Five years ago I lived in Orlando, Florida, the Waterford Lakes area to be exact. That was my second time living in Florida, the first time I was there for five years before moving to Williamsburg, Virginia. This time I vowed to never leave again.
I loved my life there. A quaint condo in an subdivision conveniently located near almost everything I needed and worked from home doing technical support. My car was useful when I sought out the nightlife with friends or wanted to do something on the other side of town.
At that time I was more of an introvert than normal. Finally, I had mustered the strength to break free of the mental, verbal and physically abusive tyrant I was held captive by for three years. No longer a P.O.W, although the PTSD and depression were incarcerating.
Sam was there for me! Sam was a dear friend of mine of three years. I spent much of my time confiding in him during and after the relationship. Sam lived in Russia at the time doing technical support for a company in the Adyghe Republic of Russia and as needed worked as a translator at the Embassy. Sam was a brilliant man, speaking five different languages, technically inclined and sensitive. We spent much of our free time on the phone or Skype chatting. He became my best friend but the subject of a major crush I developed. Shell-shocked from my past relationship we mutually decided to take things very slow and continue to allow me to heal mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
Five years ago, I was a caged bird with a broken wing. Today, I fly high on life, willing able and ready to take on the world.
This post will depict a true and disturbing story about how I survived domestic violence. Hopefully my story will help other victims and build awareness.
We met while in the Navy in Norfolk, Virginia. I was stationed aboard the USS Ross (DDG- 71), he worked in the medical facility as a hospital corpsman that also worked with the Marines. Our meeting was short lived due to my newly commissioned ship always out at sea.
Our paths crossed again seven years later in Orlando, Florida and we picked up where we left off. Good looking, great sense of humor and intelligent were the qualities that drew me in. I loved his company so much that a couple of months later I moved in with him. Despite the constant warnings from my roommate to wait and take things a bit slower. There were no signs that this guy had deep routed issues.
It started with what I thought was just a little jealousy.
I was a personal fitness trainer so of course he inherited a free membership and would come to the gym to workout. His workouts would consist of him watching me interact with my male clients and co- workers. Daily, I would be interrogated regarding my many conversations with these men. If asked how my day went, that meant specifics about everything from who I worked out with to what I ate for lunch.
One day he came in and noticed the general manager and I in an office talking. When we exited he grabbed my arm with such force that I thought it would break. I was ushered out of the fitness facility across the parking lot over to my car. He began to yell about my flirting and demanding to know how long I had been cheating with my boss. My denial of his ridiculous accusations went unheard, later that evening I was locked out of the bedroom and forced to sleep on the couch. The next day he was very apologetic, he was inconsolably crying stating that his ultimate fear was losing me to someone else.
As time passed his fear and jealousy evolved into a need to control me. It began with the breaking of my spirit!
Each day at some point he would find time to tell me I was useless due to the fact that I was no longer employed. He strategically sabotaged my ability to gain employment. He was unable to find unemployment due to his inability to keep a job and bad references. Insults were frequent, ranging from how I resembled a man because of my toned body and that I was not as pretty as I thought. He made sure to inform me that the mothers of his children were very beautiful women.
The aggressive pulling and shoving turned into slaps and punches.
There was an incident when we went out dancing with his best friend and his girlfriend. The night was the best night we had in a long time. We all enjoyed our night, we danced the night away. Who would have thought it would have ended with him repeatedly slamming me against a wall and blood streaming down my face? A mounted picture hit me on the head resulting in a gash not deep enough for stitches. He refused to take me to the hospital, he was medically able to attend to my wound. This was punishment for innocently dancing with another man.
Finally, Dr. Jekyll exposes his Mr. Hyde.
What type of man chases a woman out of the house in the middle of the night? Running after me like a raging lunatic because I was too busy at work to return his call. Once he caught me, I was thrown to the ground and kicked repeatedly. Supposedly I was up to know good and attempting to leave him. As if this is normal behavior he picked me up carried me back into the apartment, tucked me in with a kiss and cuddled me as if nothing happened. Whispering in my ear that he loved me and would do anything to keep me in his life. He loved me more than life itself!!!
This tough, expert shooting, adventure seeking Navy girl was indeed broken. I often would ask myself… How did I get here? This question came mostly while nursing bruises. It’s not always the women who are timid or that have low self-esteem that are victimized. That is definitely a misconception that allows the signs of domestic violence to go unnoticed. Domestic violence often starts with brain washing and the breaking of the victims’ spirit. My abuser started with verbal abuse that progressed into brain washing and physical abuse.
Many people say…
“I would never be in that situation”.
What’s wrong with her?
The same statements were made by me until I became a victim. I learned the offender finds the weakness of his victim and prey on them. My fiancée was very manipulative. He used the fact I was the primary bread winner. Repeatedly reminding me that he was unable to find a job, he would lose the condo and become homeless. He would say… “I will die without you.” He would cry and tell me he was not mentally well and needed help. Often thinking back to who to the person he used to be; hopeful that person still existed. So I stayed!!!
The opportunity to leave was always there.
Packing up the car and moving to another city and state lived in the back of my mind. Family and friends would have welcomed me with open arms no questions asked. They would have been my support system, not to mention my brothers and male friends would have beat him senseless. Most families like mine are unaware of what is going on behind closed doors. The abuse is a secret kept out of both fear and embarrassment. Not all victims have a support system to confide in or run to.
Warning signs are there!
There are ways to tell if someone you know is in an abusive relationship. Observe any changes outside of the victims’ ordinary behavior. Here are a few characteristics…
Antisocial behavior, especially if the victim is ordinarily very outgoing.
Nervous or fearful around partner.
Signs of depression.
Constantly checking in with significant other
Partner shows signs of extreme jealousy.
I said “No More” after a night out with him and a female friend of mine. We originally planned for a girls’ night out but of course that was not allowed. After having a few drinks, we decided to spend the night at her condo to avoid the thirty-minute drive home. Sleepy and inebriated from the drinks I crawled into bed and ignored his sexual advances. Irate by my refusal he began to his usual yelling and insulting behavior. Fed up, I decided to go sleep on the couch. As I started for the bedroom door he grabbed me by the arm, spun me around and punched me in the jaw. Immediately, I saw stars and something inside me snapped simultaneously. I remember the first swing of the lamp from the bedside table then looking into the eyes of my friend. She was screaming at me…” Stop!” “Snap out of it!” Apparently, I had blacked out. Glancing over my shoulder, I could see him on the floor with blood streaming from his head, nose, mouth and eyes. I had no sympathy for him, just a heart full of disgust. To make a long story short. I drove myself to the police department to make a report. I remember standing in a room in a pink bath robe as a female officer took pictures of my face and all the bruises on my body. I drove to our apartment packed what I could in a hurry and left for good. All stories don’t end this way!
Stories of this nature would not have to be shared if we as a community get involved. We all can say “No More” to all types of abuse. 12.7 million people are physically abused, raped or stalked by their partners in one year. Domestic violence should not be tolerated. Report what you say and hear, refuse to turn a blind eye to all types of abuse. Please… say “No More” to domestic violence, let’s save lives.
In the beginning the relationship was amazing. The perfect man, a doting and protective boyfriend. Family and friends envied the relationship and found him to every charming. He was tall, handsome, well-educated with so much in common. With him there was never a boring moment, finally the man every woman dreams of meeting. Whenever he’s around, you hear wedding bells and feel in your heart the two of you will live happily ever after.
One day everything changes. What started out as a healthy amount of jealousy and concern has slowly turned into something else entirely. The calls and texts to make sure all is well has increased, along with the need to know where you are and what you are doing. A minor disagreement turns into an argument, as you try to leave so the two of you may calm down and continue the conversation when both of you are level headed. Nobody gets heard or can get a point across when screaming and yelling. He grabs you by the arm to stop you, but as you try to pull away the grip tightens. He’s yelling, every other word is an expletive including derogatory names no woman deserves to be called. At this moment you have the “deer in headlights” look on your face, struggling to break free of his grip. Upset and with no idea what to think, you quickly flee to a safer place to think and recover from the shock of what just transpired. Not all women are so lucky! An emotional wreck, you replay the altercation in your mind to make sense of what just happened. You wonder what you did or said to make him lose control. What could you have said or done differently? This is where you start to question yourself and maybe even blame yourself for his actions. Especially, after his repeated calls and texts apologizing, confessing undying love and promising to never hurt you again. Of course you forgive him, you are in love.
Weeks or months go by with everything back to normal. He is as charming as ever, you receive flowers, gifts and you love it. One day you are enjoying a day out with girlfriends and your phone is ringing constantly. Having spoken with him three times already you decided not to answer again in order to enjoy your day out. Upon arriving home, you immediately return his call and the interrogation begins.
Where have you been?
Who were you with?
What have you been doing?
Why were you so busy you could not answer my calls?
The questions come one after the other. Flustered and unable to deliver the responses acceptable to him, ignites the next shouting match. In desperation to defend yourself from false accusations and respond to the questions asked you start to scream and yell. No matter how you respond, true or false, proven or not, there is nothing you can do to calm his anger. For a brief moment you muster up enough back bone to disconnect the call. It felt great, but you don’t know how he will respond to your bold action. Instantly, you get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach and very nervous, subconsciously you know its fear but you are not ready to admit it. Remaining strong his repeated attempts to reach you go unanswered, but the nervousness increases. A loud pounding on your door nearly knocks you out of your seat, the heart races and your hands sweaty and shaking. You automatically know it’s him, afraid to open the door not knowing what he may do. A few more heavily placed knocks and texts demanding that you open the door to talk, you give in. A chill comes over you and for a moment you hear that inner voice boldly saying “no”, blinded by the love you have for the once charming and devoted boyfriend you cast the feeling aside. He promised to never hurt you again and all he wants to do is talk. He loves you and you love him.
Your loving boyfriend enters ignoring your motions for affection, feeling uneasy you close and lock your door. You’re on the floor with him, straddling you and violently punching and choking you. He has you pinned to the floor by your neck as he slaps you repeatedly. Overcome with fear that you worked so hard to suppress or ignore, you are begging for him to stop and apologizing for making him angry. In a violent rage he continues to deliver blow after blow as he threatens your life verbally. Standing in the shower crying, washing away the blood and trying to ease the pain from the bruises once again, you start to blame yourself or just too scared to end the relationship. Daily you work hard to hide the bruises in order to protect yourself from embarrassment and your attacker from the repercussions that could arise. These beatings have gone on long enough! Suffering from busted lips, black eyes and hospital visits you no longer can stay in the relationship. Is there really a way out? Yes. Trust me!!! Start by telling someone you trust. Family, a friend, priest or pastor and be sure to call the police every time you are threatened or abused. Believe me, you are not alone, every 15 seconds a woman is assaulted in her home. Statistics state that close to 4 million women are beaten to death by an intimate partner every year. Victims of domestic violence are in more danger of being assaulted or killed by their domestic partner than a police officer is to get shot. These statistics are very disheartening, the precious lives of these women lost forever because they felt there was no escape from their domestic situations. Thirty- three percent of battered women will suffer from mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, becoming mentally fragile from months or maybe even years of abuse. Abuse is not just physically debilitating, there are also mental, emotional and spiritual factors involved. Everyone has a breaking point, 15 percent of homicides committed by women are either in self-defense from their intimate partner or from mental defect caused by past violent relationships. I have listed a few of the best national organizations for women and families.
My single wish is to be able to help as women as I can go from being a victim to a survivor. I once was a victim, I am a survivor and an activist against intimate partner violence. If there are any women who are reading this and you are currently in a domestic violence situation, I’m always available to assist in any way I can just send me a personal message. We will get through this together!!!