That ONE dreaded question…

“Why didn’t you JUST leave?” The dreaded question all of us survivors hate to answer. Why do we hate answering it? We hate answering it because we know that since you have not experienced domestic violence, you won’t fully understand what we tell you. Why didn’t I leave? I was scared out my mind. I feared for my own safety and those I held dearest to me. I was ashamed and embarrassed. He had manipulated my mind to have me think that this is what I deserved. He had me think that he was as good as it gets. He had me thinking that without him I am nothing, that I would never amount to anything. Who would want me? I was “damaged goods” he used to say. DAMAGED GOODS?! Damaged and at his disposal. Damaged by his words and acts. I was hopeless. I saw no way out. I didn’t think I had anywhere to go or anyone to turn to. Who would I call? I mean, who would come for me? I would get close to leaving and when help came I would fall into his lies and change my mind. They were tired of it. Tired of me.

 

You see how my mind was manipulated back then? The trap I was in? I wasn’t even my own person anymore. I had been formed into everything he said I was. Our minds are very fragile. Our minds believe anything it is told. So if your mind is constantly being told negative things about yourself, guess what? It will take those things on and believe that that is the person you are. Which is why I find it so crucial to inspire, empower, uplift and build up other survivors of domestic violence. To help them see who they TRULY are!

 

Domestic violence survivors are NOT weak! That couldn’t be farther from the truth. A survivor of domestic violence has a strength like no other. We survived the physical, psychological, emotional, financial and spiritual attacks like no other. We fought daily against things that wanted to break us. We literally fought for our lives. We fought against what wanted to literally kill us and erase us from this earth. We escaped. We broke free. We came out battered and bruised. We came out with cracks in our armor. Yet, we were not shattered. We wake up every day struggling to be free from the traumatic experiences that plague our minds. The triggers and the flashbacks. We continue to fight on. We continue to heal each day that comes to us. We have good days and bad days and we continue to press on. We find hope in ourselves. We find our strength. We find our peace and more importantly we find our identity.

Reasons why survivors say they stayed in their abusive relationships as long as they did:

 

  1. In the midst of it, we believe (and hope) that the abuser will change because of the “remorse” and “guilt” they portray to us after an incident. The apologies that they will change. They say they will seek help. Etc.
  2. FEAR: The abuser instills this fear in us of what they will do to us if we attempt to leave. They threaten to harm us, our family, even our children. They threaten to kill if we try to report the incident(s).
  3. No support or the thought of having no support. A victim is most likely isolated from friends and family. Some family member and friends may have written us off due to not understanding what it really is that we are going through. Therefore, we think that there is no one for us to go to. We do not always know what resources there are available to us in order to help us escape.
  4. Guilt and/or shame: We feel guilty for allowing the relationship to get like this. We take the blame and we also are ashamed to admit that we are in this type of relationship. We are embarrassed, because at one time we were so strong and confident and now we are the complete opposite that we are embarrassed to admit what we are going through.
  5. We are attached to our abuser. They are all we know. They are who we depend on for everything.
  6. Fear of starting over: We are afraid of major lifestyle changes that will take place. We have a fear of being independent again.
  7. Responsibility: We feel like we are at fault for the abuse. Sometimes we may feel like we even deserve the abuse. Time and time again after an incident we hear things like “if you didn’t do this…” or “If you didn’t say this..” or “If you had just did what I had asked!” That we start putting the blame on ourselves and believe that it actually is our fault even though it isn’t.
  8. Loss of hope, feelings of being trapped.
  9. Believing that we are the only ones that can help the abuser with their problems. We believe that we are the ones that can get them to change.
  10. The victim thinks that unhealthy or abusive relationships are normal: The victim may have grown up in an abusive household as a child.

 

There is something called the “honeymoon phase,” where after the abuse, the abuser acts like they feel remorseful, ashamed and will even try to downplay the abuse. The abuser will then apologize, seem to be generous, will show loving behavior and kindness. This “loving” behavior strengthens the bond between the two and will most likely convince the victim that leaving is unnecessary. This is an ongoing cycle.

 

Domestic violence is not only physical abuse. What you may see on the outer surface does not even come close to the cuts and bruises hidden beneath the surface. Marks from physical abuse, those heal over time. The scars left from verbal and emotional abuse, those scars don’t heal nearly as fast. Those scabbed over cuts do not heal when we are still in the relationship because our abuser keeps picking the scabs off and the wounds continue to bleed.

 

Before you ask that dreaded question, be sure you are ready for the answer(s). Be sure you are ready to handle the graphic details. Believe it or not, asking a survivor why they stayed or why they didn’t just leave is a form of victim-blaming. No matter what your intentions may be. Asking a survivor that question brings back a lot of mixed emotions and triggers a lot of things. When people used to ask me why I didn’t leave and then follow it with “ I would have left the first time he hit me.” It made me feel embarrassed and ashamed all over again. I felt weak, I felt vulnerable. It put me in a very uncomfortable state of mind. So please, from the lips of a survivor, refrain from asking that question. I hope this blog post brings clarity to those who always want to know the answer to that one dreaded question: “Why did you stay?” “Why didn’t you just leave?”

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My Walk Through The Fog(Gaslighting)

When you are a victim of gaslighting it feels like you are walking through fog. A never ending, dense fog. Trying to grab a hold on to reality. Asking yourself what reality even really is any more. Even more important, trying to grasp onto your reality. You are faced with trying to identify who you are. What is your purpose. Constantly questioning your insanity. The abuser says things like “You’re crazy” or “What are you talking about? That never happened, you’re making stuff up.”

 

Looking for somewhere to turn, somewhere to run. How can I get out of this fog. I can’t see in front of me or either side of me. I surely do not want to try and look behind me. Unable to get a sense of direction, I turn to the only person I have for guidance. I have nobody else, they are all gone. The same person I run to for guidance is the same person who has me blindfolded by his lies. My mind is being suffocated by his poisonous tongue.

 

It’s my fault. I can never do anything right. I’m crazy he says. So he must be right. He’s always right. He knows me better than I know myself. Who am I? My identity seems to have slipped through the cracks of my fingers. Through the cracks of my mind. My identity is not my own. I watch as it slips through the cracks of time.

 

Walking through the fog, in search of my identity. Searching for a glimpse of who I once was. Searching for hope. Searching for a promise. A promise that time and time again has been broken. Searching for truth. Searching…searching…searching! Each day hoping to find myself. Each day hoping to find clarity. Every time I seem to get a step close to who I am and where I am, he seems to be right there pulling me back even deeper into the dense fog. I want to scream for help.Yet I know no one would hear me. I’m all alone. I’m all alone…

 

The fog thickens around me. I feel myself weakening the longer that I am here. I don’t want to fight anymore. I just want to give up. Time to throw in the towel. Fighting only wastes more energy. Maybe this is where I am supposed to be. Maybe this is who I really am. Maybe it’s who I’ve always been? Oh my god he has been right this whole time? I don’t know how much longer I can last. How much more can I take? I begin to raise my white flag to surrender.

Just as I was about to give up. Right before I raised the flag, I saw a glimmer of light breaking through the fog. HOPE! Hope has found me! Hope has come to my rescue! The fog starts to dissipate. I begin to feel my strength slowly return to me. I am becoming more alert of my surroundings now. I begin to see the reality for what it really is. I realize that this is not where I am supposed to be. This is not what I deserve. I deserve so much more. I have to get out of here. I have to break free. He is aware of it all. He sees that I am catching on. He again lures me back into the fog. Damn! I can’t believe I am here once again. How does he do it? The process starts over again. Again…and again…and again. In the fog, at the edge of the fog. Back and forth. It’s like a revolving door.

 

It’s hard to get out. It’s hard to escape. Always questioning yourself, always second guessing your thoughts, your perception, your memories. Then one day you realize you are not the same person who you once were. You are an empty shell. We need to listen to our instincts. We cannot stay in this same place. We have to walk out of this fog and not look back. We have to have hope and know that there are clearer days ahead of us. We can make it out and we will make it out!

The Phoenix Never Dies

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.”

Angel

 

My Most Recent Battle as A Domestic Violence Survivor

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SO… I am not even sure how to start this off.. This isn’t going to be a nicely written, perfect grammar blog.. This is about to raw, written probably so incorrectly that those of you who are grammar-phoebes will probably pull your hair out. But this is going to be written as it has been repeating in my head. I do my best to share my experiences with all of my readers and this is something I definitely feel I should share because I am sure that I am not the only one who fights with this thought.

So I recently had a day (well night, because I work overnights) where I experienced triggers/flashbacks, and anxiety. I know what it was that set it off, but it is not my place to speak on it as it does not directly involve me… anyways, so while trying to settle my thoughts and calm myself down (I was on my way to work when it first began) I began to get angry with myself. I mean really angry. That type of anger where you are so mad the only thing you can do is cry.

Why? I was angry because of the PTSD, the flashbacks and the triggers. I was angry that even though all these years have gone by since I left him that it is as if I still allowed him to have control and power over my life. Yes, I left him when I was 19 or 20 years old and I am now in my early 30’s. BUT.. I did not start dealing with the deep seeded issue of it until just a few years ago. I knew what I had gone through, but I never fully accepted the fullness and rawness of it all. So I guess in a sense, my healing process is really still in the early stages. Some things, I can get over quick and I deal with it and keep it moving. But this particular time and this ONE THOUGHT seems to really be eating at the core of my soul.

It bothers me. To think that he gets to carry on Scott free. Not bothered one bit, not having PTSD or flashbacks due to the hands and the venomous tongue of another individual. It bothers me that at times I still feel as though I am a prisoner trapped in my own mind. Physically I am free.. But mentally I am far from it, and I am the first to admit that!

 

With that being said, I am writing this so that my fellow readers, those who have gone thru what I am going thru to comment or email me with any suggestions you may have for me. You know what this blog page is about, it is about us helping one another and being there for one another. The only ones who truly understand are those who have dealt with it first hand.

As always, I thank each and every one of you for continuing to follow and support me with my blogs, and on my social media platforms. You are all greatly appreciated.

 

 

My Broken Pieces

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When your biological father doesn’t love you, it cuts you deep.

It leaves you vulnerable and weak.

Leaving you open to predators

Who seek to do nothing but devour you.

When your father doesn’t love you

It leaves you searching for it in the wrong places.

It leaves you craving it.

No matter how it is that you taste it.

Love is all that you want.

Love is all that you long for.

To be loved.

It is all you dream about.

You fall for all the lies.

No matter how big or small.

You will go through it all.

You stick with the bad and go through hell.

You let him continuously keep you under his spell.

Because nothing else matters when you are being given what you so desire.

Whether it is real, or all a fantasy.

It satisfies your craving.

Even if it is only temporarily.

 

My broken pieces I’m left alone to pick up off the floor.

On my own to make myself whole.

No one but me.

Me. Myself. And I.

 

When the first man you ever loved.

Shows his true form.

Things you said you would never allow,

Now have taken your freedom.

He uses his tongue to cut you deep.

You lay in the dark afraid to sleep.

He wraps his hands around your neck until you pass out.

He has no fear in killing you, have no doubt.

 

My broken pieces I’m left alone to pick up off the floor.

On my own to make myself whole.

No one but me.

Me. Myself. And I.

 

 

 

 

Continuing Thru The Obstacles

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I am a survivor. I come with a lot of baggage, I will be first to admit that. Things that don’t bother or set you off, can send me into a whirlwind of emotions for days. PTSD. One of those things I had to learn to live and deal with. It is a part of me. It is not something that just goes away.

My past has made me very alert to a lot of things. It is a good thing but also a bad thing. Sometimes I tend to get defensive when there is no need for it. It is as if at times I feel like I always have to fight for myself. Like a bad habit. I had to fight to survive for so long that is almost as if I am programmed to always be ready to fight.

I have experienced new triggers, learned how to get through them instead of just avoiding whatever the trigger is. IS…not WAS! I believe that the triggers don’t simply just disappear over time but they become less frequent as we become more aware of what those triggers are and also as we learn to cope with our day to day activities.

Over the years I have learned a lot about myself, even more so thru writing my blogs. I didn’t like everything that I learned, but I learned to accept it and to change what I was able to change. I have learned to love and accept all aspects of me. How can I expect others to do so if I am unable to? How would I be able to know what I deserve if I do not even know what I am worth?

I am a survivor. I come with a lot of baggage. No, I don’t want to unpack my stuff with just anybody; that goes for both friendships and relationships. If I decide to unpack it is because that person has earned my trust. Which is hard to gain in the first place. If I decide to unpack, please be patient with me. Let me take my time carefully unpacking, carefully exposing my scars.

Continuing thru the obstacles, climbing over the walls, jumping over the hurdles and running this race called life. One day at a time. One obstacle at a time. Realizing that I may not make it through that obstacle the first time around but always getting stronger and better for the next time.