One winter day during my junior year of high school, I found out that he had cheated on me, again. I broke up with him during lunchtime. He became enraged as I walked away to my class, but he didn’t follow me. After class had begun, I heard the door at the front of the classroom swing open.
My heart sank.
He stayed at the door, looked toward the teacher, and said, in front of the whole class, “I need to speak to that fucking whore right there.” He turned to me pointing and said, “Bitch, get your fucking stupid ass out here now.”
Everybody turned and looked at me in shock, but nobody said a word. The teacher said nothing. I had never been so humiliated in my life.
In that moment, I had two choices: I could either sit there while he continued to belittle me in front of everyone as they watched in horror and didn’t take action, or I could walk out and be shamed anyway because I had given into his threats.
I wanted to disappear.
I walked out because I was mortified. I never imagined such shame, and at 15 years old, I understood it even less. As we walked down the hall, he spit in my face, pulled my necklace off my neck, and threw it in the trash can. He threw me up against the lockers. He threatened to destroy me.
It was in those moments when I felt most alone. It was those incidents that left long-lasting emotional scars. My dignity was stripped and my self-worth eroded.
My story begins at the age of 14 and continues off and on until I was 22. Mine is a story of emotional, psychological, and physical abuse.
It didn’t begin immediately. In fact, there weren’t any signs until we had been dating for almost a year. The signs weren’t obvious, especially to a 14-year-old.
It began with him telling me he didn’t like the shirts I wore, or that my skirt was too short. At the time, it was easy to mistake jealousy and control for adoration. It soon progressed to name-calling, insults, unfounded accusations, degradation, humiliation, and isolation.
The first step in domestic violence is to charm the victim; the second is to isolate the victim. Once it begins, it will continue to get worse.
I began believing I deserved the abuse, and I thought everybody else believed I was who he said I was. The hell became so familiar that it was easier to stay than to leave. It was easier to live with the shame and guilt in secrecy. It was easier to stay and suffer in private than to try to leave and be humiliated in public.
I was stuck in a psychological trap and didn’t know where to turn. I firmly believed that nobody could have helped me.
I tried to leave. I tried to leave multiple times. Every time I tried, he threatened to commit suicide or worse. The relationship took an emotional toll on me. I was having severe panic attacks. I ended up in the hospital a few times and was put in counseling, but I never spoke about the abuse. I didn’t want anybody to know. I lied for him, and I lied about him.
I told nobody.
Nobody knew I had been threatened with a gun.
Nobody knew I had been punched so hard I was almost knocked out.
Nobody knew about the head butts each time he didn’t agree with something I did or didn’t do.
Nobody knew the reason my windshield had shattered was because he had punched it in a fit of rage over what I had worn to school that day.
Nobody knew about the many deliberate close-call head-on collisions that almost occurred while he was threatening to “kill us both.”
Finally, after almost eight years of abuse, I knew I had to leave. Not because of some fight or big blowout, I was just done. I was tired. I can’t explain it. I just didn’t want to feel that way any longer.
I knew if I stayed, all of those dreams I had when I was a little girl would never be realized.
I knew that if I continued on this path, I might never see the light through the darkness.
I knew I was broken, and that only I could fix myself.
I knew leaving wasn’t enough. I knew that if I didn’t leave the state and get far away, I would fall back into the cycle.
I knew if I wanted any life at all, I had to choose me, no matter what the cost.
So I did. I chose me. I broke up with him and moved out of the state a week later.
It took many years to repair the mental and emotional damage, but I’m here to say that it is possible. I am not bitter or resentful, I forgave him the day I left, but I knew I wanted more out of life. Although I had been stripped of all remnants of self-worth, I found an ounce of esteem that told me I deserved better.
Physical abuse is dangerous but psychological abuse is deeply-rooted.
In those moments, I desperately needed somebody who understood. Somebody who could guide me back to myself, my voice, and my truth. But I chose to keep my secret hidden, I chose to protect the people I loved, I chose to find my own way. It took years to heal, but I did it and I am still doing it. I found my voice and rebuilt my foundation on self-acceptance and self-love.
I now live an extraordinary life full of purpose, with a grand vision to change the world. I have married the man of my dreams which would not have been possible if I hadn’t worked to change my beliefs about myself.
Today, I support survivors of domestic violence to reclaim their power, forgive themselves, repair their brokenness, heal their soul, and discover their magic.
Although domestic violence defines you in ways beyond comprehension, I will only allow it to push me closer to my bliss—closer than I ever dreamed, beyond all doubts and fears.