Slapped! Kicked! Punched! Dragged across the floor! Stabbed! Beaten with a fist! Beaten with a whip! Beaten because something happened at his work that had nothing to do with me! Beaten because he lost a card game that had nothing to do with me! Beaten because his lover made him mad and it had nothing to do with me! Wait! I’m being beaten by a man who was loving at the beginning of our relationship. I’m being beaten because of other things happening in his life. I’m being beaten because he needs to take his anger out on someone, but why? Why was he beating me all of a sudden? Something changed! What happened? Did I miss something? Were there red flags? I don’t think so. I never saw the first punch coming and I never imagined this significant life change at age 18.
Yet, when was I going to realize that enough was enough? When was I going to have the sense enough to walk…no RUN AWAY from this abusive relationship? At what point was I going to wake up to the reality that the abuse wasn’t going to stop? How long would it take? I didn’t know if I would survive the next fight. I didn’t know if I would get pregnant again and suffer another miscarriage. I didn’t know if I would survive the thoughts of taking my own life. I just didn’t know. What I did finally realize was that I couldn’t change my abuser’s behavior. No matter how hard I loved him…no matter how clean the house was…no matter how much extra effort I made for peace to be in our home; I didn’t have the power to change him.
How did I end up in not one, but two physically abusive relationships and another one that wasn’t physical, but emotional, spiritual, and financially draining? I didn’t witness abuse growing up because my parents were always loving to each other. Yet, at the age of 18, I found myself feeling the burn, tension, and deep levels of physical pain all over my sore and exhausted body. Throughout the different abusive relationships, I was consistently trying to find ways to cover the bruises; the stab wound, the raw exposed skin on my calf from the hot iron, the finger marks around my neck, the bruises on my back from the whip, and the black and blue marks on my face and other parts of my body. I was constantly trying to cover up not only the physical pain, but the emotional, mental, and spiritual grief I was experiencing. It embedded in my thoughts that every beating, every insult, every bit of physical pain, emotional scarring, and mental anguish was my fault. Why? Because he said “It’s all your fault. This is happening because of you.” Yet, in reality, it had nothing to do with me, but his need for power and control. This power and control that I had to break free from before he or I ended my life. I found my freedom when I wanted a better sense of self.
Women who’ve experienced a domestic violence relationship have many of the same questions I had during this time of my life. Women don’t seek out abusive partners, yet have found ourselves in the pit of a relationship hoping that the abuse will cease. For many years, I dealt with the cycles of the honeymoon phase, tension building, and an explosion of aggressive physical and verbal onslaughts of abuse. For many of us, we survived and had the courage to leave. For some, they became fatalities in what was supposed to be a loving relationship.
My prayer is that if you are reading this and currently in an abusive relationship, that you will find the support, strength, and courage to leave the relationship. Seek counseling, focus on healing, identify and hold firm to a more vibrant future. Don’t allow the past or current situation to interfere with your future because your focus is now on embracing your self-worth and the essence to Love Yourself to Life™!
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please CALL 911. For crisis and counseling services, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224. Hotline advocates are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year to provide confidential crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.