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My Story

I want to share my story because it's domestic violence awareness month. I'm going to start by saying that domestic violence comes in many forms: man against woman, woman against man, caregiver against child, child against caregiver, even sibling against sibling. While many of these situations are rarely brought up, there are still happening.

I had a fairly violent childhood. You might even say extremely violent, I'm not sure to be honest. One of my earliest memories is from when I was three. I had broken my arm and was in the hospital. We lived in Germany because my dad was in the Army. Anyway, while I was in the hospital a man would come in every night and tip the foot of my bed up really high. I remember being so terrified of him but I don't remember what happened to him.

I have vague memories of hiding under the table while my mother threw dishes at my dad. They're just small glimpses but they are there. When I was in first grade my mom's cousin came to stay with us to get away from her abusive husband. Her baby was put in my room and one night he showed up. He climbed the roof to my window and I ran downstairs to tell my mom. They opened the door to talk to him and he convinced her to let him hold the baby. I remember standing there while he spun the baby around by his leg, very nearly missing the porch column. I don't remember much after that, but that part has stuck with me through all my years.

After my parents divorced my mom started dating a guy named Rick. We called him Rick the Prick...he was mean to us. He liked to grab you by the neck and hold you to the ceiling when he was yelling at you. I've lost most of my memories over the years. I really only remember things in snippets like I remember hearing my mom scream as my stepdad hit her, I remember sneaking out the window to call the police but they never did anything; they bought pot from him. I saw him yank her off the toilet once and beat her head on the bathtub. We were all afraid of him.

In either first or second grade I had a babysitter beat me with a belt until my back was covered in black and blue welts. I was sick and missed the toilet when I threw up so that was my punishment...

As I mentioned early when I said she threw dishes at my dad, my mom could get violent, too. There was a lady that lived across the street from us and was always helping us but whenever my mom got mad about something she would lash out. I remember her throwing things off the porch at the lady; a toaster was among the things she threw. She'd get right in your face to yell at you. She was controlling and mentally, verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive to me and my 3 siblings. She constantly put me down and made me feel like I wasn't good enough.

She actually told me on several occasions that my feelings were wrong and that I didn't have the right to feel the way I felt. This is why I tell people that their feelings are NOT wrong and that they matter. I would get so upset with her and felt so worthless that I self-harmed. Cutting wasn't enough for me, I needed a more violent release so I would beat myself in the thighs and the head. I did it so hard one night that my vision temporarily went black. Pretty sure I gave myself a concussion...I considered suicide a few times but could never go through with it. I turned to writing poems. It's helped me immensely and I no longer self-harm.

Mom would tell people about something that happened and then scream at you later if you dared to correct her on her facts. I can't tell you how many times I had to physically pull her off one of my sisters as they were throwing punches. My heart hammering in my chest, terrified of what was happening. I was the mediator, always trying to bring peace. She kicked my out at nineteen on Christmas Eve. I came back from my dad's and everything I owned was boxed in the living room. She still insists I left her, though, guess she wanted me to beg her to let me stay and I didn't.

I remember one time, after I had moved out, I had stopped by to visit with a friend. Mom wanted my little sister to do the dishes but she wanted to wait until after General Hospital was off. They argued and mom started strangling her. She had her hands around my baby sister's throat and was shaking her and yelling and my sister was trying to get her to let go. I yanked mom off of her and she turned on me. She yelled that if I couldn't respect her authority in her home to leave. I told her I could never respect her strangling my sister and I left.

I can't tell you how many times she has disowned me, how many times she has screamed that at me over the phone and hung up on me, but I can tell you she left me a broken, sobbing mess every time. My stepmom would hold me while I cried. She was my rock during that time, the only reason I'm still here.

My brother didn't want sisters, he tried to drown each of us. I only remember when he tried to drown my little sister. She was three and we were at the lake. She fell off her floaty and he held it over her while she was under water. At first we thought he was helping her but then we realized what he was doing. The first time he told me he loved me I was 18.

My older sister was violent. She threw a glass ashtray at my brother's head because he was watching MTV and she wanted to watch CMT. She kicked me in the mouth and knocked a tooth down my throat. I'm pretty sure she started some of those fist fights with my mom. I remember one day when I was sixteen she followed my around the house hitting me. I tried to keep walking away but she would follow and continue to hit me. I went out side on the porch and she kept hitting me and knocked me down and kept hitting my head off the concrete floor of the porch. I got away and ran inside and she followed me. She tackled me on the couch and just kept hitting me. I was terrified and couldn't get away. I started flailing my arms around trying to get away and accidentally hit her in the face. She actually jumped up and locked herself in the bathroom. Apparently, she thought I was fighting back and was afraid.

I will admit that I lost my control one day and attacked my little sister. It's something that I will always regret but at the time, it was really all I knew how to deal with things. It's what we were growing up with.

There are so many more memories of domestic violence my siblings and I endured growing up but I'm going to move onto my marriage.

He was controlling, manipulative, emotionally, physically, verbally, and sexually abusive. He constantly put me down and told me I was a moron. He constantly made me feel like I wasn't good enough. He gas-lighted me, constantly telling me that what I remembered happening didn't happen the way I remembered them. It took me a while to realize that I felt like I was living with my mom again. He really only wanted to spend time with me when he wanted sex and if I wasn't in the mood he would hold me down and tell me that if I didn't willingly have sex with him he would force me. I was terrified. He was stronger than I was so I knew that if he went through with it I wouldn't be able to stop him, so I always gave in and let him. I figured that at least that way I wasn't getting hurt. To this day he claims he was just joking and that I should've known he wouldn't have actually done it. I didn't know that. It wasn't funny to me.

Most of the time I didn't stand up to him but there were a few times I did. When I was pregnant with my youngest, before I found out, I was up all night with our daughter because she was sick. I was supposed to start a new job in the morning and I was exhausted, hormonal, and he wasn't home. I tried calling him several times and he promised to be home but an hour later he was still out. By the time he came home, high, I was at my breaking point. He was laughing at me and didn't care at all that I had to get up in two hours to start a new job. I admit I snapped and smacked him several times. He jumped up, shoving me in the process. I stumbled backwards, hit the bookshelf, couldn't catch myself, hit the computer chair, and then landed on the floor. He stood there laughing at me and said I fell like that on purpose.

He used to throw things at me and claim he was throwing it to me; I had to duck out of the way or they would have hit me. He's grabbed me by the arm so hard it left bruises but most of the time his abuse was verbal, emotional, or psychological and it's hard to put into words. His temper terrified me. 

He'd scream at the girls if they did something wrong and threaten them with withholding things like a drink for the entire night because she spilled her drink at dinner...she was four. 

When we were going through our divorce he once stood at my car refusing to let me leave while he screamed and spit at me. I felt trapped in my car, afraid I'd run him over and go to jail if I tried to leave. He went around the car, slammed my daughter's door shut, yanked the passenger door open and yelled that he wished my face would melt off.

I could keep going but this is the most I've ever shared. Most of what I shared doesn't go into a lot of detail but that's because it's hard for me to think about. I have to detach myself from it and tell it like a story or I can't share it at all. I know there are people out there that have had it worse, but that doesn't diminish from what I've been through. This is my story. My experience with domestic violence. I cry every time I hear or read about another person going through abuse. I cry whenever I hear the word "abuse". I'm still healing from these things, I know that. I'm sharing it because it helps me when I talk about it. If you've read all of this, please leave a comment so I know someone is listening. My self-esteem is extremely low and I could use the encouragement. Thank you.

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