“I have come to the point in my domestic violence story where I no longer give much thought to how awful those years were, how hard it was just to get by day to day, how scared I was, or how exhausted I was all the time never knowing what was going to happen next. I could list example after example from my different abusive relationships, but the details aren’t particularly unique.
Any physical bruise I picked up along the way has long since healed. It’s the effects of the emotional and verbal abuse that lingered. It took longer than I expected for the phrases “I’ll leave you in a puddle of blood,” and “Don’t open your mouth or I’ll burn you,” to stop dominating my brain space.
Friends, counselors, even acquaintances who were willing to listen all played a role in my ability to move forward from being a domestic violence victim to a domestic violence survivor to now not really identifying with that part of my story much at all. It’s so very important for people to feel heard.
Fast forward to now and I can honestly say that life is good. There were times I didn’t believe I’d ever get here, but here I am enjoying life with my kids and grandkids and friends. Life is peaceful and fun.
If your story contains domestic violence just know that step by step, day by day you can get to a place where you are at peace. You are so worth it. Keep moving forward. “
Thank you, Tari, for sharing your story. You give hope to others who may be at the beginning of their healing journey.
I remember the first time someone asked me if my then husband had sexually abused me. I gave a quick, “no,” and moved on to the next question. The man asking me was my son’s counselor, and he did not let me change the subject. He had heard my now ex-husband berating my then four-year old daughter. He asked the question again, and explained a husband can sexually abuse their wife.
“Does he touch you inappropriately without permission?” Yes
“Does he make you feel you owe him sex?” Yes
“Does he force you to have sex?” Yes
“He raped you.” As his words reached my ears, I felt nauseous. All that time, I felt that he owned me, and I didn’t have the right to say no. The times he called me names because I fought back played over in my mind. All that time he made me feel like his possession. I started to remember other times and events, like the times he would spy on my while I was in the shower. He wouldn’t let me lock the door, saying the kids might need to get in. Or the times he would grab my breasts, just like my stepfather had done when I was a teenager, even though I begged him not to. He thought these things were funny. Still, after all these years later, I still feel like I am being watched while I am in the shower.
It all boils down to the power and control an abusers needs. My ex-husband knew about my past sexual abuse history. He knew my first sexual encounter as a teenager was rape. He knew all the ways to emotionally paralyze me, to get me to a state of fear, and anxiety. The sexual abuse from him came with psychological abuse. He tormented me, and made fun of my body. He treated me like damaged goods, and tried to take possession of my body. He knew all the things to do and say to hurt me.
Ways a partner may sexually abuse their partner to retain power and control may include:
Forcing you to dress in a sexual way
Insulting you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names
Forcing or manipulating you into to having sex or performing sexual acts
Holding you down during sex
Demanding sex when you’re sick, tired or after hurting you
Hurting you with weapons or objects during sex
Involving other people in sexual activities with you against your will
Ignoring your feelings regarding sex
Forcing you to watch pornography
Purposefully trying to pass on a sexually transmitted disease to you
Sexual coercion lies
on the ‘continuum’ of sexually aggressive behavior. It can vary from
being egged on and persuaded, to being forced to have contact. It can be verbal
and emotional, in the form of statements that make you feel pressure, guilt, or
shame. You can also be made to feel forced through more subtle actions. For
example, an abusive partner:
Making you feel like you owe them — ex. Because you’re in a relationship, because you’ve had sex before, because they spent money on you or bought you a gift
Giving you drugs and alcohol to “loosen up” your inhibitions
Playing on the fact that you’re in a relationship, saying things such as: “Sex is the way to prove your love for me,” “If I don’t get sex from you I’ll get it somewhere else”
Reacting negatively with sadness, anger or resentment if you say no or don’t immediately agree to something
Continuing to pressure you after you say no
Making you feel threatened or afraid of what might happen if you say no
Trying to normalize their sexual expectations: ex. “I need it, I’m a man”
Even if your partner
isn’t forcing you to do sexual acts against your will, being made to feel obligated is
coercion in itself. Dating someone, being in a relationship, or being married
never means that you owe your partner intimacy of any kind.
Reproductive coercionis a form of power and control where
one partner strips the other of the ability to control their own reproductive
system. It is sometimes difficult to identify this coercion because other
forms of abuse are often occurring simultaneously.
can be exerted in many ways:
Refusing to use a condom or other type of birth control
Breaking or removing a condom during intercourse
Lying about their methods of birth control (ex. lying about having a vasectomy, lying about being on the pill)
Refusing to “pull out” if that is the agreed upon method of birth control
Forcing you to not use any birth control (ex. the pill, condom, shot, ring, etc.)
Removing birth control methods (ex. rings, IUDs, contraceptive patches)
Sabotaging birth control methods (ex. poking holes in condoms, tampering with pills or flushing them down the toilet)
Withholding finances needed to purchase birth control
Monitoring your menstrual cycles
Forcing pregnancy and not supporting your decision about when or if you want to have a child
Forcing you to get an abortion, or preventing you from getting one
Threatening you or acting violent if you don’t comply with their wishes to either end or continue a pregnancy
Continually keeping you pregnant (getting you pregnant again shortly after you give birth)
Reproductive coercion can also come in the form of pressure, guilt and shame from an abusive partner. Some examples are if your abusive partner is constantly talking about having children or making you feel guilty for not having or wanting children with them — especially if you already have kids with someone else.
Digital abuse is the use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner. Often this behavior is a form of verbal or emotional abuse perpetrated online. You may be experiencing digital abuse if your partner:
Tells you who you can or can’t be friends with on Facebook and other sites.
Sends you negative, insulting or even threatening emails, Facebook messages, tweets, PMs or other messages online.
Uses sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others to keep constant tabs on you.
Puts you down in their status updates.
Sends you unwanted, explicit pictures and demands you send some in return.
Pressures you to send explicit videos.
Steals or insists on being given your passwords.
Constantly texts you and makes you feel like you can’t be separated from your phone for fear that you will be punished.
Looks through your phone frequently, checks up on your pictures, texts and outgoing calls.
Uses any kind of technology (such spyware or GPS in a car or on a phone) to monitor you
Digital abuse can look like many different things. It can happen during the relationship, and also continue after. There have been articles posted that explain the dangers of digital abuse and how abusers can install spyware apps in phones that will allow them to read all texts, and see everything that the phone is used for, even listen in on calls. This is incredibly dangerous when you are trying to relocate to stay safe. Read an article here, to learn how to better protect yourself.
Abuse comes in many different forms. The more aware we are, the better chance we have at protecting ourselves.
“Fear, anger, resentment, frustration, secrecy, feeling unclear, lying, deceit, these are a few feelings I had to deal with at a very young age. I became very good at pretending all was good. I felt like I was acting a part. I had become mother, housekeeper, cook, and defender of my younger siblings, also at a very young age. My biological parents separated and divorced. I do not know when, but I was told possibly why. Apparently she was cheating on him. The man she cheated on him with came in like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Who did so much damage. Drugs, alcohol, parties and physical abuse became common words that as I am older show a pattern of severe violence, abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse. They would go out drinking and leave us either alone or with anyone they could find; friend or stranger. The nights we would wake up to physical drunken fights. Several nights there were both naked and he would shove her into furniture or shove her to the floor. If we screamed or yelled, he would sometimes come beat us and threaten to do worse to all of us. He was hated in a few states for fraud regarding welfare and other agencies that people help. He drove drunk a lot of the time and they would use alcohol and drugs to get us to sleep so they could leave us in cars so they could go bar hopping and or find people to come back to wherever er were to have sex with them. These parties got loud and noisy but we learned to stay quiet and stay in bed. He started having his “special time” with me when I was about 4 or 5. Not sure, but I know where the house is that it began in. I was not sure as to what was going on but felt strange to have a “secret.” He told me that my mother know what he was doing, for all daddies teach little girls this. How to be able to show love to a man. I did not tell her due to he told me she knew, so I didn’t say anything to her. He said things would change as I grew older, and that he would be putting his penis in me to make me a woman. I still shut up with the belief she knew and this was normal. He enjoyed corporal punishment, it seemed.Very violent punishments, knees on broom handle, hit me with a hammer, physically hitting me across the face and body. I had bruises and injuries that I could not explain. Between the violence I endured, the physical, emotional, psychological and sexual abuse issues have stayed with me for years. Due to him and what he did to me, I had pelvic inflammatory disease that was is severe that it could not be fixed so I could not have kids. I have had several abusive relationships and allowed myself to be treated very badly, and abused verbally, emotionally, and psychologically because of what I thought I deserved and how I should be treated. They have both since passed away and my wounds are still deep and are healing very slowly.”
Thank you, Debby, for sharing your story. Debby’s story reminds us that what happens as a child can impact our entire life. It is the perfect storm for thinking you are not worthy of safety or love. Be easy on yourself, most of us have years of hurt to heal from.
“When I was 6 months old, I joined my new family. There were kids, and toys, and fun things to do! I soon learned life in my new home was not as fun as it looked, and I learned what it felt like to be afraid.
My human dad yelled at everyone in the house, even me. He called us names, and I learned it was safer to stay in my kennel than it was to play with the kids. At times, when he was hurting the kids, or my human mom, I barked at him to try to make him stop. He didn’t stop, he just hurt me, too.
He was hard to understand, because one minute he would pet me, and then without warning, he would hit or kick me. I wanted to be loved, and I kept forgiving him, but it never changed. My mom would cry and tell him to stop hurting me, but he didn’t listen. He would just laugh, and kick me harder, and then I cried, too.
He would kick and hit me to make the kids and my mom scared. They loved me, and he wanted to punish them by hurting me. I never stopped loving them, because I knew they were scared of him too.
Mom told him not to come back one day, and we started to heal. Mom met a new man, who loved me right away. He still loves me, and takes me on special rides every Sunday. He taught me that not all men are bad, and I am happy now.”
Domestic Violence affects everyone. It is common for pets to be harmed when there is domestic violence in the household. Often, the abuser will harm the pet as a way to punish their partner and/or children. My ex-husband hurt one kitten we had so badly, he broke his teeth, and left him unable to close his mouth. When this was mentioned, he would laugh and say the kitten had it coming. He did not feel remorse for the pain he caused the kitten, or anyone in the home. When domestic violence is present, no one is safe.
I am glad Abbie is loved and cherished now. I am glad she is away from her abuser.
You are a good girl, Abbie. You are strong. You are brave.
“For 9.5 years all I heard was that I wasn’t good enough, or everything that went wrong was my fault, I was too fat. I was choked and grabbed forcibly by the arm and pushed. I was always made fun of, made to feel like I didn’t matter.
Wasn’t able to see friends, because they influenced my decisions. Seeing my parents was just as bad. Always cheating on me, when confronted with proof, he would say it wasn’t him. I was never his wife (we were married for 7 years), I was always his friend, the mother of his Godchildren.
I worked all the time, trying to earn money for our family, while he sat at home talking to other women and playing video games. He’d always spend out/my money on other women. Because we stopped being intimate with each other, I was cheating on him, I was hanging out with other guys.
The non-stop fighting, yelling , and the physical fights just kept going. Getting worse by the day. It had gotten to the point of severe violence where I felt my life was over. He choked me so hard, that my neck had hurt for 3 days. That’s when I knew it was time to go. Sneaking out didn’t work, so I was arrested for domestic violence. Spent 6 months on probation. It was worth it.”
“I was about 30 weeks pregnant when I met him and we started dating. He was there for me and helped me in any way he could. He made sure I was taken care of and promised my son would be as well. Not long after, I had my son prematurely. Again, he was caring and was there each day and night to help. That slowly started to change. He started not caring if I went to visit my son in the NICU or not. He started drinking every night. When he drank he was verbally abusive and manipulative. I tried to confront him a few times, but he always told me it was my fault or I was overreacting. His drinking got worse and each time he drank he would put me down and tell me I’m not good enough. He said without him I would have and be nothing. He would make me have sex with him, saying if I didn’t then he would hurt me and make my life hell. After my son had been home from the hospital for a couple months, I took him (my son) to New Hampshire to visit with family. While we were gone, he (my abuser) moved into my house. When he did this, he did it without a care about my things. A lot of my things ended up outside in the shed. When I returned to the house, I found it to be a complete mess. Of course he never offered to help clean. I was scared to tell him that I wanted to move with my son back to New Hampshire, to live near family. When I did bring it up, he said okay, but days later he made a huge argument about it and said it was all my fault and that I led him on. From that day on, he was awful. He would drink excessively. He would come home late at night being very loud, waking my son. He trashed the house; liquor bottles scattered in the room he slept in. He threatened that he would hurt me and my son if I didn’t do what he says. My mother was my only support. She kept reminding me that before all else, I have to keep my son and I safe. So, we made a plan that as soon as my college semester was over, I would leave for New Hampshire. However, I had all important items ready on standby if I needed to leave at a moments notice. One night after class, I came home to cops at my house. He was very drunk slurring his words. He claimed someone broke into my house while he was gone. The door was busted in and the house was a wreck with things thrown everywhere, but somehow the only thing missing, was a pair of his shoes. The cops questioned him and myself. I told the cops how this wasn’t the first time he claimed this happened, and the time before he was drunk and I wasn’t home as well. The cops and I both knew what was really going on. They told me they would drive by again later to check up on my place and if I needed anything, give them a call. A few nights later, after coming home loud and drunk again, I asked him to please try to keep it down as I didn’t want it to wake my son. His anger burst out again, telling me I am nothing and no one will ever put up with me and my shit. No one will ever love me especially because I had a child. I called my mother and sat on the phone with her while she listened to him scream at me, inches from my face. He told me i was a slut and even said derogatory things about my family. My mom drove to my house while on the phone with me. When she got there, he was shocked and kept saying he never said those things. I grabbed my son and what we needed, and stayed at my moms that night. Soon after, he started moving his things out of my house, but still trying to make me out to be the bad guy. Acting as if it were my fault he had to move and had no money. After he was finally out, I changed the locks, but still lived in constant fear that he would come back one night and do who knows what. After the semester was over, I packed up what I could fit in my Honda Accord, grabbed my son and 4 dogs, and left for New Hampshire.
My son and I have been back in New Hampshire for almost 2 years now. There are still days I relive some of those moments and try not to blame myself for staying so long. Then I remind myself, I did it. I got away. I started a great life for my son and I. I will even have my degree soon! I hate that I had to go through it. However, I’m proud that I did what was best for me and my son, even if it meant starting all over.”
Thank you, Tiffany, for sharing your story. I am glad you are safe.