AKRON, Ohio — Here’s something you might not know about the holidays. If someone is in an abusive relationship – vacations often make it worse. Schedules, family commitments and financial stress can exacerbate the situation.
While we often talk about physical, mental and emotional abuse, have you heard? Pets Abuse? This is when a partner threatens to harm or take away your pet in order to gain control over you.
Melissa knows this experience firsthand. In fact, even the night before her wedding, she recalls that her friends tried to “out” her.
“(I told my friends I had to go through with it because) my parents paid all this money. All these people came from out of town. It’s going to be okay.” Melissa recalled. “It didn’t end well.”
Melissa married her college boyfriend. She says the abuse started with him yelling and throwing things. And then, it grew.
“He was punching me, and I went to a friend’s house and was like, I’m ready. They don’t move as fast as I wanted them to, so I was like, it’s OK, I go home. So I packed up the dog and went home and then this happened,” she said. “He dragged me down the hall into our bathroom and strangled me over the tub, which he did. Did it many times before. My fear was that eventually he wouldn’t let go.
She says that was the moment she knew she had to get out. But she couldn’t forget what happened every other time she tried to leave, which would result in her husband threatening to take their dogs to the pound.
“It was a big scare. When I went to the police, one of their comments was why don’t you go away? And I said, I can’t. I have animals.”
She was smart, she knew she needed to plan her escape, but leaving the hunt was the most dangerous time. Statistics show that when abusive situations often turn deadly. Making things even more difficult, Melissa says that in the moments they were being attacked, she knew her dogs were helpless too.
“They were so scared that they were never really there during those events,” he reflected. “They’ll just hide.”
Melissa left. He is assisted by Hope and Healing Survivor Resource Center in Akron, is in treatment and says she is now living in freedom. But admits she still has memories that haunt her. And so are his children.
“Now my dog too, a friend of mine comes over and messes with him and he sits there and just shakes. And I tell him why he does that. He’s still scared. Even after a year and a half, he is afraid,” said Melissa. “I think it took me a long time to get out, but the timing was right. I’ve been able to find out who I am. I’ve found my purpose, which I believe is helping others. Because I will talk openly with anyone only if someone will listen to me.”
To contact the Hope and Healing Survivor Resource Center in Akron, click Here Or call 330.374.0740.