Multi-year domestic violence victim tells her story of abuse and its effects on her family
This is a story about a local woman’s struggle with years of domestic violence, the path it carved for her and how she is still fighting back.
The woman who shared her story wishes to remain anonymous. Her name has been changed to protect her identity.
Aniston was 18 years old when she left home and set out for adulthood and a life that was her own.
“I wanted more freedom. I thought that I was deprived from the world, from having fun and being different. I wanted to know who I was going to be,” Aniston said. “I didn’t want my parents telling me what to do.”
After deciding college was not the route she wanted to pursue, she met a man, fell in love and moved in with him.
Shortly after, the emotional, mental and physical abuse began and continued for 13 years.
“I was physically abused from when I was 18 until I was 22,” Aniston said. “I was punched in the face, kicked on my body, and pushed down on the ground.”
“And the only reason it stopped was because my oldest daughter was only two or three months old when he was holding her while he kicked me as I lay on the floor,” Aniston said.
It led her to think her days were numbered.
“I was ready to die. I prayed to God and I told him that I was sorry for all the mistakes I had ever made,” she said. “I just wanted him to take me away. I was done. I prayed out loud and asked him to take care of my little girl.”
Aniston said when she began to pray aloud, that was when the father of her children stopped assaulting her.
“It was very clear to me in that instant, that it was not my time to die,” Aniston said.
Her face bruised immediately and bumps on her body began to surface. He took out a frozen item in an attempt to comfort her, and asked her to put it on her face for fear of people seeing how she looked at church.
“He told me people were going to see me like that. I told him I didn’t care because I was done. If he didn’t want people to see me that way, then he shouldn’t have done it,” Aniston said.
She packed his clothes, dropped him off some place and told him she did not want to see him again.
The separation did not last long. He promised he would never do it again and he apologized.
The physical assaults on Aniston stopped there, but the mental and emotional abuse continued.
“Everything I did was wrong. I was crazy. Nobody liked me. I had no friends and nobody cared about me. I was dumb. That’s not even half of the things he would say to me,” Aniston said.
He was never faithful and pursued a relationship with another woman. Aniston gave birth to their second child, and a week later, the other woman gave birth, too.
“That was really hard. She would harass me all the time. It did not matter how much I tried to humble myself to these people that do not have God, morals or respect. That was the hardest thing, going through all of that and trying to stay humble,” Aniston said.
When her child turned a year old, her abuser was arrested on drug and child support evasion charges.
While he was in jail, the manipulation and controlling persisted. He called her several times throughout the day.
“He’d want to hear my parents in the background. He would tell me to sleep in the closet. I would sleep in the closet because I had a conscience and I couldn’t lie to him. That was his way of still having control,” Aniston said.
“I would tell myself that I was doing what he wanted me to do,” she said. “I was still trying to keep my word to a man I wasn’t married to but only dating. I had kids with him. I chose that life, so I punished myself and thought that is what I had to deal with. I thought I had to be the best woman to this man who left us.”
Aniston continued to support him and her two children while he was out of work and between his comings and goings. She worked two to three jobs sometimes to make ends meet.
“I was ashamed of myself. I did not want people to look at me and feel sorry for me. I did that to myself,” Aniston said. “I put up with it and everything because my kids needed a dad.”
He made some changes, attempted to win her over again, began attending church with her and being more kind.
Later on, they married, but only after, he gave her an ultimatum: either she marry him or he ended his life.
“I couldn’t have that on my conscience. It was the worst mistake of my life. I was afraid. I tried to be as happy as I could in those moments of our wedding. But, it never felt special as a wedding should,” Aniston said.
Aniston said marriage did not change things and he began to stay out late at night. Around that time, she discovered his drug abuse. He never did drugs around her or her children. But it was a part of his life. He did not mix with them.
“It was hard to admit that I knew all these things and they were happening to me and I was in denial. I wanted to believe that he could change and that he was going to be a good person,” Aniston said. “I wanted my family and I kept painting this picture that I wanted to make myself believe that it was what I had, but it wasn’t what I had. I kept thinking all of it was okay because you have to suffer to get what you want. I punished myself for all those years.”
When she became pregnant with their third child, he left her again. Shortly after their third child was born, they divorced.
On and off, Aniston battled bouts of depression brought on by the years of abuse.
“I always felt like I had to punish myself when things went wrong. I lost my job because I could not be there. Everything fell on me,” Aniston said. “I couldn’t get out of bed and I would just beat myself up over everything.”
Hill Country Community Needs Council
After the divorce, he continued to be possessive, abusive and controlling.
The day he threatened to kill her in front of her children, was the day she called the Hill Country Community Needs Council for help.
“It’s been a year now since I have been coming to the Needs Council. I cried and I did not know what to do or where to go. I needed someone to talk to and they told me to come in the next day,” Aniston said.
She said it was hard coming to terms and speaking aloud about the years of abuse she endured.
“I told myself that I couldn’t be afraid to be honest anymore. I’ve covered for him for so many years and had blamed myself for so long,” Aniston said. “If I didn’t tell my counselor everything, I wasn’t going to be able to let it all go. The hardest part is that I knew who he was, and I still put up with it.”
Aniston did not realize how abusive and controlling he had been with her until she began counseling. Though she expressed her worries that he might find out she was seeking counseling, Aniston said those worries were put to ease and she has felt safe at HCNC.
“The growing number of people who are coming to us and also bringing their children speaks to the reality of the situation not just in Fredericksburg, but throughout the United States,” said HCNC Executive Director Cindy Heifner. “We educate and protect our clients. Our staff is trained to make things as confidential as possible. Our free services are made possible by over 90 percent of local funding.”
With help from HCCNC, her family and her church, she was able to start the process of healing.
Aniston moved herself and three children into a home.
“My mom gave me my first month’s rent and the Hill Country Needs Council provided me with my deposit,” Aniston said.
Aniston mentioned her appreciation and gratitude for her parents, sister, Heifner and HCCNC counselor Rhonda Gross.
“Cindy really welcomes you with open arms and is so awesome. Rhonda has somehow filled my expectations of everything I needed,” Aniston said. “I never thought there was somebody I could actually rely on, talk and open up to where I didn’t feel judged,”
A new beginning
Aniston met someone new, they married and have begun building their life together with their children.
“My kids are no longer stressed. Their anxieties have left. They have self-worth, confidence and are so loving. They aren’t afraid to live and not afraid to speak their minds,” Aniston said.
Though her custody battle continues, and her abuser will always be a part of her life through her children, Aniston is hoping her story will help others in similar situations.
“You have to keep from following others. Don’t go against the people who are truly trying to help you,” Aniston said. “It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible. With faith in God, all things are possible.
“It’s never going to be the right time, but never be afraid no matter how hard it gets to s