Ashley recounted a whirlwind romance wherein Johnny “swept her off her feet.” “We dated three months. I was 18 and hadn’t even been out of high school a year. He made me feel so special. He put me on a pedestal and worshiped the ground I walked on — or so I thought. There were no indications he was an abuser. I truly believed he was the great love of my life.”
“That’s a warning flag — romances that are hot and heavy and go very, very fast,” Moore offered, “Abusers work to butter up their victims, and make them feel special. They’ll tell their victim things like, ‘I can’t believe I found you; this is meant to be.’”
Compounding the problem, Ashley was in an extremely vulnerable place in life. The day of Ashley’s high school graduation, her mother informed her that she had a week to “get out.”
Worse, throughout Ashley’s childhood and teen years, her mother had been physically and emotionally abusive.
“My mother was mentally ill,” Ashley said. “She abused me and my four brothers and sisters until we left home.”
Moore sadly shook her head at that admission. “That’s very common; victims of domestic abuse frequently were abused as children. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen women in this office with similar stories. It becomes a vicious cycle — from one abuser to the next.”
She added, “Abusers seek out people who are vulnerable; the more fragile the mental or emotional state, the better. It’s another common modus operandi. It’s easier to pull in victims who feel they’ve nowhere else to turn.”
Vulnerable and with few places to turn was exactly how Ashley felt. Besides, Ashley had no reason, not before the marriage, to believe Johnny wasn’t indeed her soul-mate.
The first crack in that illusion came on the day she married him — before the actual ceremony. That morning, Ashley received a sympathy card from the most unexpected of sources — Johnny’s ex-wife.
“They were married about three months,” Ashley explained. “It was my wedding day and, frankly, I didn’t think anything of it. I figured she was just bitter or jealous. Remember, I had no reason to believe otherwise at that point. Johnny had been so wonderful.”
Ashley even shared the card with her husband-to-be, and the two of them laughed it off together. Johnny confirmed that yes, his ex-wife was indeed bitter; it was he, after all, who’d left HER (another of Johnny’s numerous lies and manipulations, Ashley would eventually learn).
A short time later, Ashley wasn’t laughing anymore.
“Two months after we were married,” she explained, “I realized I’d made a terrible mistake in marrying him. I’ll never forget that day.”
It was a day that would prove an omen regarding the next 13 years of Ashley’s life; it was the first day in which Johnny ripped away his “Mr. Wonderful” facade to unmask the monster beneath; it was a day of violence and abuse; it was the first of many times when Johnny would force Ashley to take a long, violent look at herself in the mirror.
And it all started with some towels and a poorly arranged bathroom closet.
Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011.