Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The nightmare for families begins

After marriage, we bought a home in Yates County, NY.  It was a small house, cozy and nice.  But immediately the happiness of a new marriage and new home was short lived. I had two children when we married, this was not anything my new husband did not know about.  In fact, we were engaged twice because the year before we married, I broke off the first engagement.  My gut told me something was not right with him.  I was not madly in love and I was worried a step parent might not be good.  I learned, the hard way, to listen to my gut.  It has not been wrong.  We broke up and I did not hear from Ron Gage for months.  I was happy and then, out of the blue he paid me a visit at my parents' house. He brought a present for my daughter, trying to get in my good graces, no doubt.  So my kids were not any surprise to him.  My parents convinced me this gift was a good sign.  A sign of a responsible man.  Boy, were they ever wrong.

In our new house, Ron would come home from work always in a bad mood.  I do not recall any night he ever was happy with anything.  He picked on how I kept house, my cooking, my parenting skills.  If I had spent the entire day cleaning, he would literally look for something that wasn't perfect and start a rant about it.  He'd bitch every night until bedtime.  All the time I tried, and of course failed, to be the perfect wife.  He would often compare me to his friends' wives, saying all of them were better wives than I was. 

Often he would get pissed at work and quit.  We would go without money and food until I went down and applied for food stamps to feed my kids.  In the small town of Penn Yan, NY this was another nightmare.  Those workers were not only unsympathetic, I would get lectured, like it was all my fault he quit his job.  He would fly into a rage at work and quit.  We were fortunate his employer would take him back, but not until months passed and we were almost destitute.  I recall one time he flew into a rage, he was abusive, physically and verbally to me and the kids and I went to Social Services in Penn Yan to try and leave him.  I got: "Can't you just go home and make up?  We are swamped with cases."  Heaven forbid they got off their asses and did the paperwork.  Needless to say there was no help there and to this day Penn Yan still likes to cover up it's major flaws.  Trying to make people think it is a perfect little town.  

When I would call the local sheriff department the cops would also try to talk me out of pressing charges.  One cop even said: "Well, Ron. I can sympathize.  My ex-wife is a real bitch too."  Not only did my then husband, work on all their cop cars, many would come to the house to smoke pot with him before they were cops.  Many others, who later became prominent business men there, would also come to his pot parties.  So he was in their good ole boy circle pretty well.  This isn't slander, it is fact because I was there and yes, knew all their names.  But in little town, USA, it is swept under the rug.  This is what many little towns do.  You must spell your last name correctly or you are out of their good graces.

One particular incident, when Ron was violent, he took his shotgun down and said he was going to kill himself.  I said nothing.  Then he turned, pointed it at me, held it to my chest and said: "Maybe I should just kill you instead."  I thought I was taking my last breath.  When I was able to call the sheriff's department, one of his cop cronies arrived and, thank goodness, the one and only female sheriff on the force arrived too.  The male cop claimed there was not sufficient evidence to arrest Ron.  I guess threatening to kill your wife with a loaded gun was not cause enough.  The female cop allowed me to press charges and he was arrested.  But not without much arguing about the situation.  People can say 'that was then and there is more awareness now.'  Seriously?  Everyone talks about it, in larger cities there are women's shelters.  But even then, in shelters, they cannot have their animals and their whole life is disrupted.  I suppose that's society's way of blaming the victim. I see domestic violence as not much more than the cause of the month, once a year. Small towns have no shelters for abused women, yet they do have animal shelters.  It seems small towns are more sympathetic to animals who are homeless and abused than to women and kids who are.  Social Services workers certainly are not trained well enough to deal with domestic violence, not in small towns anyway.   While Penn Yan liked to boast they had 'safe houses' those houses are so far out in the boonies and most abused women do not own cars.  So how do they get groceries, find a job or run errands?  Many are lucky to escape with their lives.  Later I will discuss how shabbily Social Services and family court treated me and my kids.  I wish this 'system' could get its priorities straight. 

Many people have no idea just how violent those suffering from PTSD can be.  Sometimes the veteran's co-workers are killed, sometimes entire families are killed.  Even if not killed, lives are in shambles and children are scarred for life.  Not always visible scars, but emotional ones, those that are harder to heal.  To this very day, not enough is being done for veterans and their families who suffer every day.