Tue | May 30, 2017

A Victim of my ex-wife's abuse

Published:Sunday | September 28, 2014 | 9:00 AM

Janet Silvera, Gleaner Writer

In the thralls of sex with his wife, she would often blurt out "Lord, just come off me, because you smell and look like my father." That was just one of the many common expressions Paul Mitchell* got accustomed to hearing.

For 12 years, Mitchell lived with the devastating effects of the abuse that his wife, Jacqueline Jackson*, brought to their marriage. Jackson had suffered years of sexual abuse by her father, who started having sex with her at age 15.

When Mitchell met her, she was 29 years old, battered emotionally and physically, ready to marry anyone willing to replace the sperm donor who played the role of her father. "Even though I was three years younger, my wife saw me as the father figure," Mitchell told Outlook in an exclusive interview last week.

The divorcees could now speak about the ghost that trapped his marriage for 12 years, as Jackson had finally confronted her struggles by reporting her father to the police. "The abuse was detrimental to our marriage. Because of the abuse, we couldn't survive. I became the villain."

He said that as long as he didn't want sex from his wife, they were perfect. "The moment I made a move, she would shut down. She would say, 'the reason I can't make love to you, is that you smell like my father, you look like my father'."

Mitchell said this went on unabated until he sought counselling for his wife. However, she wouldn't go. "I hired five counsellors overall. She found all sorts of excuses not to deal with them. Either they were men and she didn't want a male counsellor, or woman, fat or too thin, black or too white, she would always say she didn't like the person. They even tried Scientology (the business of learning how to know).

Mitchell said he spent in excess of US$25,000 trying to get help for his wife.

For each counsellor that she went to, he himself had to have a 45-minute session.

He said he read books ordered by the counsellors to learn about his wife's condition, but she probably never touched one of the books until 20 years later.

"Before the situation, I had never read a book from cover to cover."

Mitchell told Outlook that, when you are with an abused partner, you start to lose who you are. "After a while, you realise you have no life. You are only living for them (the abused), thinking you can fix the problem. But, no matter what I did, I just couldn't get it right."

The 47-year-old said he cried many times during sex, out of frustration and rejection from the woman he loved.

During his sessions with the psychologists, he was told that it was normal for the abused to think their partner looks and smells like their abuser. "If it's a 'slam bam thank you ma'am thing', it's another kettle of fish, because there is no permanence there."

While they were going through counselling, Mitchell was willing to let her have sex with another man, because she was a really good person who had got a raw deal.

After years of dealing with his wife's depression, a woman's tears no longer has any effect on him. "I take it as nothing, because it reminds me of my ex-wife, who had become a control freak. It happens to

every abused, they become a control freak and know how to manipulate and control."

After a while the couple started to have an open relationship. "She didn't want me sexually, so I was allowed to go with other women. At first it was fine, and then I realised that the only person I wasn't having sex with was my wife."

Mitchell said Jackson brought up the idea of her getting pregnant, but this only complicated things. "She and I would plan to have a child, she would get pregnant, and she would then decide to have an abortion. This happened three times."

The fourth time she asked to become pregnant, Mitchell said he told her no, because he was too hurt to try again.

Jackson comes clean

Those who don't know Mitchell may criticise him for suffering so long, but he told Outlook that he knew his wife was abused two months after they met. During one of their conversations, she just blurted it out. Mitchell was very understanding and eventually approached her father about the accusations.

"I went to him and asked him. He said he thought it was his wife he was having sex with. But in the end, how do you come back, two, three and four times to your daughter, thinking it was your wife?" asked Mitchell.

He didn't have a problem marrying Jackson even though she was abused, because, he said, nine out of the 10 women he has dated in Montego Bay at the time had been abused by either a father or an uncle. "I would say, in Montego Bay this was a common assault. It's just that it has been hushed up for years."

He said he felt he had to show her love and affection. "In my mind, this would be therapy."

He was obviously wrong, and one of the psychologists told him off the record that, "no one will tell you this, but there is really no fix for this situation." He said he was advised to "cut and run".

He didn't listen to the psychologist, he said, and stayed in the relationship for an additional 10 years before admitting the man was right. "There is no fix to this situation, unless the perpetrator is no longer a threat to anyone."

Hence, he lauds his ex-wife for making the bold move and having her father arrested, over 30 years after she was abused.

"She did the right thing, because she is looking for closure. This is the only thing that will help. Nothing that happens from here on will affect her. Just the thought of him being arrested brings a lot of closure. It is all psychological," said Mitchell.

He feels no repercussion can be worse than the life she has lived.

Before their divorce seven years ago, Mitchell said he ensured his ex-wife was comfortable and left himself broke. "I bought her a house in her name and a car."

Today, she remains his best friend. "We talk every day, and the woman in my life understands this."

In addition to the child he fathered before his marriage, Mitchell has had three children since.

He gives Jackson all the moral support she needs.

Names changed upon request.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com