’d take a walk and, when I came back, he locked me out of the house,” she said. “I had nowhere to go. I didn’t know anybody, then finally he let me in.”
She also remembers another time that he had pulled a revolver on her, and the time he yelled at her for eating food too fast.
“I knew something had to change,” Adele said. “I started to have dreams my husband was touching my groin area. I came to consciousness and he was basically sexually assaulting me. I’ve always tried to do what God expects, no premarital sex, etiquette in dating.”
“I hope who reads this story will work on getting out of the situation. It won’t get any better,” she said. “When I got with him, things slowly started to and I felt like I lost control. I had a cloud over my head. I could see it happening but couldn’t do anything about it.”
While her husband was sent on a mission, Adele came back home for a visit.
“The day before I left, my parents said I lost a lot of weight, then I told them about the gun incident,” she said. “They told me to not go back, but I decided to go back. I started doing research on abuse. He never laid a hand on me. He twisted my words, my perception and wouldn’t let me go to the grocery store. I honestly believe he was purposely depriving me of sleep. He was always coming up with big issues we had at bedtime. When he said I didn’t love him, I didn’t know what to do. He would get upset for me always giving up sometimes up to 3 or 4 in the morning.”
Adele has never learned what made her husband, who is four years older, act that way.
“He was never diagnosed,” she said. “I talked to him about his childhood. His dad was military and very strict. His parents split when he was in third grade and his dad raised him. He had no mother in his life. He talked like his dad was a saint.”
Even though they are estranged, she still cares about him and for him.
“What he had given me was not love,” she said. “I wanted what was best for him but realized it was a one-sided picture. The longer I was out and away from him, the more I needed to get my thoughts together. But, he didn’t want to change.”
She left him again for good this time just recently.
“I put him off to work, made his breakfast and told him goodbye,” she said remembering as he walked out the door. “Then I packed, and a victim’s advocate took me to her office, and someone dropped me off at the airport. It was weird, but I had an old phone and took it with me and his dad sent me a message on it. I ended up calling his dad, wondering if I should or shouldn’t. I told his dad what I was doing and that things were not going well. And, he told his son before I had a chance to send him [her husband] a message.”
Adele said it was her plan to keep in contact with the man she married.
“He wanted me home, and I told him I need time and I need space to figure things out,” she said. “After 2 1/2 weeks he gave up. He always treated me like a child. Three weeks ago, I got a packet from a lawyer for a dissolution. It was a little over a month after I left. I can’t live in fear. “
At first, she wanted to work things out between them.
“I grew up in a Christian family,” she said. “I wanted to work things out. The marriage that I wanted to work out is failing. I don’t think God wants people being hurt. My relationship with God has kept me going. When I thought the walls were caving in, I had Him the whole time. My favorite Bible passage is Palms 18: 16-19.”
She went on, “In my research, I believe he is a narcissist, feeding off of the empathy of others.”
Would she ever take him back? “He would have to make big changes,” she said. “First of all, he would have to find the Lord. He was my first serious relationship. When you open your heart and they burn you, you’re not so open to wanting that again.”
Yet, she also believes that in a matter of time, he would possibly have gotten physically abusive with her.
“The biggest problem for me was when I heard the words domestic violence, I thought of bruises on the face and arms,” she said. “‘I don’t have these marks, how am I abused?’ I’d ask myself. I found out he’s hurt me in ways that can’t be seen. He did a number on me and it will be a long time before I let somebody else in. After opening yourself up and getting hurt, it’s hard to trust someone else.”
She said Annie Sonner, coordinator of the Darke County Shelter From Violence, has been an emotional support for her.
“We talked on the phone and she told me there are guys like this,” Adele said. “She’s an excellent person.”
In the spring, Adele wants to start psychology classes.
My goal is to work with people in abusive relationships” she said. “I have gotten myself a job and am working on putting things back together. I’m getting motivated again and get on with my life. If I can make an impact on someone’s life, the pain I went through and experiences are worth it.”