I have agreed to share my story so that it can serve to show others that there is a way out of any situation, no matter how hopeless it may seem. As trite as it may sound it really is up to you to make the decision to reach up and make that first move. I know how hard it is to do this because I have been there, living through the nightmare and abuse that so many other women are facing. My own personal experiences have been incredibly painful and difficult to overcome, but if I was able to find a road out, you can too.
I know, I understand and I care. Now, let me tell you about my life. Where do I begin? How can I make you see what I have gone through as a child, teenager and adult? Perhaps the beginning is the best place to start. Ah, yes, the beginning…
My mother and father were not in love with each other and my mother married more to spite her family than for any other reason. Her pride and stubborn refusal to acknowledge there was any problem with her marriage helped keep her trapped in a vicious life with an abusive alcoholic.
Unfortunately for me and my brother she sentenced us to this life as well, and we did not know any other existence other than one which was full of beatings, terror and denials. By the time I was 6 I was convinced that each day would be my last.
My body bore the scars and bruises that were my physical reminders of the vicious attacks by my drunken father. The worst episode I can remember is when my mother stood and laughed as I was beaten nearly unconscious. I still do not understand why she laughed, nerves perhaps?
We witnessed many physical fights and beatings of our mother at the hands of our maniacal, biological father. She would threaten to kill me and my brother if we breathed one word. I learned how to take care of black eyes and bloody noses while still in kindergarten.
I made good grades even while living through this nightmare. I can still remember the principal of our school telling an audience that it was apparent I was being reared in a loving, caring home by kind and concerned parents. I dared not disagree, but I was bewildered at how effective our facade really was. Surely anyone who really cared could see beyond the sham that we presented to the world.
My baby brother and I received "whippings" on a regular basis. These were given out for the slightest infraction, real or perceived. Sometimes we were beaten just because we happened to be handy when tempers flared out of control. You see, both my mother and father had a number of psychological problems that made it impossible for them to behave normally.
I know this now, but at the time all I knew was the physical and emotional torture that I was being subjected to. At an early age I came to the terrifying realization that I had somehow failed and that it was me who was to blame for these beatings and punishment. To my childish mind this was my entire fault. I longed for the day when I could escape to a world where sorrow, fear and physical pain did not exist.
I eventually found myself in the same type of abusive relationship, even though I had sworn that I would never live that kind of life as an adult. Now they call this the behavior indicative of women who have suffered through long standing abuse. At the time I had no idea that I was simply following the path that I had been shown as a child. In other words I believed that this was what I deserved, and although it was "hell on earth" it was also an existence that I was comfortable with. At least on some levels.
My own temper was erratic, my direction uncharted and my life spiraled further and further out of control. Through all of this I attempted to please others while failing to address my own needs and concerns. The only life I knew to live was threatening to destroy me.
I would work 80-90+ hours a week, yet I spent every penny I made as quickly as I could. I could not buy the happiness and peace of mind I was so desperate to find. I began to use drugs as a way to cope with my problems which only made matters worse.
One day I decided to borrow a few dollars from the company where I was employed as a secretary. I really did intend to pay it back but it did not matter because I was caught and charged with a felony. I was sentenced to probation and had to pay back the $150 that I had stolen although I preferred the term, "borrowed".
Now I was no longer able to find employment, and of course my home situation was now even more unbearable than before. I was suffering from depression and thoughts of suicide came to my mind. To me, this seemed to be my only way out. I tried to find some work, but no one wanted to hire me because I could not pass a background check to even be employed as a housekeeper.
I had 3 small children, an abusive drunkard for a husband, ongoing beatings to endure, and no way to escape. I had no money, no job, no car, and a felony conviction to now live with. My early life may have set the stage for my present problems, but I had to realize that I was the one who was really responsible and I was the only one who could make a change.
While at home one day I discovered a book that gave me new hope and insight. I read that book over and over until I had it memorized. I found the inner strength to look at my reflection in the mirror, accept and forgive my faults, and commit myself to finding a way out of the nightmare in which I was living.
It wasn’t easy, but I began to earn money by performing the tasks that no one else wanted to do. I cleaned toilets, removed doggie poop from people’s yards and raked yards. I discovered that there was no shame in reaching out to others who could help me find the emotional support and help that I needed to change my life in positive ways. This help was pivotal in leading me to find my own inner determination and courage to get myself and my kids out of an incredibly volatile and brutal domestic abuse situation.
I was able to learn construction skills and find a new job to support my family. Today I have 5 people who work for me and my small business has become relatively successful. What is more important is that I am not ashamed of my life and no longer live in fear. I regret those poor decisions that I made in the past but I have made peace with them and I am moving forward on a path that I am forging.
Today I consider myself living proof that the human spirit can recover from a seemingly hopeless situation. I am now building the happy life that I wanted but once thought was going to be impossible to achieve. I AM woman; and I am courageous, strong and resilient. You, my sister, are the one that I now want to reach, communicate with, support and help so that you too can stand proudly with me and say, "I refuse to ever give up, or give in."