I Am A Survivor, Not A Victim :: October Is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, also known as Intimate Partner Violence Awareness Month. Approximately one in three women and one in four men will experience some form of intimate partner dating violence or domestic violence in their lifetime.
I am one in three.
In 2005, I met my abuser in Dallas, TX where I am originally from. He was originally from Louisiana.
In October of that year, after dating for 5 months, he suggested we move to Louisiana where his family was so that he could get a job offshore, and we could build a life together.
In the beginning, things were great. We were in the honeymoon phase, and he seemed to be my knight in shining armor. He said he loved me and he wanted to give me, in his words, “a better life” in Louisiana.
So here I was at his mercy. I had no job, no vehicle, and no family or friends to turn to when I needed them. This was a very low point in my life since I have always been a self-sufficient woman and found myself at a vulnerable point. I had gone through a divorce two years before, and because of that, had dissolved the trucking company that I had owned. I was not really at a point in my life where I wanted to be, yet here he was making promises and actually making good on those promises. Until he showed me who he really was.
The first time
The first time he hit me was right between the eyes and blackened both of my eyes. This was when I knew I needed to leave, but I stayed. The abuse was a continuous cycle of abuse and forgiveness. Every time he abused me, he always claimed he was sorry and he would never do it again. But he did it again … and again and again …. then there would be the “I’m sorry,” and “I love you; you are my whole world,” and “I can not live without you.” The number of gifts and flowers he would shower me with was overwhelming, and I would forgive him every time. Until it became a matter of life and death. I knew if I didn’t leave, he would be dead and I would get life in prison.
He had recently purchased a car for me, and one night after he fell asleep, I escaped in the middle of the night. I have never looked back. There is so much more to the story of my four years with him, but the details now are just a memory. Fifteen years later, I am married and a mother to a beautiful little girl. My husband has never raised his voice to me, much less his hands, in our twelve years together. It is a whole different world now. Actually, I am thankful to my abuser, because even though he did what he did, I am exactly where I am supposed to be because of that decision I made in October of 2005 to move to Louisiana.
I forgive you.
I have since had a chance to speak to my abuser. He actually called me out of the blue when I was pregnant with my daughter in 2017, and it was then that I told him that I forgave him. I also thanked him, not for what he did to me but for what he unknowingly did for me. He set in motion the actual plan God had for my life by bringing me to Louisiana, where I met my husband. My better life is not with him but with the man who was my destiny, the man who became my husband and the father of my child, the man who helped me heal.
The forgiveness was not for my abuser; it was for me for me to heal.
It was for me to take all of the bad that I endured and learn from it and to become a better woman, not a bitter woman. It was how I was able to not allow my husband to suffer for what another man did. Forgiveness will set you free and therefore allow the hold that the abuser had over you to be broken.
Not all stories end the way mine did. I am truly thankful for the grace, the love God has shown me, and for God saving me. I pray for all the women who do not get the chance to tell their stories, and for the women who are too afraid to tell their stories. Just know that if you are that woman reading my story right now – I was once where you are and I was afraid too. I found strength that I never knew I had and I overcame and know that you can as well. You are not a victim nor should you ever let your circumstances define you. You are worthy, you are courageous, and if you dig deep enough, you can and will find your strength to leave. Reach out to someone – anyone – and do not be ashamed to ask for help, do not suffer in silence. Pick up the phone and make that call. It can save your life, the lives of your children, and even the life of your abuser.
My prayers and thoughts are with each and every one of you during this month of October and every month of the year and years to come.
Help is available
Speak with someone today
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Hours: 24/7. Languages: English, Spanish and 200+ through interpretation service