So I am getting back into the swing of things on here a little bit which is great but I feel like I need to talk about why I have been gone so long and what has happened in my life because I think that these events are important and should be shared. Fair warning, this is not a fun story and might cause people some issues. Read with caution.
In 2005 I met a man who seemed really taken with me. I dated him for a couple weeks but decided that we should just be friends. He agreed. I dated other people. Six months later, we were hanging out and suddenly he’s holding my hand, then kissing me. The next night I agreed to be his girlfriend and tried dating him again even though something told me not to. He was just so into me. It was flattering and felt great. Three months later, we were engaged but no one else would know until we hit the six-month mark. In those three months, I saw him every day. He didn’t want to go a day without seeing me. I thought it was sweet. We planned our wedding. During the process, my parents asked me a question about him hitting me. I told them that he wasn’t. They commented that I was always so worried to upset him. I said that he would never. A month later we were married.
Eight years later, I was locking myself in my bedroom at night because I was so afraid of this man I had married. He controlled every aspect of my life. I had been knocked down into the trash, screamed at, blamed for everything, had things thrown at me, was sexually abused, was raped, had no financial control, made fun of endlessly, put down constantly, had forced birth control, and made to feel completely worthless. He rarely hit me but he did hit me. It was rare because he didn’t need to. I was easy to control.
I met someone in that last year that became my friend. Something that was not easy to do because I was so controlled but she stuck in there with me and came into my mess, seeing the truth. She said something. She told me I was being abused. She was right. She gave me a place to go. So, I left. A place to go was all I needed in order to get out. I lived with her and her roommate for six weeks before she and I got our own place.
I went to therapy almost immediately. I decided to get divorced. I knew this man I had married. I knew who he was and what he was. I knew that change was not going to happen. I didn’t want to stick around to find out. I wanted to be safe. I never wanted to be so afraid that I needed to lock myself in again. In that decision, I lost almost everyone.
My church turned its’ back on me because I wasn’t willing to reconcile. I didn’t want to stay with him. I was scared of him. I didn’t want to live in fear anymore. I didn’t want to be hurt like that ever again. There was no way I could go back. Not without being right back in the abuse. I knew this man. I spent 10 years being in some level of relationship with him. A change was not going to happen.
I developed PTSD. Three years later, I still have flashbacks, get triggered, have nightmares, and disassociate due to the repeated complex trauma I went through for years. At first, I dealt with this every day, multiple times a day. I could hardly function. Now it only happens every couple of weeks or so.
Six months after I left, I filed for divorced and met a man named Alan. We have been together over two and half years now and he is completely different. He treats me with kindness, care, love, compassion, respect, and adoration. He’s not perfect. He doesn’t think I am either. He loves me and treats me as an equal.
Two years ago my baby cousin got married. She watched what happened to me. She learned. She didn’t stay for eight years. She was out in a few months. The cycle doesn’t have to continue. It can be stopped. We can stop it.
Why am I sharing all of this? Simple.
One, to let other women know that you don’t have stay. You can get out. Abuse in any form is not something you have to tolerate. There are people who will help.
Second, to let other people know not to stand by and do nothing. Be there and help. If you see something, say something. If a friend or family member needs somewhere safe to go, help them find it or be that safe place if you can.
Third, to remind the church that women who are being abused should be believed and helped. They should get the church’s resources and compassion, not the men who are abusive. Look at your policies regarding abusive marriages and requiring women to remain in them because it isn’t adultery. A woman’s life and safety are paramount. Believe her. Trust her. Support her.