The Rabbit Hole of Abuse

"They appeared to be the perfect family."
A family friend said. 

"He was not a bad person any little bit, as far as we know," their neighbor said. "Everybody probably has issues behind closed doors that nobody knows about, but these people were the perfect American family."

Yet, Kristy Manzanares was dead. Her head smashed.
Blood drenched the floor. Her husband, Kenneth, covered in it. 

He tried to throw her dead body over the balcony from their room on the Alaskan Cruise ship, when he was caught.

Everybody has issues. Not everyone is a murderer. 

Two phrases Kenneth is now famous for:
"She wouldn't stop laughing at me."
and after he was handcuffed... he said "My life is over."

Chills ran down my spine. 

No. 
Kristy's life is over. You're children's lives are immeasurably devastated. It's NOT about you.

My heart and condolences go out to her family, her friends, and her children.
My heart goes out to all those friends and family of Kenneth who were deceived by him, that assumed his PUBLIC IMAGE was the real him. They were ALL VICTIMS of his betrayal.

My mind began to travel down memory road when the news story of Kristy hit headlines.
I remembered a "CRUISE VACATION."
I remembered being in an argument with my "THEN" boyfriend on a ship. (I remembered arguing MOST nights aboard that ship)

Trapped in that cruise cabin- him standing between me and the doorway. Drunk, angry, telling me to get my own room, be dropped at the port, my children and I could find our own way home. 
Our argument was over my frustration at being the only sober adult, it was lonely. 

Nine shots of rum into the evening perhaps wasn't the best time to bring up my feelings.

Like always he threw his tantrum, and eventually collapsed onto the bed "sleeping it off."




The next morning, it was as if nothing had happened.

When the article about Kristy came out I remembered that feeling of hopelessness on that boat and my heart ached for her last moments. 

The moments when the man you love changes into the one you are trying to survive. 

My best friend asked me "Why didn't you ever tell me about that?" referring to the story I just shared. 
I shrugged. 
"Well, I made excuses. I excused the lying, the deceit, the yelling. When it's over and he behaves lovingly and we are laughing- it just all kind of goes back into the closet, and you move on." 
Until the next time.

I reflect upon that relationship journey as a lesson of how I sold myself out. The red flags I "looked past."
The first time he was hiding alcohol in his gas station cup at a family party, or in his coffee mug while he drove, only weeks into our new relationship. 
I CHOSE to ignore it and excuse it. 

The first time I caught him lying to me, I CHOSE to give him another chance. 

The first time he called me the names I've only seen and heard in movies screamed at women by the "bad guys" I excused it. When he apologized, I CHOSE to believe he wouldn't do it again. 

I thought when he doted on me, drove me places, walked me out, bought me things- it was for me. As I've been learning about abusive relationships and studying- I've learned that those things were done to "BE THAT GUY." 
I was a player in HIS script. If I didn't play the ROLE he required I was condemned. 
He needed to be the one who bought everything, to walk in the with pretty girl on his arm, to fix all the things around the house. It was never about me- it was about his image of him. 
I didn't know better. I thought it was about loving me. 




This article on Narcissism is helpful to any of you who may wonder if you are in the situation I was:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/communication-success/201409/10-signs-youre-in-relationship-narcissist



The last day of our relationship was Independence Day. 
In abusive relationships, there is almost ALWAYS a double standard of behavior.

It was the first time I threw something during an argument.
He was allowed to throw things in arguments. I wasn't. 
I threw my make up bag at the door. When it hit- a picture fell off the wall. 
The picture falling was the red cape flashing to a bull.

For the fourth time in our relationship I found myself pinned to the ground while he screamed at me, threatening me and calling me names. 
But for the first time, I hit him. 

At the time, I didn't feel like I could emotionally survive another episode. 

6 weeks before when this had happened, I was trapped for hours. Lying in the fetal position on the bed; (on a different "vacation")- unable to escape the horrible things he was saying to me, the threats he was making. 

I didn't laugh at him. What if I had? Kristy Manzanares did.
Did she finally "break"? Did she finally laugh at the craziness? At the irony? At the gap between what "HE" pretended to be in public versus what he was behind closed doors?

I'm embarrassed for not leaving 6 weeks before. 
But, just like MANY women (One in Four according to national statistics) I stayed. 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/23/domestic-violence-statistics_n_5959776.html

The next morning as he cried (like he always did the next day) I forgave him. I believed him when he said he would never drink to the point of losing control of himself again and put me in danger again. 
So, we regrouped. 
After all. 
Just like Kristy's husband. He was the "perfect" guy.
We had the "perfect" relationship.
And for 6 weeks, it WAS "perfect" again. 
The flower delivery guy knew my name by now. 

The card said "I love you."
which meant "I'm sorry, I'll never lie to you or hurt you again."
and for weeks I pretended I BELIEVED it. 

I grew stronger I thought, learned the true meaning of Forgiveness I thought, welcoming him into my arms, my bed, leaving the past behind. I was FINALLY learning what UNCONDITIONAL LOVE was... right? 

After all, THIS is what LOVE was. Right? 
I was sinking down the Rabbit Hole... one step at a time. One small justification at a time. One kind gesture at a time... those things that I felt outweighed the moments when he was cruel, jealous, vindictive,  and suspicious. 




I was the one who would hand him my phone at dinner to "hold" until we were finished eating. 
"It just really bother's him if I take a call when we are out to eat." 

I didn't see it as controlling- I thought he was just a "hard" personality.
In fact, I was proud of MYSELF for being able to be in relationship with someone who was SO hard headed and STRONG WILLED. 
In my "crazy" I rationalized that it takes a "strong woman" to be in a relationship with someone with a difficult personality.

I thought it was "normal" to always be "working through something." 

In a sadistic way- it meant we REALLY loved each other. Right? To be working through something- for US. It PROVED our love.

That morning, Independence Day, I spent a half an hour being held against my will. Every time I tried to stand or leave the room- he threw me on the ground, on the bed, blockaded the door and screamed. 
I screamed too. 
I feel like I REALLY DID GO crazy that day.

I remember him holding me in the air, my feet dangling above the ground; bruises forming on my arms as I screamed "I hate you!"

When he grabbed my phone, smashing it in half and pouring water on it so I couldn't call for help; I was finally able to run out of the house. 
He caught me before I reached the neighbors, and dragged me across the gravel into his vehicle. (This is NOT kidnapping. Right? Just being a dedicated passionate boyfriend. Right?)
Every time he stopped the vehicle- I would try to get out, so he began driving through intersections and stop signs speeding at over 100 mph on the highway.

Looking back, I realize I was afraid, but at the time- I thought I was angry that all the photos of my daughters birthday were on my phone and lost forever. 

I smashed his cigarettes in his face. How stupid that almost ALL of our arguments were that he lied about smoking. 

When he was caught red handed lying... it was MY FAULT for not being unconditionally loving. 

So, I TRIED to DO better. Over and over again. 
Roses delivered again, shelves built in the house again, yard work done again, grass mowed again. 



When I threatened to jump from the vehicle he drove faster. I opened the door, "If you try to jump, I will crash and kill us both." the way he said it, I believed him. 

Ultimately, he dropped me off on the side of the highway. I hitch hiked to a friends house.
A day later his best friend drove hours to get me. 

That same friend sat across a table from me at Zupa's one night and said to me "Katie. RUN."
He also said he couldn't spend time with me anymore or he would lose his best friend. 

It's been over a year, and the PERFECT guy, still "JUST HAPPENS" to park next to my car in an empty parking lot every so often when I'm walking out of work. Once in a while I see him driving by my house. 

And I STILL rationalize for him.
Perhaps it's ALL just circumstantial. 
After all.... he's moved on. 
After all, he's SUCH a "GOOD GUY." I was the crazy one.

Just like I rationalized every red flag.

Abusers have double standards. 
They have an inherent belief they deserve to control others, but are dangerous if they feel like they are being controlled.
I didn't KNOW I was in an abusive relationship. 
I viewed his control as dedication. I was PROUD to have him so devoted. 


I sold myself out, continually trying to APPEASE him. I began considering HOW he would feel or REACT. I began to measure my actions and behaviors on whether or not I would upset him. I didn't know I was being controlled. I thought I was being a "GOOD GIRLFRIEND."

I didn't think this was abusive. I just thought he was sensitive. When you love someone, you always consider their feelings and sacrifice your own. Right? 

THREE different friends said the same words to me. "Do you know this is abusive?" when I shared about arguments he and I had had. 

"No." I would shake my head  "YOU know him. He's SUCH a GOOD guy. He treats me soo WELL." I would QUICKLY backtrack.
And, I learned to BE SILENT.
I STOPPED sharing about any of our arguments. 

I protected HIM.
I didn't want ANYONE to think he wasn't a "GREAT" guy. 

I didn't want to be the VILLAIN that made him seem like a BAD guy for just a "TINY" lapse in all the "Perfect." 
After all, he ALWAYS apologized. 
He regrouped and was MORE doting. MORE kind, MORE attentive and LOVING afterwards. 
He was DEDICATED to showing me HOW much he was sincere. 
My ROLE was to be GRATEFUL. 
To be proud of him. 
After all, HE had gone through SO much. 
His control was just a form of "LOVE"
He loved me SO MUCH, was SO afraid of LOSING me, that's WHY he had to hold on so tight.

The Rabbit Hole.

"I love you more than anyone I ever have, when you say you'll break up with me you hurt me more than anyone else ever has- so that's why I try to hurt you back. So you understand what it feels like."

He only pinned me down when he thought I was going to leave him.


So... I wouldn't threaten to leave anymore. 
I would be MORE COMMITTED. I would PROVE to him that I LOVED him no matter what. I would BE UNCONDITIONALLY LOVING. I would introspect on why my EGO didn't want to be with someone who drank a bottle of rum in 2 days or smoked around the clock.
I WOULD change so that our relationship could be better. 

I would process my VANITY. 
That's what it was, right?  


"If you really loved me- I could DO anything and it wouldn't phase you." He would explain. 
He would assist me in recognizing my FAILURES. 
"Why do you choose to be hurt by the names I call you?" 
he would assist me in being better by this coaching. "If you were truly at the level of enlightenment, names wouldn't hurt your feelings. So what isn't healed inside of you that this is triggering?"
You see, he's a life coach. 
I listened, and tried to work on myself. 

The Rabbit Hole.

I'm embarrassed to say that after that Independence Day... I didn't block his calls, or Facebook or cut ties and stand alone. 
I would think a rational woman would. 
But what is misunderstood, is how beaten down the PSYCHE of a woman is at this level in a relationship. 
Most of us STILL believe the abuse is a temporary phase.





I agreed to give him time to "work things out" with his addictions. 

I believed if he could JUST STOP getting drunk, or release his tobacco addiction, he would stop lying, stop saying cruel things, stop hiding and deceiving. I was convinced it was the chemicals and poisons inside him, NOT him. Without those, it would all be ok. 
(Statistics say that in 40% of violent crimes, alcohol is a factor  https://www.vox.com/2015/6/15/8774233/alcohol-dangerous)

It's massively confusing to have the SAME person who is the MOST loving and kind person in your life simultaneously be the MOST cruel. 
They are one and the same, and we believe that it is US that makes them so. That however WE ARE is what makes them show up as one or the other. 
Is this Reverse Narcissism? 
I REALLY BELIEVED that if I could FIX me, everything would be okay.

I, just like thousands of other women, didn't want to give up all the great things about him- the generosity, the laughter, the car trips, the back rubs, the heart to heart conversations, the feeling of not being alone, the idea that I had someone to face life with, the security of knowing if I needed him, he would be there. 

If he could just kick his habits, he wouldn't BE ABUSIVE anymore.

I just wanted the ABUSIVE MOMENTS to stop. If THOSE would stop, our relationship would truly be PERFECT. It took a long time for me to let go of the belief that it would all PERFECT eventually.

And...I kept silent. 
I wanted him to have the freedom to BE the WONDERFUL person he TRULY is as a SOUL of Light, Son of God. If I shared or spoke about it, then people would judge him and it would mean that he may not have the freedom to stand in that SPACE of his true MAGNIFICENCE.

So I kept silent. 

I watched him life coach. Stand on stages. Perform. Talk about me and what a judgmental girlfriend I was. (The real reason I left, according to him.)
I listened as our mutual friends would reach out in pity towards me, to assist me in seeing what A GREAT GUY he was, perhaps if I could release my judgement, I would be able to have the best relationship of my life back.

After all, they were there to assist me in seeing how I sabotaged the relationship by being so rigid in my "right/wrong" stance. They didn't know the truth of what had happened. 
And still, I kept silent.

The day I FINALLY told him to leave and not contact me in any way, he stood at the doorway, his parting words were: 
"No one will ever love you as much as I have. You will come crawling back to me." 

And, I kept silent.

Just like thousands of others of women, we don't want to point fingers or make someone "LOOK BAD." 
Just like thousands of others, I didn't "Rat him out" because I didn't want to be "THAT GIRL." the one who was "STUPID" enough to be in one of "THOSE" relationships.

My PRIDE shackled me. 
How could I admit that I had made excuses, I had believed, I had ignored red flags. 
I LOVED his family, his kids. If I shared, they would be hurt.
If I shared, I was afraid he would try to destroy me. 

I knew that because of his "PUBLIC IMAGE" people would think I was a liar. 
I didn't think I was strong enough to face the back lash.

I didn't think the women who I speak to every month at events would still listen to what I have to say. 
They would know I truly was the hypocrite.
Telling them to own their voice and be powerful, take a stand for themselves- when I hadn't done so for me.

Why? Because he was SUCH a GOOD GUY.
Because he does SOOO much for everyone. 
Because he's fun, intelligent, successful, dynamic, handsome, kind, and generous.

I didn't want to hurt him.

I still don't.

Just weeks ago through a mutual friend of ours he sent a veiled threat.

He said "She's trying to ruin my life."
These words echoed the same as Kenneth Manzanares' on the boat; "My life is over." instead of acknowledging the effect their actions have and had on others.

But, I'm not here to be silent anymore.
I'm here to share because I know there are thousands like me. Thousands upon thousands.

One small silence upon another, upon another, teaches people what is acceptable behavior. It heals BOTH sides of abuse when we own our voice. When we declare and follow through with what is and is not okay.

I feel like Kristy probably kept silent. Kept secrets. Made excuses. Chose to believe the best in Kenneth. 

She protected him.
When people who knew them and their family were shocked, when there are no court records of abuse or a trail leading up to this... it's not because there wasn't abuse or control going on. It was because of silence. Believing something would someday be different. 
One red flag excused after another. 
It was because many of us PROTECT those who don't protect us. 
She protected the ILLUSION that they were "The Perfect Family."

I can only believe that she believed they would be.

I'm NOT condemning Kristy. SHE did everything to protect those around her, the MAN who killed her, her children by keeping a family together, but in that process of self-sacrifice and LOVE, she wasn't able to protect herself too and yes... was sacrificed for his reputation. "She wouldn't stop laughing at me." he said. His "IMAGE" was crumbling, he couldn't control her any longer.

One by one, as we share, we heal. 
One by one as we are open and accountable, then we can shift the statistics.

One by one, we can learn and educate. 



Photo credit Hannah Celeste Photography



I didn't know I was in an abusive relationship.
I thought I was in a challenging one. 

Get informed. 
Speak the truth. 




Finally, my last word of guidance: Healing takes time.
It's okay to be okay before you speak.
But, get okay. 
Don't hide things to protect someone else. Reach out somewhere somehow. Your speaking doesn't mean you publicly write a blog. For you, it may be telling a trusted friend or counselor. 
It's okay.
You deserve it.
You deserve to be heard. 

Here are some links to research for yourself.

Top 10 Signs of an Abusive Man

http://www.celebratelove.com/salexander.htm


30 Signs of Emotional Abuse

http://liveboldandbloom.com/11/relationships/signs-of-emotional-abuse

Domestic Violence Coalition

http://udvc.org/



Read the article I'm referencing here:
http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/28/us/alaska-cruise-man-kills-wife/index.html


Get involved here: 
www.sheroesunited.org







Comments

  1. There are two points of view to every story. It breaks my heart that you only see your fictionalized perspective.

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    2. My heart to yours. It's crushing when someone so seemingly wonderful has their monsters in the closets revealed. Having a hero fall is heartbreaking for all who love them. I only have compassion for all the friends and family of them, and trust that everything will heal.

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    4. W
      This Twitter obviously has issues of there own. Lol wow. And yes to each there own buy it was about it that's why own killed... Now and then we all need the spot light , why take it away from someone that clearly owns it right now.
      Geese. His life is over from his mistake he was simply stating a fact dude.
      Wow talk about self centered !

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  2. Thank you for being brave enough to share.

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  3. Thank you for breaking your silence. I hope that someone reading in a similar situation will find the courage to declare their own "Independence Day" from an abusive relationship.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to reach out.

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  4. Omg. What "fictionalized account", Keri Glazier? You are so desperately wrong. No one who is bruised and willing to jump from a speeding vehicle isn't a victim. Katie Jo, your stories are exactly as they happen in real life. If other people want to be asses, fine, but I read the truth in what you have written. Thanks for being one more voice to be heard about this.

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    1. Thank you so much. I stand by what I wrote. And absolutely wish no one any harm because of my speaking. It's in effort to heal the whole. No judgement just relaying and experience in the effort that we can all "lift" with awareness.

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  5. Amen and Amen. I love and appreciate your brave voice. Thank you, sister.

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