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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Do You Know A Brave Woman? #CBias #BraveWoman

The story I'm about to tell you may seem a bit startling or even uncomfortable, but it's really not uncommon. In fact, One in Four women will have her own story of domestic violence.

The face of domestic violence looks different for everyone. The woman involved could be a single mom, or a scared teenager. She could be tough as nails or afraid of the world. In any situation though, she is a woman ...a person...and for her to even have a moment when she thought about life outside of that violent world makes her brave beyond belief.

So many people who have never had the experience of a violent relationship find it easy to say things like "Why would she stay with him? If a boyfriend/spouse of mine ever raised his hand to me, that would be the end of him!" Statements like this truly hurt me. I was that girl who stayed. I can promise you, however, I thought I would never see myself in a situation like that. You see, domestic violence doesn't start overnight and certainly not on the first date. The abuser in the relationship is much too wise to begin that way.

Instead, it begins subtly. In my situation, it started verbally. Little comments were made here or there that really upset me but then I was hearing wonderful things like the "I love you" words every young girl dreams of hearing at the same time. Slowly but surely, he had me right where he wanted me. I began to believe that he was "it" for me. And over time, I believed I was too fat {I weighed about 115 to start and got down to about 90 while in the relationship}, too unlovable, and too ugly for anyone else to ever love me the way he did. I was only 19 years old and very naive. I just wanted to find someone who would love me.

With my self esteem completely crushed, and my dependency clinging to him as if he were the last man on earth, the darkness in our relationship crept up and things really began to turn ugly. I remember a night when he called me at home to tell me how horrible of a person I was {to put it nicely} for saying "Hi" to his buddy earlier that day. I wasn't supposed to give another man attention or I would be accused of flirting with him...among other things. He went on and on as I cried and begged him to stop. Then I tuned out his talking to write my parents a letter and decided to slit my wrists.

I cut into one wrist and panicked as soon as I saw blood. Suddenly, I didn't really want to die. I hung up on him and ran to my parent's bedroom to wake them up and plead with them to help me. My mind was a wreck. I was begging them to let me finish what I started one minute and crying that I didn't want to die the next. It was so bad that my dad thought I was on drugs. They called the church pastor's wife the next morning, who I had known since my preschool years, and asked her to come and talk to me. I had to stay with her the entire next day and she loved me through it, bringing me back to a sound mind so I didn't make another attempt like that.

There are many other scenarios that I could type out for you. The abuse grew worse and worse over time until one day he grabbed me and threw me up against a large tree for wearing a v-neck tank top. He felt that I was trying to get another guy's attention and always preferred I wear large t-shirts and jeans so no part of my figure was showing. This hit was the first one I had taken in front of a group of people and I had a hard time processing what just happened.

You see, I was used to being locked in a closet while he went out for hours so I would be right where he left me. I was used to starving myself so I could be less fat than I was the day before. I was also used to being hit in places no one else would see unless I showed them. This new form of public humiliation, though, turned on a little bit of a light bulb in my head.

When I went home that night, I thought of all the people who came to me and begged me to leave him. I remembered the police officer who told me that my choice in boyfriend was not a good one and I should leave before something "bad" happens. I remembered the council of my pastor's wife who reminded me of how deep God's love was for me and how no man could even come close to that level of unconditional love. I couldn't shake the amount of times some of my closest friends cried and asked me to leave him. After recalling all of these conversations, it dawned on me that I needed to leave him. One way or another, I knew that relationship would kill had already taken so much of who I was.

I drove to the house he was staying at the next afternoon with a letter in hand. In that letter, I told him everything that he had made me feel with his words and actions and explained why I want to end the relationship. When I pulled up to the house, I called him over to my car. He, of course, didn't like that. Again, in front of a group of people, he began to cuss me out and demanded that I get out of my car and come to him. {That was not going to happen this time.}

I crumpled up my letter and threw it out the window as I told him he might want to read it and I sped off down the street. I lived in fear for a long while after that. There was one day when my parents weren't home and someone {I believe it was him} came to the house and started banging on the front door in the middle of the day. I barricaded myself in my bedroom while holding a pocket knife in my hand and waited for him to leave. Shortly after that, he was sent to prison for a few different charges. I didn't hunt down the details but I know part of him being in trouble with the law had to do with a 15 year old girl who he had gotten pregnant and was beating up. Her parents helped her to be brave enough to press charges.

**Mine is just ONE story. Today, there are many girls/women who are living in a relationship like this one. Right now, someone is hurting, crying, or excusing it away but you and I can help them. Go to right now and take the pledge to stand with women everywhere as they gain the strength to make steps toward a better life for themselves and {in some cases} their children. Vow to be supportive over judgmental and help to bring this violence to an end.

**If you're someone who's in a violent relationship, know that you're not alone and there are people who do understand and want to help. There are all sorts of resources on the website and there's even a button you can click to completely hide the fact that you were on the website should you fear someone is following up on your online activity. Take just one step in the right direction and find out the many different ways you CAN be free of your pain. There's a better life out there...

Keep up with Brave Woman on Twitter and Facebook.

*Disclaimer* This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for CollectiveBias. The story I shared is true, my words are my own, and my passion for others comes from an honest place.* 



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