In honor of October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I feel compelled to share my story.
It took years of daily effort to reach a place of healing and freedom, and it is my goal to use my life-changing experience to help others recognize abuse and have the ability to escape the toxic environment.
An open letter to my abuser:
Never in a million years did I ever imagine that I would become a statistic because of you. Never in a million years did I guess that I would become so tangled in the complex, yet misunderstood, web of domestic violence. Never in a million years did I believe I would become a woman who would fall victim to physical, verbal, and emotional abuse. Never in a million years did I accept that I have woken up with a man on top of me without my consent, that I would be pushed into a busy New Orleans street with traffic, that I would be struck in the face with your fist, that I would be lifted off of the ground by my neck in the corner of a bathroom, or that I would become pregnant by my abuser.
Never in a million years did I believe that I would be woken up by my abuser trying to break into my roommate’s home. Never in a million years did I imagine that I would be sitting on a street corner with a New Orleans police officer who would console and encourage me to turn in my abuser. Never in a million did would I ever be okay with you dragging me down a hallway on my pregnant belly. Never in a million years did I dream that during my first pregnancy, I would have to schedule an emergency appointment to make sure our unborn child was still alive following physical abuse. Never in a million years did I think my strong, independent personality would fall victim to a master manipulator, a charismatic narcissist, a man who would literally and figuratively suck the life out of me. Never in a million years did I dare say that my life would be altered and forever changed by domestic violence.
Yet, here we are. Nearly 10 years later, and I am alive. I am a survivor.
The last time you abused me, I left. I packed all of my things while you weren’t home and I left. I left with our child still safe inside my belly. My solid rock, my unwavering support system was waiting with open arms. They were prepared to welcome me back after years of isolation. They’ve loved me all along.
The last time you physically abused me, I decided I wanted better for our child (and myself). I made the conscious choice to leave to ensure that our child would have a better life. While crying one night in the shower, I promised our unborn child that he or she would never grow up thinking that that type of toxic and abusive relationship is normal. I promised our child that they would grow up in a loving, stable home. I promised our child that I would do everything in my power to shield and protect them from being exposed to your history of domestic violence.
Unfortunately, I failed. I failed to protect our child from domestic violence.
Rewind. I take that back.
I refuse to blame myself. I’ve escaped your powerful grip, and you can no longer control me. I will never allow you to make me feel guilty for your actions. You failed to protect our child from domestic violence. You physically assaulted your wife (our child’s stepmother) in front of our child. You choked your wife in front of our child. You, with bloody hands, punched out windows to your home. You verbally abused your wife in front of our child. You had police at your house because of domestic violence. You failed to set a good example for our child about how a man should treat a woman, or how a woman should expect to be treated by a man.
Despite the hell you’ve put our child and me through, thank you. Without your abuse, I wouldn’t have found a strength inside of me that I never knew existed. Without your abuse, I wouldn’t have realized my worth. Without your abuse, I wouldn’t have made the promise to our child and myself that healthy, loving relationships are possible. Without your abuse, I wouldn’t be the mother, wife, woman, friend, sister, daughter, or person I am today. Without your abuse, I wouldn’t have the greatest gift that could’ve ever come from the darkest time of my life, our child.
To my abuser, never in a million years did I imagine I would be alive to write this letter to you. But here I am.
ONE of your victims
P.S. To any victim or survivor of domestic violence: There is happiness at the end of this nightmare. If you’re willing and open to accept it. There is love in your future. If you allow yourself to heal. There is such a thing as a healthy relationship. If you don’t become tainted by your experience. Like me, I urge you to find your reason to leave. You deserve better.
If you are being abused by your partner, or want to help a victim of domestic violence, visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.