#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Depression, Domestic Violence, healing, Hope, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Violet’s Story

“When I was 15, I started dating a man that was 24. After six months in the relationship, I didn’t want to be with him anymore. I wanted to be able to do things with friends, and be a normal high school girl. When I tried to breakup with him, he got angry and wanted to know who the other guy was. I assured him there was no other guy, and told him I would stay with him. I stayed with him for another five years. We did not go on dates, or do anything fun. I missed out on all of my high school years, and spent every night at home watching TV and movies with him.

When I was 20, I met another guy, and soon realized I wanted to be with him. When I told my boyfriend at the time that I didn’t love him anymore, he told me he would kill himself if I left him. The next day we went for a ride in his truck and we parked in a parking lot to talk. As soon as he turned off the truck, he opened up the console and pulled out a new pistol. He said he bought the gun to kill me, and then himself if I left him. He told me that if he couldn’t have me, no one could.

I stayed with him awhile longer, until the thought of being killed was better than the thought of living the rest of my life with him. I worked the courage up to tell him I was leaving, got in my car and drove away. I went to my best friend’s house to tell her what I had done, and she told me I needed to hide.

I found another friend’s house to hide at, and heard that he had gone to my best friend’s house looking for me. He banged on the door, yelling and screaming, until they called the police on him. I stayed with my other friend that night, and then went to the police station. They sent me to Umbrella, where they helped me fill out paperwork to get a restraining order. After waiting all day for the judge to look at the order, it was denied. The court said since he hadn’t done anything yet, they couldn’t grant the order.

I went back to the state police barracks, where a state trooper met me. When I told him my story, he said he would issue my ex boyfriend a no trespass order for my place of work, college, and my house. He said he would do his best to scare him off.

That worked for awhile. Then I started getting flowers sent to my work, with love notes. I threw them away as soon as I saw them. He would call my work to try to harass me. Then I noticed he started following me. I would have to find a different route almost everyday to keep him from following me. I was on guard all the time. Then, it would die down, and I would stop looking over my shoulder. That was when I was at the car wash, cleaning out my car, and when I looked up, he blocked my car in, so I couldn’t leave. He came running at me, calling me a whore, and told me I ruined his life. He kept yelling and calling me names, when I finally got in my car and drove out of his trap.

I was so scared after that, knowing that I never knew where he would be, and I never felt safe. I covered all of my windows in my house, and checked my locks several times a day to make sure I hadn’t forgot to lock them. After awhile, the stalking stopped, and I was able to live my life without the fear, although, at times, I still scan parking lots and have the feeling that someone is going to kill me.

It has been 20 years, and I am still alive. His threat to kill me, and himself was just a tactic to keep me from leaving. I am now happily married, and I feel safe with my husband.

Thank you, Violet, for sharing your story.

You are strong.

You are brave.

You are loved.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Economic Abuse

Economic abuse is another form of abuse and control, and can sometimes happen slowly enough you are unaware of what is happening. It can also be a deciding factor if a person can leave or not. For me, my abuser took my money, and then ruined my credit. I was the main source of income in the household, but had very little access to the funds. My check would be deposited into our joint account, and before I had time to pay the bills the money would be gone. I spent countless hours rearranging things and planning what bill needed to be paid. If checks were used, sometimes the money for that check would be spent before the check hit the account, making a mess of everything.

The one thing my gram always told me was how important it is to have good credit. When I met my abuser, even though I was only 21, I had excellent credit. I had a credit card that I used, only to pay it off at the end of the month. I did not have a car loan, or any other monthly payments. I had a small savings account as well. When I became pregnant early into the relationship I was the one who had to pay for everything the baby was going to need. Soon my savings were gone, and my credit card bill was more than I could pay off each month.

When we moved in together, the first thing he wanted to do was add his name to my bank account. As soon as he had access to my money it was gone. The money he was spending was not being spent on the baby on the way, but for porn, beer, and cigarettes. The money disappeared quicker than I could understand. When I asked questions about the spending, or even sharing the expenses for the baby, he made me feel guilty for even asking.

While I was at work he would sign up for new credit cards in my name since he now had access to my social security number, and all of the needed information. Since I was at work, he would get the mail, and before I knew it, the cards would be maxed out.

When I took rolled change, and birthday money to the bank to open a savings account for my son, I mistakenly left the paperwork out where he could find it. Before long, my son’s account was empty. As the kids got older and had money from gifts, he would “borrow” the money, but never paid them back. He started this with my gram too, asking to use her credit card to do nice things for me (like flowers after a fight, or a hotel room away with the kids), and never paid her back either.

During our relationship I received two inheritances, totaling around $30,000. I wanted to use the money to pay off my debt, and buy a laptop so I could start writing. Before I knew it, the money was gone, and I still had my debt and no laptop.

Without access to money or credit, I was stuck. The house we owned was in my name, and if I left I would have to pay for the house and an apartment, but there was no way I could do that. This was all part of his power and control over me and the kids.

Some information about economic or financial abuse follows:

Economic or financial abuse is when an abusive partner extends their power and control into the area of finances. This abuse can take different forms, including an abusive partner:

  • Giving an allowance and closely watching how you spend it or demanding receipts for purchases
  • Placing your paycheck in their bank account and denying you access to it
  • Preventing you from viewing or having access to bank accounts
  • Forbidding you to work or limiting the hours that you can work
  • Maxing out credit cards in your name without permission or not paying the bills on credit cards, which could ruin your credit score
  • Stealing money from you or your family and friends
  • Using funds from children’s savings accounts without your permission
  • Living in your home but refusing to work or contribute to the household
  • Making you give them your tax returns or confiscating joint tax returns
  • Refusing to give you money to pay for necessities/shared expenses like food, clothing, transportation, or medical care and medicine

This information was found at https://www.thehotline.org/

#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Domestic Violence, healing, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Amanda’s Story

“I wanted to help him see the good qualities in him that I saw. I tried to save him, to rescue him and I guess to change him. It was much easier to rescue other people than to deal with the horrors of my childhood trauma. The relationship started great he had quit smoking, landed a great job, and was looking into volunteer firefighting. We moved into our place five months into the relationship when I was three months pregnant. It was an exciting time but also an eye-opening time. He would say degrading remarks about my family and me. I felt isolated and alone. We were leaving our last parenting class and he asked where we were going, I responded straight. That was the wrong answer; he said: “I’m going to crash this jeep into the back end of those cars.” The day before our baby shower, he asked if I wanted to end up like the woman in town who was found murdered by her husband in their backyard. I was so afraid he would kill me after our son was born, but I had no one to talk to. The birth of our son was traumatic and took a toll on my physical and mental health. I struggled with postpartum anxiety and depression. I was suicidal, and he “If you want to kill yourself, go ahead the baby, and I are going for a walk.” When I finally did reach out for help at my six-week postpartum appointment, the lady from the crisis unit said she wanted me to get better and realize my worth so I would be strong enough to leave. I was still in denial that I was in an abusive relationship; I would make up excuses for him. The final straw was when I was in the car on the highway pumping milk for our son; he asked if I had anything to cover up with, I said I didn’t, but no one could see anything. He said, “I’m going to slam your head against the dashboard to knock you out.” A month and a half after that incident, I was in a domestic violence shelter getting the much-needed education and support.”

Thank you, Amanda, for sharing your story.

You are strong.

You are brave.

You are important.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Domestic Violence, healing, Hope, Sexual abuse, sexual assault, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Devan’s Story

“I was warned about my abuser, but I didn’t believe it. I was swept off my feet, only I never got put back down, I got put into a box. The abuse was mental and emotional. He controlled everything: money, outings, get togethers. He made me feel incompetent of doing anything so I would have to depend on him. Making small remarks to people, “She doesn’t know how to cook, so I do it.” Of I had a problem that was related to him, it was never his fault, but somehow mine instead, and that I was acting crazy. thats when I stopped using my voice. He’d get mad at me for saying no to sex. He would try talking me into it, I’d still say no. he then would start making me feel guilty, and how its my fault for saying no. I eventually just stopped and would just let him have sex with me for the sake of not feeling emotionally hurt. I had daily anxiety and crippling panic attacks at least once a week. This ongoing nightmare was affecting our child as well.

I am now divorced from my abuser and have sole custody of our child. I found my voice, and self-worth. I’m dating a wonderful ma who loves all of me, and whom my child adores. He swept me off my feet, and put me back down where I stand freely next to him, as an equal.”

Thank you, Devan, for sharing your story.

You are strong.

You are brave.

You are powerful.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

Uncategorized

Domestic Violence: Becoming The Monster

When I think back to the time I was with my abusers, I no longer recognize who I was. The images of myself from that time conjure up a hint of shame. I’ve talked with my counselor about these images, and she asked me “what would have happened if you weren’t who you were then?”

I thought about that question for a while. What would have happened? Different scenarios played out in my head. Even as a child. What would have happened?

“I would have died.”

“That’s right. What you see as flaws is what kept you alive.”

Wow. The shame dissipated. If I had allowed my mother to beat me, without fighting back, I very well could have been killed. The look of rage in her eyes was the same that my ex-husband had. If I didn’t fight and scream, call names and run away, her rage could have ended me. The same held true for the times the rage took over in my ex-husband’s eyes.

What is interesting is, I also knew when fighting back would have caused more problems. When my dad’s rage let loose, even as a four-year-old, I knew I had to stand still and be quiet and let him finish. Fighting back with him would have resulted in my death. I was much too little and fragile to withstand the brunt of his anger. I knew allowing him to hurt me would eventually calm him down, and he would stop before he killed me. I knew there was no winning with him. I learned how to read energy, and how to survive.

When the memories of my old self haunt me, I let them swirl around in my head as I give gratitude for the life lessons I learned. The gut feeling never fails me, it is only when I don’t listen to the signals.

Maybe I said things I shouldn’t have. Maybe I did things I wished I hadn’t. But I am alive. I withstood the brute force and mind games. I understand how people operate, and I know who I should be leery of.

It is the times that I give people too much credit, or feel sorry for them that I get into trouble. I want to think people think and feel like me, but often that is not the case. I try to see the good in people, and look to their past to understand why they do the things they do, and it is then that I put myself in unsafe situations.

If you have regret about your past actions, ask yourself the same question, “What would have happened if you didn’t behave that way?” I bet you might not have been here to answer that question. We are all doing our best to survive. We are survivors. We did what we had to do to get to where we are now. Take the lesson, and move forward.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Domestic Violence, healing, Hope, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Laura’s Story

“I was introduced to him by my sister. He was her husband’s cousin. We were both 24. Maybe I was tired of the dating game because I ignored the first sign that I should not date him. I learned that he had been in prison for two years for dealing heroin. I had never been involved with anyone who had a record.

It became clear right off that he had a problem. Not heroin, alcohol. He could maintain a normal life… working, paying bills, etc but his spare time was spent getting black out drunk with his friends. It was not uncommon for him to disappear for whole weekends with no notice, pass out on my living room floor or call me drunk from a bar and pass out while on the phone. Did I see this as another warning sign? Nope. I tried to “save” him instead. Driving 30 minutes at 2am to the bar where he was passed out, trying to stop him from going out, being his designated driver. That’s what I did.

I can’t tell you when the abuse started. I guess it started with him being drunk and saying things like “fuck you”, “go fuck your hand”, “you’re a zero”, even making up taunting songs that he would sing up the stairs or outside of the door I had locked myself behind. Did I see that this was another warning sign? No, I stayed longer. Maybe the problem was me?

I also couldn’t say when the abuse escalated. There was a television thrown at me, remotes thrown, an oven door smashed in a fit of rage, a kick here and there. Did I leave? No, I had a child with him.

During the pregnancy, he was still going out with friends and drinking uncontrollably. It was not uncommon to not hear from him for a whole weekend and then find out he had been jailed for a DUI. I never knew because when he told the officer he wanted to call me, he gave them his phone number instead of mine. This was only the first DUI. The next one came when the baby was an infant. He didn’t even try to call me that time. He had a friend pick him up and left the citation on the bathroom counter for me to find.

I was raising the baby by myself. He was never home much or sober. I remember begging him one night to please do one night feeding because I was so exhausted. He just looked at me and said “no”. Even when he was around I was scared that something would happen to the baby if I left him alone with him. I knew not to ever let him drive him anywhere.

When my son was two years old is when I finally got the courage to end it. I pushed away my fear of “ruining” my family, making it so that my son didn’t have a two parent household, worrying that I couldn’t support us on my income, worrying knowing that we would have to go to court, worrying that I would never meet a man that would want to be with a mother or take on a family.

I left on January 1, 2012. I moved my son and I into a rental house in another town. I felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. He never begged me to stay, he never tried to work it out. He actually didn’t come home the day before moving day. He was drinking with his friends.

The apologies came a couple weeks later. Begging me to come home. Promising to stop drinking, to be a better father, to do more as a family, to not treat me badly. This time I knew better. I never went back.

You may think this is the end of the story and that it has a happy ending. That wouldn’t be accurate though. Since we shared a child, he was still in my life. The abuse took on a new form. Now it involved court battles, attorneys, him showing up at my house drunk trying to pick up our son. He tried kicking in my front door, he kicked dents in my car. He would start to not return my son to me when the court order stated. I lived in constant fear.

Nine years later, he still finds ways to abuse and control me. If I don’t answer my phone, he will repeatedly call sometimes over twenty times in a row. He will send text messages calling me a bad mom, saying my son doesn’t want to live with me, I’m a bitch, etc.

This may sound like a depressing story. That I never truly escaped the abuse. I’m here to say that it is not. My son didn’t have to grow up in an abusive household, he didn’t have to watch abuse take place in front of his eyes. I found a man that did want a “mother” and a family. We are married with two more children and another on the way. He loves being a father, he loves having a family, he loves our son, he loves me.”

Thank you, Laura, for sharing your story.

You are strong.

You are brave.

You are loved.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Child abuse, Domestic Violence, Love, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Jessie’s Story

“When I was three years old, my mom, brother, and I moved into a new home with my dad. I had not known my dad for long before this move, and I was not sure what to think of the change. The nice man he had shown me before the move changed overnight. My home became a place I didn’t want to be, and was no longer safe.

My dad and mom would yell and fight. It was rarely quiet inside our home. I developed migraines at a young age, and the noise became that much more painful. My mom would cry, and my dad would yell louder. He called her awful names, and if I was around, he called me them too.

When my mom yelled back, he would hit her. When I tried to stop him from hurting her, he would leave her alone long enough to take his belt buckle to my bare behind, and then go back to hurting her. At night the sound of their fights would wake me up, and I would tiptoe out of my room to watch, to make sure he didn’t kill my mom. I had to be very quiet, because if he saw me, he would beat me for getting out of bed.

My mom found a new man and began cheating on my dad. When she was invited to live with him, she told my dad she was leaving him. It was then that he first threatened to kill her, and us. For the next five years, my dad stalked my mom, and broke into our house to try to gather evidence to prove she was unfit and have me taken away from her. We did not stop being on guard until we got the news that he died, even then the PTSD from the abuse and never knowing where he was, or what he was going to do kept us as his prisoner.

The new man my mom moved us in with was not a safe choice, and he began abusing us, and the pets. My mom was unable to find a safe partner, and continued with this type of abuse each time she found a new partner. Growing up in this kind of environment, I never learned what a healthy relationship looked like.

I found my own unsafe men, and continued the cycle. The only thing that helped me see the pattern I was stuck in was when I started to see my own worth. When I knew I didn’t have to tolerate the abuse, I started to break the generational cycle of domestic violence. My hope is that my children will know what love looks and feels like, and they will know when to walk away.

It doesn’t have to be how it always was. A new life can start with you.”

Thank you, Jessie, for sharing your story. I am glad you know that loved doesn’t hurt. I am glad you are safe.

You are strong.

You are brave.

You are loved.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness