I said… NO MORE!!!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

Why stay?

Get help!

“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
  • Frequent injuries.
  • 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.

NO MORE

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Celebrate Life…. National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. It’s important for me as a woman and a blogger to join in on the fight and build awareness. This subject is not only important to me but to other women and men who are affected by breast cancer.

I heard that forty was the recommended age for mammograms. Although, this morning while watching the Today Show, the American Cancer Society says 45 is the age to start getting mammograms. The constant change in recommended starting age for mammograms can be confusing. As my 39th birthday approaches I tend to be more health conscious than usual and breast cancer is not something I or any woman would want to take lightly. Practicing monthly self-exams are important, mammograms have the ability to detect what we cannot see or feel. The best method of early detection!

Yesterday, I visited http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org to do research and to further educate myself as well as my readers. The National Breast Cancer Foundation website is very informative. You have the ability to gain knowledge on the stages and types of breast cancer, read survivor stories, donate and create an “Early Detection Plan”. I created mine and advise other women to do the same! It’s a great way to be proactive when it comes to our health. You will get reminder emails to do monthly breast self- exams as well as the proper way to do them. It truly taught me a few techniques I did not know. Schedule your clinical exams and your mammogram ahead of time. I scheduled my mammogram for February 14, 2016, I plan to stick with my original schedule for forty as my first mammogram. It’s a month after my birthday, I just felt that is the best Valentines gift of love to myself.

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I did not have knowledge of this statistic before signing up on the National Breast Cancer Foundation website. I learned that benign tumors start as damaged cells that can become malignant tumors that are cancerous.  My mother detected her tumor when it was the size of a dime she stated within a week it was the size of a golf ball. Thank God when she went to the doctor it was benign that was eight years ago. Early detection works miracles!!!

Uninsured? The National Mammography Program partners with medical facilities across the country to provide “FREE” mammograms and treatment. That is true blessing to those who cannot afford health insurance or treatment. Our donations are truly saving lives in many ways! There are so many ways we can help, donate $100 to provide a mammogram for a woman in need or conduct a fundraiser. Visit the website to see all the options available.

Janelle Hail is the founder and CEO of National Breast Cancer Foundation. On the NBCF website there is a link to her blog Live Life with Janelle Hail who is also a survivor. Her story is absolutely wonderful, I’m personally grateful for her foundation. I love the transparency of her blog, Janelle Hail encourages other women who are fighting breast cancer to share their story. As a woman who does not have breast cancer I find her story and the stories of other survivors very inspiring.

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Take time today to visit the NBCF website, celebrate the life of others by giving or your life by signing up for the early detection plan.

Links to websites:

http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/

http://janellehail.wpengine.com/janelle-story/

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/news/american-cancer-society-releases-new-breast-cancer-guidelines

Images courtesy of:

Pinterest

http://freeallpicture.com/we-support-breast-cancer-awareness-month.html

KEN WHEATON

Novelist. Editor. Journalist. Business Writer.

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