I was born into a dysfunctional family in the city of Chicago.  I was the youngest of four children and some time after I was born my mother’s husband abandoned his family.  My mother’s mother (my grandmother) lived with us when I was young.  She was an abusive woman and transferred that abuse to my mother who abused me.  Generational abuse is not uncommon.  The abuse was never talked about or acknowledged.  Due to doubts of my paternity, my siblings and my mother blamed my father’s leaving us on me.  I became the scapegoat.

The abuse I suffered by the hands of my grandmother, mother, and then my siblings was awful.  It was mostly sexual, physical, and verbal abuse.  I was born in 1957 and abuse was not a topic of conversation on the radio or TV.  There is no need at this point in time to be detailed about the abuse.  It would serve no purpose.  Needless to say, I was abused from the time I was very little.  I put the abuse aside in my mind, went on my daily routines of life, and tried to be a “good, little, obedient” girl who wanted to be loved.  I became a quiet, yet intelligent student who was raised Catholic and attended 13 years of Catholic schooling.

I met my ex-husband, Tom Mulczynski (or Thomas Mulczynski), in 1977 when I was twenty years old.  At this point I was still being abused by my family — mainly my brother, Jim, who was four years older than me.  I was trained to be an obedient child who did not question my situation much.  It was not the period of time when running away was not seen as a viable option.  I had threatened to report the abuse to the police and suffered dearly for that threat.  When I met Tom, I was searching for a “prince charming”; I guess… someone to love and who would love me.  I had not dated much before meeting Tom.  My mother did not approve of the few suitors I did have, but she did like Tom.  That should have been a red flag to me … yet I wanted out of my family life and Tom said he loved me.

Tom and I lived together before we were married in 1984.  His abuse of me had already started soon after we dated and continued when we lived together in California in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s.  It started as physical abuse, escalated to sexual abuse, then to total control of my mind and my body.  I did not go to the authorities until 2003.  I was too scared, too obedient, too used to being the good daughter, the good girlfriend, and eventually the good wife.  If anyone has been through either child abuse and/or spouse abuse (battered wife, domestic violence) — you might be able to relate the learned helplessness, to the fear, to the knowledge that you would be punished for any attempt to leave the situation.  Some professionals say there are three ways to respond to danger – flight, fight, or freeze.  My way to respond was to freeze.  At the beginning of my relationship with Tom, I would try to fight him when he abused me.  I learned that I was helpless against him and that any effort I made to escape the abuse would result in more physical/abuse torture.   We moved from Chicago twice and lived away from my abusive family and my good friends.  For most of my marriage with Tom, I did not work outside the home.  Tom kept track of my schedule.  I had to report all facets of my life to him – what I did, when I did it, who I spoke with and what we spoke of, etc..  The abuse was weekly, then almost daily and it was a normal routine of life.

You might ask why did I marry Tom if he was being abusive to me.  That is a great question.  During the time before our marriage in 1984, Tom was having an affair with my sister, Kathy.  There were times that Tom and Kathy joined forces and abused me together.  Mind you that all I knew in my life up to that point was that I was no good and worthy of abuse.  I lived with shame …  I had no self esteem  …  I was nothing but a person who deserved abuse because that is what I was taught from an early age.  When Tom wanted to marry me, he promised me he would cut off his relationship with Kathy, and he would not abuse me anymore.  Naively, with a fairytale mentality, I believed him and said yes.  We were married.  Tom applied for government jobs and found one that took us to Illinois by St. Louis, MO.  We moved in 1985 and have never returned to live in Chicago again.

Unfortunately, Tom did not stop being abusive to me.  My life became more and more isolated.  In order for me to function, I did what I have always done.  In public I put on the appearance that everything was fine and normal.  My day time life was supposedly normal and healthy, then the horror of the abuse was my story in the evening and nighttime.  It is a pattern that was normal and never changed until I separated my Tom in 2003.

Tom and I lived by St. Louis until around 1989 when we moved to Germany.  Tom’s job was/is a U.S. civil service job working for the U.S. Air Force.  We lived in Germany for four and a half years that first time.  During that time Tom and I continued with our life as we always had.  We appeared happy and content in public.  In the off time, Tom abused me — mostly sexually by this time.  There were times (beginning in California) when Tom would bring others into the sexual situation.  I cannot recall if Tom usually got monetary benefit from this or if he did it for the pleasure of seeing me suffer or both.  While in Germany during this time, I became pregnant twice and miscarried twice early in the pregnancies.

We returned to the St. Louis area in 1993 and I became pregnant with my daughter, Megan.  During my pregnancy with Megan, the abuse stopped; and, I naively hoped it would never occur again.  Megan was born in 1994 in St. Louis.  I had stopped being a practicing Catholic in 1978 (the year we moved to California) and with the birth of my daughter, the urge to return to a church struck me.  I researched various religions, but knew I wanted to return to the Catholic Church.  Tom (who was an atheist when I met him, although he was raised Catholic by his parents who originally were from Poland) agreed to call the local priest and ask about getting Megan baptized.  Tom informed me the priest refused because we were not practicing Catholics.  Tom often did not tell me the truth, but I accepted it without question.  A couple years later, I did return to the religion of my childhood.  Tom agreed and we met with the priest, had our marriage blessed in the church, and had our daughter baptized. (I later learned that my marriage in the church is not valid because there were no witnesses except for the priest.)

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