One of the goals of my blog is to provide the opportunity to other survivors to share their stories. Most domestic violence stories have similarities, but they are also each unique to the couple and individual. After I created my blog, I was contacted on Facebook by an amazing woman who had found my blog through a friend. She could identify with my anger and said that her anger had provided her with motivation unlike any before. She started college 2.5 years ago with 3 children, a 10th grade education, and a GED. She will graduate next year Magna Cum Laude and continue on to law school. To say that I was impressed is an understatement. I wasn’t just impressed, I was inspired. She is a testament to what can be accomplished in the wake of deep, personal pain, and her story shows how anger can be purposeful instead of purposeless. I asked her if she would share her story here, and I am honored that she agreed.
Here is her story in her own words:
I was married for ten years. I was controlled, beaten, raped, and used. I was not allowed to drive, go to school, or work for most of my marriage. I was called crazy, stupid, incompetent, and worthless. I was cheated on, lied to, raped then laughed at, bruised and isolated, and I stayed.
The previous lines have been the only words I have typed about my marriage since I left almost 3 years ago. But today I feel like I can do more; I can give women that are in the middle of the storm a means to connect with someone that who can validate their feelings. So, let me start by saying this:
YOU ARE NOT CRAZY, STUPID, INCOMPETENT, OR WORTHLESS. YOU ARE NOT ALONE AND YOU ARE CAPABLE OF GREATNESS
My ex-husband used extreme manipulation to convince me that my strengths were in fact my greatest weaknesses. The game of power and control has only one winner and that person will destroy everything in their path. I had to learn this reality after years of changing every little attribute about myself that he deemed flawed. In the end nothing mattered, no change was enough, no effort proved my worth. The reality is that it was not due to anything that was lacking in me because the defect had always lived in him. He was broken and simply put, I could NOT fix him.
Many women leave and go back. On average it is seven times before a woman stops going back to her abuser. For me, I had left two times before the final escape. My going back was not because I was weak, but because I believed I loved him. I also believed that my children deserved my best effort. In the end, if there was a way of making it work, I believe I would have figured it out in ten years. When I left that last time, it was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, mostly, I believe because I was not a quitter. I wanted the dream, the fairytale of ever-after, and it was so devastating when I had to admit that it was not obtainable with my husband.
The sadness that came with this realization was all consuming, and threatened to engulf my very being, if it had not been for a tiny glimmer of an idea which was, “You could be free.” I had forgotten what it was like to make my own decisions. For years, I worried constantly out of necessity about every little action I chose, from the type of hamburger I bought, to the way I mopped the floor. I yearned for his approval and feared his disappointment. But now… now I could be free. This was one of the most difficult concepts for me to wrap my head around freedom. It scared me to think about all the decisions that I would be solely responsible to make. After ten years, I had forgotten how to make a decision that was not completely consumed by his wants. But there was also a contained excitement.
Over that first year, the possibilities that came with my rebirth and freedom became infinite. I was able to make some of the most challenging decisions of my life with an ever increasing ease that I never believed was possible. Now when I look back over the last thirteen years of my life, I am grateful for the journey that has brought me to this moment. I am now strong, independent, driven, intelligent, and the healthiest mom I can be. My life has truly just begun… I am Free…
Guest Blogger’s Bio: A mom of three young children that currently is a junior in college and is on track to graduate with honors. She is active in her community and has done several television and newspaper interviews on the legal and emotional effects of domestic and sexual assault. She will be attending law school after she completes her undergraduate degree.