Into The House of Horrors
“Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character;
and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.”
It’s a scene that I’ve replayed many times over the last 10+ years. I drove that dirt road to the lot where our house had been built only 5+ years prior. A couple weeks before I had carried out a decision that had been planned for a few years. I was about to execute my plan to leave him for good. This was already 14 years later than I should’ve ever stayed with him. However, the way that I had been silenced for many years continues to leave its mark on me today.
The fears of food, body image, decision making, judgment by him and a diminishing self-worth was now fully engrained. Some of the horrors that I lived through at 22 Casey Lane, Petal, MS continue to torment me today. Everything that I knew about living life as an adult was done one way…..HIS WAY. I divorced him 10+ years ago. But did I really leave him? Part of me did leave him. But another has remained in that imprisoned life; on his arm and controlled every since. He told me that I would never get rid of him and thus far, that statement hasn’t let me down.
The day/night that I left him was shortly after his brother had come into our house drunk and pointing a gun at me. My husband told me that once again his brother would have no repercussions for how he had treated me. I soon found out that all of their scary antics over the years had been devised by my husband. “Like Father, Like Sons” I’ve always said about those two men. I had been looking for a way out for many years but was left only seeing myself as being helpless. But this night was different.
When he told me, after having been terrified by the recent gun issue, that nothing would be done to protect me or our house from his brother and hearing his brother screaming, “I have done everything you asked me to do to her!” I knew I had to get out. I still remember watching myself standup a few days later saying, “I’ve had enough of this shit!” I walked out to my awaiting blue Honda CRV while being screamed at every step of the way. What he was saying and calling me was a compilation of things he had said over the last 14 years of insults. I was beyond terrified at what I might’ve just brought on myself in the coming days. Like most cowards threats were made with no follow through.
Shaking from pure fear I drove to my parents’ house only a few miles away like I had done many times before. The typical end result was me listening to and getting sucked back into the house of a man with a silver tongue. He was my husband and my predator. This time I was determined to get out and stay out because it was just too scary now. I was just going to have to “white knuckle” the urges to want to go back. Through the tears and frustration I stayed true to my goal and did not go back.
The only analogy I’ve been able to use to convey how victimization feels is like a crime that has been committed but I did it to myself. You know that a crime was committed but the way of a predator is to negate his or her wrongdoing and put it on the victim. Often times I would be apologizing for something I had not even done. He had me so convinced that I was responsible for his and the world’s unhappiness that no matter what I did I would always be a failure. Hindsight is always 20/20. I didn’t see this while in the abuse. I just kept striving for excellence by his standards and before I knew it 14 years had passed me by. The damage to my psyche would not be realized for another few years.
I would go back a couple of weeks later to get a few more of my things and to pick up my animals. My cats Simba and Nalla, who I had raised from a bottle, and my African Grey parrot, Rocco were my first priority. I didn’t know what I would do with my hamsters, gerbils, cockatiels, ferrets, iguana, outside cats, rats and outside dogs. The rest of my belongings and furniture would have to wait for now. I had a neighbor who was watching my house and would know when he left so that I could get the things I needed safely. I was given the go ahead but was told to hurry. I had driven that bumpy ride down the dirt road and onto the driveway of our house and I was sweating and nauseous from the fear of going back to the house. The fear was paralyzing but my animals deserved to be out of his abuse as well.
When I unlocked the door and cracked it open the putrid odor of death hit my nose never to be forgotten. I didn’t know what it was but something was very, very wrong. I had no idea what I would find but it was about to be a very harsh reality. I didn’t know if he had been murdered. If he had gotten in an argument with his brother and was dead. I just had no idea what I was about to find. I walked down our hallway into our bedroom where the smell was so overbearing. I was already gagging but still had not found the source. I feared finding someone’s dead body. Not seeing anything out of the ordinary I began to walk across the hall to the animal room. What I found froze my tears in their tracks. This was the source of the smell was right here. I don’t even know how I felt in that moment. The animal room was filled with lifeless animals covered in maggots and blowflies. He had intentionally starved and not watered them. The exceptions to life were those couple of rodents feeding off others in their tanks.
I was frozen with fear and disgust that these animals that I had taken care of for years were all dead. Some were partially eaten. Some were cut in half by whatever he chose to do. This room where I was able to escape his torment, if only for a moment, had become a torture chamber for the other innocent ones. My cats and birds all had molded food and no water. My dogs were going crazy in their outside pen. Thankfully the outside cats had scattered. I couldn’t think. I didn’t know what to do. I simply had to react and just save the ones I could and get out and fast. I got my cats and bird out of the “house of horrors.” I couldn’t save my dogs and was told that a few months later they were taken out of their pen and shot in the front yard. I left that day with the harsh realization that the abuse had not just effected me. How do you get over something like that? You don’t.
“Curiously, deep, deep down—and undoubtedly unconscious to them—they know they’re not really what they project. In fact, one of their central defenses (or stratagems) is to endlessly project onto others the very flaws (and fears!) they’re unable, or unwilling, to allow into awareness. As critical as they are about others’ shortcomings, they’re amazingly blind to their own.”