I left Cuba with my mother and younger brother on April 1, 1968. My father had left a year ahead of us. We arrived in the United States on June 28, 1968 after emigrating through Mexico. None of us spoke English. Our life in Cuba was great until Castro took over the government on January 1, 1959.
I wrote my first book "Cuando Sali de Cuba" (When I Left Cuba) to educate all those people duped by Castro regime's propaganda about "all the great things Fidel has done for Cuba." By the way, "The Blockade" had nothing to do with the economic downturn in Cuba. People sabotaged every thing they could so "Russia would not get it" My father was in hiding until 1967 when he left by an act of God and nature.
I grew up in the United States and went to college. I married into an abusive relationship and escaping that is the theme of my second book, "For The Love of Benjamine."
On November 17, 1996 my life changed. I had always been verbally abused by my mother, so I had normalized it and allowed many others to continue the pattern. My husband was also verbally abusive. I felt uncomfortable with it and wanted to have the marriage annulled by the eleventh month. When I went away to think about what to do next, my husband fell apart. My mother told me, "You have a good man and you are just being an intolerant bitch." So I stayed married.
Eleven years later, I was but a shadow of myself, becoming an extension of my husband. I experienced an array of emotions from his verbal tirades, but still catered to his every wish, physical and psychological. We had a son who was seven years old at this time.
My husband was overusing credit cards and asked me to refinance the house (my separate property) to pay them off and I refused. I had never denied him much, so my audacity sent him into frenzy. We had a neighbor that helped him with his accounting. I told her I was going to file for a legal separation and she must have told him.
His behavior escalated from verbal to physical abuse. One night he punched me repeatedly on the scar that covered a recent breast biopsy. On November 17, 1996, I stood up to him. I asked him to stop calling me names since our son was listening. I held my ground and he became enraged and chased me through the house screaming "I am going to hurt you, I am going to hurt you, I am going to hurt you!" I was about to take a shower and ran into the bathroom, locking the door behind me. He broke it down and his fist stopped about an inch from my face... my head was against the bathroom window. Never stand up to your abuser in close quarters!
After spending $10,000 in therapy, I realized that my husband had experienced a psychotic episode and the noise of the broken door woke him from it.
I called the police and they gave him five minutes to leave the house. This time I signed the paperwork and was granted an emergency restraining order. The following business day I found an attorney and started divorce proceedings. I used a credit card for the retainer. I was $2,900 over-drafted in my checking account.
It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I felt as if I was underwater and the panic attacks that took my breath away just kept coming. I slept barely two hours a night.
I had no choice but to continue. I never broke down in front of my son. For the love and health of my Benjamine I had to continue. I did not want him to grow up being abused, or normalizing that behavior.
As I was going through my two and one half year divorce from hell, I kept a diary. I turned it into a book called "For the Love of Benjamine." Our story is a triumph against domestic violence. It will empower others to fight the fear and take action to become abuse free. One dollar from the sale of each book will be donated to the Sonoma County YWCA Women's Shelter and Pre-School.
The YWCA in Sonoma County, CA offered to receive my son and I one dreadful day when I ran to a friend's house because of my husband's behavior. They also helped me find my divorce attorney. Recently I took their 40-hour training and have become one of their volunteer community advocates.
My book, "For The Love of Benjamine" would be a must-read for anyone who wakes up to the fact that they are involved in an abusive relationship and wishes to regain their freedom. It is written from the point of view of a victim emerging into a survivor. If I did it, you can also! It offers details of the steps I took to win my ugly divorce, such as the most advantageous time to file for child support, etc.
The most difficult thing I have ever done, and yet the most rewarding, was to divorce my ex-husband. I have now been happily married for twenty years. My son has grown into an incredible adult and graduated from a great university.
I am sooooooooo freeeeeeeeee! I rejoice at every moment! I am no longer consumed by fear. I am surrounded by and able to enjoy wonderful friends, my family, my garden, and my life in general. Every day I give thanks to the powers that be for giving me the strength to regain the human rights I was born with.
It is my wish to help others regain their freedom or to educate them so they do not get caught up in an abusive relationship at all.
Do you think you are involved in an abusive relationship? There are countless reasons why we stay. There is at least one major compelling reason to leave the relationship — the safety of everyone involved! Life is short, we are meant to enjoy it!
Copyright ©2013 Abuse Antidote Publications, Marta May. All rights reserved.