Books

The New York Times bestselling memoir of abusive love - available everywhere
26 stay-at-home and career moms face off on their choices, their lives, and their families.
ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP WARNING SIGNS
(from Dr. Phil Show)
- History of past battering
- Threats of violence
- Breaking items in anger
- Use of force during arguments
- Unreasonable jealousy
- Controlling behavior
- Over-involvement in the relationship
- Verbal abuse/​blaming others for problems
- Cruelty to children/​animals
- Abrupt mood changes

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE BEING ABUSED
- Call the police
- Avoid becoming isolated
- Confide in someone
- Fight the shame; no one deserves to make you afraid
- Keep a record (including pictures) in a safe place
- Develop an emergency safety plan -- keep spare keys, money and clothes in a safe place, and know where you can go in the middle of the night
- Consider ending the relationship as soon you can

The Crazy Love Project

Shared Stories of Surviving Domestic Abuse

My Daughter, Left For Dead

October 18, 2009

In the early morning hours of October 14, 2006, my daughter’s car hit a tree head on at a high rate of speed after she had been pursued by her ex-husband, who in his speeding van rammed her car multiple times until it hit the tree and rolled over. He took off, leaving her for dead, not, I think, out of cowardice, but out of a desire for her to die.

Meanwhile, I was peacefully asleep in my bed at our lake house, unaware that my daughter’s life was in such perilous danger. At 7 am the phone on the nightstand next to my bed rang, I picked up the receiver, put it next to my ear and heard my son’s voice relaying that my daughter was in the hospital.

The next few hours were surreal as my husband and I hurriedly packed and drove home. Time seemed to slow even as my heart raced in my chest and I grappled with a sense of powerlessness too big to describe.

Miraculously, my daughter was going to be physically fine, but what would begin for her and her family (including us) was a two week ordeal of hiding, until the perpetrator was apprehended. We moved from home, to hotels, to a small cottage, to an out of state location, to an in-state hotel.

Some of those days we were with my ex-husband, his wife, my daughter and her children, other days we were with just my daughter and her kids. It was a frightening and confusing time. The six months after he was apprehended focused on the court proceedings, until he was ultimately sentenced to only two and one-half years in prison, with credit for six months served. He will be released this October, to a half-way house, where he will have some education on Domestic Violence, which seems too little too late.

Last Sunday, I went to visit the tree. The large amount of bark that my daughter’s car peeled off of the tree is covered over with some black stuff, that I suppose is some sort of healing salve for the tree, yet it remains a stark reminder of what happened and what could have been. Previously, the tree seemed to be a part of the danger, a large immovable object that could very well have killed my daughter on impact. This year, I saw the wonderful old tree differently; she protected my daughter from further harm. She stopped a horrific scene, forcing the car to stop, which allowed my daughter to crawl out the car window.

That morning, I stopped and gave thanks to the big old tree for being there. I felt awash in gratitude for the steadfastness of this gnarly old thing that caught my daughter and gave her a new lease on life.

It’s ironic that this act of domestic violence took place in October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and that he will leave prison in the same month. There may be some larger meaning to all of this, but right now it seems like some weird joke from the universe.

One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). An estimated 1.3 million women are physically assaulted by an intimate partner each year; 73% of violence victims are female. There are 16,800 homicides and 2.2 million (medically treated) injuries due to intimate partner violence annually, which costs $37 billion. One out of fourteen men has been physically assaulted by a cohabitating partner or spouse during their lifetime, with an estimated 835,000 men physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually.

Domestic abuse is a national epidemic shrouded in silence for many complicated reasons; shame, fear of retribution, fear of blame. In fact, I had to push my way through all of these in order to write this piece. But silence only allows this problem to grow. Let’s break the silence on this national epidemic of domestic violence; let’s call for prevention, promote safety of all people, demand offender sentences that fit the crime and offer rehabilitation when appropriate.

Here are some things you can do:

* Educate your self about domestic violence.
* Speak out at home and work about what you learn.
* Buy an empowerment necklace from Avon; proceeds go to domestic violence prevention.
* Buy a pair of shoes at any Marshalls store and be a part of their Shop ’til It Stops program.

Let’s create a lot of noise in October for Domestic Violence Awareness!

--C.

Comments

  1. October 19, 2009 9:23 AM EDT
    I am the "daughter" who was left for dead! Thank you Mom for writing this and continuing to support me. As a survivor I can say that there is not enough support for victims of domestic violence.
    - Anonymous
  2. June 23, 2011 5:42 PM EDT
    Divorced for 30 years now and thanks to my inner strength and a wonderful job, I left the man I truly loved and sucessfully raised our three sons. Only now that he is confined to a nursing home after having been stricken with with alzheimers do I finally feel safe. A wonderful book.
    - Diana Kjendle
  3. January 27, 2013 8:23 PM EST
    I was married for sixteen years to a man that was verbally, and emotionally abusive which ultimately culminated in physical abuse. I heard your lecture, and I recognize that woman. A man who believed in me, until he was loosing control. A man I followed all over the country, uprooted every two or three years, because the job did not meet his expectations... to find out he had similar outbursts with colleagues. I understand the crazy love. It was as if he had no idea or maybe he did, how much I loved him... I thought with enough love he could overcome the demons that seemed to chase him from his seemingly perfect childhood. I grew up abused in every form, and honestly thought it wasn't that bad, until I entered medical school and like him was soon to be a physician and equal. I spoke up a bit more and set expectations, and I was no longer useful or relevant. Crazy is I'm remarried, and everytime my husband, then fiancee, would state something even close to "I'm the head of the household and this is what I think...." I learned to state the question, "Would you care to rephrase that?" It was my way of ensuring that I was not going to be anything but an equal, and that it would be two people making a decision, not one about our lives. I would be lying if I said there aren't days that I would love to share a particular experience, work or culturally related to my ex who would completely understand or appreciate, but I could not maintain any such contact without risking the introduction of evil in my life again. Thank you for putting this together. The most relevant part in my healing was realizing I was not alone.
    - MD also aware
  4. January 27, 2013 10:26 PM EST
    I have lived this sad life. Crazy in love is what I have always called it - he made my knees weak when he looked at me and could make my blood freeze with some of the things he would do and say. They say he hit me in my face so hard it lifted me off my feet I knew I had to leave with no turned back. I admire you for your story you are helping so many get their legs under them to begin the walking journey. Thank you for sharing your story
    - Angela Brooks
  5. January 29, 2013 12:41 AM EST
    Hi Leslie,

    Just caught your TED talk today and I wanted to share my work that I am trying to get noticed and hopefully published. I've been a stay-at-home mom for 7 years and am trying to now get back on my feet...but my ultimate purpose and passion is to bring clarity, insight and true tools to use in order to move us out of a society based on power and control (that leads to abuse) into a society that is ...well more in harmony and balance with itself. I'm starting my speaking career this weekend...much in the format of TED talks. I wish I could financially make this my full time job - but I am not there yet. I would love to see if there is any room to at the very least have a conversation together either via email or phone and perhaps to combine our work together or at least get your assistance in pointing me in the right direction. My blog is www.practicejoy.info....and my website where I am creating a way to help teach/share/disseminate those tools to help people first wake up to abuse and then change themselves is www.practicejoycoach.com. Thank you so much for your time and response!
    - Holli McCormick
  6. February 10, 2013 6:27 AM EST
    I am 62 now, but from ages 18-23 I was in a DV relationship before anyone did anything about it, was perscribed tranquilizers after I was hit with a pool cue, ended up with severe migraines and depression before I finally left. First time he really hit me, he wanted to have sex outside on a public patio, I managed to grab the bathroom door and hang on so he couldn't drag me out by my hair. He slapped my face so hard it knocked the earring out of my ear and left me with a black eye. Unlike conner, he was very sorry and apologetic afterwards which made it easier to forgive. I am lucky I got out alive.
    - Linda Long
  7. February 23, 2013 12:09 PM EST
    Me divorcié de un abusador en 1996, me dejaron sola y me internaron en un siquiátrico, tuve 2 parejas más que eran abusadores y que al final eran contactos de mi ex-marido; mi hija siempre me reprochó el divorcio y terminó yéndose de casa; mi familia siempre apoyó al abusador, mis amigos y compañeros también. Me quitó la tenencia de mi hija y mi vida sigue cuesta abajo. La pregunta a esta altura es ¿debí haber permitido que siguiera abusando?
    - paty montevideo
  8. September 26, 2013 9:22 PM EDT
    I recently saw your Ted talk for the first time. I have not read your book yet, but plan on it.

    I just want to say that it is inspiring how strong you are to talk about it. Being a survivor of abuse is challenging. There is so much judgement from others and painful memories that are easier to stuff away. I often reach out to younger females that are dealing with abuse, and try to help, but it is a whole other can of worms to talk about it publicly. Given how many of my own friends abandoned me after what happened, the prospect is terrifying.

    I hope to use the inspiration you gave me to change this. It's important that people talk about this.

    Thank you!

    - T
  9. November 27, 2013 12:20 PM EST
    I just saw your TedTalk and while my story of crazy love never escalated to the level yours did, all that you said resonated with me. I have never broken the silence as completely as you have, but I have shared my story with some people, and will continue to do so. It has taken me a long time to get to the point of being able to look back without shame and without anger at myself. And I believe that I will never feel the same level of passion and commitment to another that I did for four very crazy years. I am with a very good and sweet man now with whom I feel safe and whom I love very much. And I know that he loves me. I have healed, but there is a tough scar that is a reminder of what was and what can't be. It's a caution.
    - N
  10. December 11, 2013 3:42 AM EST
    I just listened to your talk about your domestic abuse. It rang very true with me, only my situation was emotional and mental abuse. And I keep trying to get back with him after 30 some odd years. He cheats on me, lies, and dominates, dictates, so I struggle with why I still want to be with him. I wrote a book, cathartic for me, talking about living with a Crazy Maker, as that is how I see him. And I left, after 25 years, so badly broken I could barely function So why is it I continue to try to get him back? I even married someone else who followed the same patterns as you talked about, eventually isolating me, and abusing me, again, more mentally and emotionally, never physically. I'd love some help - maybe you can point me in some good direction. I've done therapy, six years, but she was fairly supportive of me getting back with him. There is an incredible bond, four kids, and he has stage four cancer. I feel as if I am the only one who can take care of him, and help the kids through it all. I just want to understand that I can go away and just be me, alone, strong, and not want to be with him any more. And how to actually "move on" as every says, as if it's easy. How to move on
    - The x-wife of a Crazy Maker
  11. March 6, 2014 1:39 AM EST
    Leslie, I must say THANK YOU for sharing your story, and to answer so many questions I struggle to answer people. Their ignorance is amazing, and at the same time, I'm happy they've never experience it.
    I saw your video on TED, and it all came back so clear... I cried. At the same time, I was happy that I left. I have a story to tell you, I would so very much like to talk to you.
    Hope one day could tell you my story, and share my insight on all of this. Count me in any testimonies.
    - Nena

Interviews & Opinions

Find Authors