It’s a rough road. For those who are going through or have gone through any form of abuse. The task of surviving day to day. As the one enduring the abuse. The unknown of whether or not we will make it out alive. The unknown if we can ever escape. The unknown of what will happen to us if and when we do escape. What will he or she do if they find out? What will happen to me? For those who have children; it ups the ante 100 folds. Why don’t people leave right away? It’s easier said than done, there are so many factors and reasons. Some may call it excuses, but as a survivor I tell you, it isn’t that we are making up excuses. It is due to the immense amount of fear we have towards this individual.
Then one day. It happens. Literally. Maybe it doesn’t just happen overnight, but because we are so brainwashed and have no self-control we don’t quite recognize it until it is practically boiling over. This fire burns inside of us. An unstoppable strength, After being beat and torn down for so long we don’t quite understand how we got this strength or where it came from. It is as if something inside of you just wakes up all your senses.
For me, it happened after my ex choked me and I passed out. Now, for the critics out there, you must understand that before physical abuse occurs usually mental, verbal and/or emotional abuse have already been set in motion for quite some time. No I didn’t leave after the first time he physically or sexually abused me. Why? Because he had already gained control of my mind. I was a prisoner in my own body. The daily verbal beat downs. Being told that no one loves me, or that I am not pretty enough. Being told that I get what I deserve.. The threats of what he would do if I try to leave, threats he made to me about hurting my family. No one wants me. No one loves me. I am nothing and will be nothing without him. Being reminded of how my biological father abandoned me by saying things like “Your own father doesn’t even want you”. The list goes on and on.
So on this one particular evening, we had not been on speaking terms for a couple days at this point which was pretty much the norm for him. I had the day off so I had spent the day doing laundry, running errands etc. I was sitting on our bed, watching t.v. when he had come home from work and entered the room. I didn’t like when we were not on speaking terms, I knew I had to be the bigger person and start some sort of conversation with him. I simply asked, “How was work baby?” He slams the wardrobe door shut, I look up at him and see his teeth clenched. I knew exactly what was about to happen next so I got up from the bed, thinking I would just walk out the room to avoid any more confrontations. It didn’t work out that way. He grabbed me by my arm and pulled to where I fell on to the bed. Like any other time, he pinned me down and punched the bed on either side of the bed. Like so many times before he said. “If you move and I hit you it’s your fault not mine.”
I thought I had memorized the whole scene. Every move he made I knew by heart. Then the scene changed. He got behind me and put me into a choke hold that I could not get out of. I passed out. For how long? I do not know and will never know. When I came too, I woke up with my head in his lap. You want to know what he was doing? Playing video games. As if nothing had just happened. It was as if I had fallen asleep there. When he had realized that I had woken up he began laughing and petting my head as if I were some sort of lap dog. It was in that moment that I finally realized I had to go. It was in that moment that I had realized that things were never going to change but that they were only going to get a whole lot worse. If I didn’t escape hell that night or the very next day, I would become a statistic. I had to fight and subconsciously I knew that I had to fight for others who were/are in a similar situation.
When it was time for bed, he told me to sleep with my head at the foot of the bed (as if I were the one that did something wrong). My rage boiled over. The phoenix within me was starting to wake up. I looked at him and said “I ain’t your dog, and I will NOT sleep at the foot of your bed, either you can sleep at the foot of the bed or you can sleep out on the couch, but me? I ain’t moving. Good night!” I had found my voice again. He was the one who slept with his head at the foot of the bed. In something so small and simple as having the good spot in the bed, I felt victorious. My power had returned to me. That there was the first time I realized the strength I had within me. I stayed awake for a while until I knew that he for sure was sleeping.
The next morning I woke up pretty much just as the sun was rising. I had probably slept for only a few hours. I quietly and softly got up out of the bed, grabbed my towel and my cell phone and headed to the bathroom. When I got into the bathroom I looked at myself in the mirror and could still see my ex’s fingerprints on my neck. I ran the bath water and sobbed as I dialed my sisters phone number. It must have been around six o’clock so I knew she would be up. If she wasn’t heading into work, she was at least getting ready. When she answered the phone she had just entered her work place. I told her I needed to talk to her that it was very important and then began to explain what had taken place the previous night. She told me she would be right on her way and to begin packing everything that I possibly could. After we got off the phone I stayed in the bathtub a little longer. I had so many emotions raging through me. I was scared. I was hurt. I was nervous. I was angry. I began crying again. I was doing my best to not cry loud enough that someone in the house would here me and come to the door.
I got out the bath, got dressed and walked back towards the bedroom. While walking down the hallway I was praying that he was still sleeping. While opening the door to the bedroom I literally held my breath. As I entered U looked over to find him still asleep. Thank God! I went to the kitchen for some trash bags and began emptying out the closet, stuffing my clothes in the bag. When one bag was full, I tied it and put it in front of the apartment door.
My sister kept me up-to-date with her location. I think that was her way of making sure I wasn’t in any type of danger. Whenever I heard him move or breathe different I would freeze. All I could think was what will he do if he wakes up?
I had almost finished getting all of my things when he woke up. I must’ve looked like a deer in headlights. He turned his head and looked at me saying “Shauna, are you leaving me?” It felt like my throat was closing up. I mustered up the courage to tell him yes. I told him my sister was already on her way and should be here any minute. He got up, and I prepared myself for what I thought would happen. I was expecting him to either hit me, punch me or even drag me around the room. I was expecting him to do all the things he had threatened to do to me. All the times he said I wouldn’t make it out the front door unless my legs were broken. Telling me I was lucky if that was all that happened to me. Every time I would look at him, I would have flashbacks from the night before. Flashbacks of when he clenched his teeth together and then lunged at me. Flashbacks of him putting me into a choke hold and then of myself waking up with my head in his lap. He had grabbed his towel and gone to the bathroom. While he was in there I started grabbing everything of mine that I could and continued placing the bags by the front door. I called my sister to see how far away she was and told her that he is awake and in the shower. She said she was just a few minutes away.
When he came back to the room he finished getting dressed, grabbed his keys and with his back turned towards me he said “Goodbye Shauna”, and walked out of the apartment. I stood there for a minute kind of dumbfounded. Maybe even in a bit of shock, I didn’t expect it to happen that way. I didn’t expect him to react in that way. All the thoughts I had of how everything might play out when this day comes, all the fears of this day that kept me from leaving sooner. It crazy to me. In the back of my mind I still wondered what he may really be up to. Would he be outside the door waiting for me to leave? Would he be sitting in his car to follow us and see where I was going to be staying?
My sister called me to tell me that she was outside of the apartment building. I let her into the building so we could grab everything in as little trips as necessary. We gathered all my belongings, put them in the back of her truck and we were gone. My sister called my mother to tell her that I am safe and with her and even told my mother how I had marks on my neck still. I looked out the window as we drove off. I was free I thought to myself. Little did I know that the real battles were just around the corner.
Physically I was free. Mentally and emotionally I was still a prisoner. It has taken me years just to be able to talk about this, let alone start to heal from it. It is a long road. It isn’t a lonely road because I have learned from first starting my blog page that I am not alone and that there are many people who are there for me when I need them. I do not have to feel ashamed when I experience something for the first time. I know there is someone who has experienced it or something similar to it and they will help me thru it.
When I feel weak, when I feel defeated. Those are the times that the phoenix inside me burns brightest. The Phoenix never dies. It is apart of us, it is one with us. The phoenix is our inner most deepest strength and courage. It may seem like it escapes us but it never leaves us. It waits for its moment to shine in our lives. It waits to be called upon in our most desperate of times.
“Like a Phoenix, she will rise from the ashes of despair and soar.”