Everyone has a story to tell. I’m no different. My BFF always tells me I’m a fool for love because my judgment is impaired whenever my heart is involved. He’s right, and that is how I found myself in a mentally and physically abusive relationship. I could blame everything on my ex, and declare I was a helpless target and too afraid to leave; however, that was not my reality. I stayed because I had a point to make. I wanted us to last and prove the naysayers wrong—no matter what the cost. The problem was I nearly paid with my life.
I won’t recount the myriad violent scenarios. Instead, I will expose my most vulnerable self since I believe disclosure was the pipeline to my healing process. I am a writer, and I kept a journal of everything I went through. One night while writing about yet another confrontation, I decided to put my pen down and read the journal. I realized the woman who wrote the entries was foreign to me.
I am an intelligent, strong, well-respected woman and still became a victim. Loneliness is what allowed a predator into my heart, mind, and body. Emotional dependence had me believe his love and approval made me complete. Resentment and uncertainties turned me against friends and family. Seclusion rendered me his prey.
At the time, I was too proud and naïve to admit I was in an abusive relationship. In my mind, I was a fighter, and I gave as good as I got. It wasn’t until I made that fateful 911 call, and had to explain to the operator that I was a victim of domestic violence, that my situation became real.
I learned the hard way you cannot change a person if they do not want to be changed. Denial, fear, and embarrassment kept me silent; silence gave him strength. Writing helped me cope and release some of the pent up anguish I experienced. I had no one to confide in, so I had to rely on inner strength. I had to remember what made me special, and why I deserved to be loved. I had to admit I was only spiting myself by remaining in a toxic relationship. So I left.
It was that easy for me, but that may not be the case for others. Sometimes it takes much more than self-love to make a person walk away. Some never even get the opportunity to leave, and death becomes their fate. Don’t allow domestic violence to continue to happen. Like we tell our children, if someone is touching you in an inappropriate way, tell someone. Tell a teacher, neighbor, friend, preacher, family member, stranger—just tell someone. Anyone. You are not alone.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship and need help, please make the call. You CAN make a difference in your own life, or the life of someone else!
National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or www.thehotline.org
National Sexual Assault Hotline: (800) 656-HOPE (4673) or www.rainn.org
National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline: (866) 331-9474 or www.loveisrespect.org