As October is approaching I wanted to cover a topic that has not been discussed as much due to its sensitivity but needs to be addressed. Domestic Violence has a big impact on women and even if you have not experienced domestic violence you know someone that has. According to the HuffPost, the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex-male partners during that time was 11,766. That’s nearly double the number of casualties lost during the war(2017). The number of women murdered every day by a current or former male partner in the U.S. is 38,028,000. The number of women who have experienced physical intimate partner violence in their families is 4, 744,000. These statistics are both sad and alarming.
As always I am not an expert in all areas but I collaborate with those women that do have expertise in those areas. I must thank one of the mentees in the group for suggesting this subject matter with October being Domestic Violence Awareness. This may not be the usual cheerful message that I have but it is needed. I have several brave women that came forward to tell their stories. The first story is from a suvivor name Lauren (beautiful name :))
Lauren: Lying on the floor…. bleeding, crying, in total fear for my life, The man whom I thought I loved is now standing over me with a knife in his hand and my leg sliced opened. As I found myself lying there on that cold floor wondering if this man was about to take my life … I couldn’t help but find myself thinking, “How the hell did I end up here?” “ I’m only 18… Why did I not take that full ride to Ohio, State University as my parents wanted me to? … Instead, I found myself face to face with something I never thought I would experience. ABUSE...
I met T when I was 18, and he was 29 years my senior. We were together on and off for three years. In the mist of all the abuse came my oldest son. Although, T was the first man to ever physically harm me...The abuse began long before I met him. I just didn't know I was creating a trend that would eventually almost cost me my life. As a child, I was sexually molested by two male family members. At the time, I didn't say anything due to the fact my relatives lead me to believe that if I wanted boys to be attracted to me, I had to share my body with them; not knowing that this was the first signs of abuse.
As life moved on and I got older....I became defiant against my parents' wishes. I wanted the fast life. So, I turned down the full ride scholarship to the University and began to date T. What attracted me to him was his cool smooth demeanor. He was older, independent, drove a nice car. And as a matter of fact, he bought me my first car. I definitely thought I was in love. Not knowing I was being preyed upon and manipulated. The first signs of abuse to look for would be that opportunity to prey upon your vulnerability. I was young and knew nothing. The world and everything about freedom excited me. He was a manipulator and isolated me by keeping me away from family and friends. I was always reminded that my weight was fluctuating and became self-conscious about even the smallest things. He controlled my life. He always reminded me that I should have gotten an abortion with my son, and I trapped him. As a young mother, my emotions trickled down to my baby. I never thought I would end up in a relationship like that. I guess no one ever does until it happens. But, if you find your self-going through anything like my experiences, First seek help. Find a confidant, tell a friend or loved one and don't be afraid to ask for help. There are many anonymous resources to help you escape as well. The reason why I decided to share this experience with you all Is because I feel I have a responsibility not only to myself but to God, to be obedient to his word by being transparent. I'm not a victim. I don't live with that name. In order to live as a survivor, you cannot be silent. This is my opportunity to save another person's life. I believe as you get older and wiser; through experience, you look at life differently and you realize that you are your most prized possession and no one should be allowed to disrespect, harm, or abuse you emotionally or violate your body. Everyone cannot have access to you. You have to first love yourself through God and over time you will begin to date at the level of your self-esteem. My greatest accomplishment in life was the discovery of self-love. In time I will attract someone who sees the value of my life, who will love me with each and every scar, even those unseen. But Most of all love and honor the calling I have on my life; empower the broken.
Below are the responses from 3 beautiful domestic violence SURVIVORS that shared their deep stories in hopes to help others.
Tell me about your domestic violence experience?
Tiffany: I was in a DV relationship for about 7 years; it was with my child’s father. I met him when I was about 20 years old. He did and said all the right things, I started to see red flags early on like him being controlling. Didn’t want me hanging out with certain people or going to certain places. He would hide my keys so I couldn’t leave the house. I thought I needed him financially and that’s what kept me in longer than I should have been. It started with him cursing me out and about a year in our relationship it got physical, he would choke me out until I blacked out. He hit my head on the wall so hard one time it made a hole in the wall. He fought me and pulled my hair out from my scalp while pregnant. I would threaten to leave and he would cry real-life crocodile tears and threatened to kill himself if I left and that’s how I use to get sucked back in. Until I realized he was just a good actor.
Ashley: I dated a guy for about 2.5 years. During the course of those years, I have been slammed into tables that were broken, kicked in my stomach which is now causing infertility issues, he has ran his car into mine, pushed my head into the steering wheel, put a gun to my head, threatened to kill me, caused me to lose a job because I refuse to leave with him so he attacked people at my job. In addition to, he has punched me while I was driving causing a HUGE bruise on my arm, raped me, and held me against my will. He choked me on several occasions until I fainted.
Jasmine: I experienced domestic violence for about 3.5 years. I met this guy when I was 19 and I was not ready for a committed relationship so he would always tell me he was doing what he wanted because I didn’t want to be his girlfriend. He’d always hold that over my head. Then came the verbal abuse. He’d yell and scream at me for things of little significance. I told him that one day he was going to beat me up and he said he wasn’t like that. Then it happened. He got so mad at me that he slung me into a TV and held me against the wall choking me. It took my best friend to pry his hands from around my neck. I didn’t talk to him for a year and a half. He apologized but then would renege, saying I made him mad so he did what he had to do. He always found something negative to hold over my head. And when he really wanted to make his point, he’d continue to mush me or threaten to beat me up.
2, How did you overcome and survive domestic violence?
Tiffany: GOD, I stayed in the word. I went and talked to a therapist. I wanted better for my son and me. I became more independent and not needing him, I purchased my first house at the age of 27 and didn’t tell him where I lived I just got movers and moved out of our apartment, w/ me having a child by him it was hard not to see him but I would make sure to meet him in public places and daylight or have someone else meet him.
Ashley: I used my support system around me. I made the decision to speak up, I refused to meet with him any longer or speak to him. My dad was an officer so he was able to put some things in place. I thought I loved him so I had to make the decision to choose me and make changes that reflected that.
Jasmine: I got tired. I got tired of being with someone who didn’t value me. We were in separate states so I was able to get away and not communicate with him at all. One day I was able to realize my worth and never looked back. I knew I loved him but nothing about our relationship was healthy.
3. What would you tell young women who may be experiencing an abusive relationship or have in the past?
Tiffany: Seek counseling, its okay to talk to someone. Let your family know what’s going on don’t keep it hidden or a secret. If he did it once he’ll do it again. Take heed to the red flags don’t ignore them.
Ashley: I would tell them first to learn who you are and what you want out of life. Know your worth; know you are not alone; know there are resources to help you. Most importantly, know you do not have to stay in a toxic relationship and risk associated with abusive relationships such as death.
Jasmine: Know your worth. Nothing you do deserves a man being physically, emotionally, or verbally abusive towards you. No matter how he tries to blame you-you are not in the wrong. Get away from him before it gets worse!
4. What are some warning signs that young women should look for when dating?
Tiffany: Controlling behavior, how a man talks to and how he treats his mother.
Ashley: Easily angered, jealous, controlling, trying to isolate you from your friends and family.
Jasmine: The biggest thing my ex did was emotionally manipulating. He would blame me for everything, say I wasn’t doing things right in our relationship, and constantly shove other women in my face for reactions. I would just argue back with him instead of realizing how messed up the situation was.
5. What made you decide to open up and not be afraid to share your story with others?
Tiffany: That wound healed and I wanted to help other women/girls who may be scared or embarrassed.
Ashley: I was tired of fighting, crying, covering up bruises, and I wanted to help other women escape and become survivors too. I refused to lose other women to domestic violence.
Stay strong and know there are alternatives. Love is not supposed to hurt or diminish you. Love is not isolative!!! Attend support groups in your area, tap into your strength, and value yourself.
Jasmine: Not a lot of people know this side of me. This was something I tucked away out of shame and guilt. A lot of people didn’t believe me because I was outgoing and boisterous. They’d question me about what I did so eventually I bottled everything up. I got tired of holding these things in.
You are always the prize! Don’t ever let a man make you think otherwise and feel as if you need to do differently for him to do right.
I am very grateful these women were open to sharing their experience and advice. If you or someone you know may be experiencing domestic violence please seek help as soon as possible. Ladies, you are enough and are all queens. No one should treat you less than that! If you need additional assistance call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).