Before I begin I would like to say I do not condone domestic violence and my heart goes out to the victims of the senseless act of domestic violence. With that being said I would like to share my story in hopes that I can find some peace and find forgiveness in my heart. Feelings of betrayal, animosity and discontent have been weighing me down for a long time. Hopefully I can leave this baggage at the door upon my release.
I’m newly separated after ten years of marriage. We grew apart and it was just time to throw the towel in. I have a great career that I love and I make alot doing it. While working on the divorce I’m going on dates nothing serious. I just want my freedom. During this time I acquire a few “friends with benefits” This one in particular is always inviting me out to dinner, to the movies, out for drinks etc. and I go because she’s beautiful has a great personality and the sex is amazing. She’s a dancer with a grunge/goth type style. Tattoos, piercings and ten years younger than me. She makes it known she wants to be with me. I explained that I am not ready for that and its to soon. Plus I can’t be with a dancer that loves to party and has no responsibilities. She has a daughter that she doesn’t have custody of but she has visitation. I have a daughter that I share custody 50/50. I have to admit though I’ve really enjoyed her company and I see potential in her. Some time goes buy and we continue to learn about each other. We’re spending a lot of time together. She’s stopped dancing and started bartending changed her whole appearance. She becomes a woman. Everyone in her family and our friends are telling me how happy they are that I’m in her life. I’m helping her get shared custody of her daughter and I am falling in love hard but I keep my feelings out of reach so I don’t get hurt. Well one day I get some bad news…I get laid off!!! What am I going to do?? My house payment is $2200 per month. I have a lot of bills. I’m about to have a nervous breakdown. My company gives me a pretty good severance package . I need to downsize now. The girl is by my side every step of the way helping me out with everything. I find a condo from a friend its on the market but I can live there and take some time to regroup and find a suitable place that keeps my daughter in the same school. She doesn’t need to have her parents split up and get uprooted from her school and friends. The girl suggests a trip to visit her father and take a break from it all. After some consideration I agree. I know I’m getting to close and I should pull back because of her feelings and mine. I don’t want to hurt or be hurt. But I don’t because…. I love her. So we get to her dads and we meet and hang out. He spends time with his granddaughter while she and I go in to the city. Later that night he and I are alone and he asks what my intentions are with his daughter. I tell him truthfully I don’t know. I have feelings for her but she’s still in that party stage and has no idea where she’s going in life. The only skills she has is she can bartend and she can dance (damn she could dance) and all that would be fine if I was looking to take care of someone but I’m looking for an equal. A woman that complements the future that I have planned. He tells me he understands and respects me. That’s the end of that. We come back home and now its time for me to get some type of plan together to make money. I end up getting involved with some investors and start working for myself renovating residential properties. It takes off! Her dad calls and tells her if she will enroll in college and work towards a career he’ll buy her a house. After some research and seeing the money in real estate. She enrolls and starts working towards a career in real estate. Finally things are moving forward. We make it official we are a couple not only a couple but a rising power couple. She ends up with 50/50 custody and we have our girls at the same time. I work with her daughter (she’s 5) everyday because she doesn’t look at her mom as a mom so she doesn’t listen, talks back and throws horrible temper tantrums daily. I work hard at gaining her trust and respect. Once I have it I teach her to respect her mother. She does a 180 turn for the good. Now the condo I live in is under contract so I need to try to find something and fast. I’ve been caught up in getting her moved and working and helping her with her daughter that I’ve neglected my own home search. She offers to let us move in. There is plenty of room but I’m not sure. Finally I say what the hell things are great why not. So life is good I mean we fuss at each other but no more than any normal couple. I have to stay on top of her about school and working with her daughter, our goals that we both made but other than that we are good. We make the home ours paint, furniture, decor. We plant a garden and put flower beds in. We always decorate when the holidays come. We have cookouts all the time. Birthday parties slip and slide parties. I’m constantly buying new tools so I can do any job the investors call me for. Top of the line tools. While all this is going on she’s started slacking on school and acting real antsy. Shes wanting to go out all the time, and we do but I have stuff to do so I tell her go hang out with your friends have girls night. Then she starts accusing me of wanting to be away from her so I can cheat. I’ve never cheated and never would because I wouldn’t want that to be done to me. I love this woman with all of my heart. And I love her child like it was my own. Well we get engaged and set the date for 7/7/17 a little over a year out. I’m working hard and she helps when shes not bartending. So we are together all the time. Sometimes this gets aggravating but I love her and enjoy her company. So we’re arguing more. I don’t stay upset long. I just need to walk away and have a few minutes to myself then I’m good. Sometimes I just get in my car and drive. She gets in her car and follows me or tries. I have a Audi she has a Prius. I usually come home within the hour she’s usually at the bar calling me nonstop. When I answer and tell her I’m at home she comes home and things go back to normal. I’m always playing referee between her and our daughters. I’m noticing she’s acting immature and petty. My daughter is dishing it right back at her. These are sporadic incidents becoming more frequently. We have talks about what’s going on then things go back to normal but not for long. Her mom and two step sisters come to VA so her sister can have a baby shower because most of the family lives near us. They’re going to stay with us just for the weekend. Like they’ve done many times before. I’m working on a house that needs more work than normal so I’m working late. The day of the baby shower I come home my daughter and the two sisters are watching TV and tell me my fianc and her mom went to the bar to say hi to some of her moms old friends. I go take a shower and when I’m done I ask my daughter to ask my fianc to wake me so we can figure out dinner when they get back. As I’m about to doze off I hear them come in the house. After a few minutes I hear my daughter go to her room and shut the door. Then I hear my fianc fussing about the TV show. So I ask her what the problem is. She comes and tells me my daughter didn’t want to watch what everyone else did so she was pouting in her room. Well we start arguing about my fianc always picking on her instead of leaving her alone. She’ll get over it. So while this is happening I hear her mom in there yelling at my daughter say now look what you did and you should pack your stuff and get your mom to come get you. My daughter is 12 so I lose it. I start yelling at her mom for talking to my child that way. Then all of the sudden my fianc runs toward my daughter. So I pushed her she hits the back of her head on the door jam. Then her mom comes at me with a beer bottle so I shove her back. She falls down but never spills the beer. I bend down and grab my fianc one hand on each side of her head and I’m yelling at her that this is it we are done she always picks on my daughter and I’m over it. I tell my daughter to pack some clothes we are leaving. We grab our stuff and leave.I call my sister and she comes to get my daughter. I go back to my house because I had about five thousand dollars cash and didn’t want anyone to take it. I walk in the house my fianc is standing in the living room and her mom is on the phone everyone is crying. She takes her ring off and throws it at me. I apologize and grab my money. I get a hotel and go to sleep. The next day is mothers day. I go to my sisters where everyone is gathering for mothers day. After a boat ride I walk out front go to my truck and unmarked police pull up assault rifles drawn my family is upset and crying. They take me to jail on malicious wounding and assault charges. I’m denied bond. I’m served with protection orders saying I’m to stay away from my fianc her daughter her mom and sisters. I get ahold of my fianc and she’s in the hospital with a cuncusion. I break down, we talk, we cry, we both admitted we were wrong and we both apologize. I love her and she loves me. We agree that we are going to get through this together and seek some counseling. The next day she’s released from the hospital. She goes straight to the courthouse and drops the protective order. I send four thousand dollars home so she can get me a lawyer and so she can take off work. We get lawyer and a court date a couple days away. Court comes she’s there on my side ready for me to get out. The judge denies bond and sets a court date a few months out. Shes crying and I’m taken back to jail. We talk 10 times a day. She comes an visits me every visitation day and sets up Skype visits. She sends me money every week and sends me hot meals every week. She’s back to work and even picks up some more shifts at another bar. She can’t drop the charges because the state has picked them up. So we go back to court and they give me a plea for unlawful wounding instead of malicious wounding. My lawyer says no so its certified to high court. We get a court date a few out months. Instead of rehiring the same lawyer she starts working on getting another lawyer for me and one for her to protect her while she pleads the fifth amendment. This will allow her not to testify because she could incriminate herself. At this time I’ve been in jail around seven months. Well things start to change. The visits stop she doesn’t answer the phone for days. People are telling me she’s out at the bars and hanging back with old friends from her past. When she does answer we argue. She tells me she’s still trying to get me a lawyer. I write her countless letters pleading with her not to do this. Please don’t throw everything we’ve worked towards down the drain. I know what’s going on, she’s turning back to the person she use to be. There’s nothing I can do. I’m crushed. It gets close to court so I ask for a court appointed lawyer.
When I do talk to her which at this point is once a week maybe. I beg her not to get rid of my belongings and she swears she would never do that. We’re talking now about me moving out and we are going to try to start over. Court time comes and I decide to take the original plea because she’s acting like she doesn’t care if I get out or stay in forever. I talk to her the night before court she tells me she loves me she’s crying her eyes out. I tell her to be strong everything will be ok as long as she’s with me and not against me. She swears she will be with me every step of the way. We say I love you and hang up. That’s the last I ever hear from her. I go to court the next morning with high hopes of getting released in the very near future. My baby is coming to court and she’s on my side and we’re going to put this behind us and hopefully get our old life back. My lawyer comes back and says to sign the plea so we read over it. At the bottom it says by signing I agree to have absolutely no contact with her. I say wait this isn’t right. We just talked eight hours ago she loves me she’s on my side. The lawyer takes it back he said it must mean no hostile contact. He’s gone for two minutes comes back and said “She wants absolutely no contact what so ever”. I’m in shock I can’t hear anything but a ringing in my ear. It feels like my hearts been ripped from my chest. The lawyer says we don’t have to accept the plea. We can fight but malicious wounding carries a 1 to 20 year sentence and unlawful wounding carries 1to 5 years and his advice is I take this plea. He was a real piece of shit court appointed that I only used because she was with me. At this point I want to give up and crawl in to a hole. The lawyer says by the time we go to sentencing I should get time served. I will have been in for roughly 11 months. I give in I’ll take the plea. I’m in court the judge is explaining everything. I glance back and catch her eyes looking through me, blank, no feelings what so ever. Then she leans back so I can’t see her. I tell the judge that all my tools, clothes, truck, all of my daughters belongings are in her possession roughly $25,000 worth and I’ve sent her a list of everything I want. She whispers to the Commonwealth attorney and she tells the judge that she is giving everything on the list back including the truck. She said she would give it to my family. I’m led out of court broken, alone, and in shock. My best friend, my fianc, my partner doesn’t want me anymore. I’ve been through a lot in life and have been screwed over several times but like this by a person I love, never. Little did I know it was far from over. I go back to jail get on the phone with my rock (my mother) We talk and come up with a plan to get my stuff from her. Over the next couple of weeks my family tries to contact her to make arrangements to get every thing. No luck. Then she text my mom and said she would give everything back after the new year which is a couple weeks out. So we wait. The time comes and she text my mom telling her she can come get the stuff. My sister and brother in law take two trucks and trailers over there. When they pull up there are cars all over the lawn beer cans in the flower beds and in the drive is a tarp over some stuff. The go to the door after a few knocks some guy answers the door my sister says they are there to get my stuff. The guy points to the tarp and says that’s it. My sis tells him there must be a misunderstanding. He said that’s all she’s giving him and shuts the door. My sister with tears in her eyes loads up the “trash” under the tarp. I call her that night and she can’t even tell me. She hands the phone to my brother in law and he breaks the news to me. Everything I’ve worked hard for all of my life, all of my memories and keepsakes everything is gone. This can’t be happening to me. What did I do to deserve this. I helped this woman and her child. We built a life together. This isn’t how things are supposed to go. I messed up and put my hands on her and I’m deeply sorry for this and I’ve paid for my mistake. Why is this happening! These are some of the thoughts that ran through my head and still do. Wait! Its not over, that’s not enough, your not done. The day before sentencing the lawyer shows up with a victim witness hand written statement from my love. It says that she’s a battered woman I’ve beat her since day one she can’t go any where in public she cant visit with her daughter because of the abuse. She’s had to buy more locks and an alarm system because she’s scared for her life. While I’m reading this all I can think about is why. These are all lies! Her Facebook proves she goes out everynight! She doesn’t visit with her daughter because she’s back to the party girl back dancing and living the night life. At the bottom of this statement it says she feels that I should be locked up forever! WTF!!! So I tell the lawyer and he shrugs and says its not a big deal. I should only get 2 years I’ve already done a little over one. So I’ll be able to get work release or weekends. I can start to pick the pieces up and figure out my next move. I walk in court the next day and her family is on one side and mine on the other. She doesn’t take the stand but her mom and sisters do. They deserve Oscars. Then the judge asked me did I have anything to say before sentencing. While I’m speaking and apologizing and defending myself because my lawyer never once challenged any thing in that statement. The judge let’s the Commonwealth speak they ask for the max 5 years. My lawyer doesn’t speak. The judge gives me 5 1/2 years with 2 suspended. I go back and sleep for a few days. The rest is a blur now I’m here typing this blog if that’s what my story is. I get out in 14 months. I’ve missed my sisters wedding. My oldest daughters wedding. Birthdays, Christmas, my sister and my daughter are pregnant and by the time I’m released the babies will be about 6 months old.
Why would someone do this? Yes I admit I should of never pushed her or her mom. That was wrong and I’m embarrassed for it. The only thing I was thinking was protect my daughter. But how does someone that loves you so much switch it off and switch on hate like a light. 5 years is what I wasted plus this 3 1/2. I’m not looking for any sympathy. I’m going to be fine. I have wonderful family and friends here and overseas. (L.E.from the U.K.)
What I am looking for is understanding. When all this happened the best place for me was locked away. These past 19 months I’ve done alot of soul searching, praying, and meditating. I’ve read countless self help books to try to “forgive and forget” but there is something still there. I’m not talking about hate this is more powerful. I feel like I’m loseing my mind because it feels like…..love. Why in the hell would I feel this for someone so evil. I’ve never been that guy. The guy that gets walked all over cheated on and still takes the girl back. And in no way am I saying that I would take this women back but why the feelings of love. That should be the furthest thing from my mind. It feels like a piece of me, inside is gone. I don’t really know why I felt compelled to put my self out there. There is three things I hope this blog does.1. Is to help me find peace and forgiveness 2. Hopefully someone will read this and think twice about doing this or something similar. Or if they know someone that would do this maybe talk to them. 3. Maybe someone has the answers to the Why.
I’ll definitely share my findings as I’m constantly reading and searching for the answers.
I feel better now that I got that off my chest 😉
Categories: Matthew Shepherd