Category Archives: Domestic Violence Story Project

Domestic Violence Story Project: My Story- Sarah

Hi everyone, thanks for joining me once again for the final story in this series. Everyone who has contributed to this project has done a wonderful job and I am grateful to all of you, but each story has been from the perspective of a survivor in a violent relationship. I really wanted to include at least one story from the perspective of a child who had grown up in an environment of domestic violence, but unfortunately I didn’t receive any stories like that, so because I believe it is such an important perspective to include, I thought I would volunteer my own.  I will caution you, this story may be triggering and is not easy to read. But I decided not to pull any punches, and to really lay out the truth about what went on in my home growing up. Even people who know me may be surprised at the extent of the violence; I just want to be clear that I am not ashamed of anything that happened. I did nothing wrong. My mother and sister did nothing wrong. We were the victims, we are the survivors. And I am ready for the world to hear our story. 

Thank you to everyone who has written, commented, and read these stories. Just by witnessing these words, you are making a difference. 

Growing up in a violent household isn’t easy to explain. It isn’t all like what you see in Lifetime movies; it isn’t all as obvious as black eyes and screaming fights. Sometimes- many times- violence is much quieter than that, much more insidious. It was that way in my house

I think the number one word that comes to mind when describing my childhood home is this: confusing. Damn, was it confusing.  It’s not just that it was chaotic, though it certainly was. It’s that no one had a clearly defined role in the family. Mother, daughter, wife, big sister, little sister, friend, adult, child, lover, whore, caretaker, confessor, victim, savior, and others were all interchangeable roles for the three females in the family; that is my mom, my older sister, and me. We shifted personalities at the whim of my father, who also had his own little cast of characters that he played: father, husband, surgeon, family man, abuser, pedophile, rapist, philanderer, and general, all-around sociopath. We spent our days and especially our nights in a mixture of terror and exhaustion, wondering who was going to be what next.

As a child, I got extremely mixed messages from both parents, but especially my mom. On the one hand, she was very careful to make sure that she raised me to be a feminist, equal to a boy in all the opportunities I was given and the things she said to me. She gave me trucks along with my Barbies, made sure I admired Cinderella and Sally Ride, and said I was so smart I could be anything I wanted to when I grew up- no one could stop me.

Except while she was telling me all of this, I was watching her wither away in an abusive marriage. My father stopped her from seeing friends and her family, from taking a job outside the house or even working from home, from using any of the degrees she had earned. My mother is a brilliant, talented, educated woman, and he convinced her that she was worthless and stupid and couldn’t even do housework correctly. I watched him treat her like less than shit you wipe off your shoe my entire life. He slowly took away every little bit of control and happiness and sanity from her. I watched him screw other women behind her back. I dealt with him abusing my sister and me behind her back, which he knew was the worst way possible to hurt her.

When you grow up with a tyrant who rules your home like this, things are never safe. You don’t even know what that word means. Stable and secure are pretty meaningless too. Because one night your father might come home, get pissed off, and threaten to kill your cats. Or, just because he thinks it’s funny, he’ll hold an empty handgun to your six-year-old head and pretend to fire. Or while you’re doing your homework he’ll walk into your room completely naked and act like it’s no big deal. He’ll make dinner for himself and forget to feed you and your sister. He’ll pinch your ass. Pull your hair. Shove you into a wall. Molest you. Rape you.

And that’s just the stuff he did to me. He pretty much did the same to my sister. I don’t even know everything that he did to my mom, and I don’t want to. I know he abused her verbally, emotionally, physically, sexually, financially, and even reproductively, by forcing her to have her tubes tied which ended up in a hysterectomy after a post-op infection. It was horrifying.

It’s hard to really make someone understand what it is to live under the constant threat of violence unless they literally have. It’s terrifying, but it is also exhausting; physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining. Because you’re not only having to live with it, you have to keep it secret. You’re all living in this silent warzone, this strange compromise gets struck where you can be fucked up inside the house, but once outside it’s all pretend. It’s like a bomb in a Tiffany box; it may look pretty on the outside, but when you open it up, the contents will still kill you.

For those of you who have children who have lived in violent homes and are concerned about how they will be affected, I can tell you one thing: they are aware of so much more than you think. You think you are hiding the stress and trauma from them but you are not. They understand what’s happening and they want to help. They want to protect their parents and themselves and make it all ok. They think it is their fault that things are falling apart. They think this so they can have some control over a situation in which they have no control. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT try to “stay together for the kids’ sake.” The kids do not want two miserable parents together. They would so much rather have two separate, functional, happy parents, BELIEVE ME. They would rather have a struggling single mom in a safe home than a rich, extravagant home that is filled with chaos and violence. Do whatever you have to do, but make your kids feel safe. That’s all they really want.

As far as how I was affected by growing up like this, it’s hard to tell. I ended up with severe anorexia and bulimia, a dissociative disorder, self-harm issues (mostly cutting), a prescription pill habit, and horrifying posttraumatic stress disorder. But how much of that was due to witnessing domestic violence, and how much of that was being a direct victim of sexual violence myself? There’s really no way to know.  Both affected me in deep and profound ways, ways that I still deal with to this day.

So how, you’re probably wondering, did my family’s violent situation end? Well, it sort of ended because of me. I finally went off the deep end at 15. I couldn’t take it anymore and I tried to commit suicide, which landed me in a psych ward, which began the process of family therapy with the therapist who recommended my parents get divorced, which finally began when I was 17 and ended when I was 19. It took many, many years of therapy for all of us and a lot of moving around and of course, cutting my father out of our lives completely to be where we are today, my mother my sister, and me. And where we are is a pretty good place: moving forward, looking to the future, hopeful, peaceful, and free.

Finally, gratefully, free.

© Sarah Ann Henderson 2011

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Domestic Violence Survivors: Bridgette

Hello everyone,

Yesterday one of our Recovery Writers posted something so beautiful on the WfR Facebook page, I just had to share it on the blog! It’s a wonderful poem about her surviving domestic violence, and the journey after. Enjoy! Thank you Bridgette!


Domestic Violence Story Project: Cathy

Hello everyone! Thank you for joining me once again for the Story Project. This fourth story on our series comes to us from a woman who has really turned her pain into power. The way she did it may not work for everyone, and you may or may not agree with her spiritual views, but you must agree that she has taken her experience with domestic violence and used it to transform the lives of other victims. I believe Cathy to be a very brave woman, and I’m glad she was one of the fortunate ones who survived to tell her story. 

 

My name is Catherine Staton, and I am a survivor, advocate and spokesperson of domestic violence and abuse. I am the founder of MyHelpMyHope Charity, Inc. I could not believe the man I had married, was not who he said he was. He was a retired from the army as a drill sergeant and I was his cadet. At the beginning he would set the clock for 2am and I had to get up and have sex every morning before he went to work. And if I didn’t give it to him, he made my life miserable. I couldn’t even decorate our home without his approval. If he came home and there was a scratch on the wall, it was an argument. If my son put the dishes in the dish washer wrong or the wrong dish in the wrong cabinet, it was an argument. I was nothing but a sex machine.

Outside of that he had no conversation. His true self appeared 6 months after moving into his home and giving up mine. Before I moved with him, he acted like he loved my son. That changed once we moved in. After we moved in, it was like my son was not even there. I was head butted like a savage beast. I was told to get out. Can you imagine being married and your husband telling you to get out of your home? After you have physical and verbally attacked me, how is it that you think I want to lay with you? That’s what I would ask him. He would physically or verbally attack me and then want me to lay with him. He didn’t even expect me to drive my own car.

The day we buried my mother, this man wanted to have sex. Enough was enough. I fled for my life 3 years ago, went back after a year, and then fled for my life again 1 year after that, from extreme verbal, emotional, physical, mental and psychological abuse. When I went back the second I thought he had changed. I was trying to live according to the word. But nothing had change. I became very depressed, I lay in the bed all the time, I didn’t want to go anywhere. This time he didn’t put his hands on me but he verbally, emotional, mentally, and psychological abused me every day. I started praying to God more than usual. Then one day, I was driving in my car and I saw the clouds in the sky like I never seen them before, the grass and the trees weren’t just grass and trees any more.

Something was happening to me. God started my transformation. I tried to make my marriage work, according to the Bible, especially since God was transforming me. So I did everything I could to make this man happy, but it was not good enough. So as God transformed me, he spoke to me. I started volunteering at a domestic violence shelter, and educating myself on what was happening to me. I found out I was being abused. As I got more informed God put this shield around me. My husband would come attack me verbally and I wouldn’t hear a thing. During the last year of being abuse I developed an intimate and personally relationship with God and during this period is when I discovered my calling.

I started preparing myself to get out of that situation and when I got the chance I ran and never looked back. I created a new life for me and my son. I am happy to be here and that we are free. I truly believed how I was being treated, was the way a man was supposed to treat you, until I got married and started living for Christ and I woke up. I started speaking and doing things for victims and survivors. I decided to turn my negative into a positive. I decided to live to make a difference. I refused to let my circumstance take over me.

Peace is something powerful to have and I was glad to have it. My son and I could have a good night’s sleep. Change starts from within. I refused to let what my husband had done to me take over me. I had to start living my life for today. I had to get up and be obedient to what God was whispering in my ear to do. Go out there and show other victims and survivors that they don’t have to live a life of abuse. There is help and hope, if you leave. Transitioning wouldn’t be easy, but if I could do it, so can you. Through God all things are possible.

 

 

 

 

www.myhelpmyhope.org

Helping Victims of Domestic Violence

I Live to Make a Difference!

TOGETHER EVERYONE ACHIEVES MORE!

(757) 202-2451


Domestic Violence Story Project: Janette

Hello, thank you for joining me for the Domestic Violence Story Project again. Last weeks story started us off in Asia, where we got to hear firsthand what it’s like to live in a violent marriage. This week’s story comes to us from another brave woman, only all the way on the other side of the globe in Great Britain. It’s amazing to me that despite being on opposite sides of the planet, they have suffered in such similar ways…it just illustrates what an epidemic violence against women truly is. Although their experiences were similar in some ways, they were much different in others. Janette interacted with government authorities a great deal in her case, though they sometimes did more harm than good. As you will see, it has been a long and complicated road for her and her children.

Note: Some of the terms used in this story are of course, British, and may be a bit confusing. I’ve tried to remedy this wherever possible while still leaving the author’s voice intact. 

 

How to tell my story? How to explain the way I lived? How to learn to feel again instead of that empty resignation that I felt each day as I awoke?

I should have recognized the signs but I did not know the signs, I did not know about the cycle of abuse, I did not know about control and I certainly did not know about domestic violence!

I first heard this phrase after eighteen years of abuse- of violence, of manipulation and of control which manifested itself in pushing, grabbing, hitting me and breaking furniture during violent temper rages – it manifested itself in demanding sex and if I refused I was kept awake all night by his ranting and threats. It manifested itself in abusive language designed to make me feel belittled and full if low self-esteem . Eighteen years when my children would hear his rages and cower scared in bed

“A terrorist”- That phrase was coined by a lady who attempted to help him recognize his abuse – he was a perpetrator!

I reach a turning point seven years ago – I had had enough and one night – as he threatened me with the brass fire fender – I felt no more and listened to him smash furniture – I asked him to leave.

He did.

But he didn’t believe me and only when he was told he was a perpetrator of domestic violence did he put up a face of contrition.

I made a mistake – a huge mistake.

I accepted that he attend Pendle domestic violence initiative – hindsight is wonderful – but that was a mistake and I should have had him arrested.

Why?

Well now began his campaign to teach me who was boss – to teach me and punish me for what I had put him through.

In the words of my solicitor – you will never be free of him until he thinks he has broken you.

Never be broken.

He pretended he wanted to come home – he was a changed man – I nearly fell for it but intuition stopped me.

Unbeknown to me he was calling my daughter to try to turn her against me – he failed but my son being younger was another matter and he took my son – the worst day of my life.

My son had been spoken to by the Pendle domestic violence initiative and they – a government funded body- decided that a fifteen-year-old boy could live with a perpetrator, a man who had been interviewed by the CID on suspicion of abusing his step daughter – madness but it happened.

So be careful of these agencies, please think carefully!

My son was useful as a tool to get money from me – he had already set in motion a request to the CSA before removing my son. The CSA did their job – I had to pay for seeing my son, I had to pay for the heartache of not having my son with me – I did not see him at all because of his father and so I paid.

It is not just men but women too who are in this position and all told I paid 17,000 pounds to the CSA over 5 years

As for the perpetrator – he tried to get me fired from my job as a teacher and even wrote to the GTC to stop me ever teaching again! He failed, but imagine how it felt to have your career destroyed in this way.

Get a non-molestation order – I had to – do it to protect yourselves.

My mother died – bless her – and 2 days after her passing the perp asked for her will! Had I got a bequest? He wanted his share and my father was distraught – he got nothing but he put us through pain and upset that it cannot be forgotten.

Through all this and more I had a domestic violence officer, a specialist solicitor, supportive friends who refused to be swayed by his words and a rapid response on my house.

Be aware though that seemingly innocent government agencies can be manipulated legally to support these perpetrators.

The CSA will reinforce the collecting of monies it is not concerned with family matters.

The police are fantastic with violence issues but not manipulation and control.

A perpetrator programme – in my opinion and experience – simply empowers the perpetrator with more knowledge.

Often these agencies act innocently without realizing their part – that is no excuse.

I have now made tentative steps towards rebuilding contact with my son and my daughter lives with me.

And as for the perpetrator? Well, he has another victim.

Janette Webster


Domestic Violence Story Project: R.

Hello everyone, thank you for joining me for Writing for Recovery’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month Story Project. Throughout the month of October I’ll be posting stories that I’ve received from women who have been in violent relationships, and a couple from those who have lost loved ones to violence. As many of you know, this is a subject that is a close to my heart, as I grew up in a violent and chaotic home and have felt and watched the damage it can do. However, I have also been witness to the enormous strength of those who survive these situations…and unfortunately, too many people do not. I have been privileged to hear and receive your stories and I thank everyone who has taken part in this Project. Your voices matter, they need to be heard, and it’s possible they could save a life.

The first story I’d like to bring to you was actually taken (with permission) from an e-mail I received. This lady describes the pain and fear of living inside a violent relationship in such an emotionally raw way because she is actually in one right now.  I wanted to post this first so that it’s possible to get perhaps a little bit of a glimpse inside what it might be like to live this way. To answer that tired and uninformed question, “Why doesn’t she just leave?”

 This is why. 

 

I am not sure how to begin this….( I am just telling this so that I CAN FEEL A LOT BETTER….. )

I considered myself a fighter and a survivor in my own way. It’s not easy and yet I still bear a scar and wound that can never heal.

In the Asian context, domestic violence is considered a taboo subject , it will be such a shame to let what happened in your marriage out in the open. Especially when you are being abused by your husband. Being emotionally, physically and verbally abused……it really tears MY life apart. I don’t really recognize my own self. Being called hurtful names or spiteful remarks, being kicked and punched like a ball ….. the list goes on and on…….

Imagine being spat on??…..spat on in front of the kids??…. I felt so dirty, so disgusted and so humiliated. I felt so insulted …… I hate myself…..and I hate HIM even more….

Someone told me….try to forget the hatred so at least I don’t hurt myself inside….But can you blame me for feeling like this ??????…..

I get out of the marriage after I got a knock on my senses suddenly. But that kind of braveness never came knocking on me again…it just totally left me helpless and hanging like a thread. As time goes by…..I began to feel that I am at the bottom of a pit….so low till I find it difficult to bring myself up and out….

I am scared of him…..scared of even his shadow….his voice ….. what makes matters worse, we are still living under the same roof , although we are undergoing a divorce process which I think took such a slow process….

Whenever there is a need to talk to him, the talk became an argument and it escalates into abuses….I shivered and shake whenever I try to talk to him…..

The FEAR never leaves me totally…..it will still be living in my soul as long as it takes….

I am trying my best to overcome all this in a slow and painful way……

I am tired……very tired emotionally and physically….

 

R.

Asia