~An Intimate and Revealing Conversation with a Brave DV Survivor~
*A huge thanks to this courageous guest blogger for agreeing to do this interview. Her responses are authentic, heart-spoken, raw, and revealing. It is my hope, and hers, that this conversation will be a change-agent for those traveling on the dark and dangerous road of domestic violence. Thank God that she's alive to tell her story! ~Lisa B
Q1: Were you physically and/or verbally abused?
A1: Yes, both, but mostly verbal abuse.
Q2. What type of acts did he commit?
A2: Verbal abuse (threats to come over to my house uninvited); Physical abuse; Telephone abuse (telephone communication with intent to harass, threaten or abuse).
Q3: Did these acts occur mostly in the home or elsewhere?
A3: They were mostly in the home. Sometimes out in public, he would act up if he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Q4. What was the first incident that spoke, I a victim of domestic violence (DV)?
A4: The first time was after the second time he showed up at my house uninvited. At that point, I had to take out a protective order, but it was only good for 3 months. The legal system surrounding DV help sucks!
Q5. How did it make you feel?
A5: It made me sad. I cried some days. I isolated myself from family because I didn’t want them to know what I was going through. Eventually, I told them what was going on. I was thinking, what did I do to deserve this. I was mad at myself for picking another loser. I had no idea I was going to raise my children by myself, as a single mom. Some days were more challenging than others, but I made it.
Q6. Were you scared?
A6: Yes, I was scared. It was my first time going through this experience. He was so unpredictable. I never knew if all the things he would say to me were true or false. An officer once told me that he was just blowing smoke. That didn’t make me feel any better. I just know that I was scared and couldn’t sleep at night. I just wanted to get some rest but couldn’t. So, one day I called the hotline for abused woman to see if they would take me and my children in. It was hard to find a place in my county. So, I looked for more numbers to call. To make a long story short, I did find a place, but it was in another county, an hour away. They gave me their address and the kids, and I left that night. We stayed two days. After those two days, I returned to my house and tried to figure out what I was going to do next.
Q7: Did you blame yourself at all?
A7: I blamed myself for getting involved in another relationship that was not healthy. I didn’t sign up for this. All I was thinking was, if I get out of this relationship alive, I won't be dating for a while.
Q8: When did you have thoughts of walking away?
A8: I had thoughts of walking away when he broke into my apartment after I had put him out. I remember calling my girlfriend to use her truck so that I could transport all his belongings to his mom’s house.
Q9: How much time elapsed between the first incident and the second one?
A9: It was three weeks afterward the first incident. I had moved again, and he continued his same behavior. He was hard to get rid of.
Q10: How were the children involved, specifically?
A10: He kept using them as an excuse, saying, “I want to see my boys.” He 'milked' that for a long time, but in reality, he didn’t want to see the boys, he wanted to see me. When he did see them, he didn’t spend quality time with them. I couldn’t wait until my children turned 18 years of age, so he could no longer bug me. I left it up to them to decide if they wanted to see or speak to him. Eighteen couldn’t come fast enough! I do believe, as of today, that my children are traumatized by our toxic relationship. My youngest child remembers a lot because he still mentions some of the things to me. Sad, I want to cry sometimes. My oldest remembers a little. Even now, when we argue, it scares him a lot.
Q11: Did you seek help?
A11: The only help I sought was when I was looking for a women’s shelter that also accepted children. I needed to get away to get some rest and figure out what I was going to do.
Q12: What incident was the pivotal one when you knew you had enough?
A12: There are two events that come to mind....He broke my balcony glass door to get into my apartment. On another unexpected visit, he had something like a handkerchief rolled up in his hand. I was thinking that it was going to be the last day of my life. I didn’t know if he was going to strangle me in front of my children. I never knew what to expect. All I could think to do was try to talk to him, calmly, and hope that it worked.
Q13: Was law enforcement involved? If so, how?
A13: Yes, in the child support case, protective order, and the telephone abuse. I still have case numbers for each incident. For the telephone abuse, I had to call the phone company to ask them what I needed to do to show proof that someone calls your phone excessive times. They told me what to do, I did it, and it worked. He didn’t know that I was tracking all his calls, all hours of the night and early morning. I know you’re not supposed to record people, but I recorded all his conversations. I was involved with law enforcement a lot. I remember a few times I would wake my kids up at 2 a.m. or any hour in the early a.m. and go to the courthouse to see the commissioner to file a complaint. After two visits, the commissioner told me that I didn’t have to bring my kids out that late. He told me all I had to do was call this number, and they would have someone to come to my house. So, that’s what I did.
Q14: What early warning signs would you advise people to look for?
A14: Alcohol, Drug substance, Behavior, Family background, Employment, Mood changes
Q15: What did you learn from the entire experience?
A15: I need to learn to get more educated on DV situations. The dating game is so scary out here now. You have to be so careful about who you hook up with. I want to do more research and learn more about dating, relationships, marriage and DV situations, so I can share with my family and our next generation about the red flags. You don’t have to settle for less, and you don’t have to be afraid. Love yourself. During the pandemic, Domestic Violence is at its highest rate. Every time I see the news or the newsfeed on my cell, there’s always a report of a Domestic Violence story, or someone being killed by their boyfriend or husband. I lost family members from domestic gun violence, who were at an incredibly young age.
Q16: In retrospect, what should you have done differently?
A16: I stayed in the relationship longer than I should have. If I would have left sooner, maybe it would not have been so hard to get rid of him before it turned into a DV situation. I had my ‘enough,’ just like the movie Enough.
Q17: What words of wisdom do you have for other women who may be experiencing or have experienced domestic violence?
A17: Same as number 15…Do your research. Educate yourself about relationships and behavior. Take your time when dating. Get to really know the person. Get counseling, if needed. Live a Healthy Relationship/Union!
~Guest Blogger, Anonymous and Brave
Domestic Violence Awareness Month, October 2021
"20 people are abused by an intimate partner every minute."
~The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence