Someone who is desperately looking for something to fulfill them will keep looking until they find it. Ebony was searching for love and approval and, although she continued to choose abusive men, she couldn’t escape this pattern. Abusers know whom to look for in their victims and Ebony was a clear target. Her deep-seated insecurities would only allow her to see her own failings and shortcomings. She blamed herself for not being loved and could not see these men for who they really were; she loved them despite how badly they treated her. Dick was the next relationship in Ebony’s life, and he would turn out to be the worst one yet. This part of her story is important because it shows a clear picture of how someone gets into an abusive relationship and why they stay in it.
After her life-threatening experience with Ricky, as told in Ebony: Part 1, Ebony had finally given up on that relationship and tried to move forward. Unfortunately, she was dealing with her pain in unhealthy ways and had not gotten the help she needed to be able to have a successful relationship. In the beginning of her relationship with Dick, as per the “Prince Charming” phase, he was attentive, charming, good to her son, always around to help with things around the house, generous, caring and her family loved him. She was not physically attracted to him but he was a Christian and, after all, isn’t it all about the heart? Ebony was tired of being alone and felt like the trauma she had undergone wasn’t understood by her family and thought that Dick would be the cure for all her problems, but instead, he turned out to be a living nightmare.
NOTE: As I write Ebony’s story it is important to point out the behaviors and excuses that, to the ordinary person are obviously wrong, but to someone who has been a victim of domestic violence they are rational. This is because of their damaged psyche that doesn’t believe they deserve any better.
The first sign that Ebony noticed about Dick was that every evening, he would drink four to five beers plus a bottle of wine; then he would try to be intimate with her whether she wanted it or not. She didn’t like this, but her rationale was that he just loves me so much that he wants to be with me. Her drinking increased as well. She also noticed that he was very shifty when it came to being on his phone and would immediately delete text messages after a conversation was done. One evening, they were both drinking and got into an argument. She asked him to leave and he forgot his phone. She looked through his text messages and found a conversation with a female co-worker in which he was sharing private information about Ebony. This betrayal hurt her deeply and, enraged, she drove to his house the next morning. She yelled at him about it and spit at him. Until this moment, she had not seen any serious level of anger in Dick, however, he chased her into a room, grabbed her and slammed her into the wall. The pain was so bad that she thought her shoulder may have been dislocated. She ran out of his house with him chasing her and headed toward her car. He picked up a propane tank and threw it at her and it narrowly missed her. As she sped home, shaking in disbelief, she knew in that moment that she should not marry him. But later that day he came over with roses and, although he apologized, he manipulated her to believe that it was her fault.
In a 24-hour period, Dick had betrayed Ebony’s trust and had revealed a serious level of anger by hurting her physically and threatening further harm with a heavy object. This should have been the end of this relationship, but it wasn’t. When asked how she rationalized his behavior, here is the thought process that she went through:
I can’t possibly tell anyone because he is selling his house and moving in with me. Where would he go? If only this didn’t happen. I have to be here for him and give him another chance. Besides, I spit on him, and who does that? I was in the wrong and I should be ashamed. I DESERVED that type of treatment. How could I make him upset like that? His reaction was my fault and I need to be better!
When Dick came over ‘to apologize’, he knew how to manipulate her into believing that his behavior was her fault. She was not right to yell or spit at him, however, that was not a justification for his angry reaction and physical attack on her. The abuse had just begun, and she played right into his manipulative tactics by taking responsibility for his actions.
Sadly, the plans for getting married remained in place. They agreed to a destination wedding, however, Dick had demanded that no one be at the wedding except he and Ebony. She convinced herself, that he only wanted more of her to himself, so she agreed. The trip to The Bahamas was miserable and Ebony felt a heaviness in her heart because she knew she was making a mistake; however, she didn’t want to disappoint her family. They got married and got drunk that very same evening. The next morning, completely hungover, her nightmare in hell truly began.
In Ebony Part 1, I talked about how any behaviors seen in dating will worsen in marriage. In Ebony’s case, the honeymoon phase lasted for only a day. Dick immediately laid out of all his expectations, which included having sex every morning and doing whatever he wanted her to do. The first night of their honeymoon, they started to argue and, because he kept shoving her to the floor and she hit her head, she had to call security on him. The following morning, he explained that it was all her fault for something she had said to him. All her fears were confirmed, and she was stuck in yet another abusive marriage. She was fearful that she was bringing this awful man home to her six-year-old child but knew that it was her fault. She promised herself that she would do better, be nicer, comply, and do what he said to keep the peace. Predictably, the real control began as soon as they returned home.
There is a method that abusers use to slowly break down their victims which includes isolation, manipulation, fear and intimidation. Dick was a master manipulator and Ebony pretty much had no chance against him. He now decided when she could talk to people…even her family. Ebony’s relationships with her family became non-existent and they had no idea that she was in a living hell because, whenever they were around, he made everything seem perfect. If Ebony was on the phone for any amount of time, he would show that he was angry and make her feel uncomfortable until she hung up. Because of his explosive anger, she lived in a constant state of fear and anxiety. Things continued to escalate and she could no longer do anything that would please him. To make things worse, he began to play mind games with her. For instance, he would hide the box of plastic wrap in the cupboard and, when she couldn’t find it, he would then tell her she was crazy. Everything she had previously done in life was not allowed to be spoken about because it made him feel jealous about her success and travels. Dick broke Ebony down to the point that she felt worthless, hopeless, lonely, and utterly trapped.
The only saving grace she had was that he was still putting on the façade of being a Christian and they attended church together. Everyone who met them thought that Dick was the sweetest guy because he was so personable. He agreed to go to a small group and this is where I was introduced into Ebony’s world. An abuser’s greatest power is a victim’s silence. As long as the secret is kept a secret, he holds all the power. But once the silence is broken, so is that power. I had a feeling something wasn’t right and, once I found out the truth, all bets were off because he had been exposed. This was the beginning of the end but she had a long road ahead of her before she would escape. Next time I will write about the roller coaster she would take and still not fully escape Dick’s manipulative clutches.
Until next time, stay safe.