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#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Domestic Violence, sexual assault, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: “Sally’s” Story

Thank you for sharing “Sally.” Sally wasn’t ready to share more of her story publicly, and she wanted to remain anonymous. Her voice is still important. Her pain still matters.

You are brave.

You are strong.

You are not alone.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Child abuse, Domestic Violence, gas lighting, healing, Hope, Love, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Jen’s Story

“When I was 17, I met him online and he asked me out over and over. I finally agreed to go, but I knew the first day he wasn’t for me. I found out he had schizophrenia & was no longer medicated. That night he insisted he would pick me up the next day. Half of me was worried I was judging and being mean, thinking “no thanks” and the other half was kinda worried what could happen if I said no. From that day he wanted to be with me every day. Within 2 wks he had already started yelling and blaming me for stupid things, but his roommate would stand up for me…but soon, I’d be on my own. We moved in to our own place 2 months after meeting. That’s when things really fell apart. He would get angry and throw scissors and knives at me, scream and swear, call me names, threaten me, and turn the whole apartment upside down. I was never allowed to go with my friends, he’d even get mad if I talked to my mom too much. One night I woke up to him standing over me in bed with a gun pointed at my face. He thought I was cheating and he was going to make it so nobody could have me. I was terrified & I was stuck there. My brother died tragically and my boyfriend was so mean to me because men he didn’t know would hug me, that my older brother had to tell him to leave the funeral home and not come back. Shortly after that, my family showed up and moved me out. I went back, he was mentally ill and threatening to kill himself…I just knew I could help him! After all, his family wouldn’t. His dad was a decent person, he was well off, but lived 4hrs away and had nothing much to do with us, and his mom was a drug addicted prostitute who only made life harder on everyone. Finally one day, I had enough and we broke up. He moved to his mothers. THEN… I found out I was pregnant. I decided to do the right thing and tell him…surely a baby would fix them all!!! Boy was I wrong!! At 19yrs old, living on half my heart, fighting to have my baby despite the doctors saying I would die and now having to put up with mother and son making every day hard. Him always screaming, even kicking the back of my chair and sending me flying. My son came in the world, we almost lost him as an infant..and I could see, I was on my own. I mostly let my boyfriend sleep in the daytime so my son and I would be ok. When he was awake he was always mad at us..or someone…or something. At one point my son was a baby, and my Ex was mad that my sister in laws family had more money then us and he lost it. He held me and my son at gun point. He wouldn’t let me out of the house and he wouldn’t even let me make a bottle for my son. He progressively got more out of control. The last straw was when he got mad at me, I don’t even know why and decided himself we were done. I thought I hit the jackpot…until he told me that I wasn’t moving on. In fact, I was going to die…and I could chose how. He could pour gas on me and set me on fire or he could hang me with a noose. I knew my son needed me, I knew I had to survive. I quickly started telling him how much I loved him and wanted him, it was my only option if I wanted to live through the night. It worked. The next day he left for work & I knew I had to take my chances if I wanted to live to see the next day, and I called my parents. They came and got us and we never looked back.

I swore I would never be treated badly again… I moved on, a couple years later I met the man of my dreams. He treated me and my son like royalty. I quickly was pregnant, just like he wanted but I had a lot of complications. I was hospitalized for 10weeks until my daughter was born. He took a leave from work and stayed by my side, for the entire time, hours away from our families. He would cry because he missed my son. He was perfect…until we took my daughter home and got engaged. Then the real him came out. He was so mean to me, but I convinced myself I could deal with it, I wanted a family for my kids and he was only mean to me…he wasn’t as bad as my ex so it would be ok. Until Good Friday, 2011. My dad was dying in the hospital…it was 5 weeks until our wedding, and my friends decided they wanted to get together at my house and see how was I was…little did I know, my world was about to crash. They showed up and asked me to sit. They called my son to the room and they told me that he had came to them while I was with my dad. He had bruises and had reported that my fiancé was hitting him…he had even punched him in the face! He was 8 years old!! He had thrown my 1yr old daughter at a wall…. she was his own blood!! The list would go on and my heart would shatter more. I called the police and he was arrested. My children haven’t seen him since, I will protect them with everything I have. I will never understand how two men who were so very different but both swore to love me, could be so abusive…how they could hurt me and my children. That’s not love. We didn’t deserve that. Thankfully, now our life is great. We have moved past that. My son is 16 and has spent the last 8yrs or so attending rallies and events to end domestic violence. He tells his story, he has no reason to be ashamed. My daughter has grown to know the man of my dreams as her Dad. I’m completely in love with a man who will drop everything for me, OUR kids, & my mother…he’s always there. I thought I wasn’t worthy of this type of love, but I know now that I am, it’s just too bad they didn’t know it. They are missing out on some extraordinary kids, and that’s their fault, not mine.”

Thank you, Jen, for sharing your story. I am so glad you found true happiness, and you and your children are safe and loved.

You are brave.

You are strong.

You are important.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Domestic Violence, gas lighting, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Maria’s Story

” I met this guy that I thought was the greatest thing in the world, we started dating (he was 35, I was 19) I didn’t know any better besides the fact that I was legal age to date him. Little did I know his background! We lived in Philly at the time. He introduced me to his family and the shit show started!!!! When we were together we were fine but around people he was mentally abusive to me and as time went on he started to beat me physically. I blamed it on the drinking, he was a bad drunk. Every time he drank I was getting my ass beat! At one point I finally left him, He found me and began stalking me! He went to my job and begged me every day to come back and told me how sorry he was. He made me lose my job because he wouldn’t stay away from my job… I gave him a second chance. We had a child together thinking things would change for the better… It did for a short time, but not only was he drinking he was using heavy drugs. He would leave us for days, if not weeks at a time. He would spend all the money on drugs or alcohol. I stuck it out because he would tell me “you will never find anyone like me” and “no one would want me”. He would call me fat and ugly and that he was the best thing that ever happened to me… At one point he got me pregnant again, we moved to Florida with his sister thinking we could rebuild our family and hoping he would stop drinking and doing drugs..he didnt.. I was pregnant with our second child and he puts me in jail….yes the father of our child puts me in jail 7 months pregnant with our child because he told the cops I hit him….(which i didnt) he then holds my oldest child against me for a couple of months as im pregnant and homeless with our other child living in a shelter thats infested with bed bugs. (that went on for like 3 months) He finally lets me come back, he starts calling me names- I’m a piece of shit, I’m worthless no good mother and the mental abuse goes on.. Never has he stopped with hitting me.. Ok fast forward to a couple of months later I have my daughter and we move back to the worst part of philly you can think of. This place was beyond ghetto…. again he leaves us alone at a house in a ghetto neighborhood again for days at a time (probably doing drugs) or god only knows what! One snowy day he went to “work” and I thought he took my phone I was done with his shit. So I went to his work with my kids to try to find my phone so I can leave him and he said to me “I dont have your phone” I lost my shit on him and he calls the cops and got my two kids ripped out of my hands. DCYF took my kids….he thought he was going to get the kids back that following Monday. That was the last straw.. I left him, got my life together, got my kids back, and never looked back!!!! It was hard. But I did it!! Now my kids dont even know who he is and have haven’t talked to him since!!! I am now married to the greatest guy in the world and thank God everyday I found him!!!!”

Thank you, Maria, for sharing your story.

You are strong!

You are brave!

You are a survivor!

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#DomesticViolenceAwareness, #TeamKimandJessica, Depression, Hope, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Kim’s Story

We met when I was 14 I was alone and shy, he was kind and soon I was in love. He spent the first few weeks testing, then he slowly started doing mean things to make me sad, once I was so sad I didn’t see what was happening he stared explaining because of my weight other people would not find me attractive, and how I could never live on my own because I wasn’t smart enough to handle money. By the time I was 21 I would wake up with him on me. I told him I did not like that. He keep doing it. I started staying up all night so I could wrap myself up in the blankets to protect myself. He still tells me it was not rape. If I missed up anything he would yell at me and ask me how could I be so stupid. One day I made friends who started to ask what I thought and I realized I had thoughts. I got away and I could feel the pain lift of from me. Almost 10 years later I am still doing well without him and I am loved.

Photo Courtesy of: Jourdan Buck Photography

Thank you, Kim, for sharing your story. Kim is my sister, and was on The Dr. Phil show with me last year. As with many survivors, this is just a small piece of the domestic violence that has touched Kim’s life. Often, we repeat what was see at home, and do not know there is another way. Sometimes it takes years to notice that there is something a little different in our homes than in other homes. Sometimes the people we have in our lives also have the same kind of home we live in, and no one notices.

I heard from one survivor that it was reading books, and later watching television that helped her understand what a safe, loving home should look like. It was then that she noticed the differences, and then that she understood she did not deserve to live the life she had been living.

Sharing our stories helps us expose the secrets that happen behind our closed doors. It helps other people see that the life they are living might not be the life that they have to live anymore. It helps them understand they are not alone, and there is hope for brighter, safer days.

We don’t share our secrets to get pity, or sympathy, or to make the abuser look like a monster (they can do that all on their own). We share to spread awareness. We share to bring solidarity. We share to bring hope. We share to light up the darkness.

Keep on sharing. You are not alone. I hear you. We hear you.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Domestic Violence, Hope, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Anita’s Story

My story started at the age of 17 when I moved in with now ex-husband , then boyfriend. He was twenty three at the time. At first his comments didn’t seem like abuse, but over time he made me feel like I wasn’t good enough to do anything. He always told me if I gained too much weight he’d leave me. He would say things like he could take my son away from me and I’d never see him again. I was scared to even let him take our son to the park. He gave me such a hard time to want to spend time with my family that I just stop trying to do so. He isolated me from my family. Going to church wasn’t acceptable to him, he would accuse me of sleeping with the pastor, and because I wouldn’t respond to him sexually, in his mind I was sleeping around. When I met his friends and they liked me for the person I am, he’d accuse me of sleeping with them, he’d even accuse me of sleeping with his family members. He was an alcoholic and extremely mean when he drank. He called me all kinds of names, and was just made to feel like I was worthless, I didn’t get even a “happy birthday” from him and he’d do the same on mother’s day, just act like I didn’t exist until he was ready to berate me with insults. I would try to get away from him and go to my mother’s house but he would come over and harass her until I left. I remember when I was hanging Christmas lights outside and fell off the chair, I yelled and couldn’t move, my neighbor heard me through her window and called the ambulance. He never came outside until someone went in the house to get him, when he did come outside he just stood there and looked at me like I was stupid. He never came to the hospital to make sure I was okay. I had hit rock bottom emotionally and told him I wanted to kill myself. He looked at me and told me I was too stupid to kill myself, I thought, “I’ll show him,” and swallowed a hand full of pills and downed them with a beer. I called my mom to say goodbye, she rushed over and took me to the hospital where I spent a week in the psychiatric ward. I can recall a day when we were arguing and something inside me told me to leave. I grabbed my son ,who was around three or four at the time, and ran out the door. I jumped in the car , I didn’t even take time to strap my son in. As I was backing the car up he jumped in the driver’s side window to try to stop me. I thought to myself ” fine then we all go,” I slammed my foot on the gas and drove over the curb into the courtyard where we lived. He looked up just in time to let go and as I just missed a tree. When I came back that evening he had taken an aluminum bat to the entire apartment, he broke the bat while beating everything we owned. I truly believe God told me to leave, his voice saved my life that night. I stayed with him for ten years because I believed I could not take care of myself and my son without him. The last two years of us being together is when we got married, he had convinced me he loved me and wanted to spend his life with me. Even though he had emotionally and verbally abused me, I thought he really did love me, so I married him. One year later I came home early to find him packing his clothes. He was trying to sneaking out to leave me. He moved right in with another woman. It took me two years to realize him leaving me was the best thing he had have ever done for me, I later thanked him for it. My next two marriages were to men who abused me in different ways, one was neglect and the other just simply lied to me , wouldn’t work and stole from me constantly. I honestly didn’t know my worth until recently when I finally left my now husband. It was then I realize I am worth a whole lot more than what I have been accepting. I started my catering business, I’m a vendor in two different stores and I am getting ready to launch an online shop. I’m expensive: emotionally, spiritually and financially, any man who wishes to be in my life from now on, has to match all of my efforts, and treat me like the queen I am. 

Photo Courtesy of: Jourdan Buck Photography

Thank you, Anita, for sharing your story. I am grateful you listened to God’s voice and left that night. I am grateful you are safe, and know your worth. What a blessing it is to know royalty.

You are strong.

You are brave.

You are beautiful.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#DomesticViolenceAwareness, gas lighting, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence: Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is sometimes harder to recognize than other forms of abuse. For me, it was becasue the abuse started off slow. In the beginning he would start off making jokes at my expense, and later made passive aggressive remarks, later turning into psychological torture. It changes so gradually, that it is often hard to notice, even as it escalates.

I heard from one woman that she didn’t have a story to share, because he never hit her. She went on to tell of some of the controlling and hateful words that were spoken to her, and as she heard herself say the things that had been said to her, she understood the power those words had.

Just because someone does not place their hands on you, or leave a bruise on your body, it does not mean they did not harm you. Words have so much power behind them. Words alone can destroy a person. Through all of the abuse I lived through, the scars I am still healing come from the damage done from someone else’s words.

Some signs you may be in an emotionally abusive relationship include when a partner:

  • Calls you names, insults you or continually or criticizes you
  • Refuses to trust you and acts jealous or possessive
  • Tries to isolate you from family or friends
  • Monitors where you go, who you call and who you spend time with
  • Demands to know where you are every minute
  • Traps you in your home or prevents you from leaving
  • Uses weapons to threaten to hurt you
  • Punishes you by withholding affection
  • Threatens to hurt you, the children, your family or your pets
  • Damages your property when they’re angry (throwing objects, punching walls, kicking doors, etc.)
  • Humiliates you in any way
  • Blames you for the abuse
  • Accuses you of cheating and is often jealous of your outside relationships
  • Cheats on you and then blames you for his or her behavior
  • Cheats on you intentionally to hurt you and then threatens to cheat again
  • Attempts to control your appearance: what you wear, how much/little makeup you wear, etc.
  • Tells you that you will never find anyone better, or that you are lucky to be with a person like them

I have lived through every one of the above examples, plus many more. After a while of hearing the same thing, repeatedly, it is difficult to believe anything else. The abuser knows this, and intentionally gains control by stealing your self worth. Little by little, you begin to become the person they say you are. You lose sight of who you are, and what you believe. You become what they tell you. You see what they see. You are a slave to their hatred.

All it takes is a glimmer of hope to start to see things differently. One kind word from a stranger. One look in the mirror, to remember who you really are. Layer by layer, you start to uncover the truth, your truth, and you see. You see the lies that have been fed to you. You see the damage that has been done, and you take the first step. Sometimes that first step is all you are able to take, but you know you deserve more.

Not everyone is able to see, or take that first step. But, if you are, take it. Take it as slowly, or as quickly as you safely can, and rebuild your reality. You deserve to be loved. You deserve to be respected. You deserve to see the truth.

Be patient with the ones who are not able to see yet, or ever. Breaking free isn’t easy. The timing has to be just right. And, as outsiders, we don’t know when that is. Just be a friend. A safe space. No judgements, just love.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Domestic Violence, healing, Hope, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Emma’s Story

Every girl dreams about when she will get her first boyfriend, how it will be so romantic and beautiful and Prince Charming will sweep her off her feet. What she doesn’t think about is that maybe Prince Charming isn’t so charming after the first date. My first boyfriend was controlling and emotionally and psychologically abusive. He was quick to anger and blame me for things that were out of my control. He told me I wasn’t allowed to see my best friend because “she was a bad influence.” We had known each other since we were 5 and neither one of us had gotten into trouble, so I’m not sure what his definition of “bad” was. He was always checking up on me, making sure I was somewhere he approved of. If I didn’t answer my phone right away, he would continue calling and texting until I finally answered, and then would scream at me for not answering the first time.
If he was angry about something, it was always my fault. He got a speeding ticket once and made me pay it because he said I had made him mad and that’s why he was speeding. He would threaten to hurt himself and it would be my fault, I had made him do it because I made him so mad. I heard that I was a bitch so many times I started to believe it.
After 2 1/2 years, I walked away. There was one final incident that pushed me over the edge and I had enough. I had a cat at the time, and as silly as it sounds, my rationalization was if he could hurt me, he could hurt my cat and there was no way I was going to let that happen. I packed my cat in a carrier, clothes in a garbage bag and left. I am so glad I did, it made me a stronger person and made me see that I deserved so much better.

Photo Courtesy of: Jourdan Buck Photography

Thank you Emma, for sharing your story.

You are strong.

You are brave.

You are important.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness