‘He can’t take my kids! My daughter isn’t even biologically his. Where would he have gone?’: Mom overcomes abusive partner to regain joint custody of son

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“A day that changed my life. At the time I thought maybe for the better, but boy was I was wrong. I had just met this ‘wonderful’ guy named Jonathan and wow did he know how to hide who he really was but a wolf in sheep’s clothing can only stay hidden for so long.

Our relationship got serious very quickly … we went from causally dating to living with each other in a matter of a month. Everything was perfect for a little while, but things changed so rapidly it was like I blinked my eyes and I was in a relationship with a different person. He was caught up in a lot of things that never in my life I would’ve believed if someone told me, – and when they did I didn’t.

He would be out for countless hours at a time while I would sit home wondering where he was or if he was okay sometimes, he wouldn’t even come home even though I desperately wanted him to. Money was tight and all his lies started unraveling about what he was really doing to ‘provide’ I was young naive and so in love stuck between a rock and a hard place because I didn’t want him resorting to what he was to make sure me and him were ‘okay’

We came up with a plan that I would become a stripper in the meantime of him not working as long as he would look for a legitimate job and not be in the streets. That’s when things really took a turn for the worst – stripping was never something I would have ever imagined myself doing and man was I scared, the first night I set off to the club to ‘audition’ I didn’t even step foot inside I turned right back around and went home, Jonathan wasn’t happy about that at all of course.

Courtesy Abigail Rivera

Night came and went and I had to go back the following day to do something I was so terrified of, the pressure was on and this was quickly becoming a reality finally I worked up the courage and just ‘did it’ after all me and him did make a deal. Well fast forward to me dancing for two months and money’s great now only problem is we have nothing to show for it yet, he was accountable for all the money I made and I had no idea where it all was really going because we always seemed broke living day by day with the money I was making in the strip club because yes he made me go everyday while he did nothing but sit home and I slowly but surely became the ‘bread winner’ for us both.

I quickly got sick of it because how is little old me the only one getting up off their ass to do something and it was something I didn’t even want to do! When I decided it was time to have a talk about what we were going to do as a couple a team a ‘family’ Jon didn’t like the sound of anything I was saying and quickly became angry so angry it scared me and I just shut up and agreed to keep dancing because I knew how hard it was to find a legit job (not hard at all) I went back to the club and 2 months turned to 4 then 6 .. one day he sends me a text message while I’m at work asking if anyone has cocaine. I’m mind blown, is this where all the money has been going? How long has he been using? Why did he hide this from me? So, I reply to the text message ‘I’m not sure’ he responds almost instantly and tells me to ask around I’m at a loss for words, but I do as he says and end up getting it for him.

When I get home, I hand him the money I made (practically a ritual at this point) and what he’s asked for. I just sit there wondering what to say or should I even say anything at all? Here we are in silence as he’s sniffing away and then turns to me and says, ‘Want some?’ My face gets so hot and my heart feels like it’s about to jump out of my chest I respond, ‘No’, after going back and forth with him he manages to manipulate me into trying it .. and I liked it not long after that first time did, I become addicted, doing this drug I never even thought about trying and so out of it, it was easier for him to control me, he did just that.

Jonathan quickly became unhappy with me every time I would leave to go dance for the night, would start belittling me calling me a whore a slut saying I liked doing what I was doing for money which believe you me was more than untrue. I started to believe I was just as disgusting as he was saying I was and just did more drugs to ignore him the world and how nasty I felt while dancing for all of these strange men. I come home one night and he’s livid I’m not sure why but I don’t really care because I myself am so strung out and just want to go to sleep, he on the other hand didn’t like that I was paying no attention to his little attitude and starts screaming which then turned into him throwing me against the wall and holding me by my neck in the air I continuously start slapping his arms so he can release me, he did but it didn’t stop there I remember him banging my head against the tv and just praying and thinking in my head ‘What the f*ck did I do to make him this angry?’

It’s finally over and we both just go to bed as if nothing happened not saying a word to each other we continued on as if nothing happened for the next couple of weeks until something did happen, again. At this point in our relationship I’m not allowed to have friends or communicate with my family because everyone around me just isn’t good enough which he quickly made me believe. I bump into an old friend at work and we start talking and catching up that night she has no way home, so I offer to take her with no hesitation since I was already leaving too. Well I get back to Jon 30 minutes over what it would’ve taken me to get home if I went straight there. I walk in the door, he’s behind it and grabs me up by my neck asking me all these questions while inhaling a cigarette.

I obviously can’t respond while being choked so he decides to let me go but before he does my eye must’ve seemed like a good spot for him to put that cigarette out because that’s exactly what he did. I quickly started to try and speak my peace even though it didn’t matter, I became his rag doll Jonathan started dragging me around the room by my hair and beating me punching me directly in my face as if I were a man repeatedly for what felt like forever until finally he stopped.

This time was different from the first time he hit me I just laid on the floor in a fetal position crying yet to look at my face because I knew it was going to bad. I don’t move a muscle for at least an hour just lay there in shock of what just took place. He tells me to come to bed and I still decide not to move until he told me a second time and I could hear it in his voice, I better be moving.

So, I get up in the worst pain I’ve ever endured in my life and climb in bed next to him. Jonathan starts crying telling me he’s so sorry and saying ‘oh my god look at your face’ as if he didn’t do it I don’t know how to respond to this and I’m so brainwashed I feel bad that he’s crying so I just hold him repeatedly saying, ‘It’s okay I’m fine’ …. I wasn’t and how I was I going to go be an entertainer sore with two black eyes and a fat lip? How would I make money for us then? Silly me to think he wouldn’t find a way (drugstore makeup and a lot of ice.)

Courtesy Abigail Rivera

A couple of months go by and the hitting continues slaps here and there pushing me down even spatting in my face, we finally have managed to save up enough money for a car while maintaining our addiction and other necessities I’m not really sure how we managed to do so but we did so we decide to buy a car .. I’m excited to be doing this it feels like such an accomplishment but of course Jonathan knows how to suck the joy right from me and it’s an argument of who’s name everything for the vehicle will be in. Guess who won, it wasn’t me.

Now that we have the car, he’s been talking about moving out of state leading me to believe there was nothing for me in my hometown, lol yeah ‘nothing’ except my whole life, my mom, my sisters, friends and other family. But I so foolishly agree with everything he’s saying and decide leaving is the best thing for the both of us and I’ve just found out I’m pregnant, oh happy day!

We drive for two days and finally make it to Texas I’m excited to be on this new journey and to be becoming a mother, in my head I’m thinking everything is about to change for the better I won’t have to dance anymore and he’ll be forced to find a real job I can’t be a pregnant stripper – Wrong again. The very first day we’re there he’s already looking up clubs for me to go dance at, I’m at a loss of words and just sit in the passenger seat quiet. Why isn’t he pulling up job applications online? All he’s worried about is me working? Stripping? While pregnant? I couldn’t even fathom what was going on. Lucky for me the clubs only held auditions on Thursday’s and Friday’s …

Lucky for the moment. Having to go was only prolonged because he did make sure I went and oh did I dance. I danced until I was 6 months pregnant never showing because he was forcefully feeding me drugs, if I turned anything down it was worse for me, knives held to my throat my stomach unbearable beatings. Now I’m in a completely different state without absolutely no one to turn to more scared then I’ve ever been just knowing whatever this man says I need to listen to if I want to make it another day.

Finally, by the grace of god I start showing, I can’t dance anymore! I’m so happy about this in order to survive he’s going to have to do something. Wrong wrong wrong why was I always so wrong? he gets me to work the family I have in Florida (my fathers’ side) we make it to Florida and start staying with my grandfather. We’re in this new state for a month and finally he’s gotten a job, after all he has to put on a show for my family making them believe he’s the best thing to ever happen to me, he’s so good at this other persona I start to believe him too. How stupid am I as if I haven’t been living in my own little hell for a year.

Courtesy Abigail Rivera

I start getting really bad abdominal pain and contractions from my own assumptions it’s around the time that I should be giving birth after all I couldn’t possibly know for sure I haven’t had any prenatal care this pregnancy. I go to the hospital and doctors start asking me questions, as a mother I should know all these questions – but I don’t.

I’m in labor for about 25 hours before it’s time for me to push my baby’s heart rate has dropped a countless amount of times but they’ve managed to stabilize it in order for me to push. Finally, I’ve done it he’s out but where’s that beautiful cry baby’s let out? Why haven’t they laid him on my chest? I start crying asking all these questions … is my baby okay!!? What’s going on? Why can’t I see him? I’m sure it was only a couple of minutes that had gone by, but it felt like an eternity before that first cry was let out. They place the baby on my chest, it’s a boy! A beautiful baby boy but they tell me he will be in the NICU until he is able to breath and eat on his own.

Luckily my son is a fighter and is only there for two days then we get to go home, I’m so excited my life is finally changing for the better Jon has job so I’ll be able to rest and enjoy this time with son … so I thought, I’m not even a week postpartum and Jonathan magically loses his job so guess what I end up having to do, go back to dancing not even healed from this new baby. I’m back in the club and Jon’s right back to his drug kick I haven’t even been able to build a bond or connection to my son because when I’m not working, I’m sleeping and some days I’m at the club all day and night.

We end up having to leave my grandfather’s house and going to a motel because he’s sick of how Jonathan’s treating and speaking to me, we’re in the motel for a month struggling to make ends meet on just my money alone and I’m always too exhausted to tend to my son.

Courtesy Abigail Rivera

One day I couldn’t even hear him crying so Jon picks up my one month old son and tosses him on to the bed where I’m sleeping and starts wailing on me, fracturing two of my ribs and breaking my nose he then proceeds to kick me out of the motel room bloody with no shoes. I’m in shock crying with all of these strangers just staring at me but no one helping. I call my manager and he sends me a taxi, at that very moment I knew I wasn’t going back to that room.

I had to leave him if I wanted a chance at survival and without me paying for the room, he would have to figure things out on his own. I don’t know where this newfound strength, this courage had come from, but I was so very glad I was finally coming to my senses. Something just clicked in my head that day, I didn’t want my daughter to be subjected to this anymore (one part of the story I left out is that she was witness to all this) I didn’t want her thinking that’s how a man was supposed to ‘love you’

So I waited until the next morning and then went back to the motel room, terrified, but worked up the guts to knock on the door – no response. I then make my way to the front office and the clerk tells me, ‘Ma’am, room 135 has already checked out.’

I start crying hysterically thinking, ‘He can’t take my kids! My daughter isn’t even biologically his. Where would he have gone?’I finally get a phone call from him saying he’s at the airport he’s managed to get all of our tickets and he’s waiting for me I rush there with obviously no intention of leaving with him.

Courtesy Abigail Rivera

Once I’m there I grab my daughter and try to take my son we get into this big altercation and I can barely breath or stand straight due to the fractured ribs. I decide to let him take my son and walk away with only my daughter a moment that broke my heart.

Jonathan’s also in disbelief of my actions I could see in his face he thought he still had some control of me he was expecting me to leave with him, but I couldn’t I knew in my heart and my son would to ‘This isn’t a goodbye this is a I’ll see you later’ I planned on doing everything in my power to fight for that little boy and in the upcoming months ahead I did just that!

I fought for 3 months of not seeing my son to finally having a court date and getting my baby back We now have joined custody and my life is 100xs better both my kids are happy and healthy as am I, I met a wonderful man (for real this time lol) and I’m expecting another baby boy December of 2019.

Anything is possible thru the strength of god never stop fighting for yourself, your own happiness, and what you deserve. People go through hurtles in life and sometimes are found at the lowest of lows but it’s what we do to get out of those moments that define us. I’m not embarrassed of anything I went through or was put through; I am strong, and I will continue to tell my story in hopes it gives another individual strength.”

Courtesy Abigail Rivera

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kas. You can follow her on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Subscribe to Love What Matters on YouTube and never miss our best videos.

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‘No one else will love you besides me.’ It was like looking in the face of the devil.’: Young woman’s unexpected pregnancy gives her courage to leave abusive boyfriend, ‘never look back’

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