In 2013 I went to marriage counseling with my wife and things got worse. I went for marriage counseling again in 2014. Things got even worse. Then I just went to counseling for myself. In May of 2014, my counselor recommended that I go to Harmony House. The main issue (I thought at the time) was that although I worked full time and made 80,000 dollars year, my wife wouldn’t even give me money for gas.
My Case Manager had me take several tests and we went over what domestic violence was. I didn’t want to face the reality that I was being abused. I worked through the denial. I didn’t want to leave my wife and my Case Manager never pressured me to. I began to recognize some of the financial, physical, and verbal abuse; but for religious reason I wanted to try to fix the marriage. My wife’s spending caused me to cash out my retirement twice, to pay off her credit card debts. All my 8 years of retirement from Salvation Army the first time, and two and half years of retirement from the State of Indiana. And now the financial abuse had escalated to her controlling my income and not giving me adequate money for gas and essentials.
With my Case Manager’s help I took the money from my job so I could pay the bills and put gas in my vehicle. My wife tried to get me fired at the federal government by ruining my credit and then she called the national and local Assemblies of God in an attempted to get me to lose my ministers license. The result was more counseling in 2015. With renewed hope I thought my marriage could be fixed. However, things got worse as my wife started calling the police on me. I recorded everything on my phone so when the police came I was not removed from the home. During one of my marriage counseling sessions my wife got into one of her tirades. The counselor called the police, she left before the police came. This was the end, I wanted a divorce.
I told my Case Manager I wanted a divorce. She and I began to plan my escape. I knew trying to get free would be at enormous personal cost. I could lose my kids, my career, my job, the house and I was risking my very life. My Case Manager helped me choose a good lawyer because under the now immense psychological torture, physical, financially and sexual abuse I was unable to make good decisions. My wife didn’t work and she was not letting me sleep. She was hiding my glasses and medicine, physically attacking me, not letting me leave the room until I had sex with her. She often told me I was going to go to jail. She was going to tell the police I was abusing her. She was spending huge amounts on credit card so that the bills were so I high I would be unable to pay them and have no money to escape or pay lawyer. I took out a loan and on May 20, 2015 I filed for divorce.
My wife responded by filing a child protection and adult protection order on May 21st. These orders kicked me out of the house and deprived me of all my stuff. The protection order forbade me from having any contact with my kids. She had the Courts ban me from my church and from the children’s school all without any trial or evidence. All she did was fill out two forms claiming I was going to kill her and the kids. The courts did this all on unsubstantiated lies.
During this time of isolation, my Case Manager helped me come to terms with the physical and sexual abuse I suffered. I came to realize that I did not deserve to be treated like that. I did a course on self-esteem and completed three Brene Brown books. From these courses I learned; because bad things happened to me, doesn’t mean I am bad. I also came to stop blaming myself for everything. I also came to realize that I am worthy of good things. I came to know also that it was ok to protect myself and have needs. I learned the importance of self-care and that being nicer and trying harder doesn’t fix an abusive relationship.
Through a long drawn out process of court hearings, common ground, and trial I got to see my kids once a week for hour, then twice a week for four hours. The court staff at common ground identified my wife as the abuser. At another trial I was awarded temporary sole legal custody of the boys. My wife used Facebook and KY3 news to embarrasses and shame me. We were divorced May 27, 2016 almost a year after I filed for divorce. Two years after I first met my Case Manager Brigitte Walker.
The Court awarded the kids to me and ability to live in the house until it was sold. My ex-wife did not follow the courts order to leave the house and return the children to me. The Sheriff had to go into the house to get the children and return them to me. My ex-wife was order by the court to leave the house, but she refused. I was ordered by the court to give her 70 percent of the profit from the sale of the house. I had to file and pay for an eviction notice to be served and the wait 30 days for the police to evict my ex-wife from the house. I had to pay for all these added expenses she caused throughout the divorce and her refusal to follow court orders. I had pay for a hotel for 40 days for me and the kids while my ex-wife lived in the house. My ex-wife did not follow any of the courts orders on selling the house afterwards either, I had to take her back to court for contempt to eventually get it sold. She also did not follow the court orders to take my name off of her title, which left me with the fear of liability for her reckless driving as she had totaled and wrecked multiple vehicles. Additionally, I had to pay my ex-wife 500 dollars a month in alimony, she paid no child support, and the court cost really added up.
My ex-wife also began to abuse our older son on the weekends she had them. I called DFS. They did nothing. I got the police reports and medical reports and called DFS again. They did nothing. The school did nothing when the boys told them about their problems. I filed for a modification and the court date was July 21, 2017. We also had a contempt hearing in June, this caused her to cooperate on the sale of the house, and it was sold within two months. She also singed the form I brought and title for the car in the court room. I took the title and form to DMV and officially put the car in her name. I then had to take the paper work to the court house to put the car in her name there too. I paid all the fees.
My ex-wife did not follow the court order on the parenting times and frequently showed up to places outside her parenting time to cause a scene. Her behavior got our younger son kicked out of karate. Karate was his whole world. He was devastated to have to leave the first karate studio and start over as a white belt at a second studio. And he battled with the fear of not knowing if she would ruin that also. In court the Karate teacher said it was solely my ex-wife’s behavior that got our youngest son kicked out, although she tried to blame it on our son stating he didn’t follow directions and his behavior got him kicked out. The karate teacher said he had over 3,000 student in 20 years and this was the first time he had to ban a child because of his mother’s behavior.
My ex-wife did not parent responsibly on her court ordered times. Her failure to take our older son to Choir and band events negatively impacted his grade and his desire to participate in the events. My ex-wife would take him out of football and wrestling practice early. She would bring him to his football games late, causing him to be benched and not allowed to play in the football game. She continued to abuse both of the boys physically and emotionally, then she would call the police to accuse them of assaulting her. She called the police on our older son 4 times and the youngest once. DFS was aware of this but did nothing. She also told our youngest son the police were taking him away and he would never see his parents or brother again. He started to have panic attacks and be unable to sleep in his room by himself, and I had to find a counselor for him to process this with.
I had to go back to court again in April 2019. I took 10,000 dollars out of my retirement fund and charged 5,000 dollars on a credit card to pay for the new court date, and I still owed my attorney 2,595 dollars after the court date. After that court date, the boys no longer go to their mother’s apartment overnight. The boys are with me Monday through Friday, so they can do sports and band. The boys have no over nights for their safety and also I can take them to their events on Saturday. She can still meet us at the sport event or band performance, if she wants. The court ordered her to pay half the medical bills and 125 dollars in child support at this hearing. She did not paid either in over year with no consequences, I would have to take her back for contempt which would just cost me more time and money. The court ordered her not to interact with the coaches or band teachers. She has continued to do so in very negative way. The High school in January of 2020 took steps to protect our oldest son from her.
The escape from my abuser was over for me May 2020, six years later. It took from May 2014 to May 2020 to get untangled and separated from her. The cost emotionally, physically and financially to get me and my kids free was very high. How could anyone endure this alone? How could anyone navigate this alone? My Harmony House Outreach Case Manager Brigitte was a big help. There was no other way to get such a positive ending for me and my boys. I did everything the courts asked of me. There was no easier or quicker way to get through this. I had to go at the courts pace.
I am still working to get emotionally and socially healthy after 15 years of abuse. I met with a pastor once a week for two years of these trials. The separation took longer than that and church staff was unable to provide that level of care for such a long time. I have also attended a men’s therapy group for last 6 year, they are not specialists in domestic abuse but were still an emotional support. They did not understand the court system or abuse at this kind of level.
I really needed my Case Manager’s empathy, support, and education. I did not have the ability to escape on my own. I was too hurt, wounded and impaired emotionally. I was socially isolated. My ex-wife didn’t allow me to have friends. She would be very rude to anyone I was close to and send messages pretending to be me, and most of them left. I was completely alone when I left. My Harmony House Outreach Case Manager Brigitte Walker helped me to safely leave my abusive marriage and reenter society. I also could not have made it without my attorney Jason Clough and his paralegal Minta Keeler. I needed a team skilled enough to get me out of that situation. They were worth every penny and I could not have done it without them.