A Personal Story…
(October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month – I dedicate this post to all of those who’ve lost their lives)
I grew up in a very conservative household, with two parents who believed in integrity, honesty and treating people right. I had a very loving household and my siblings and I always felt safe. My father coddled my mother, showed her affection, encouraged her and made her an important aspect of our lives.
We were taught from a very young age that we had to work hard to achieve our dreams and that anything was possible. The map was already laid out for us, we should strive to do our best in school, graduate, attend college and we will have a wondrously happy life.
I took it one step further and weaved law school into the equation of my life. I graduated with honors and opportunities. My life was going in the direction that my parents spoke of and I was successfully flowing through my maze of life without having to turn around and go the other way.
Having gotten settled in my career, I knew that the next phase of my life would be to start dating and I wanted to seek that perfect man (who was OK with being imperfectly human), date, have fun, fall in love and start a beautiful family. Yes, I was very selective as I had a wonderful role model in my father and that was the man I wanted.
I found him! I met him through mutual friends, which now I know gave me some sense of false confidence that knowing them meant he was a “good guy” with great character, an upstanding man, a man who grew up with the same primcipals and morals I had received. Wow! How awesome to be able to pair our two lives together to conquer this cruel world together.
He was everything that I had hoped for; he was charming, caring, attentive, supportive and even listened to my dreams and aspirations. I was grateful that he had chosen me to be his and his alone. So, we started dating seriously and spent as much time as we could together because we were falling in love. He made me feel so special when he opened doors for me, stroked my hair gently and attended to my every need. Yes, he was dedicated to making me happy and would do whatever he could to ensure I remained that way.
The day he proposed was the day I knew that I was going to live that fairytale life that I had dreamt about since childhood. I would have all that my parents had yet so much more!
I was wooed into blindness as I did not realize that the shove the night before our wedding day would ultimately transition from a fairytale to a living nightmare. Yes, I had married an abuser.
Of course, it started off slow with the little shoves, suggestions on how I should wear my hair, what outfit I should where (color too) and who I should be friends with. But, each day, the abuse gained momentum until it was moving full steam ahead and I felt the sting of pins and needles on my feet as I began walking on them.
My husband had turned into the beast opposite of the beast I’d seen so many times on the big screen. He began to control every single aspect of my life. He took away my access to money, he decided when I would go to bed (and wake up), he decided what I would eat and when I would eat and how much. Yes, he would even check the trash when he got home to see what I had taken from the inventoried refrigerator. Friends and family were pretty much shut-off and if they did come to visit, he had to be home and present (literally). I was not “allowed” to go out and spend time with anyone. I had to quit my job and trade in my suit for what I now consider prison garbs as I was locked up and the Warden was in charge.
Fast forward. I had not one, but two beautiful girls who were being subjected to hearing the verbal name calling. I am certain that they believed my name was stupid dumb bitch, worthless whore or asshole. My girls would run to the closet and hide in the clothes as that was their ‘safe place’. Yet, they were never safe as it was only a matter of time that the abuse would be handed down as though it were a gift. Surprise!
If it could happen, it did and came in the form of punches, slaps, kicks, spitting, having my head slammed into the wall, being pushed down and snatched out of bed. And, that is just the physical part as the emotional, verbal and economical (lack of) abuse was even worse.
Yes, my fairytale was now a nightmare!
Of course I stayed, because I was empathetic to his pain of having been brutally abused by non-loving parents as a child (which I learned later). I stayed as I had absolutely no resources. I stayed because I feared that the court system would award full custody of my children to the parent who had the income, owned the house and appeared to be a stand-up man. I stayed because of the threats on my life and my children’s life. I stayed as I was beat down, manipulated, confused, tired and had my self-esteem stolen. I stayed because I loved him and wanted to help him.
I can remember the day as if it was this moment, the day my children and I had to endure his rage, beatings, yelling, throwing and vulgarity for nine hours. This was the day I prayed to God to please spare our lives. It was the next day that I realized I was tired and as I was packing my kids for school, backpack and lunches in hand, we got in the car and we drove. We drove without a single dollar available to us, we drove until we found a safe place. That was September, 2013 and one-year later; I am still fighting the battle with a man who insists on keeping us as personal victims.
The nightmare is not over as the court’s awarded him unsupervised weekend stays. Stays that have my girls shivering before they get in the car with him, stays that have taught them how to argue, fight, punch and worse, have horrible nightmares and no understanding of what a fairytale even is.
The divorce is now final, but the true separation has never happened and the fight for freedom continues each hour. The most dangerous time for us as victims is the time we are separated from our abuser. But, I must continue to fight, speak up, stand up and win back my life and the lives of my children and with God’s grace, I know I will overcome.
I wish someone would have told me that fairytales don’t always come true!
* This story was inspired by a current victim of domestic violence named Jennifer who has since gotten out of her marriage but is still victimized daily. She openly and freely shared her story, not for herself, but for those who need to know that they are not alone. She shared her story to beg the world to stop the judgment of the victim and to let people know, you must get out!
Side note: Not all abusers are men!
“Don’t let someone put their hands on you unless it is a Loving Touch!”
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please seek help through The National Domestic Violence Hotline or by calling 1.80.799.SAFE (7233).
Move Forward In Righteousness XOXO ♥