OCTOBER IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH
Thousands of women each year suffer domestic abuse at the hands of someone they love. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence – on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner. Click the link for more information: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline – Toll Free 24/7
1 (800) 799-SAFE (7233) and 1 (800) 787-3224
Tina-Domestic Abuse Survivor
Tina’s journey is one of endurance, determination and finding self-worth. I was a little nervous at first asking her to relive painful memories of domestic violence, but I’m glad Tina decided to share her experience because her story will encourage anyone trying to escape domestic abuse, never to give up on the fact that they, too, can live a violent free life. We want this story to inspire, uplift and strengthen all who read it but, most of all, give HOPE.
I can share what happened to me now. After years of physical, verbal, mental and emotional abuse, I was able to overcome the shame and unworthiness I carried for so long. If you cannot forgive your abuser you can never move on and you will always be in bondage to that. You have to let it go. You have to find it deep down inside of yourself. Only you can do it. People can talk to you and assist you but only you can pull yourself out of that bondage.
The first time it happened, I was in shock. No man had ever put his hands on me before so this was beyond my understanding. I shouldn’t have moved in with my boyfriend, Marc but I loved him and did what I could to please him. Marc had invited a few friends over for a get-together which always included drinking beer – lots of it. I’ve always considered myself to be a friendly and sociable person which irritated Marc and caused us to have many arguments. After our friends left that night, Marc, who was drunk, accused me of flirting. I denied the accusation saying I didn’t know what he was talking about and that’s when it happened. He grabbed me by my mouth real hard and screamed, “don’t lie to me!” I was numb with fear and disbelief. What just happened? I didn’t know what to do with it, so I brushed it off as him being drunk…he really didn’t mean it.
I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Growing up, I was sort of a tomboy and gravitated toward sports more than the girly things. The boys liked me being around them but some of the girls at school seemed to always have a problem with me and taunted me constantly. Early on, I began struggling with negative views of myself not understanding why I was feeling unworthy. What was low self-esteem? Back then I had no idea what it was or that it could control my thoughts and actions for years to come.
In hindsight, moving in with Marc and his family was a mistake. At first, everything was fine, but then living in his world I soon found out, first hand, about relationship abuse. Drinking beer was like a daily ritual with Marc and his family and they made sure there was plenty of it in the house at all times. I adapted quickly to my surroundings, although I didn’t like the dark atmosphere that permeated the house and how it affected the people in it.
I couldn’t understand what darkness Marc was dealing with that made him hurt me with seemingly no self-control or remorse. For instance, Marc and I were arguing in the bathroom, suddenly he grabbed my head and knocked me against the wall cabinet then bashed my head on the toilet bowl. Thank God his mother was in the house to stop him. Even though Marc’s mother was there, she was never any real help to me. She would always say “what did you say to him to make him mad” or “what did you do?” Trying to convince my accusers that I didn’t do ANYTHING to provoke the attacks was useless, so I just took the blame. When questioned by outsiders about bruises and injuries, I responded with believable explanations – it was a method I learned to cover the truth.
Anyone that has been through an abusive relationship can relate to the terror of having someone come at you in a blinding rage. They can attest to the fear of trying to leave and, if caught, the consequences that follow. I have been thrown across tables in restaurants; dragged out onto the street and beaten in front of strangers; choked; kicked; punched; and pushed around a lot. Once, I tried to leave and as I ran to the car, I was able to get in but couldn’t get the keys in the ignition right away. Marc came up to the driver’s side window and kicked it in on my face. I had broken glass embedded in my cheek, over my eye and the side of my head. I didn’t go to the hospital nor did I call the police. I was afraid. Once again, I made excuses for his behavior and stayed.
Why would I stay after being beaten so much and told over and over I was nothing – worthless? At that time I didn’t believe in anything although I knew there was a God. I was raised Catholic but I didn’t know how to have a true relationship with Jesus. I set myself up with my thoughts – thoughts that nothing was going to change; this is the best I can do; nobody else would want me; etc.
I relied on my own strength to make it through times when I felt utterly alone, but deep down, I knew God was giving me that strength and was watching over me.
There were many more violent attacks from Marc through the years but this particular incident caused me to wake up. As usual, Marc had been drinking at a party his family was having at the house. I loved to socialize so that’s what I was doing. After everyone left, I went into the house and Marc followed me in and started an argument, like he always did. Out of nowhere, he punched me in my face, then my arms, back, legs and head many times. I didn’t think I was going to live through it and then, finally, he stopped and fell asleep. I’m guessing all the alcohol he drank made him pass out. I made up my mind then that I was going to leave him. I couldn’t take the beatings any more. Continue reading