Her Brave Story: Speaking Up About Domestic Violence
This post is written by a close friend that is ready to share her story. She is a wonderful person and I am honored that she allowed me to host this powerful testimony on my blog. You girl, are amazing. And I love you.
When I originally posted that it was domestic violence awareness month, I was asked why I have never openly shared my story. It is a question I have been asked often. I will talk about it among friends, but never actually put it out there and never give out a lot of detail. But I didn’t have an answer until I really started to think about it and started to toss around the idea of sharing it. Was it time? Was I finally ready?
The main answer was embarrassment. I was ashamed. Would I be judged? What would be people think? We still have mutual friends, do they want to see all of this again? Does my family want it out there? Can I handle putting this out there with everything else going on in my life?
Then I decided, it was time. I don’t care what anyone else thinks or feels. If I can help someone else, if it can save a life,that’s what I need to do because at the end of this you will see the regret I have for not being able to do that at the beginning.
I will start with saying…. I am a survivor of domestic violence.
He will not be given a name in this either. I never use his name. He doesn’t deserve to have a name. Usually he is referred to as “A-hole”
Right after high school I got in a relationship that I thought was amazing! He was older, which was normal for me. We had mutual friends and I didn’t think anything was wrong. He treated me well and we had a good time. Looking back, the warnings were there from day one.
Things changed pretty shortly after and to this day every event is as vivid as the day it happened.
I blamed myself for not being good enough. Not being pretty enough. Not being enough. Not saying the right thing. The list goes on. What was wrong with me?
I started isolating my friends and I started making excuses.
It started with punching walls, yelling at me in public over things like looking at someone, throwing things, etc.
There were times I was thrown down the stairs, held on a train track as I heard the train approaching, driving down the highway at over 70 mph and the car coming to a complete stop, in the middle of the highway and a violent sting crossing my face, thrown across rooms, hit and punched, thrown to the ground, less than an inch from a tent stake on a camping trip, in front of friends and family because I slept too long and he was hungry. Why did I want to mourn the death of some friends that had passed away in a car accident? The list goes on. He questioned every move I made, every outfit I wore, if I dried my hair before work. Who was I trying to impress? Who else was I seeing? Why hadn’t he met them? There wasn’t much I could do that wasn’t questioned or attacked.
One night it was raining and I remember sitting in the passenger seat of my car. We were stopped at a red light and I kept looking at the car next to us. Hoping they would recognize the terror and tears in my eyes and know I needed help…. He noticed me staring out the window… And hit across the back of my head.
I wont put all the details out there or every situation because it isn’t necessary and that is still too much.
The final day. I was living back at my moms and I had been pushing him away, trying to get away and still survive. The last day, It wasn’t good at all. I was getting ready for work and when I started to head out of the bathroom, he was standing there inside my house. How did he get in? Why was he here? I told him to stay away. The look on his face was of rage! He had me call work and say I was having car trouble and would be late. While making the call I cried a little because I was scared. I knew they could tell something was wrong and that didn’t make him happy at all. He made me hang up and then it started. The details of the next two hours are ones I have only shared with police and very few people and will keep it that way. After getting myself together, as much as I could and applying the makeup as needed, I was finally taken to work. I remember walking in, walking past my manager, looking up, losing it and then spending the next hour trying to locate a family member while in my HR Managers office. I remember my dad picking me up and we headed for my house. In that mile and a half drive I had to tell my dad a lot of things he didn’t know about me over the past few years. Things I knew A-hole threaten to tell him if I ever left him. When we got there he was just sitting there, in my car, in my driveway. We called 911 and he approached my dads side of the car. He started to tell my dad all the things I had never told him, until we had that short drive from my work to the house. The cops, several cops, arrived and the next thing I knew he was being arrested. When they searched his car, which was also in my driveway, they found directions to different houses. The addresses were to my family, friends and my ex-boyfriend. You know, the good old mapquest printouts. Why? What was he going to do with the? I don’t know and don’t want to know.
There were other items in there as well that raised a lot of concern.
He had been arrested before for the same things and I had gone back. He wouldn’t do it again, it was an accident, he had too much to drink. The list goes on. I was scared of what he would do if I left because he had said what he would do.
Yes, there were times I hit back, it was all I knew to do. Fight or flight!
It typically takes a lot for me to give up on someone and the time had come and I was done. I always believe in the best part of someone and I have slowly learned just to let people go when they let you down.
We went to the courthouse right after that and submitted the papers for an order of protection. As we drove away we saw him standing on the corner of the street, he had already been released. How? Why?
I would have to see him again when we went to court to get the protection order granted for a longer period. A year… that’s all they would give. I can still see him walking down the hall, coming towards me. I can still remember what he had on. What would he do?
I was scared to stand in a room of strangers and explain why I needed this paper that was to protect me. We were able to get it all taken care of without seeing the judge. He didn’t fight it. I thought, “What is going on? What does he have planned? Will I make it out of here alive?”
After that day I still feared he would show up at my work and hide behind a pillar like he had done before. He would do the things he threaten to do if I ever left. But, I stayed in a few locations that he didn’t know about and I tried to stay low key. Which is hard when he knows where you live and we have mutual friends. But, I always tried to know what was going on in order to avoid situations. I would put chairs up to the door and under the knob. I would check locks over and over. Make sure windows were secured. Sleep with a phone close by. The list goes on.
I still do some of these things.
I wasn’t okay. I wouldn’t talk to anyone. This doesn’t happen to people like me. I was embarrassed. I wanted to forget about it and move on. I needed help but wouldn’t go to group therapy or anything.
Several years later, I moved south. More years pass and I get the message I always feared.
A friend of mine contacted me on Facebook and asked if I was okay and I thought she was asking because I had been sick. I didn’t even have a voice. She said she was calling me and I didn’t need to talk. I heard “he is in the news and killed his girlfriend”. Some of this becomes a blur. I reached for my laptop, pulled up some of the local news sites back home. I remember seeing his mugshot on several sites, with a look I had seen so many times before. The look I feared. I remember getting sick.
She was way too young, she didn’t have to die. I didn’t do enough. Why didn’t I do more? I could have saved her had I done more to make sure he didn’t do this to anyone else.
The very next day I was at work and my dad called to tell me that the investigator for the prosecutor attorney was trying to locate me and I got sick again. Then I was subpoenaed.
For months I dreaded having to see him again. My family would be there, but could I handle it? I had vaguely talked about it to people and never told details. Could I really do this? I always wanted to get involved in support groups but didn’t. I wanted to help others and I didn’t. I could have saved her and I didn’t do enough. I wanted to tell her family how sorry I was I didn’t do more.
He did a blind plea. I didn’t have to go to court and I didn’t have to see him.
He got 17 years……..
Let that sink in. He got 17 years for killing his 18 year old girlfriend. He was 36.
I didn’t do enough to stop him from doing it to someone else.
I got through it all because of my family, co-workers, friends, the ones I kept and even the ones I had deserted. It wasn’t always easy and when they first tried to help I pushed them away. It was scary for everyone during those times. I was ashamed. This doesn’t happen to someone like me. I was educated. I wasn’t in the lower class. I was Jewish. I had a great job.
It doesn’t matter what race, religion; sex, or what your income level is. It can happen to anyone.
Verbal abuse and physical abuse can cause the same damage. Typically they go hand in hand. I experienced both.
I still think about it. I don’t think I ever healed and I don’t think I ever will. I always know what cars belong in a location and which don’t. It has typically been hard for me to let anyone get close to me. It’s funny when people say I am quiet and reserved. I am also very outgoing. It depends if I trust you and if I’m comfortable around you. I have to figure out your intentions. I usually have a wall up at first because I am scared of betrayal and let downs. Trust is hard. You have to earn your way past the walls. If you lose that trust, it is hard to get it back. But, I also always believe the best in everyone and forgive quickly…. for most.
It’s life. But, for me it is something totally different. I don’t think you ever get past something like this. It is always a part of you.
If you are someone that is experiencing it, don’t be ashamed. Yes, it is scary but find a way to talk to someone. Ask for help. There are so many resources now. Even people you don’t know, will help you.
If you know someone that is going through it. Don’t just sit back and wait for them to ask for help. They may not get that chance. Don’t judge them. Don’t give up on them. Help them come with a plan. They need to know they are safe and protected. Do what you can! They need you and they are scared.
Encourage them to talk to someone or go to group meetings. I didn’t and I wish I had. It probably would have helped, even today.
If you made it this far, thank you. I know I didn’t share a lot of details because that is still too hard. But, know you aren’t alone, let them know they aren’t alone. Don’t be scared to do more!
I wish I had.