Trigger Warning: Physical violence, abuse
I’ll never forget the day I met him. I had just completed 10 months sober, and I was seeking a new reprieve. He was kind, charming, spontaneous, passionate, and hilarious. Looking back, he was really manipulative, a good talker, selfish, and possessive. Abusers have a way of playing the part, so impeccably that reality and fantasy become intertwined.
I remember the first explosive fight the way most women remember the first romantic date. It was probably around 11 p.m. We were arguing over him still texting with his ex-girlfriend and I asked for my keys so I could leave. It was dark in the room and he threw them at me. Barely missing my eye, I was a bloodied mess. My eye was so swollen I couldn’t see.
The first lie came effortlessly. We rushed to the ER and I told the doctors that I fell into the nightstand. I swear every nurse and doctor asked me what happened and I’m guessing his presence along with my black eye didn’t have them convinced. But the gig was up. He knew the lengths I was willing to go, to assist his unpredictable behaviors. The emotional and financial abuse started to happen more frequently and I was living in chaos.
From slamming doors on my body, breaking my things, taking my car without permission, spitting in my face, to finally breaking my ribs with a blow to the back; I was enslaved to co-dependency. I felt inadequate and unlovable. I was right where he wanted me. I was too scared to leave, too scared to stay. My life was controlled entirely by fear.
I isolated myself, away from the people that loved me and wanted better for me. I clung onto the idea that one day he would change and we would live happily ever after. I made excuses and minimized every “episode.” I started to identify with the horrible insults he threw my way on a daily basis. There were a ton of ups and downs. After all, if our relationship had no ups, why would I stay? The cycle of abuse continued.
Then finally, we reached a turning point. We had one of our explosive arguments, but this time the kids woke up and walked into the room. He had me on the ground with his hands around my throat, and my kids were screaming for him to stop. Something broke inside of me. I got up, ignoring his desperate pleas, grabbed my kids, left the house, and called the cops. He was arrested and spent the night in jail. Child Protective Services got involved because the children were present, and demanded we separate.
For the first time in my life, I pulled myself up off the floor and I met fear face-to-face. I valiantly took a stand, but not without the help of the people who loved me the most. I told everyone the truth about what had been going on and I swore to myself that I would never go back.
Today, I continue to seek out therapy for my PTSD, addiction, and trauma. The truth is, unhealed trauma resurfaces and from my experience I kept seeking out what I was familiar with: abusive chaos.
So I am constantly surrounding myself with women that have my best interest at heart. I am almost 5-years sober today.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, don’t give up. Reach out to someone you love and trust. There are women that need to hear your story and hear how you survived it.
If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can find more information about how to find supports in the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s tip sheets (see under Violence Prevention Resources). For a list of regional crisis lines and shelters by province, go to www.sheltersafe.ca. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.
- Domestic Violence Goes to Work
- Q&A: Healing and Re-Humanizing After Trauma with Author and Activist Marlee Liss
- Campus Sexual Violence and #MeToo: Q&A with Bailey Reid