Life After Domestic Violence: I Matter and I Am Enough

This feels like it was a lifetime ago and not even real life, but as I recount the past memories, it was indeed very real. Only my family and closest friends have heard these details, so please bear with me.


I was young, having fun and at the tail end of finishing a successful high school career where I was surrounded by girlfriends I adored, and there was a bright future awaiting me. As with a lot of teenagers, dating was a part of the high school scene. I didn’t have much experience of course, but I was smitten with this one boy who was a little older me. When we started dating, it seemed like a harmless adventure that consisted of things like going to dinner and a movie or occasionally hanging out with friends. Well, after six months of dating, “occasionally” hanging out with friends eventually turned into almost never. Red flags began to appear, but little did I realize they had been there all along. I definitely missed the memo.

He began having issues with my friends for one reason or another. While wearing my rose-colored glasses, I continued to follow his lead and appease him while the isolation process had officially begun. Irrational arguments that involved degrading comments were becoming the norm, but the “fixer” in me wanted to continue to try to make things better. After high school, I went on to my first year at LSU while he was at a different university. The jealousy, verbal abuse and constant accusations turned me into a hermit crab who didn’t leave my dorm room thus making very few friends and losing the few I had. I thought I was a smart and strong girl. How did I get stuck in a situation where I was constantly walking on eggshells?

My family and friends tried to tell me that they didn’t care for him, but I always felt the need to justify his odd behavior and protect him. The air thickened as I became so emotionally invested, and it was getting harder to breathe. Things escalated and one day, it happened: he didn’t like something I said so he smacked me across the face and to the ground I fell. I was shocked, scared and in disbelief. After the dust settled, I went right back to him. I even moved to the same college as him to be closer. I know what you must be thinking, it’s appalling and why would she stay with someone like this? As the truthful saying goes, hindsight is 20/20 and I’m appalled myself. Keep in mind that my family had no clue about the details of this dysfunctional relationship because I tried hiding as much as I could. The second time he smacked me across the face, I fell to the ground again. He told me that he was the only one that could love me and that I would never find someone who would “put up” with me. He had me convinced that I was damaged and beyond repair. I was lost and full of shame, confusion and sadness.  I reached out to someone that became my best friend at this new college. She told me that I needed to get out fast. I listened. So, while he was working one evening, we quickly removed all of my personal belongings from the place I shared with him.

Fast forward to a couple of months later, the mind games continued as my psyche was still very much in the wrong place. He came crying to me, apologizing profusely and saying he couldn’t live without me. My girlfriend insisted I not listen, but I shamefully went back to him. I lost my way and it felt like being under an awful spell I couldn’t break. There was a lot of manipulation going on involving suicide threats on his behalf and being told that if I hadn’t done whatever he thought I did wrong, then he wouldn’t have gotten so upset. I truly believed that I was the problem. The pinnacle was approaching as one evening, we had a disagreement and he put me in a chokehold. After I had run out of tears to cry, I was able to fall asleep but was awoken two hours later by ice water being thrown in my face while he was screaming at me. This HAD to be my breaking point and thankfully it was. The next day, I reached out to another dear friend and as afraid as I was to let her in on this, I did. She told me this was not okay and it was not normal. Crazy as it sounds, I needed some sort of validation. It was then that I retreated to the bathroom in a quaint coffee shop that I managed. I looked at this unrecognizable girl in the mirror and said to her, “you matter and you are enough.”

I mattered and I was enough.

I knew I had to get out while I could because something more serious would undoubtedly happen. Why had I even stayed this long? Honestly, I can’t even answer that. I became so dependent, and it saddens me that I let it go that far.

It took a covert operation to escape, but I am extremely grateful to say that family and friends jumped in to help save me. I changed my vehicle, my residence and my phone number. For a while, I stayed under the radar. I was fearful to sleep in my own bed, so I slept on the couch to watch the door. I was fearful to go the store, so I went at 6am when it was empty. With the help of therapy and a support system, I could finally start to breathe a little again. I began to integrate back into normal life after nearly three years of what felt like living in an emotional jail.

Now, it has been nearly 10 years later and I am beyond fortunate to have a kind, respectful and loving husband with whom I share a beautiful son. I want my son to grow up seeing what a healthy relationship looks like. I want him to learn how to treat others, especially women, with dignity and respect. Most importantly, I want him to know that verbally abusing someone or putting your hands on another person is never acceptable under any circumstance.

I shared my story with you because there are many of us out there that have been there, are going through it or know someone going through it. The statistics are quite disturbing and show how prevalent domestic violence really is. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women will be victims within their lifetime. In addition, women between the ages of 18 and 24 are the most susceptible to abuse by an intimate partner. Another alarming fact is that young boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to become abusive one day. Having children involved in a domestic violence situation makes it even harder, yet all the more necessary to be courageous and seek help. You can learn more about the detailed statistics here.

For our upcoming Mom Prom, we want to show our unity as women and mothers. We are requesting that our guests bring essential items to donate to the Iris Domestic Violence Center here in Baton Rouge. Iris Domestic Violence Center provides an array of services to help battered women and their children. Services include but are not limited to a 24-hour Crisis Line, Emergency Shelter, Safety Planning and Children’s Services. It takes an abundance of donations to effectively run this facility so that they may continue helping women and children in our community escape domestic violence situations. We encourage you to please bring an item from the wish list below to Mom Prom to donate:

  • Personal Care Products
  • Diapers/Pull-Ups (all sizes)
  • Baby Wipes
  • Towels/Wash Cloths
  • New Underwear/Socks for women & children
  • Gas Cards/Wal-Mart Gift Cards
  • Sheets (twin & double)
  • Clothing for women & children new or used

If you or someone you know is in need of a safe location or need someone to talk to, call the 24-hour Crisis Hotline at (225) 389-3001 or statewide toll free at 1-800-541-9706. For more information on domestic violence support, services and resources in Louisiana please check out the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.


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