How bad is it?
Listening to this made me feel so emotional. I think that when children are crying like that it is just heart breaking. It is just something I feel like we cannot continue to turn our heads against. Shocking statistics, crying children and impactful stories from survivors help to make it real. Sometimes that isn’t even enough these days.
What makes it more real is when it happens to you. There is a stigma attached to being a victim of domestic violence. I’ve heard it many times and I continue to hear it again and again. What happens is that people continue to blame the victim for staying. People cannot figure out why a woman would stay with a man who beats her up. I do know that there are many male victims out there and think it’s even worse for them, because they are made to feel emasculated.
Most people cannot believe that I was a victim of domestic violence. I was an Army Soldier and not the “type” to take abuse. I am here to tell you there is not type.
I was in a 7 year relationship with a man who was an alcoholic. On several occasions he got drunk and would become verbally abusive, and on some occasions he would become violent. I was usually in the habit of talking him off the ledge so to speak. I was able to calm him down enough for me to leave or get him to go to sleep. Unfortunately that was only some of the time. The first time he was violent he grabbed my arms and left bruise on me. Terrible hand prints on my arms. I am not sure what anybody thought because I brushed it off. After all I was a woman with two small children from a previous marriage and pregnant with his child. What would people think of me since I had two fathers in the picture? 3 kids and 2 dads? Kind of stigma right there, damn sure I wasn’t going to end the relationship yet, since he was drunk and all.
It got worse
Just like the textbook example the violence in my life escalated. One night after a night of being in fight and he was drinking, he choked me. I was about 6 months pregnant at the time. He told me “if you don’t breathe the baby doesn’t breather as he was choking me. He also punched me a couple of time in the face. He fell asleep soon after, but not before my daughter woke up and was crying. I was able to talk him down, Since my girls were in bed, and I comforted my little one and got her back to sleep. That morning I left for my mothers. As I was leaving he choked me. My mother asked me why I let him do that to me. I then realized that I needed to handle this on my own. I went to the police and filed a report that day. Since it was a day later, they told me that they couldn’t do much but since he had choked me that morning they could get him out of the house and arrest him that night.
The court nightmare
I filed an order for protection. The court was really good when it came to helping me prosecute. What they weren’t so great at was that winter I let my ex husband take my kids for a little while in Texas. He filed an “abuse” allegation and kept my kids from me. The abuse allegation stemmed from my daughter witnessing the domestic violence. My worst nightmare had come true. I had to go to court to and fight to get them back. I had to listen to a judge accuse me of being a bad mother and that it is abuse subjecting my children to domestic violence. I did argue that I had an order of protection and was no longer with the abuser, and she did give me custody back. I still to this day regret the day I called the police. I don’t think it helped me in my situation at all.
Why am I sharing something so personal?
The answer to that question is easy. It is not easy saying these things, it’s embarrassing and it’s humiliating admitting to the fact I was a victim. But that is the thing, there are many of us. Sometimes when you know somebody it’s easer to reach out for help. If one person in our class reads this and maybe calls a hotline, it’s worth all the embarrassment. Also, it brings the problem closer to you, You have to look it in the face at least on Saturday mornings until April. I want you to know it can happen to anybody, and it’s not their fault.
It does not define us!!
Although it happened I will not allow it to define who I am. I am a survivor, I am a mother, and I am one of very many. It has shaped how I see this issue, and it has shaped me to be a more compassionate person. I hope that it will change your attitude about domestic abuse.