Guest Author - Jeanette Stingley
Please note that the real names of Lindsey, her abuser, and child have been changed to protect them all. This is Lindsey's story written by her.
When I was just 18 years old, I met my now ex-husband. I was in awe of him from the moment he looked at me and picked me out of a group of people who gathered around him to get a picture taken or autograph. He wrote his number to his hotel room on a scrap piece of paper and had one of his friends bring it over to me. "Call Keith later, he wants to talk to you." I thought it was a joke and I wasn't going to call but my curiosity got the best of me and I called later that night. The following day I was having lunch with him, which turned into dinner the next night, then flying to be with him the following week. We were married almost 1 year to the date we met.
I have heard many, many times that signs of abuse show up while you are dating the person. Our relationship was almost too perfect as we dated. He said all the right things, showered me with affection and attention, I traveled everywhere with him. I quit my job, I put my college plans on hold for him, I sold my car, you won't need it, he told me. I was the trophy girlfriend and was catered to by him and his personal assistant.
As soon as we said I do, the abuse began. We had a huge argument at the church when it came time to do the pictures. He controlled every pose, who stood where, how they stood, how I looked, I wasn't smiling enough. I dismissed it as him being nervous because of the wedding. He flew off the handle at the caterer because things weren't laid out to his liking. When I tried to tell him not to worry, it was ok, no one cared, he knocked my plate from my hands and screamed for me to shut my mouth and go take my place at the table or the reception was going to be canceled. In shock and fighting tears, I went to the table. When we were alone later in the hotel room, he went into a screaming rage for nearly an hour how the whole wedding and after party were ruined and how I embarrassed him in front of the hired help, "It better never happen again, or else." Again, I dismissed this outburst to nerves from our big day.
I continued traveling with him for his job, every night sitting in the audience because no one recognized me yet despite our wedding photos showing up in all the industry magazines (this was right before everyone was surfing the internet). His controlling ways mixed with emotional abuse continued for years. If another guy talked to me, even someone he worked with and was friends with, I was accused of sleeping with that person. The other guys always kept an eye on each others wives and girlfriends so none of us could do anything without it being reported back. I have lost count of the many times I sat crying in a dressing room or locker room with him screaming at me and throwing everything around. I know others heard him, but no one came to stop him or see if I was ok. When I was finally allowed to leave, anyone in ear shot would look at me as I walked out but look away quickly if I tried to make eye contact with them.
He was never physically abuse until the day I walked out. We had a son together after 3 miscarriages. Tyler became my sole focus in life. I stopped touring and traveling to stay at home with Tyler. We saw Keith sometimes 4 times a month when he was out doing shows. This was fine with me because when he was home, he would be jealous of Tyler and I. Keith took 2 years off and it was the worse 2 years of my life. Constant yelling and cleaning up the broken pieces of household items destroyed because of his fits of rage. I finally gave up trying to argue and yell back at him. It was useless because no matter what I said or did, something got destroyed and I ended up in tears, alone in one of the many bedrooms of our house.
The last straw for me was when he physically attacked our son and then me this past spring. I started doing performances and gained many friendships through my work. The accusations of cheating started flying again and I chose to ignore him. Tyler, now 14, finally got tired of his dad calling me nasty names and screaming at me all the time. He stood up to his dad for me. Tyler and Keith began arguing and when Tyler turned to leave the room, Keith pushed him from behind causing Tyler to hit his head on an end table. I lost it. I ran at Keith. He smacked me and I fell to the ground. He pulled me up by my hair, slammed the back of my head into the wall, then pinned me against the wall with his body and holding my arms against the wall with his hands.
After I got away from him, I went to my sister's house with Tyler. We called the police. Keith didn't deny anything. He was arrested and spent the night in jail. I was told by many people to go pack my things and Tyler's things but I did not. I didn't want anything out of the house but pictures of Tyler. I walked away from everything: my cars, my home, my pets, my past because none of the material things mattered to me. Those things could be replaced, my life and my son could not.
If you are reading this and you are in an abusive situation, please reach out for help. There is always a way out.