I cant believe its been a year since i shared this. Seeing this pop up as a memory really brings everything into focus for me. This is why I do what I do.
I've been debating sharing this story on my public wall for weeks now. I have been making steps towards sharing it, starting small with individual people, then sharing it in my private blog. I think I have hesitated sharing it here because I know how cruel the internet can be, and how far posts can reach. I wont use names, because this is about awareness, not calling people out. But it's for that same reason I feel I need to share this. Fair warning, this post is a small novel. This is very hard for me, but I feel like my story has the potential to help a lot of women. Especially those who are in abusive relationships, and don't feel like they have a way out, or even deserve to get out. I also know so many women are scared to come out and talk about their history with abuse, because they are afraid of being blamed, persecuted, or afraid their abuser/s will come after them, but I hope that by sharing this, I can help others come forward. The only way to end abuse, is to first raise awareness. Abuse isn't always physical. And there are things you can watch for to help prevent yourself or your friends from being in these situations.
I grew up with an amazing mother. But, I was being abused by my step father. Every form of abuse. I watched him hurt my family. He was an evil monster. My mother, even having 4 kids, was strong enough, and brave enough, to get us out of his grip, and I know it is her example that gave me the courage to later save myself. I always wondered what I had done to deserve the abuse. It would be almost a decade later before I realized I was not doing anything wrong.
When I was 17, I met a guy. I thought he was cute. He was a "cowboy", he bought me presents, came to see me at work and after school. He said all the right things. He was 20, which I thought meant maturity, and that was "cool". Over time, he started checking up on me more and more. He would question who I was with, where I was, and then doubt what I told him. I thought he was just being sweet and concerned, and that he missed me. I made excuses for him, because he told me he had been cheated on a lot, and was "insecure". He started sneaking me away to hang out during my free hour of school, and I thought it was romantic. Before I knew it, I had fallen for the age old trick our parents and mentors warn us about "if you love me, you'll do this" "since you won't do this, I guess I'll go find someone who will" and he pretended he was joking, but I knew he was serious. He started punching walls when he got angry, but I figured it was just a wall, at least he doesn't hit me. I ended up getting pregnant my senior year. My life was over. All the things I had accomplished went down the drain. I was so ashamed, I dropped out of school and completely hid myself from the world. As soon as I turned 18, I moved in with him, because I couldn't stand being around my family that I had dissapointed, even though they only wanted to help me. He quit letting me see family and friends, if I did get to see them, he was no where to be found, and refused to socialize with them. He discouraged me when I wanted to take care of myself. Told me I wasn't good enough to finish school. Told me i wasn't skilled enough to be anything more than I was. He started going out with "friends" and I would later find out he was cheating on me. I was pregnant and totally alone shut up in my room, hating myself. I lost almost all of my friends. People I went to school with spread vicious rumors about me. I hated myself.
Fast forward to the day I had my baby. My labor was long, and my grandma was there with me thankfully. I honestly don't remember much of that day other than right when she was born. I watched my Dr's face just fall into sadness and I didn't understand why. She was crying, so she was alive, what is wrong? He looked up at me and said the words that haunt me to this day. "She has downs syndrome". My 18 year old brain completely shut down. "What do you mean? I didn't do anything that would cause birth defects. Oh... wait.. I deserve this..." I vaguely remember people coming in to see me. The next morning she was flown to Phoenix Children's for heart and breathing complications. When we were finally able to bring her home, the abuse started all over, but was so much worse. He started throwing things. Yelling at the baby. And finally he pinched her for crying. I woke up to the sound of her screaming and his sister yelling at him for hurting her. I ran with her to my room, and prayed for the first time in months. I heard God's response surround me, fill me, consume me. Call your uncle and ask him to adopt her. I made the call, and he didn't even sound surprised. He said he would pray with his wife about it and call me back. Not even 20 minutes later, he called to set up a time to come get her. The process was a blur. We moved back to Taylor, and he continued to yell, threaten, and abuse me in every way. I was so depressed. I gained weight. He found a place Scottsdale, and told me he was not going to let me live near my family that was "poisoning me against him". And i stayed in that hell for almost two years. Being cheated on, screamed at, embarrassed in front of people for his entertainment, and treated like a slave. I look back, and something as simple as my wardrobe had completely changed. I wore nothing but dark-colored, mostly black, and a lot of clothing that was not appropriate. Silly thing to remember, but it's something that stands out to me. prom wearing which backtrack to 1920
One night, he went out to party. I had already been thinking about it for months. "I'm going to end this. I can't take it anymore. No one will want me anyways, so I won't miss out on anything." I took a handful of pills... and threw them right back up. Again I heard God. Call your grandma, it's time to go home. And I did. She told me to start packing. He was too drunk to drive home, so I didn't have to worry about him finding me packing, because if he had, he would have killed me, or close enough to it. At 1am my grandma and uncle showed up, helped me load everything I could, and we drove home. I arrived home at 4am on the 4th of July. Independence Day. I didn't hear from him for a week. Then i saw a picture of him in Vegas with his sister, no wedding ring. Obviously not upset that I was gone. But then the phone calls came. He threatened to come get me and he was going to make me pay. Thank God he never did. He drug out the divorce for almost 2 years, even though we had nothing to fight over. But eventually I was free, and never heard from him again.
I dated another jerk. Again, said all the right things, had the bad boy attitude, and yet again, I was abused. He refused to get a job. He would lie about looking for work. The one job he did get, he got himself fired by punching someone. He stole money from me to buy cigarettes. He would ignore me while he played video games all day, and then yell if I told him to turn them off. After 10 months, I kicked him out. I waited until he was off playing video games with friends, and took all his stuff to his friends house. I was called a coward for not confronting him. But I know what would have happened to me if I had. I was afraid he would come after me, But his mom came up from the valley and took him away. Safe again...what am I gonna do now? I was terrified of another relationship. Clearly I had a bad picker. I almost got back together with him too. Out of sheer desperation and fear that i would end up alone. Abuse is more tolerable than loneliness... right? But I trusted my gut, and cut him off for good.
I focused on me, I went to the gym, I hung out with friends. I lost weight and got back to the me that I could at least start liking again. And then went on my first date with my soul mate. (I had been introduced to him almost a year prior) I knew just 3 dates in that this was it. I had major trust issues, and he had been hurt too, but we helped each other overcome our pasts, and become stronger as individuals and as a couple. Almost 5 years later, I am now a wife, a mother of a beautiful baby girl, and building my own business. I look back and just cannot fathom how I got myself into those messes. But God saved me. My family saved me. My friends saved me. When I thought I was too used up and broken to be wanted by someone worth while, God was guiding me to my glorious future.
No matter what you think, you ARE worth it. You DESERVE to be treated right. You have done NOTHING to deserve abuse. You do NOT need to be checked in on 24/7. You do NOT need to be accused of dressing up for someone else, just because you want to put on a nice blouse and makeup. You do not have to put up with being made front of in front of people. You are not an object. You are a human being deserving of love and respect. God loves you. Your family loves you. Your friends love you. I love you. Do NOT let someone make you feel less. You can get out of your situation. Even with kids. Even with cosigned property. You CAN get out. There are people that will help you. I will help you. You are a beautiful daughter of a King and you deserve to be treated like it. You can overcome your past. You can. I promise. You can. The right man is waiting for you, and he will save you in ways you can't imagine, but you have to save yourself first. If any of you need someone to talk to, to share your story with, I am always here. I know how terrifying it can be to tell even one person, but please ask someone for help. Anyone. If you want to know some great information about how to prevent child abuse, please visit defendinnocence.org or if you or a loved one have already suffered, visit youniquefoundation.org.