I’m A Survivor – Part 1

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I recently started The Road to Coupling, a blog series about how couples meet, what leads them to marry, and what keeps them united. While I had a blast writing the first installment, which I published last month, it I got me thinking about my own road to coupling — my one and only marriage.

It was back in the mid-1980s after I got my first “real” job after college. Training for the federal government position was away from my home state of Michigan and in the area where the man I would marry (he, who will not be named) lived. We met through a mutual friend and found common ground in the meeting, i.e. we seemed to “get along” nicely. Since we lived in different states, our courtship was long distance. We had long phone conversations, sent letters back and forth, and I made several visits to see him.

It Was Pleasant, Until It Wasn’t

Mid-way through our relationship, he mentioned he hit a woman before, but just once. There was something in his tone — a kind of pride, warning, or threat — and I remember thinking, ‘He wouldn’t hit me.’ Though, I didn’t know that was a sign; I didn’t known I needed to know the signs.

Perhaps it was that conversation that started the nagging feeling in my gut that I ignored; perhaps that was the “something” that raised my red intuition flag, a flag I continually pushed aside.

I remember that he planned to propose. And it has taken me these nearly 30 years to able to put words to my feelings about that trip to his house: I had a feeling of dread. I wanted anything to stop me from making that trip because, honestly, I didn’t have the wherewithal to stop myself.

Driving to the airport, I hoped for some natural or man-made disaster — for lightening to strike a tree and it fall on the car, a near fatal accident, for the flight to be canceled. Silently, I begged my father, who rode with me to the airport, to make me turn around and go home, though he knew nothing of my feelings.

I actually tried breaking up with him long before we discussed marriage. Something just wasn’t working for me. His reaction was surprising.

“You don’t like me,” he cried through tears.

A bit confused, and with misgivings, I assured him I did, although, I wasn’t sure if I was handling the whole situation in the best way.

I surmised, on that “proposal trip” that if I broke off the relationship, his reaction might be worse, over-the-top emotional. How would I handle that? For whatever reason, I thought it “easier” to stay the course. And one day early in January 1988, he dutifully sat me in the director’s chair in his dining room and proposed on bended knee. Eight months later, we married.

 

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Wheel of Power and Control. Click image for a better view.

Two days after the wedding, he began isolating me from family and friends. Four days later, while on our Jamaican honeymoon, he assaulted me for the first time. I learned several things from that incident. One: make up can cover only a portion of a bruise. Two: multiple bruises sustained at the same time don’t heal simultaneously. Three: if the fight or flight instinct tells you to run, run. But, again, I didn’t listen to that instinct.

I couldn’t track or unearth a pattern for the mental, physical, and emotional abuse he inflicted throughout our four-year marriage, including during my pregnancy and the birth of our only child two years later. But his abuse continued until I left.

Later, I thought long and hard about the experience, asking myself difficult questions. Click the audio link below to hear what I believed to be The Truth of the Matter.

 

 

Life After Abuse – Helping Hands

It takes a lot to leave a marriage under typical circumstances and it’s even more difficult in the face of abuse. But leaving is possible. There are organizations all over the country that offer much-needed help to victims of domestic violence.

After returning home, weekly counseling sessions were important to my recovery as were support groups that provide all manner of assistance to victims of domestic violence.

1782061_10152991351597693_201977591105368632_nFor several years now, I have been a volunteer with Sisters Acquiring Financial Empowerment (SAFE), a wonderful organization founded and operated by the dedicated Kalyn Risker Fahie, also a survivor. Each October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, SAFE hosts a Health and Wealth Expo that provides workshops on everything from self-defense to healthy eating and offers free health screenings and resources that can improve the quality of life for those in need. On October 24, we completed another successful event.

The expo, which is free and open to the public, is the organization’s way of raising awareness about the affects of domestic abuse. My volunteer efforts help me provide for the community that provided for me and helped me heal in my time of need.

In addition to the Health and Wealth Expo, SAFE is participating in the Purple Purse Campaign, 12140915_10152985675602693_1607239085022316075_othrough October 27, 2015 to help raise funds for the growing needs of survivors in our community. Without the services of SAFE, many victims of domestic violence and their children are at risk for further abuse, homelessness, and poverty.

I invite you to join me in support of SAFE. Please make a donation to the Purple Purse Campaign by 11:59 p.m. October 27th so women like me can move from being a victim to being a survivor.

Read part 2 about how I left my husband

 

10 Comments
  1. Thanks for being open to share your story … Congrats on your healing!

  2. I appreciate your vulnerability in sharing your experience. It’s a very raw subject that I understand all to well. I too am a survivor being the “once upon a time” child of an abused mother. I’m still dealing with residual damage issues from growing up witnessing my protector needing protection. I’m sure your story will empower others to seek help in getting out of unsafe environments; at least I pray it does.

    • Dana,

      Thank you for reading. I’m sorry you had to experience “that” kind of life, and I understand the residual damage. But you are a beautiful soul and that’s what shines through. Thank you, always for supporting me. I appreciate you.

  3. Hard truths, big triumph

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your story. One day, God willing, I will share mine. I believe that I too was a victim – of my own willful self-delusion and denial. It was that from which I needed deliverance and healing. God bless your truth telling.

    • Hi Marsha,

      Thank you so much for reading my story and for your comment. When the time is right for you, you will tell your story, I’m sure of this. You have so many stories inside you, and you are a wonderful expressionist, so your truth will come out one day, too.

  5. Hidden Strength!!!!!

  6. Thank you for being transparent and sharing. I pray that your courage will open a door of escape for those currently bound and a warning shot for those headed into that trap. May grace and peace be multiplied to you!

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