The Herald Bulletin

October 6, 2012

Sandi Martin-Frizzell: 'All of it was normal'

Abuse survivor says there is life after traumatic events

By Abbey Doyle
The Herald Bulletin

PENDLETON, Ind. — He was one of the most charming and charismatic men that Sandi Martin-Frizzell had ever met.

“I thought he was the love of my life,” Sandi, 57, said. “He turned out to be the devil incarnate.”

It didn’t take long for her to discover he was violent, controlling and manipulative. But it took her 28 years to escape it. Now, divorced for 11 years, she’s finally able to talk about the pain.

“I lived in secrecy for so long,” she said. “In the back of my head I was still afraid of him; afraid he was still there.”

Sandi was only 19 when the two met. They were married 28 years.

During that time, the relationship progressively worsened. His temper turned “explosive,” she said. Sandi walked on egg shells trying to meet her spouse’s unrealistic expectations; it was a way to keep the abuse at bay. But repairing the marriage became impossible.

The abuse wasn’t just physical. He controlled Sandi by isolating her from friends and family. He made her feel worthless, like no one would want her, like she had brought on the abuse herself.

“It got to the point where all of it was normal to me. It was routine,” Sandi said. “I didn’t grow up saying, ‘I want to be an abused wife when I grow up,’ but gradually that’s what I became.

“You are conditioned to think it is all your fault,“ Sandi said. “And I always thought that if I did things better he would change. I told myself, ‘This isn’t the man I fell in love with.‘ Apparently it was though.“

And when she could muster the courage to leave, he would threaten to hurt or kill her and their three children.

“I was terrified.”

But after the children were grown and moved away she knew they were safe. She continued to stay until she broke.

“I was depressed and sitting at the kitchen table when he set a bunch of pill bottles in front of me and said, ‘Why don’t you put me and yourself out of our misery,’” Sandi said. “I decided that day to leave.”

Now, Sandi is happily remarried and enjoys spending her time with her children and three grandchildren. She still has her struggles with past abuse but said she feels happy and safe.

“It’s a process; you have to learn how to do everything, how life is supposed to be, all over again.”

Find Abbey Doyle on Facebook and @heraldbulletin on Twitter, or call 640-4805.