Let’s Talk About Domestic Violence

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*TRIGGER WARNING*

As some of you know, I was in an abusive relationship prior to my current one. Like many others, it started out normal enough. I met a guy, who seemed very nice. I was just a kid, not even old enough to drink, but unfortunately old enough to get married. Our relationship was pretty normal at that point, nothing spectacular, but before I knew it, we were at the courthouse, with him pulling me by my hand towards the courtroom where a judge was waiting. I specifically remember the hallway, and passing the cheap-fake-wood doors, trying to slow down and think.

I was too chicken to back out.

A few weeks later, I found out I was pregnant. I was happy, nervous but happy. Life went on.

Then one night, I was about 8 months pregnant. We had gotten into a fight, which was ever so normal by then. After a little while of yelling and screaming, he grabbed my hands. He proceeded to drag me out of the bedroom… literally drag. I had tripped, big belly and all, and he dragged me on the ground. He threw me on the ground, grabbed my shoulders, and threw me back again, bouncing my head off the ground.

While I lay on the ground crying, he went and grabbed the cell phone and house phone, took out the batteries and then dropped the empty phones by my head. I remember him walking outside, without a care in the world.

Eventually I ran downstairs to my neighbors house, where they consoled me and tried to convince me to call the cops.

Over the next year and change, the cops were at my house numerous times. I had my bruises photographed, and answered so many questions from officers. Each time, I was too scared to follow through. I kept thinking, where would I go? How would I support my daughter? (Who towards the end of it was almost 2.) What would he do? I was also deathly ill, I had undiagnosed Crohn’s Disease, and had dropped enough weight to not be able to function. How could I care for someone so small, when I couldn’t even care for myself.

I relied on a couple of friends coming over, to help me function and keep me safe. Eventually, I was lucky enough to get a diagnosis of what was wrong with my health, and soon after a hospital stay, started a drug regimen that put me into remission for long enough to plan.

I started college, I bought a house (under my name, not his). He eventually lost his job due to drug use, and I had found one. It was time. When my daughter was almost 3, I kicked him out of the house, and went to file for divorce.

The day after I kicked him out, after being up all night with a phone ringing off the hook, and threatening messages, he shut off the two things that were still in his name. The phone, and internet (and therefore my alarm system). I found out my internet was disconnected when a comcast employee showed up to disconnect. While he was there, my phone turned off. I was scared, and the tears started to flow.

What if I couldn’t do it? The comcast guy figured things out pretty quickly, and he called his manager and explained the situation, they left my internet running so I could establish my own account, and at least have my alarm running. In the meantime, I ran next door to call the cops.

I had done it, now I needed to be safe. So I stood in the road crying, telling this officer what my life had been like, that I finally had walked away, and that I had no phone to call the police if I needed them. I needed a restraining order. This officer, basically informed me, that since I had been too scared to show up at court to face my abuser, I couldn’t do anything. I was out of luck, and since we were still married…

… even though the house was in my name…

… he could still show up whenever he want. Which he did. All hours of the day, I started having people sleep on my couch, hoping it would deter him. Which it didn’t, one time, he ran in the house at 2 am screaming. The next time, he texted me an entire conversation I had had with a friend.. which he had heard from outside my window.

I eventually went to the courthouse and broke down. Someone finally listened to me, and showed me how to get a restraining order.

Time moved on, I was divorced, he skipped the state, without more than 2 phone calls to his daughter (which is fine by us). Years later, I have a stable life, with a lovely daughter, and a great boyfriend. He’s gone, and I’m healing.

.. and I have a strong distaste for anyone who hits a woman (or man for that matter). Over the past years, I’ve met women who were battered by their husbands, boyfriends, and sons. I’ve met women who were too scared to leave, too scared to report to the police, just like I was. I’ve met women who had survived and moved on like I did. I’ve also met several men, who have hit women. I’ve met men who beat their girlfriends, who beat their children, who beat their mother, who beat their sisters. I’ve met men, who thought it was justified.  I’ve met men who told me, it was a mistake, they’d never do it again, even though the last time, wasn’t the first. I’ve met men, who were “too drunk to know what they were doing” and I’ve met men who deny and hide their past.

I get it. Everyone has a past. I do. However, if you hit a woman, regardless of the circumstance, you do not deserve my respect, nor do you deserve anonymity. Fortunately for me, no matter how far you run, your past will always follow you, convicted or not.

I wish we lived in a world where violence didn’t exist, but that is not the case, nor will it ever be. Just know that there are people out there like me, and millions of others. Women who endured, women who escaped, and women who have stood for others. We can help others, we can stand up and tell our stories, we can protect ourselves, we can demand justice and nurture courage. We can stand up for what we believe in, and we can stand up for ourselves and others.

A man who hits a woman, is not a man.

If you are in an unsafe situation, please call 1-800-799-7233 or visit http://www.thehotline.org/

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