Patches of hair pulled out.
One night while packing my car to leave Tallahassee and go back home, my ex approached me and beat me to a pulp. He was abusive and I had finally found a way out but that didn’t stop him. He followed me to college and stalked me. Unbeknownst to me, he was watching my every move including that night. He waited until I wasn’t paying attention and surprised me with a punch to the face as I turned around from my car. He grabbed my shoulders and slammed me up against my car repeatedly until I felt like my back was about to break. As I fell to the pavement, he began to kick me while yelling that he loved me and I shouldn’t have ever left him. I remember him saying “if I can’t have you, no one will.” I thought I was going to die that night. I must’ve let out a scream because a neighbor came outside to see what was going on. He kicked me one last time and ran. I don’t even remember letting out a scream but it saved my life.
I filed a restraining order and charges. To my knowledge, he is still behind bars.
Some people aren’t so lucky. Some remain in an abusive relationship and never make it out. Some leave, like myself, and are still fighting for their lives. You see it’s not so easy to “just leave” like so many people like to throw out at people who seek help. No, we aren’t allowing the abuse to happen by staying. In actuality, some of us think we are helping the situation.
If we stay, maybe they will stop.
If I stay, maybe they won’t hurt my family/friends.
If I stay, maybe I can live.
Many times, an escape plan goes through the mind of a victim. How to get out? Where to go so they won’t be found? How to get money to survive? How do they protect themselves and their family and friends? “Just leave” is not an option. And even when you do finally find a way out, sometimes it’s not the end of the abuse. Unless you have been in a relationship where you are emotionally, physically, and mentally abused, your suggestions on survival aren’t really viable because most of the time, they aren’t coming from a place of understanding. There is a difference between “just leave” and “don’t be afraid to leave.”
If you know someone or see someone being abused, be their ear. Be their shoulder. Let them know you are there for them. Their abuser has told them, they are the only ones there for them. Their abuser has told them that they are the only ones that love them. Their abuser has manipulated and played on their emotions so much that they start to believe it. Then they log onto Facebook wanting…needing to talk and see their “friend” sharing an article about a local woman who was killed by her estranged and abusive husband saying, “Well she should’ve just left. She chose to be there.” And all of those moments their abuser told them no one would care, was now a reality.
Many victims and survivors don’t talk about their experiences because of the way they feel they may be perceived in society. So many times they’ve been told it was their fault and a piece of them starts to believe it. So it doesn’t help that everyone places the blame and responsibility of the victim to do better. Society is real quick to tell a victim ways to avoid being in this situation but never provide advice to the abusers to not put their hands on people. It’s easy to say what we would do without ever actually having to do it. But when you live it, when it’s your truth, it’s completely different.
Pushed against the wall.
Thrown on the floor.
Head banged on the coffee table.
Punched in the stomach.
Food thrown in your face.
Choked just enough not to pass out but still feel dead.
A message to survivors:
You are not alone. There are others who have gone through what you have and need to hear your story. Someone’s freedom is within your testimony. There is a purpose behind your pain. If you are currently in an abusive relationship, don’t be afraid to leave and get help. There is a community of people who stand with you, behind you, and beside you. Don’t give up. Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)