The counselors at the domestic violence shelter that housed us after we fled our abuser told me that we are their rare success story. Most battered women return to their abusers. I was one of the few who did not. In the beginning of my fight for freedom I briefly considered going back, only because I discovered there aren’t a heck of a lot of services for victims of domestic violence. I had heard that there were programs and help in abundance, but that was not the case in the area I live. I kept wondering how I’d support 7 kids — I knew I’d never get a dime of child support from our abuser. In the end, I just couldn’t go back. I wouldn’t fail my kids that way, so I forged on, and fought hard.
We escaped imminent death. I didn’t think we’d make it out of our house alive the day we escaped. The shelter that housed us didn’t just feed us and provide counseling — they helped us disappear off the deadly-spouse radar. When eventually we left, we continued to live in hiding because he was still loose. It took eleven months for the police to thoroughly investigate. They worked for an air-tight case to bring before the grand jury and they delivered. He was indicted, we survived the nightmare of a media storm that we were not expecting. We pressed on even during the grim bout of criticism from complete strangers and their never-ending barrage of ignorant questions. My kids were berated and bullied at school because of their father’s actions. They were made to feel shame for something over which they had zero control.
Our abuser is in prison now. He received 15 years with no early parole. Three of my seven kids do not even remember him — they can be raised without abuse in a home where they are loved and cherished. The older four are finding their way. I pray every day that the counseling they are still receiving will be enough to keep them from entering into an adult life of abuse — as a victim or an abuser. I’m trusting God for this because He saved us — I believe He brought us out of Hell so that we can make a difference for others in bad situations.
I’m three-and-a-half years away from my abuser. Leaving and making a life for my family was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Giving myself permission to pursue happiness and experience joy was difficult until I stopped punishing myself. But time brought healing, and finally acceptance. I’m married now to the greatest man I know…and I’m free.
I won’t tell you that leaving your abuser won’t be hard, won’t hurt, won’t be lonely. I just want you to know, I’m living proof that the fight is worth it. There will be a time when you feel the struggle lessening, the burdens easing, and you’ll work even harder then to attain the life you desire. Don’t give up.