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My Awakening & Rebirth Along the Journey of Hope, Part Two: by Donnalynn Scillieri, MA

with Gerri Budd, Ph.D.

Noteworthy: There is more and more domestic violence awareness historically than ever before, but the numbers are not decreasing.  Organizations similar to Tony Porter’s, A Call to Men, are re-educating men to change their behavior toward woman and I am stressing the helping hands extended to victims and hope for them to grab onto those hands.  Frighteningly, one in four women will be abused in their lifetime by an intimate partner and as a society we have to guide them to the bridge.

Current books discuss the hideousness of the abuse and in the epilogue mention the survivor is in a new life, but no one discusses the bridge the women crossed into the new life.  But the seeds that are planted sprout and the hands pull you along if you surrender to them.  I know this because I am one of them.  Survivors have an ingenuity and cunning to survive and a strength that comes from deep inside and the heavens above.

The relationship didn’t start off on a horrible note but looking back, there were red flags and glaring horns.  As my friend, who ran a university Women’s Center stated, “Abusers don’t say, yo’ bitch, wanna’ go out tonight!!!”  They are very smooth, attentive and caring; but remember “all that glitters is not gold.” It is a fast slide into hell and a long climb out but reach out and let the angels pull you out.

I began my Wall Street career in the 1980’s when there were very few women that were part of firms’ professional staff.  I was first hired by E.F. Hutton’s Institutional Trading Dept and after Shearson conquered Hutton, I went on to work for Crédit Lyonnais’s C.L. Global Partners on the Risk Arbitrage Desk in 1988.

In 1989, we gave a lot of business to my ex’s firm on the NYSE, and I met him at a dinner party given by his firm. Two months, later, I ran down onto the floor of the stock exchange and he gave me a quick kiss in the middle of all the chaotic trading floor.  Later that day, he called me for a date the next night to have dinner at SPQR on Mulberry Street in Little Italy.  It was the end of June and we should all learn the hints that the universe throws us because I had the last case of the flu in the Metropolitan area.  I was at work and felt sick, but my head trader explained to me that he needed my ex’s firm to handle our business on the NYSE in the New Blue Room and it was too late to cancel the date.  “Just put on some makeup and have fun,” and I already had on enough makeup to cover all of Broadway, but I was very ill and it just sank into my skin.

We had a magical night until we went back to my apartment and by then I was deathly ill.  He stayed, held my hair as I threw up and helped me go to the doctor in the morning.  As I already stated, abusers can be the most considerate people in the beginning.

We continued to date and were not only lovers but the best of friends; both of us loved the mountains, shore and art in NYC.  We never argued, everything just flowed but in hindsight there were subtle signs.  He was a recovering cocaine addict and a volunteer drug counselor with a radio show out of Long Island and ran programs in locked wards and prisons.  I had never done cocaine, nor is it used in my close social circles so I did not recognize the signs.

We were engaged with a wedding date of March 2, 1991, and yet again, the universe threw out more warnings, that I missed.  Strange things began to happen such as money disappearing and delayed paychecks on his part.  I didn’t pay much attention because I had a beautiful Manhattan apartment on E 33rd Street, a scrumptious wardrobe, a nearly unlimited Wall Street expense account and was basically living life large.  His firm notified me that my ex’s colleague lost his wallet and my ex found it, but the money had disappeared, and they fired him because of theft.  I did not believe it, it was “beneath me” and just set in motion by a “jealous” man.  Then we were in traffic outside of the Lincoln Tunnel and he absolutely lost his temper and was out of control for a few minutes about the congestion.  That was the first time I ever say saw him angry and it was scary.  I thought it was an isolated incident and I could not have been more wrong.  Our intimate life declined, and we brushed it off to the stress of the wedding and moving to my hometown in New Jersey.

We were married, honeymooned in Cozumel but something was off.  He seemed to avoid intimacy and made a friend from Long Island.  He was covering his cocaine use and I learned he did not have a valid driver’s license.  The lies and gas lighting were becoming his normal behavior and my sense of being on high alert was becoming my normal behavior at the cost of my health over the long term.

We had only been married a few weeks and he was so sweet, again.  We were down in the town center having lunch and stopped in the bank.  I was setting up an account to trade bonds and he distracted me with kisses and told the bank officer how much he loved me, and I said, “Never mind…I will come back,” and we walked out like newlyweds do.  I always had night terrors, but nightmares started that our car and furniture were repossessed.  The following week we were off for Good Friday, and I picked up his jeans off the floor to do laundry and a packet of cocaine fell out and I wanted to believe it was not his.  The following week, my cleaning service called me at work to tell me that the Sheriff’s department had padlocked the apartment for non-payment of rent.  That was impossible, I had thousands of dollars in the bank, so I telephoned the bank to confirm and found I had a grand total of sixty-seven cents. 

All of our money was gone, and he had not paid any of our bills. The floor fell out from under me but like a dutiful wife, we went to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).  He seemed to be on the mend, and we met with my Ob Gyn of 8 years and coincidentally, played softball with my ex.  He told us which night we could conceive a child and we did.

Before my pregnancy was confirmed, I was trading for the specialist firm, Robb, Peck, McCooey and one day everything spun out of control.  I arrived outside of the New York Stock Exchange and went to the same breakfast truck I visited every morning to order my tea and muffin and was asked for $20.  I laughed and he said, “I am not joking, your husband owes me $20.” I gave it to him and ran up to my office.  My head trader was away, and I was running my portion of the trading desk and one of my stock exchange lines called me and dropped the bomb, “we are not hiring your husband for the higher income than he is earning now because he is back on cocaine.”  I froze and for the first time in my entire Wall Street career I began to lose control of my trades as all of the trading desks began telling me how much my ex had borrowed from them and that his drug problem had spun out of control.

I got up and ran, I ran out of the building and collapsed on Wall Street.  I was disgraced, pregnant and never went back.  I thought that one day I would be nominated as one of the top 50 women on Wall Street and all of those years of hard work, breaking the ceiling, came tumbling down.

Now on one hand, he was the perfect expectant father, but the drugs were getting worse, money was disappearing, and the lying was increasing.  My first child was born on April 16, 1992.

My son was and is amazing, but my husband was becoming another person and not for the better.  He was struggling with his drug addiction and having a hard time holding a job.  We got to the point that he had to leave Wall Street and try to get himself together.  Time went by, my son continued to thrive, and my ex had the opportunity to return to Wall Street with Parker Hunter.  We had my daughter on May 8, 1997, and she was and is incredible as a but this is when things went into warp speed hell.

Please join me as I share another part of my story in the next blog.

If you or someone you know is in danger, please call 911 or you can call, chat or text the Domestic Violence National Hotline.


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