When I would hear stories about women that stayed with abusive men, I used to secretly ridicule and question her sanity as to why she would stay. Is it that she feels she is not worthy? Does she have low self-esteem, no respect for herself? Boy is she stupid. Then it happened to me. It all starts out so subtle. A quick lash out of anger. A short temper. Bouts of impatience. You brush the signs aside initially because you think to yourself, “We all have moments when we have an outburst. We all have moments when life frustrates us. We all have job stress”.

In between these moments, I had amazing, fun times with him. Many laughs. He seemed so worthy of me. He showed warm feelings towards me, everything was perfect. He said and did the right things to reel me in. I was on a high. He was beaming, I was beaming. Life is perfect.

I grew up having respect for members of the law enforcement community. I still do. It is a thankless job that most people dare not venture into. It is a job that takes courage, strength, wisdom. When I see a man or woman wearing the badge I immediately think I am safe and secure in their presence. This is what I initially thought when I met him.

We met online. Doesn’t everyone in this day and age? I did not know he was a police officer when we initially started communicating. After a couple of online exchanges, he revealed that he is a police officer. When we met, he had been in law enforcement for 20 years.

Dating a police officer is a bit different that dating a “regular” guy. Members are usually intense type-A personalities. They are suspicious of most people they encounter and rightly so. They are astute observers of their environment, as they need to be. Not every man you go out in public with carries a weapon or two. They see things day in and day out that you and I will never see and never understand. Murder, blood, child abuse, rape, robberies. They encounter citizens every day that lie to them, evade them, and try to out maneuver them physically and mentally. After many years it takes its toll – mentally and physically.

I understood this to the best of my ability. I made it my responsibility to be light-hearted, loving, happy and humorous whenever we spent time together. I wanted to be that pleasurable beacon of light that he could come home to. I wanted him to forget the pressure of his workday. Yes, even in small town Colorado, there is stress in being a cop.

In the beginning, he was on his best behavior, as we all are. Kind, loving, affectionate, funny. He spoke of building a future together. I actually believed him. I believed in him. I guess I am naïve. After all, why would a man at 45 years of age need to play games, manipulate and lie? Especially when one holds a badge. Shame on me for holding him to a higher standard of behavior.

Up to 40% of domestic relationships involving a police officer are abusive. Abuse can be physical, verbal and mental. In my case, the abuse I suffered was verbal and mental. He was controlling, manipulative and verbally abusive. In law enforcement, members are trained to have an authoritative and commanding presence. To take control of the scene, to be manipulative and deceive to extract information, to have an intimidating physical presence to get people to comply. Imagine what is must be like to encounter this in a relationship…

Levels of abuse escalate over time. It started off with sarcastic comments. Initially, I blew the comments off because we all have a tendency to make sarcasm a part of our interactions occasionally. It increased and became more personal. When I would take issue with it, he would flip it back onto me by asking if I am really that sensitive. (Gaslighting) His impatience seeped out more and more. He started to take little jabs at me. While this was happening to me, I was filing everything in the back of my mind for a reason. It did not feel right. When you describe this type of abuse to people, they do not recognize it as abuse initially. I know I didn’t.

I had never been in an abusive relationship. I wasn’t sure if he was reacting to the stress of his profession, was having a sort of mid-life crisis. I just didn’t understand it, but I stuck in there because I am a happy, loving person and I could make him better, right?

He had alluded to his past relationships as being abusive. Now I realize that I should have asked more questions. Women that had cheated on him, a woman that had slammed his arm in a door, slapping, hitting etc…..Punching a man out at a bar that cheated with his girlfriend at the time. Would I have received the whole truth and nothing but the truth? I believe that I would have received half-truths knowing what I know now about him. All of these incidents and he is the common denominator.

He has stated that his mouth has always been troublesome for him. That he has a problem with authority, that he questions authority and it has landed him in trouble on the job. He has stated that the people that he works with have a tendency to go around him and up the chain of command when they need to question something. Knowing what I know now, I can see why his officers went around him. I should have taken this and other things stated above as huge red flags and ran, but I did not. I wanted him to return to his behavior when we first met. I believed he would. Unfortunately, the man I initially met was not the real man.

Eventually, his behavior escalated from moodiness, negativity and snarky sarcasm to fits of anger. If I did not live up to his standards, if I did not say intelligent things (as perceived by him, of course), if I behaved in a goofy, funny way, I would usually trigger a reaction from him. Not a pleasant one. I can’t even begin to count the number of times that my jovial attitude was described as “disturbing” by him. I realize now that he is an unhappy person and his demeaning comments to me were designed to erode my confidence in myself.

After being on the receiving end of his “discipline”, I would start to tear up. If we were in public, I was told numerous times to, “GET IN THE CAR”, “DON’T YOU CREATE A SCENE!!!” If I did something as innocent as sing to the music playing in the restaurant (not loud, mind you) I was told I shouldn’t sing at the dinner table. Everything I did was scrutinized and judged. Made to feel inferior. Nothing was ever right. Nothing was ever correct. I was always chastised in a commanding voice. I was brought to tears with shaking hands several times. It was always my fault in how I reacted to him. He never took responsibility that his anger and temper is what would trigger my fear, my tears and my shakes.

He would frequently complain about work and the people he had to work with. Paranoia ran rampant through his brain. He was always afraid he was about to be fired. When the stress of his negativity and paranoia became too much for me and I advised him so, I was told in a commanding voice that it is my job as his partner to listen to the trials of his day, his complaints. And that I better, “MAKE IT A PRIORITY” all while pointing his finger at me. Like a child.

When someone has not been subjected to verbal and mental abuse, it is difficult to get people to understand that it is abuse. It is damaging. It is a purposeful attempt to gain control over another individual. At one point, I did break up with him in June of 2015 after a disastrous vacation to Moab, Utah. I was yelled at, belittled and made to feel inferior on this trip. He used his head cold as an excuse to treat me the way he treated me. His tactics of manipulation are so good, that after I broke up with him the first time, he convinced me that I needed therapy and he actually had me apologizing to him!!!

A police officer’s training and professional status add extra levels of sophistication to his style of psychological battering. Psychological, verbal, and emotional abuse (all effective means of control) are much more difficult to charge and prove. The police abuser, even more than a civilian abuser, knows exactly what he wants to accomplish and how to do it.

Every disagreement seemed to be a challenge to his authority. It seemed as if his street presence carried over into our personal life together. Walking on eggshells became the norm for me. In the world of a narcissist, it is a source of power to get people to believe lies and distortions.

Abusers lack empathy. I remember a time when I was sad and thinking about my mom that had passed away in 2010. He noticed quiet tears, gave me some Kleenex and when I put my arms around him to hold on tight, he didn’t even have it in him to hold me back.

Mind-games. Abusers love to do this. At one point, he brought it to my attention that his ex-girlfriend wouldn’t stop texting him one evening. He even continued to text her while he was next to me. When I asked him who “Insert name here” is, he stated, “You can see my screen?” Ummm, yes I am laying on your shoulder. It was intentional and it was manipulative to mention it and to let me see him texting her. At the end of his text, he added a red heart emoji to close out the conversation. Intentionally hurtful. It is called mind-games. Every single time we were together, he would mention this woman he dated and that woman he dated. Little tidbits about this one and that one. It is unnecessary and was meant to keep me on edge.

Most male abusers have issues with women. A need to feel in control of them. Numerous times, he referred to other women as whores and bitches. Women that he has previously dated. Women he is charged to protect in his community. It is clearly a cover-up for his own feelings of inadequacy. A feeling of being inferior. Insecurity. My abuser advised me on more than one occasion that he is a confident man. I think he is confused about the definition of confident. A confident person does not belittle, intimidate, demean and abuse another human being. A confident person accepts responsibility for their behavior and apologizes. A person may not agree with your views and opinions and behavior, but a confident person is open to hearing your opinions. A confident, loving person will validate and listen to you when you address issues.

When the movies you see are the movies he wants to see, when the places you dine are the places he wants to dine, he is selfish. When you actually get to select a movie and he immediately starts ridiculing your selection pay attention.

When you ask him, “What did I do wrong now?” And he looks at you with contempt on his face and states, “So many things.” Run – don’t walk.

Something such as trying to take a bike off of his bike rack and being unsuccessful at it causes him to blow into a rage. Tears well up in my eyes and if I ask him to not “do this right now” you are yelled at and scolded, like a child, ordered to not create a scene and commanded to get into the car. I was advised I completely ruined our weekend getaway. Something such as not booking a hotel room with a mountain view room causes him to seethe with anger and overreact. When I spoke up and advised that it is not a big deal, it is just a room, he turned it on me that I am “dismissive” of his thoughts.

When you are on a mountain bike, for only the second time in your life, and you panic because the trail looks too difficult and you cannot continue, you are made to feel inferior, yelled at, have car keys tossed at you and you are told in a commanding, authoritative voice to “Go sit in the car!!!!!

When he would casually mention other women in his past and refer to some of them as abusive or bitches – pay attention to that. This is how he will probably speak of you someday. When he describes women in the community he lives in as “whores”. Pay attention. He has a problem with women. When he does not want to meet your friends and co-workers, do not ignore this. The people in your life are the people that will see through him when you are blinded. Your friends are the people that eventually speak up. He does not want to meet them because he knows this. They are a threat to him and he knows this. After all, he may want to gradually start isolating you one day.

When he interjects random tidbits about other women that he has dated in his past, and there is no need to, ask yourself why he does this. It is to keep you off balance – that’s why. When he subtly starts to mention that you should wear your hair a different way – this is a sign of a man that will attempt to control you one day.

Have you met his friends? Are they warm and friendly toward you or do they barely make eye contact with you and barely engage you? Perhaps this is a sign that they know something you do not. Perhaps they know that he is abusive towards women and are waiting for the shit to hit the fan. Perhaps he is cheating on you or know that he will one day and they can’t look you in the eye. Maybe he has already started a campaign to discredit you so they cannot attach to you.  This is what narcissists do. He will always be the victim. It will always be something that I did wrong. Something that I did not understand, etc.

When you advise someone how you expect to be treated and they completely disregard your behavior modification requests, they will not change because they do not want to. This is not someone that respects you. This is someone that has no feeling, no remorse. This is not love.

I spent most of the relationship walking on eggshells. Afraid of the next outburst. Afraid of what I might say that would be wrong in his eyes. Told that how I react to his outbursts and demeaning comments is my problem. Only I can control how I react, according to him. Never an apology or acknowledgement that his temper is what would trigger my tears, my heartbreak, my fear. I have come to realize that I will never get an apology and he will never be held accountable. If I were to receive an apology from him it would not be sincere. The next phase for me is being kind to myself and learning to understand why I stayed. I only spent seven months with him, thankfully. My heart goes out to women that spend years in this torment.

I lied to my friends and co-workers and told them everything is great and how wonderful he is. I lied to myself.

I have so many incidents that I could write about in this post, but I have a feeling that you get the picture. I am confident that I am not the first woman he has done this to and I am sure that I will not be the last.

I am free because I started to “investigate” him and he did not like that. Once again, it was turned back on to me – that I have trust issues and he will not be with a woman that does not trust him. This actually makes me laugh now.

Some will probably think that I should just forget about it, move on, why make a big deal of it. This is exactly why we have this problem in the world. People that feel this way are afraid to be uncomfortable. Maybe it triggers something in their past that they would rather forget.

When a woman claims that she is being abused – believe her. He never physically put his hands on me. Would he possibly do that in the future? I will never know because I am now free. Thanks to friends that advised me that I am in an abusive relationship after I described various events that happened to me. I did not realize that abuse was happening to me. I always thought abuse was only physical. Never gave a thought to verbal and mental abuse as being legit. Well, it is and I am proof. Do not keep abuse quiet. Speak up and speak out. I speak out because I know that I DID NOTHING WRONG!