Laura Moseley is a single mom of three, a grandmother, and the courageous survivor of more than 23 years of both sexual and domestic abuse. She is currently involved with social services work, she is a domestic violence advocate, she is a public speaker, and she has a blog called “The Walking Wounded.” The “Walking Wounded” are the victims of domestic abuse who hide their pain behind smiles and their bruises behind well-placed garments and accessories. They live their lives in such constant chaos that mental health professionals have reported that their brain scans look almost identical to those in the military who have experienced and survived combat situations.
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT THINGS LIKE:
- What drew Laura to her husband and what in his background led him to have severe anger management issues.
- How Laura was affected by both domestic violence and sexual abuse.
- The ways each of Laura’s children were affected by what was happening in their home.
- The cycles of abuse and the “honeymoon” period in the abuse cycle.
SOME QUESTIONS IRENE ASKS LAURA:
- How did you meet your husband?
- What are the “red flags” to be aware of so as not to be in relationship with a future domestic violence perpetrator?
- How did you find the courage and support you needed to leave your marriage, heal and move forward towards Rebirth?
Listen to the podcast here
Laura Moseley: It’s Not Loyalty That Keeps Us In Bad Relationships. It’s Unhealed Trauma.
I’m feeling thankful to be welcoming Laura Moseley for the twelfth inspiring interview in the Rebirth series. Laura, who will be speaking to us from Madison, Indiana, is a single mom of three, a grandmother, and a courageous survivor of many years of both sexual and domestic abuse. She is involved with social services work. She is a domestic violence advocate and a public speaker. She has a blog called The Walking Wounded.
She describes the walking wounded as victims of domestic abuse. Domestic violence victims and survivors hide their pain behind smiles, and they hide their bruises behind well-placed garments and accessories. They live their lives in such constant chaos that mental health professionals have reported that their brain scans look almost identical to those in the military who have experienced and survived combat situations.
Full disclosure, I resonate with Laura and her story because I grew up in a home filled with the trauma and pain of domestic violence and abuse. During my adult years, I volunteered for and was trained to answer calls coming into the hotline of a battered women’s service, which provided me with quite an education on this subject. I’m looking forward to talking with Laura about her heart-wrenching story of trauma and pain, how her trauma and pain transformed into a remarkable story of healing and rebirth, and the way she now inspires others to begin their own healing journeys. I am glad to welcome you to the show.
Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate you letting me be on here.
I’m delighted, and we are going to not only educate but also enlighten and inspire a lot of people because this is an important conversation that a lot of people are aware of. As I interview you, it is triggering memories like crazy of my own background and life. Please tell us about your life before you began to experience both domestic and sexual abuse. Share how you met your husband.
I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, with two loving parents that are still married and very much in love. I had a great childhood. My parents would describe me as spirited, but I was a tomboy. I got into trouble a lot. I had to push the envelope. I still do as an adult. I loved learning, meeting people, and talking to people even as a young child, and I loved writing. I would write stories. I would make up newspapers. I was going to be a journalist when I was in high school.
When I met my husband, my abuser, I was a senior in high school. We both worked at a plant nursery. I was getting close to graduation. I met him, my then boyfriend, at the time worked there. He decided to break up with me and be dramatic with it right before prom. My best girlfriend and I went to prom together. Afterward, I graduated and started talking more to the man that would become my husband.
I found him to be delightful. He is articulate and funny. He didn’t have much money. I would share my lunch with him on weekends, and we got to be friends. He decided to ask me out on a date, and it went from there. He is good-looking and charming. I didn’t think anything of that. I was raised to believe you got to find the best in people. That is what I did because he didn’t show me anything other than what a great person.
When I was studying to man the hotline, I learned that a lot of people who are abusive have bad anger management issues. Did he have those issues from his childhood and upbringing?
He did, not anything I learned about until after we married.
You are not learning until you are blasted with it.
He was raised by a single mother that I was very close to throughout my entire married life. She was a product of domestic violence. Her husband was abusive. When she divorced him, he, my abuser, was five years old. You are thinking, “He couldn’t have seen much.” He probably saw and absorbed a lot more than people realized.
It is his formative years.
He did have anger issues. He came from a broken home. When he was a teenager, he struggled with drug usage. I didn’t find this out until after I married him, but he didn’t seem to have it then. I wasn’t as concerned. His addiction issues followed throughout our whole entire marriage, which ran parallel with the abuse. If you can abuse and be addicted to substances, you can abuse and be addicted to control. I feel like those were parallel. He got suspended from school for fighting. I feel like that triggered his deal.
With what you know, those would have been red flags for you. We are going to talk about red flags later. My first husband and father were abusive. My second husband, not at all, because I went to therapy, and I healed a lot. Now I know better. We will talk about what those red flags are that people should be aware of when they are dating someone. Could you describe how domestic violence and sexual abuse impacted you during your marriage? Share how your kids were affected, both physically and emotionally, by what was happening in their home, like your ex was affected by what happened in his home.
We found out we were pregnant early on. We got married quickly and moved in with his mom. She is a single mom trying to control every situation. I understand. I’m a single mom now. I get that to a certain degree. There was a lot of conflict there.
He probably had anger management issues with her growing up, but he was mad at her too. He had a lot to displace onto you.
We would start off having disagreements every newly married couple would have. He took it to a physical level when our oldest child was eighteen months old. He hurt me, and I forgave him by not acknowledging that because he didn’t acknowledge it. I’m trying to move forward in my marriage and not make a big deal. Maybe I was making more of a big deal about it than I thought, and this continued. It was these different cycles of verbal, emotional, physical, and later on, financial, which a lot of people don’t realize is abuse and spiritual.
In other words, he withheld money from you.
We had a joint account. He kept telling me I was good with money. I needed to make sure the bills were paid, and that was what I was doing. I’m trying to give him and myself an allowance to stay on track. I was the one withholding money when I was trying to get the bills paid. He would take out an enormous amount of money and overdraw us. It was a lot of control there. For spiritual abuse, he didn’t want me to go to church. I was raised in the Catholic church. He moved us 450 miles away from my family. How I stayed close to them is I went to church every Sunday or tried to and was guilted.
That is another form of abuse. My father disowned me for many years. They take you away to punish my mother. They take the support. Your church was your support. He takes them away from you.
It was a constant ongoing cycle of that. All that coercion made me feel like I was crazy for trying to maintain who I was and make sure my family was successful. It was insane, the cycle, and not even realizing I was being abused, and that was a cycle. Once you learn or realize, “Am I being abused? I don’t know.” You start reading about it and notice this is a cycle. It amps up. We have an explosion. Everybody was like, “I’m sorry.” It circles back from there. You don’t realize it until you do, and you can’t unsee that anymore.
Can I ask you what he did sexually?
He wanted to have sex all the time. If I was not willing to do that, I was like, “I can’t. I’m not feeling well. I have to get up at 3:00 AM. Let’s do this later.” No, it was his way or the highway. When I was in high school and was sixteen, a former boyfriend raped me, and I never told anybody about that. Facebook suggested this person be my friend one day. I freaked out, and I had to tell him. I didn’t keep anything from him. Once I told him, he was like, “Did you deserve it? What were you wearing?”
I told him what happened, what he did, and I never told my parents. He would try to take advantage of me in the way that I was raped, which was not something I ever wanted to do. He got me buzzed, almost drunk and did what he wanted. I’m crying and begging him not to. What a lot of people don’t realize is rape is real inside of a marriage. No is no. It does not matter. If you are in a committed relationship, you say no, and they coerce or force you, that is rape.
How about your kids? How were they affected by all of this?
When they were young and naive, probably five or less, he was the best dad. He had the ability to be when he wanted to be. Once they started becoming more self-aware, he started getting physically, emotionally, and verbally aggressive with them. It bothered me that he would do things to me in front of them because if he wanted to start an argument, I was like, “Let’s go to our bedroom. We can talk there.” I didn’t want to have any disagreement in front of my kids. Kids need to know that parents don’t always agree, but not to that extent.
It was another show of power. Once they became ten and became self-aware and independent, he would almost punish them for trying to be who they were instead of working with us both trying to parent. They got a lot of physical, emotional, and verbal. I tried not to leave them alone with him because I didn’t want him to do anything. You can’t leave a child with another parent forever. Sometimes you have to leave the house, or they would get home before me, and he would be there. He would do things to them without my knowing. I found out later on.
Are they okay?
They are in therapy.
That saved my life. I’m 1 of 3. I’m the one who had the most therapy. That is why I’m passionate about this healing show because it changed my life. It sounds like it has helped you also, and it is helping your kids. I tell people all the time, “You can change that dynamic, but you have to do the work.” When you are talking about the fact of the cycles of abuse, that is called the honeymoon period. I know my mother used to get jewelry.
I did, too, jewelry, flowers, dinner, and occasionally a concert or an event ticket. I have all this jewelry and jewelry box that I have such bad memories of that I’m thinking of selling it all.
It is wise to do and get yourself something that makes you happy. It is your time now. Everyone is reading this and wondering, Laura, how you found the courage and where you found the support to leave this toxic relationship. Could you please share your healing journey with us? It takes so much courage to pull out. You probably had a plan to do different things. What did you do?
He and I separated about four times before the final separation in 2010. I was watching an Oprah Winfrey documentary about a bride burning. They talked about domestic abuse before they launched into that. I was at home. Either I was sick, or I was with a sick child. I can’t remember exactly I watched this whole thing. That is the point where the light bulb came on above my head. I was like, “Am I being abused? I think I’m being abused.” I started reading about it because I always thought there was something. Maybe he was bipolar, or he had a borderline personality. I wasn’t sure, but he always referenced it as my fault. I did a lot of self-soul searching.
One of the things they do is they make you crazy and make you doubt your reality. They are attacking you. They are pulling you away from your support systems. It is all you. It is never them.
The final episode happened in September 2017. A year prior to that, I had to start losing weight. I needed gallbladder surgery. I had to eat fat-free because I didn’t have insurance at the time. I was losing weight. I was starting to feel better, which is always good when they are sitting there constantly, making you physically and emotionally sick. I would go to the gym, and he would follow me. He stalked me because I was cheating on him constantly, according to him. I don’t know when I would have had time to do that, but okay.
I had to go out of town for a business trip. He was torturing my children while I was gone, even though I took them to my mother-in-law’s house. She sent them back home. It was a big mess. I came back home, and I said, “I can’t do this anymore.” We had a big blow-up. He was like, “I’m sorry. We are going to work on this. We are going to get back to the way that it was.” I went ahead and said, “Okay.” I was planning on leaving because I couldn’t do it anymore. It was making me to the point where I wasn’t eating and sleeping well. It was affecting my work life and my ability to provide for my family. The day prior, he shot at me with a gun.
He had a gun in the house.
Yes, we both have guns. That was not a big deal. He was angry because I hadn’t called him to tell him I called in sick to work. After I got the kids off to work in school, I went back to bed because I felt terrible. I went to the doctor. I realized I had missed calls from him. I called him. He charged me back down to the doctor’s office. I made them verify why I was there and what I was there to be seen for. That was the most embarrassing thing. When we got back home, he was angry. He was trying to show force and shot at me. He didn’t hit me, but I still have a bullet hole in my wall. It is my daughter’s room now. I won’t sleep in there.
Does it bother your daughter that she is sleeping in a room with a bullet hole?
No, she wasn’t attacked in there. I have been attacked in every room of my home. I don’t care for my house anymore. It is a place for my children. I went to work the next day, trying to maintain my level of sanity that probably wasn’t even there. I came home that night and was fixing dinner. We were supposed to cook out and chill out. There were no kids at home except for our youngest one.
As the night progressed, he drank more. He was also an alcoholic. He got mad at me. He called my best friend and yelled at her. It escalated from there because it was something in his mind that wasn’t going on, but he was using that to fuel his anger to carry out whatever he was doing. I feel like him shooting at me the day prior. Hindsight is 20/20. He was working up the courage to try and kill me.
We got into an altercation out there because he was screaming at my best friend on the phone. I went to retrieve my phone and said, “That is enough.” I got struck across the face. My middle daughter tried to protect me, and my youngest son saw that. The fact that he beat me in front of my child is a felony. My daughter got my youngest one out of there. She took him to her best friend’s house while this was all going on because he was getting physical and cornering me in places in the house.
I’m trying to find my youngest. My daughter calls me and says, “We are calling the police, Mom. This is ridiculous.” Meanwhile, he won’t let me leave the house. He has cornered me in our bedroom. He is beating me again. He beats me unconscious to the point where I have a concussion. I have a traumatic brain injury because of it. This tears my house completely apart.
Do you think he has issues because of you?
My oldest son was in a few towns over raced back because my middle daughter had called him. He races home. By this time, I have regained consciousness, but I’m woozy and not realizing where I’m at.
How old was your oldest son at this point?
He was 24. He gets in between his dad and I. On his way home, he called the police. The police start showing up after I leave the house with me and my little dogs. I’m sitting in the car. We are waiting for the police to get there. You can hear him in the house, tearing it apart. I’m sobbing. I got little dogs in my lap trying to lick me because I was crying. I got my oldest child sitting there talking to me. My middle child drives up. When she drove up, four police cars drove up. All I can think of is, “What are the neighbors thinking is going on over here?”
One of the officers is talking to me. They go into the house, but he runs out the door. My abuser decided to flee. They did catch up with him and put him in a car away from the house, which I was glad. They took him to jail. When he decided to flee, my daughter saw him leaving. She told the police officer. When she tried to show him which way he went, she slipped on my property and hurt her leg and foot. I was concerned about her. The ambulance was there. I refused treatment. I said, “I’m going to take her to the ER since you guys have him in custody. I’m worried about her leg.”
I did not realize what I looked like. I had bruises all over me and didn’t think about it because I was concerned with my daughter. I had to sign a waiver saying I was fine. I was taking myself to the ER. We get there. They take a look at her and me and go, “Are you okay?” I’m thinking, “Yes, I’m bringing her to the ER.” I do not realize what I look like. The police officer that was helping was on the scene came over and checked on my daughter to make sure she was okay. He checked on me. They took me. I had an MRI and different tests run. I had a little bit of a bleed on my brain they were concerned about. They did end up releasing us at about 3:00 AM.
After I got back from my brain scan, the officer was still there, and I thanked him for his help. He said, “You realize I have to take pictures now.” Nobody ever had that done, which I hope not, but that is humiliating. He made it as less humiliating as possible. He was nice about it, but he had to take pictures of me. I didn’t realize that. In the course of our fighting, my ex-husband had spit baked beans all over me. I had bruises and lacerations.
It is all-important for your divorce.
Yes, that is a story in itself. She had to take all these pictures. Since my abuser had beat me in front of my child, it became a felony. It started involving the state, which went on for a while. Abusers tend to know which attorneys to hire. This attorney decided to wear the state out to the point where I had to take over because they were delaying my divorce by several months.
I finally said, “Enough.” I went ahead and pushed the courts to give us a date for divorce because I waited the mandatory 60 days. I was well over that. They gave me a date several years from the day I was married as my divorce date. I had to sit by myself, tell the judge what went on and no longer want to be married. My abuser sat with his attorney and sobbed. The judge divorced us, thankfully.
Did he ever go for any therapy or anything? What is his story now?
We were apart. I had an emergency protective order, and I had all of that. He kept on drinking. He was dating every eligible woman in town. I live in a small town in Indiana. I got to hear about all of it. He left a bar one night because he and a girlfriend of his had fought. He ran his bike into a telephone pole. He was about to die because he was drunk. They ended up amputating his leg. He is now disabled because of his alcoholism. He is a narcissist, and that was not his fault.
You have been in therapy, and you are working on all this, which is helpful. Is there anything you would else you would like to share with those who are reading that has been especially helpful to you in your healing journey as you have been moving on?
It is all about safety. You have to do what is good and safe for you. If you feel like you are being abused and they don’t have to lay a hand on you, you are being abused.
Verbal abuse can be as hurtful as physical abuse, sometimes more.
Bruises heal. Words don’t. Always have somebody you trust that you talk over with this, even if it is an advocate. They can help you plan safely to leave.
There are many parts of the country battered women’s shelters. When I worked on that hotline at the battered women’s shelter, they even had transitional housing where women who were fearing to stay in their homes had places where they could go that would be protected because some of these guys were like your ex that tore up your house. I would hear horrible stories that went on while the woman was still in the house with the kids. There was safe transitional housing for them. A girl is going out with a guy. What should she look for to make sure that this is a benevolent, loving guy with the potential to be her future mate? What are the red flags you would say that you didn’t see when you were dating?
They like to assume everything. They don’t ask, “Can I hold your hand? Can I give you a kiss?” They want to move things on quickly. Talk about imminent marriage after the first or second date. You have to be careful of what is going on there. Watch their body language. Whether people realize it or not, tell them what they are going to do. You have to listen, watch and observe. Now that I’m in the habit of doing that, you can unsee that. People will tell you what their intentions are if you watch.
You could also watch the way they treat other people, like a waitress or an animal. It might be good to be aware of what their childhood was like. If you had known now because you have had therapy and you heard the single parent, she had control issues and all of that that went on. You will be like, “What is unhealed here that is going on?”
You have moved on to do all these wonderful things, which is incredible. You want to tell us about your social services work, your work as a domestic violence advocate, which you are doing right now by talking with me, and your blog called The Walking Wounded. You are doing public speaking, which you are doing right now. Tell us all about the new Laura.
I have a blog that I love writing on. I can write on it anytime I want to. It is called The DV Walking Wounded. It is chronicling this side of surviving abuse because when you are in it, it is hard to know that there is another side, the freedom, the safety you would feel, and all the other emotions that go along with it when you are trying to heal.
I work for a federal service organization. I help people call in all the time. I’m a customer service rep. Sometimes I have to ask, “Are you safe? Do you have domestic violence? Do you have an advocate? Would you like the national hotline number?” Domestic abuse isn’t interpersonal partner violence. It is parents, children, and elder abuse. Working in that environment, I encounter that almost every day. I do give out resources that way. I have people contact me on Facebook and Instagram. I try to help them as much as I can.
It is terrible what happened to you, but it is wonderful that you can help others now.
I try to. That is my goal. If I can help save somebody, at least one person, from this, it was worth it. I also work with a state representative. There was a local lady. Her name was also Laura. She died at the hands of her abuser. Our abusers had the same judge. I was going through a parallel experience as her. Now, he couldn’t hold her abuser. He let him out. He went and killed Laura Russell, unfortunately. I was afraid for my life. He already tried that once. We are trying to get it to where the judge can hold for more evidence if they feel necessary.
It is not going well in this session. They are talking about reviving it next session, which will be January 2023, to also work with the Coalition Against Domestic Violence in our state to make sure that the legal verbiage is bulletproof. They can make sure that gets put up upfront on the docket, gets handled, and gets pushed into law. I’m working with that because that’s very close to my heart.
I wonder how this judge felt when he realized that he let this guy go and he ended up killing his wife.
It made the national news, and he did feel bad, but he didn’t express it well. I don’t think he came off as remorseful. I try not to assume things of anybody because he does not have enough to hold him on. I understand that aspect because you don’t know. You can’t go, “I have a hunch. I’m going to keep him.” I suppose judges can do that, but they have to have a legal precedence to keep them on. If we pass this law, they can hold them for up to 72 hours for the state to come in and say, “We believe that he is dangerous. Here is more evidence.”
That is a good thing that is coming out of your experience. I’m going to give everyone who is reading the National Domestic Violence hotline number. Laura, if you have any other contact information besides DV Walking Wounded, let us know. The National Domestic Violence hotline number is 1-800-787-3224. There is also a website called The Hotline Org. Is there anything you would like to add, Laura?
I also have a Facebook inspirational page. It is also called The DV Walking Wounded. People can get in contact with me that way.
Let’s hope that no one here needs it, but if you do, now you have a resource to get on and get support for yourself. What would you say is your special message about the importance of healing and rebirth that you like to share with our audience, especially from your background?
Don’t lose yourself. Relationships are meant to enhance who you are, not lose yourself. If you got somebody trying to lose yourself and your identity, get you away from your family, and isolate you, that is a big red flag. Don’t ever lose yourself. I lost many years of myself. I’m trying to get slowly back and rediscover who I am as a person.
Are you rediscovering who you are? I suspect that some beautiful and wonderful new things are coming out about you as you are healing and growing. You are discovering because you were not allowed to blossom in this marriage. What is Laura Moseley’s tip for finding joy in life?
Even the small things, take things that you love. I was denied for so long writing. Take the things that you love and do them. Do them with great joy, glorifying God and everything good about you. That is my tip for joy.
I read some parts of your blog, and it is wonderful. I recommend all of you that is reading to get on the Walking Wounded blog. She has wonderful things to say. I got a lot out of it, Laura. From my heart, you are an incredible role model for the victims of domestic violence and abuse because you, Laura, found the courage to stand up and say, “This happened to me. It was not okay. I’m not going to allow it anymore.” You have been shining your bright light so that others can see that they can find their way to empowerment, healing, and rebirth.
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