Pixie Dust

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes a person a likely victim… In my last post we met Darcy.  I know her family and they’re the sort that makes me ask myself who I’d be if I came from people who were decent and loving, like that?  I admit it… I’m a little bit jealous.  Darcy is the kind of woman I wish I were… as much as I preach self-love and tolerance, I can’t say I’m always joyed with myself.  Then I look at what really happens and I know… God damn… It’s all of us.

self-love

Some of us are totally blindsided by a batterer…  Others come from a systemic pattern of abuse… remember the elephant in the room that just looked like part of the furniture?  That is a systemic  pattern of abuse… it’s so much a part of your daily life that you cannot see it for what it is.   I kind of want to talk about what comes next… Because there is a next.

believe

If there’s life there’s hope.  I wonder who I would have been if I hadn’t lived the way I lived… but I’m not really sorry.   I am the person I am because I experienced what I did.  You can’t dwell on the bad… you must move on.   You must develop some level of self love.  What happened to you matters… but it’s not what defines you.  There is something you like about yourself… build on that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Count your blessings… surviving is always number one.  That is a death defying feat… own it.   Then, dammit… drive your crazy train.  Stop being a passenger in your own life.

 

crazy train

This week, I started working on glass cutting.  Because I am the boss of me, and I felt like it.  I’m also doing some additional work with pallets, because who doesn’t love pallet art?  Tonight, I carved pumpkins with my kids.  We’re roasting the seeds tomorrow.  Because life goes on.  The fact that I was once a victim does not get to define the rest of my life.

pallet

I don’t want it to define your life, either.  Just lately… there’s been someone in my world who makes me feel like something that’s being scraped from the bottom of a shoe.  I mired on down in that for a week or so… then I remembered… It took me better than three decades to like myself.  I don’t have that kind of time for anyone else.  Neither do you.  In the cosmic scheme of things, only we decide the quality of our lives.  I choose to be happy, to do the things that give me joy and let go of the things that cause me pain.  These are conscious choices… realize that and know that for all the days to come, no one decides who you are but you.

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Blessed be, darlings…  I wish you great joy and happiness.  I feel like I’m blowing fairy dust, Dorothy, but the power is always your own.  It’s been within you all the while.  So, click your ruby slippers, grab your faith, trust & pixie dust and  live.

ruby

If it can happen to her….

The survivor whose story I am about to tell is someone who I don’t know very well.  She strikes me as a very strong woman with a lot of integrity.  Like many who have come before her, she didn’t see it coming. Darcy met her batterer when she was in a transitional time in her life…  her career wasn’t quite where she wanted it to be, the relationship she was in had sputtered out but neither had quite let it go and her family was in that awesome stage of telling her just who she ought to be.  Everyone always knows just what you ought to do, don’t they?

pathway

Enter Buddy.  He had cash to spare, a flashy lifestyle, said all the right things and she was hooked.  They moved in together and everything was fantastic… at first.  He had plenty of money…. Darcy needn’t work!  She should pursue her education while leaving the rest of her time available for Buddy.  Now, Darcy didn’t know it, but that was her first big red flag.  Anytime a romantic partner wants to separate you from your income, it’s not a good thing.  Always, always hang on to your money.  It’s a source of personal power.

money

Without her own income, Darcy became dependent on Buddy.  He’d throw her twenty bucks and act like it was a favor.    She worked hard to complete her academic goals, even as the sand foundation began to whittle away.  The behaviors escalated rather quickly in her case… name calling, destruction of property rapidly turned into a backhand.  Which turned into a fist, which turned into being held in the air by her throat as Buddy strangled her.  She questioned her own sanity because he’d have these violent outbursts, screaming and destroying everything in his path… followed by copious weeping and begging for forgiveness.  How can someone be so psychotic one moment and then so contrite the next?  Was she imagining it?  Blowing it out of proportion?  She knew he was abusing pain medication… could that be the culprit?

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Darcy comes from a very solid family… and she couldn’t talk to them about what was happening for several reasons.  First, she didn’t know how or where to start.  Second… they disapproved and made it very, loudly clear.  Heed me well, friends and relatives…. Try saying, hey… I love you and I’m here if you need me for anything at all.  Be a safe place, even if you don’t know one is needed.

safe-place

It didn’t take long for Darcy to realize she couldn’t count on Buddy to support her, despite his assertions otherwise.  So… she got a job where he called her multiple times each day.  One day… Darcy held her pounding head… pounding from being slammed in to a wall.  She wrapped a pretty scarf around her neck to hide the strangulation marks and she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Buddy was going to kill her if she stayed.  By then, she was wearing a beautiful engagement ring and living a lie each and every day.  She made arrangements to stay with a friend… one of the few she still had after Buddy worked so painstakingly to isolate her from loved ones.  She waited until he’d be out and packed what was left of her belongings and left.

frog

He harassed her for weeks, stopping only when he was forced into a facility.  Darcy had never felt so low in her life…. The physical recovery was swift.  The emotional impact took far longer to overcome.  Each week, she’d drive past this church where the people always looked so happy.  Eventually, she decided to visit.  That place healed her spirit over time.  She became born again and found her inner strength through Christ.

church

It’s been over a decade since Darcy left Buddy and her life has changed immeasurably.  One thing that struck me while we talked was that she feels ashamed, to this day, because nothing in her life experience taught her how to handle someone with sociopathic tendencies.   She came from a nice family where people didn’t try to choke each other to death.  That’s great, seriously… but it’s also why even people who are not living in this sort of situation need to talk to their kids about warning signs and to trust their instincts.  Mother nature put them there for a reason… Read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker.  That little wiggle in your belly is your soul trying to catch your attention.

vortex

**A word from our sponsor: Organized religion has benefits.  While it’s not a road Miss Shannon continues on, it is one she has traveled extensively.  If this helps you… by all means, pursue it.  Take your strength and your joy wherever you find it.  Just because I don’t believe in something, doesn’t mean I lack respect for it.

 

Twitch, twitch

It’s October… I hate it and I love it.  I love Halloween.  I love that I can hang a witch hat on my door and no one is calling the guys in the white coats… because when you believe in a way that is not Judeo-Christian… people think you’re crazy.  So yeah… I believe in magic with or without a k.  Which I think is silly, by the way.  Every October, I do three things.  I slap some pink and purple in my hair for breast cancer and DV… which is so outside my norm that’s it’s unbelievable.  My ma had a double mastectomy last year.  I had an aunt I never met who died from breast cancer.  The purple is because every single woman I know intimately has been abused by their significant other at some point in their lives.  As ever, I am no exception.  And I talk about domestic violence until I feel raw and bloody.   And I wonder… does anything a person like me writes on a little blog make the least bit of difference?

ribbons

Sometimes, I forget how really broken I am… but something always comes along to make me remember!!  One of those little details you can’t really appreciate if you haven’t been a victim is whether you  get the right to anger.  Now, Miss Shannon will tell you that feelings are neither right nor wrong… they just are.  And I believe that… intellectually.  But anger is one of those things commonly denied to people who are being battered.  The abuser is certainly welcome to have tirades over spilled milk, traffic jams and pretty much anything that trips their trigger.  Here, honey, break my heirlooms. Even mild irritation can get your ass handed to you.  You can weep.  You are allowed to feel sorrowful…. sometimes.  Happy, now and again.  Do not dare be angry.  No no, cupcake.  You lost the right to get angry and speak your mind when you entered into a relationship with public enemy number one.  They can’t handle your anger… this is largely because they are weak.

angry-eyes

I am reminded of this because I had a disagreement with our good pal Dozer, who wouldn’t harm a hair on my head.  He only looks scary, kids, he’s a great big marshmallow and I assure you, Miss Shannon is a whole lot meaner than he is.   Anyway, he stepped on my toes. There’s really not a good guy or a bad guy… And you should totally agree with me, should the matter come up.   I was pretty damned heated, but I froze.  Could not say, I’m very angry that you said that, to save my life.  Miss Shannon had eight freakin’ years of therapy, and I can’t say I’m angry.  Nope, I cleaned the house instead.  (At the end of the day, Miss Shannon will always be a Roberts girl.  We clean when we’re upset.)  Then I built a ghost out of chicken wire and cheesecloth, a fairly cool wreath and a witch’s broom.  Happy Samhain, friends!

witch-hat

It’s been decades since I was last beaten.  Not so long since dealing with an emotional abuser, but still.  I can have what the average person considers an over the top reaction to being grabbed, especially of if I’m surprised.  It’s PTSD… it doesn’t always have a rhyme or reason.  I can honestly say that I don’t think the collateral damage will ever go away.  Instead, you cope.  You work around it… find ways to avoid triggers, little stupid things that calm you down.  You have to, because this is the rest of your life.

trigger

Anger can be righteous, my friends.  As completely unhinging as it is, it’s a totally normal thing.  You got angry before someone terrorized it out of you… and the secret here is that you never actually stopped being angry.  You only learned how to hide it so you could survive.  Go, you.  That’s actually called dissociating… our handy dandy brain knows that expressing anger could get us killed, so it scoops it all up and hides it in one of its magic compartments.  The trouble is that seething mess is still festering away inside you… find it, embrace it and above all, deal with it.  Left to itself, it’s not going magically go away and it will damage your ability to heal.  I can honestly say that I don’t think the collateral damage will ever go away.  Instead, you cope.  You work around it… find ways to avoid triggers, little stupid things that calm you down.  You have to, because this is the rest of your life.

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So while I’m busy dissociating myself from my anger that is perfectly reasonable, I’m also destroying a little piece of my soul.  My fellow survivors will probably get this best… There is only so much of your soul available for destruction before it doesn’t matter that you lived.  So… Find your actual feelings.  Do you.  Unfuck yourself, no one else can do it for you.  Hit me up, I’ll hold your hand…

handholding

Minimizing

This is someone I know well.  As unpleasant as what she’s sharing is, she’s minimizing the situation.  That’s a very common coping mechanism often employed by victims.  It’s the brain’s way of making an intolerable situation tolerable… it makes it seem “not so bad.”  It’s even healthy sometimes… specifically, it gets you through when it’s not safe to leave.  Your brain is smart.  It knows it can’t go on like this, so it compartmentalizes the abuse and makes it go away for the moment.  Don’t live your whole life allowing that to be the case.  Open up the ugly now and then… you’ll be healthier for it.

compartments-of-printers-tray

If I interject, I’m doing it in italics.  In her own words:

I will say that there were warning signs looking back. Signs I never knew existed as I hadn’t ever been exposed to it. Drinking. Fits of rage. Jealousy. Calling me names like slut, cunt. Things that back then just seemed like I was doing something wrong and not good enough. I believed it for years. I remember having to sell things that were important to me so that he could have his beer or coke and praying he would just pass out…not hit me, scream at me and keep me awake for hours with the physical and mental torture. I remember the constant walking on eggshells not to set him off. I remember him telling everyone the kids couldn’t be his and then him having to eat those words when it was proven.

eggshells

 I planned to get out really carefully as I didn’t want my kids growing up thinking this is ok. I knew he was not right in the head and one instance left me to realize that I was not totally sure what he was capable of and that I had to protect the kids more than myself. I still get the drunken death threats 4 years later and the attempts to control me. Although they do not work, it still shakes me. A no harassment order does relatively little.  (Also referred to as Refrain From Orders, this is like a restraining order light, says things like:  Refrain from harassing, stalking, etc.)

gavel

 I still cannot fully give myself in a relationship-not that the other person really knows this. They don’t. I cover it well. I am still just waiting for the signs that the next guy is like that too. Only just recently started dating and he is patient and understanding, knows part of what I have been through. Really a good guy…yet I still wait. My best friend and another close friend are the only males outside of my family that I fully trust around me and my kids. And they have earned that and help me keep my faith that there are great guys. It’s the warning signs we ignore most. They are not emphasized enough. We are all too busy looking at the good and it slips our attention or we write it off as a rare occurrence or one-time thing. It’s not. It’s a sign early. That is where we need to run, teach others to run… and run fast. There is also not as much talk about how hard it is to stay gone…financial matters and the tendency of falling into old patterns is very easy.

warning-signs

 

So…Miss Shannon Here!  I tend to agree with this lady.  We do not focus nearly enough on warning signs and our youth don’t really know when it’s time to run for their lives.  I’m going to list them, but first I’m adding one I’ve learned the hard way.  If your people are speaking against this person, like the collective of your people.  Your ma, your sister, your brother, friends, etc.  Your people, whoever they are, are almost certainly correct.  These are the people who love you.  And sometimes they see more clearly than you.  Now the actual list, taken from http://www.newchoicesinc.org/help/DV/signs

 

  • Does your partner tease you in a hurtful way & play it off as a “joke” or tell you you’re being too sensitive?
  • Does your partner call you names such as “stupid” or “bitch”?
  • Does your partner act jealous of your friends, family, or co-workers or coerce you into avoiding or not spending time with them?
  • Does your partner get angry about or make you change the clothes & shoes you wear, how you style your hair, or whether or not you wear makeup & how much?
  • Does your partner check-up on you by repeatedly calling, driving by, or getting someone else to?
  • Has your partner gone places with you or sent someone just to “keep an eye on you”?
  • Does your partner insist on knowing who you talk with on the phone, check your call log or phone bill?
  • Does your partner blame you for his problems or his bad mood?
  • Does your partner get angry so easily that you feel like you’re “walking on eggshells”?
  • Does your partner hit walls, drive dangerously, or do other things to scare you?
  • Does your partner often drink or use drugs?
  • Does your partner insist that you drink or use drugs with him?
  • Have you lost friends or no longer see some of your family because of your partner?
  • Does your partner accuse you of being interested in someone else or cheating on them?
  • Does your partner read your e/mail, check your computer history, go through your purse, or other personal papers?
  • Does your partner keep money from you, keep you in debt, or have “money secrets?”
  • Has your partner kept you from getting a job, or caused you to lose a job?
  • Has your partner sold your car, made you give up your license, or not repaired your car?
  • Does your partner threaten to hurt you, your children, family, friends, or pets?
  • Does your partner force you to have sex when you do not want to?
  • Does your partner force you to have sex in ways that you do not want to?
  • Does your partner threaten to kill you or themselves if you leave?
  • Is your partner like “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” acting one way in front of other people and another way when you are alone?

Kids, if you are saying yes to even one or two of these, please ponder whether you’d like to be on a survivor’s site talking about what you have endured.  It’s even less pleasant than it looks.

Men are, too…

One in four men will be victims of domestic violence in their lifetimes.  The system is stacked against men, because most perpetrators are men.  That’s just factual.  A very brave man I’ve called friend for about twenty-five years was willing to share his story to help raise awareness for male victims.  It’s a lot more common than you’d think, with the added bonus that they can’t access services as easily as a woman.  And girls, if you think you’re ashamed to admit to being victimized, how do you suppose it is for a guy?

one-in-four

Jack* (names have been changed to protect the innocent, not to shelter the guilty)  first met Kate about ten years ago.  They were at a weekend long party using ATVs and generally cutting up and having fun.  They began dating and she very quickly became pregnant… you know, ‘cause she was on the pill!! Jack has a good job and he’s the dependable sort.  Go figure.

the-pill

Kate made it seven years before becoming physically abusive.  There’s your grooming period.  It starts slowly… nasty comments, disregard for the victim’s wellbeing, unkindness.  They broke up and got back together several times… He kept going back because he felt deep concern for the wellbeing of the children involved, his own and hers.  (That’s a story Miss Shannon knows very, very well.)  It’s incredibly hard to walk away from the children you love, particularly when you know you have no real recourse to protect them.

children-holding-hands-silhouette

 

About seven years in, the physical abuse began.  It started with throwing things… lamps, paperweights, whatever was handy.  There are still holes in his walls he hasn’t had time to fix.  It escalated into fists flying in his face, weapons… this woman tried to stab him.  More than one time.  He got restraining orders, custody of his kid… what happens to the other three kids he’s spent ten years raising?  They stay with Kate, of course.  So he took her back.   The last episode resulted in Kate’s arrest for assault with a deadly weapon.  She hasn’t made bail yet and she’s still awaiting trial.  The kids, all of the kids, are with Jack.  It’s been several months and they are starting to feel safe enough to open up about the abuse Kate heaped on them.  It’s never just the adults, friends.  Maybe she’ll do enough time that they will have a fighting chance to break the cycle…. If anyone can get them there it’s Jack.

knives

This is a really nice guy; he’d give you the shirt off his back.  Had things played out a little differently, he would likely have been unable to find a dv shelter to take him in.  Because he’s a man.  Realize that if I were personally in a position to need shelter, I would not be able to find a placement because I have fifteen and sixteen-year-old sons… they’re men.  We behave as though men are the enemy, painting them all with the same brush.  As hard as it is to wrap our heads around it… men vary from person to person, just like women do.  They can be victimized.  They can be the abuser.  They’re people, too… and no one deserves to feel unsafe in their home.  That’s such a basic thing…. And rarer than you think.

brush

Epiphany

Someone has been extraordinarily, unreasonably nasty to me just lately.   Like… infuriating me, nasty.  Not a hell of a lot really makes me angry.  Most commonly, I am too involved in my own silly nonsense to care if a particular person likes me or not.  Miss Shannon is secure in the knowledge that she has a full life, filled with folks who love her, work she enjoys as well as hobbies and interests to keep her occupied.  So… yeah, this person is making a genuine effort to piss me off and has more than succeeded.

effort

 

This person so uncomfortable with the discussion of domestic violence that they are deliberately going out of the way to upset me.  Sorry, darlin’, that brings me back to social outrage and just feeling sorry for you.  Only people who have been affected by DV get that hot and bothered by it.  I’m sorry for your pain.  I’m sorrier that it is socially unacceptable to talk about being abused… particularly since that encourages the cycle of abuse to continue behind closed doors.  By all that is good and holy in this world, I am sorry that anyone, anywhere thinks it’s better to suffer in silence than to admit the “shame” of having a batterer in the family.  It is not the victim’s shame.  I am sorriest that it’s acceptable to people like you that children be taught to hide the truth and that the pretense of appropriate behavior is more important than their safety and well-being.

closed-doors

I’ve said before, I’ll say it again.  Kids live what they learn and they learn what they live.  Look at your babies, people… Do you want them to grow up thinking they have to choose between being battered or being a batterer?  Do you want them to have eating disorders and psychosis and pathologies?  Keep kicking it with your batterer, keep telling them to pretend it isn’t happening.  Yay for you, you’re on the right track to destroying their ability to trust their own judgement and acknowledge their pain.  Way to build healthy adults.

kids

Not one of us is perfect… least of all me.  I honestly don’t know what is the worst thing… watching a child of mine be abused, watching a child of mine become an abuser or knowing not one of them will ever, ever stop waiting for the bottom to fall out.  Or is it knowing that my own inaction made it all possible?  As ever, my advice is to run for your life.  Cut your hair… find a whole new city… apply for a new social security number.  Get out the back,  Jack…Get yourself free.

free

I am not telling anyone currently in a treacherous situation to throw caution to the wind.  On the contrary… I want you to use the brains you were born with, that work just fine, that you can’t quite trust because you’ve had it beaten into you that you aren’t good enough.  You are 110% good enough… you just have to believe.  I am not a faith, trust and pixie dust kind of girl, despite my affection for glitter.  I always look for the cloud in the silver lining.  Granted, I also find it quite frequently.  I am telling you to unfuck yourself… remember how to love yourself.  I don’t know if anyone can ever be who they were before the gas lighting… before someone could just threaten and you’d agree the sky was orange to avoid the confrontation.  But whoever you became… that person is stronger than you think.  You have survived, so far.  That takes grit… you can do this, too.  Save yourself and your kids… No one else is going to.  Least of all your relatives who urge you to preserve the family name.

orange

Stigma

Our good pal, Dozer asked me today why I’m talking about DV right now… He knows I was battered.  But he knows it like I know he was married.  It’s sort of a factoid… like, yeah… and?  So that made me think maybe you don’t know either… and can you even believe it??? I’m going to tell you all about it.

irony

For those of you who have never been abused… May the Gods keep smiling on you, for all of your days.  I mean that.  Then there’s the rest of us… one in three women, one in four men, who are abused by their intimate partner.  If you had to guess the number of US soldiers killed in both Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2012, you’d guess it pretty high, right?  That number is 6,488.  The number of women murdered in America by their intimate partner, during that same period, was nearly double that at 11,766.  I cannot find a stat for the number of men, but I’m guessing it’d be somewhere around 4,000.  Three women every day.  Every 9 seconds a woman is battered.  Every minute, a man is.  Ask yourself why this isn’t in the news.

graves

Here I am, spouting my facts for Dozer… like did you know that studies have shown that during an incident, the batterer is actually becoming more calm internally?  Yup… he’s breaking your grandma’s china, slamming your head into a wall and screaming like a deranged lunatic… and it is soothing him.  Got that? He feels better, like I child clutching their woobie.  Except it’s a mean little kid and you are the woobie.  Awesome.

woobie

 Now, I’m going to quote Steven King… please don’t sue me, Mr. King.  “How could you let such a business go on for so many years? Didn’t you see the elephant in the living room?” And it’s so hard for anyone living in a more normal situation to understand the answer that comes closest to the truth; “I’m sorry, but it was there when I moved in. I didn’t know it was an elephant; I thought it was part of the furniture.” There comes an aha-moment for some folks – the lucky ones – when they suddenly recognize the difference.”– Stephen King

elephant

Most victims and batterers grow up in a systemic pattern of abuse.  It’s a totally normal thing.  Like… juice at breakfast. It’s part of the furniture.  When the first time comes around…. You really aren’t surprised.  Somewhere, buried deep in your psyche, you expected it all along.

juice

Now… what I hope happens is that me ripping my god forsaken guts out about my own experience will reduce the shame.  You didn’t do anything wrong.  It is not your fault.  You are dancing with the devil… Nobody says, ooh, ooh, pick me!!  But here we are.  And I will be dammed before I will sit back and keep silent.   Silence keeps them strong and makes us weak.  Find your voice, boys and girls.  If one person feels empowered to seek help or even to talk to someone, anyone about the abuse they are enduring, then my work here is done.  And I didn’t do anything wrong, either.  This is assault… it is a crime.  Stop blaming the victim, especially if it’s you.

 

Rings Of Fire

Tonight I’m sharing a little about the aftermath for Miss Shannon, personally, of having been a victim of domestic violence.   We don’t like that word… you survived, dammit.  Well… somebody did.  It wasn’t the girl I was when I joined the ranks of the strong people who endure sexual assault, battery and generalized horror on a daily basis.  Let me be clear… I have survived things I will never fully disclose to another human being. I will openly admit to having been sexually assaulted, if that gives you a little perspective.  Someone survived… that’s the me you get today.   This is a Triskele… it symbolizes woman, in her three stages of power… Maiden, Mother and Crone.

triskele

So… this is what being a survivor of domestic violence looks like for me.  I have areas of sensitivity that don’t necessarily make sense to the people around me.   It’s like my spinal fracture… Sometimes it’s nothing and doesn’t bother me at all.  Sometimes it hurts to breathe.  In my young and dumb days, I had a beater… thanks for the spinal fracture, dude.  Sure as hell, I’ll never forget you.   Later, I had all the verbal and emotional abuse you could ever ask for.  Weirdly… the beater was a whole lot easier to deal with.  That doesn’t make sense to anyone who hasn’t lived it… but fractures and bruises heal.  Souls are harder.

SOUL

Now, why was I there???  There really, really wasn’t anyplace else to go.  I made my bed and I laid in it, for a good long time.  It’s hard not to misunderstand… my family knows how to circle the wagons.  Sorta.  Say one hurtful thing and you’ll see even my sisters who don’t speak to me stand up for me.  But I couldn’t hide there because my baby daddy was too scary.  I even get it, because he was really quite alarming.   Unless you’ve been there, you don’t know what you’d do.  You think you do, and it is holier than anything that was happening in Miss Shannon’s world.  They wanted me to go into shelter… I didn’t because Mr. Happy had convinced me I’d lose our child to social services.  Young and dumb, people.

circle-the-wagons

So… this is a good story… when I left my beater, it was after I had worked three jobs for nearly a year to squirrel away enough money to bail.  He liked to play some weird little game with figurines, which was popular back in the day. Orcs and wizards and various other mythological creatures.   So.. I handed him $5, dropped him and his little toys at the mall so he could play and the U-Haul was waiting for me when I pulled into my house.  Thanks, mom.  I packed what I could and ran for my life.

uhaul

I’m still running for my life.   I quit a good job I liked because I saw that fellow on a street corner a block from my office building.  I moved a bazillion times because he found me… Most importantly, I live with the knowledge that I am easily victimized.  I know it’s easily because until recently… in one way or another I’ve been victimized by every romantic partner I’ve ever had.  I had therapy and I have stored most of the trunks, but there’s still a couple of carry-ons I can’t quite shake.

baggage

That’s probably going to be true for the rest of my life.  Miss Shannon wants a love like Johnny and June.  Rings of fire… when you’re gone, I wanna go to.  And that’s too much to be asking for.  Because I’m damned near forty, this isn’t a fairy tale and there’s just too much water under the bridge.  Funny thing is… I’d do it all again.  My kids rock out loud.  They are starting to make me grandchildren, which is the best thing since sliced cheese.  I stood in line at a fabric store getting tulle for a wreath and to make tutus for my little granddaughter, Raelynn.  This old couple asked why I had so much and I told them what I was doing with it.  The lady said… she hardly looks old enough to have grandchildren… bless you, sweetheart.  It’s never how far you’ve traveled.  It’s how rough the road… and the quality of your moisturizer.

ring-of-fire

Words Matter…

So here’s my story. Domestic violence is not always physical. I was with my son’s father for 13 years.  I’m in therapy now because of the emotional abuse I suffered.  People look at me and all they see from the outside is a strong, independent single mother of 2 outstanding children.  Inside, the depression and anxiety is strong. And each day I just put on a good show.

anxiety

It started about 5 years into the relationship. It started with little mean quips. OMG, you’re gaining weight like a pig going to slaughter. Then it went to your face is not something to look at in the morning.  Then it was you don’t do anything like a real woman should. Every day I would do my best to please him. I would spend money on whatever I thought it would take to please him. Because I thought it was me. Thought like, if I lose weight he’ll be happy and want me more. If I act a certain way, then he won’t say these things

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It got to a point that he started talking to me like a child in front of friends.  He berated me whenever he could. He talked about my family (we are not a close family) and how they didn’t want me because I wasn’t a real woman.  He had me so depressed that I thought of suicide. When I approached him and told him how he hurt me, he said, “Well you act like a man and look like a man. So take it like a man.”  At that point I began to eat my way into severe depression. Thinking, how the hell can I make him happy and want me.

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It started taking a toll on my kids. My focus was so much on making him happy that I pushed the kids needs and wants to the side. Both of my kids are now in therapy also because they both suffer from depression and anxiety.  The final straw was when I lost my apartment and had to move in with him. It was my birthday and my best friend came up to surprise me. She winded up leaving early because she got into a fight with him. We went out for dinner and I thought I was having a good time. Until he said, “This fat bitch should order from the fat people menu because she’s about to eat everyone’s meal.”

Brightly colored straws thrown around on a table. Some of them are showing the lower side of the tube, with only a few of the flexible heads visible. The colors range from blue to red tones.

My family and friends didn’t know the BS I was letting happen. So of course she flipped out. The cops came to the restaurant and everything.  When my friend said either you leave him or you lose everything because you have already lost me I was truly hurt. I couldn’t believe my best friend of 20 Years was that pissed at me and willing to never talk to me again.  At that point I realized I couldn’t live like this anymore. This wasn’t the me that I used to be. I was a strong woman that didn’t take crap from anyone. And now this man has totally destroyed me.  It took a lot of tears, money and me trying to slit my wrist for me to understand it wasn’t me. It was him trying to control me. Taking advantage that I wanted a family because my family life was so screwed up.

Trust I now know l let him get that advantage.

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I caught a felony charge, went through a bankruptcy, court ordered anger management classes, almost losing my kids and friend and myself.  One day I just snapped and tried to cut him. He called the police and that was it.  The next day I moved to my current city to get away.  Got myself and the kids in therapy and started realizing how much of a punk he was.  Fast forward 4 years later. Lost 50 lbs. And with the help of family, friends, my kids and my new man, I won.  When people think of domestic violence they only think of the physical. Trust me, my emotional scars are just as deep and the ones that are seen. I still have trust issues with men. But day by day it gets better. My kids…well, it was hell. My daughter has severe anxiety from me screaming all the time. She’s doing better with her therapy. My son tried to commit suicide because he felt if he wasn’t here then I wouldn’t hurt so much. He’s so much better now that his father is just around sometimes and with therapy and prayer.  Please keep me anonymous. But I wanted to give you a different perspective of domestic violence and how it effects the entire family

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Miss Shannon here:  This good lady is generous, kind and very outgoing.  She’s personable and hilarious as hell… There’s not a single unattractive thing about her.  I know her to be an absolute rock in difficult times and it breaks my heart to know that she went through such soul crushing emotional abuse.  Words have the power to maim.  You can bet this fellow was grooming her in those first five years… then he stepped up his game.   So for this brave lady… Please, please stop accepting responsibility for the actions of a really awful person.   It was not your fault