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Domestic Violence Survivor: My Story #BraveWoman #CBias

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What Does it Mean to be a Brave Woman?

This post is a tough one for me to write. But the information is incredibly important, and I hope that you all share it with as many women as possible, so that this message, and this information, can reach women who need it. What I want to talk about is an amazing cause that I was recently introduced to, called Brave Woman.

“Leaving a life of domestic violence is a series of moment-by-moment decisions requiring brave choices and bold actions. It can be hard to believe in ourselves when we have been beaten down by circumstance.”

BraveWoman.org is a group that is dedicated to helping the 1 in 4 women who are affected by Domestic Violence – A place where you can share your own story without fear of being judged, a place where you can find support and encouragement to make a change in your life, a place to celebrate every Brave Woman who has overcome her situation.

Why this matters to me

I’ve put off writing this post for a couple of weeks – I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say about this topic. Then yesterday I read a post from a bloggy buddy of mine, Christy over at Insanity is Not an Option – My Story of Suffering in Silence. She is the bubbliest, sparkliest, happiest person around, and it surprised me to learn that she’d been through such difficult times in her life. The fact that she shared her personal story made me brave enough to share my own – and I then realized that this is what the Brave Woman campaign is all about. By sharing out stories, speaking out about this issue, and letting women know that they’re not alone, there’s not something “wrong with them”, that it CAN get better – it gives them the strength and support that they need to get out. It helps every woman be a Brave Woman.

This video is really powerful. You can see that Domestic Violence is something that can happen to anyone – young, old, black, white, rich or poor. And the tactics that the abusers use are similar in every case – they put you down, make you feel like you’re not worth anything better, and take away your strength to leave. Whether they use words to hurt you, or their fists, what they’re after is control, and too many of them get it.

My Story…

I met a guy when I was 18, and fell into what I thought was love right away. He was a good guy, but he got into drugs. He bought them, he sold them, and he was hooked on them. He had an anger problem, and the drugs pushed him over the edge too many times. I was young, and told myself the same excuses that a million other women have told themselves – “But I love him, ” and “I know he’ll change.” But he didn’t. After a very scary night that ended with me climbing out a bathroom window in my pajamas while he thought I was in the shower, running away alone at night, with no shoes, through a bad neighborhood, and the involvement of the police, I broke it off. But of course, he was sorry, and I went back. I went through this horrible cycle for years – it took the news that he had gotten another girl pregnant for me to finally leave.

I thought I had learned my lesson…

But I hadn’t. My next serious boyfriend took me down the same path. He didn’t do drugs, but he had major anger problems. I never knew what would set him off. I thought if I could do everything just right, things would be fine. But he would still corner me in a room, screaming at me for hours. Then one night I came home late, and he was angry. Before I knew what was happening, he had jumped out of bed, and knocked me to floor with a pillow, and continued to hit me with it for a long time. The next day I excused it – “I just made him mad. I shouldn’t have come home so late. It was just a pillow – it’s not like he hit me.” But once you get to that level, it doesn’t get better. Over the next few months it escalated. One night he pushed me out of his truck, and I had to go to the hospital for a sprained wrist. I wanted out. I kicked him out. But we worked together, had the same group of friends – no one knew what was going on, and they kept pushing me to stay with him. Then one night we went to a big local festival. I was dancing with a mutual friend of ours and he got angry. He punched me – in public, in front of his sister, our friends, and the crowds. I knew then that if he could do that in public, then it was going to get really bad the next time it was behind closed doors.

Learning to be Brave

I finally had a few friends who supported me in getting away, and that made all the difference in the world. When you have a friend in this type of situation, it can be so hard to understand why she doesn’t just leave. But most of these type of men are incredibly manipulative. I can look back now, and see it. I have no idea how I fell for the BS that I did. What you can do as a friend –

  1. If you suspect abuse, ask. She probably won’t admit it. But she’ll know that someone cares. And she’ll think about it later. And the next time someone asks, she might tell them.
  2. Tell her that you’re there for her, no matter what. Even if she goes back to him 100 times, she will need you on the 101’st time, when she is finally brave enough to leave.
  3. Don’t judge her. Don’t tell her how stupid she is to stay. He already tells her that she’s stupid. Don’t abandon her because you don’t want to watch her mistakes. Be there when she needs you.
  4. And most importantly – Share the Brave Woman campaign with others. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and on their website.

A New Life

My old boyfriend wanted to be “friends”, and I actually tried to do that. I still didn’t see how he was messing up my head – I can see that now. Then I met a new man, and for the first time I realized how bad my previous relationships had been. I remember our first argument – and he asked me, “Why do you apologize so much, like everything in the world is your fault?” I realized, it was because for years, I had been told that everything that went wrong in the world WAS my fault. Just that realization helped me become even braver – to realize that I was a wonderful person, and that NO ONE deserves to be treated any less than that. Being in a stable, safe, and healthy relationship for the first time opened my eyes to how much I had been manipulated in the past. It was the very first time I’d ever been in a relationship that was just calm, and nice, and normal. Today – 6 years later, I’m still with that wonderful man, and we now have a beautiful baby girl. Change is possible – and you CAN do it.

Brave Woman Pledge

Take the Pledge

Visit the website today to take the Brave Woman Pledge. By taking the pledge, you commit to acknowledging your own bravery. You commit to speaking up for other women and children who need a voice. You commit to showing support for every woman who make the choice to change their lives. By showing your support and signing the pledge, you’re helping other women know that they’re not alone, and you can help them to become a Brave Woman too.

Share your story

This is such a personal topic, and it was really hard for me to share my own story. But as one of the women in the video says – I’m not embarrassed by my past. The men who knocked me down so much should be embarrassed. I put up with bad situations for far too long – but I did get out. I have changed that part of my life – and although I still struggle with being strong, being assertive, and demanding respect, I am improving all the time. Reading the stories from women on the site helped me – so maybe my story can help someone else. If you’d like to share your own story, please leave a comment below. Do you know a Brave Woman? Are you a Brave Woman? What advice can you share? Let’s help every woman out there become a Braver – share the website, follow them on Facebook and Twitter – the more people this campaign reaches, the more women they can help!

{Disclaimer: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for CollectiveBias. All thoughts and opinions here are my own, and I’m proud to be a part of this amazing campaign.}

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Comments

  1. i too have been down this road. i now have friends in my life who say they can never understand why an abused person would ever stay in that kind of relationship. at first, i tell them how happy i am for them. someone who really has no understanding has never found themselves in a battered situation. i explain to them how most of the time the abuser seems to be like the most wonderful person in the world. very few people ever want to show their worse behavior in the beginning of any relationship. then i share with them my story. my ex husband first was able to start eliminating other people from my life shortly after we started dating. being the immature girl that i was, i thought it was just because i had found someone who really enjoyed spending time with me. when i no longer had family or friends in my life he started tearing down my probably already low self esteem even further. he would do anything to try to and make me feel that i was nothing more than a piece of his property including sexually abusing me. eventually every little problem in his life become my fault and i was made to pay for it, be it verbally, mentally, physically or all of the above. i have told people that is he could have found a way to blame me for global warming and world hunger, he would have. by this point i was will feeling like i had no other options but to stay with him. oh, i had left him several times, went to women shelters with my kids and had gotten many P.F.A.’s. at one point i even took my kids across the country to get us away from the hell that had become our lives. each time i was forced to realize that a protection from abuse order is nothing more than a piece of paper because my husband came after me promising that he was going to change, would go to anger management and marriage counseling and would convince the kids that i was crazy and to go back with him. of course marriage counseling would never work because he would never really take responsibility for his own actions and within a short amount of time everything would be right back to the way it was before i had left. in 2004 i had the most devastating loss of my life. my next to youngest child died from an asthma attack. since she had been with me at the time this happened and i wasn’t able to save her like i had been other times, my ex husband blamed me. everyday of my life after that, he made sure he let me know how i had failed her and that it was my fault our little girl was no longer with us. the mental and emotional abuse had become so much that i was contemplating suicide. it was my other 3 children that made me finally realize that i could survive on my own. after all, hadn’t i already been doing it for almost 20 years. their dad was seldom around for the things that were really important. anything that required taking some time such as paying bills, scheduling appointments or getting repairs done was all on me. this is why i never had any money. my pay check was always the first to be used for all of the bills. why had i believed that i would never be able to survive on my own, because that is what he wanted me to believe. i started my process of taking my life back. i have been divorced for 5 years now. i have a wonderful man in my life and no longer fell the dread of everyday like i did before. oh, there are still times that my ex husband tries to have control over my life either through child support payments or child visitation. the difference now is that i don’t give him that control.

    • Sunshine and Sippy Cups says

      Your story just made me cry!!! I am so heartbroken to hear that he would use the loss of your child as a way to beat you down – I can’t even begin to imagine how much that must have devastated you. But thank you SO much for sharing your story – every story that gets told has a chance to be read by that one person who needs to hear it. It was scary to write something pretty personal, but I figure that if one woman can read this, and find the courage and strength to leave her own bad situation, then it’s worth putting my heart out there.

      I am incredibly proud of you for getting out, for starting over, and for becoming strong enough to KEEP him out of your life. Huge *hugs* to you, and I wish you the brightest and happiest new year!

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. You truly are a brave woman! I am so happy that you have found such a wonderful man to share your life with.

  3. You are a Brave Woman and I am glad that you are finally in the good relationship that you deserve.

  4. I am so glad you were able to recognize the abuse before it had begun, however, I am saddened about what they have done to you!
    Sharing your story will help people see that it can happen to anyone/everyone and that they do have a choice to get out whether they do it quickly or slowly it’s a step in the right direction.
    It is hard for people on the outside looking in but I remember before my situation saying, ‘I would never stay with someone who ever laid a hand on me!’ I didn’t leave the first time because I excused it away but I couldn’t excuse away the second one!
    Thanks again for sharing:)

  5. First off, I am HONORED that my story inspired you to tell your own and I hope it was as cleansing for you as it was for me. But secondly, and way more importantly…YOU are so brave and eloquent, and a beautiful person INSIDE and out! I read each and every word of this post and was touched and inspired! But 2 things stand out to me. The first in your advice for friends section, “Don’t judge her. Don’t tell her how stupid she is to stay. He already tells her that she’s stupid.” So true and what a strong insight. I “disowned” so many family members and friends for this exact statement, and because of that, I stayed longer. And then in your new life section (and YAY you for having such a fabulous life now), you described my current relationship and my feelings but I had never thought it through like you did. “Why do you apologize so much, like everything in the world is your fault?” I realized, it was because for years, I had been told that everything that went wrong in the world WAS my fault.” You are such an amazing person and I feel so blessed that we are friends!

  6. I feel as if I could’ve wrote all this. At age 21, I have been a victim of domestic violence twice, with two different men. One was my daughter’s father. The other was my new boyfriend. I was in a 6 yr relationship with the first. and I always stayed just because I wanted to have a “Real” family for my daughter. After the last time, when I was left all bruised from my face and neck and had called the cops, that was it for me. It took 4 years of putting up with domestic violence, physical and emotional abuse, and an awful awful beating to finally get out of it. Well, once out of that relationship, I jumped into a new one with who happened to be my ex-husband’s cousin. Bad Bad choice for many reasons. but one being that they have similar traits, like anger, jealousy and drinking problems. Everything was smooth sailing until one day, drunk, he pulled me by the hair and dragged me across my bedroom and living room. I screamed and yelled for help and my neighbors called the cops for me. I felt bad for having the cops called but at the same time, I feared for my life at the moment. I was in such shock because I didn’t expect my new boyfriend to ever do such a hateful thing to me. But he did. Now both my ex husband and my ex-boyfriend are in Mexico. They were deported because they were in the country illegally. At times I feel that it’s my fault they’re over there, but then I take a step back and realize, they made the choice to physically attack me, they made the choice themselves and now they’re suffering the consequences.

    I’m in a new relationship with a guy that has NONE of the traits either of my past relationships had. Oddly enough, sometimes I fear that he’s going to raise his hand at me when I sense he’s upset. I’m 101% he never will… but that victim inside of me is still in there and sometimes i get scared.

  7. i just read ur post & thankx 4 sharing, im sure it was really hard 2 write. as women we at some time in our lives have all been there. i found it 2 be so touching & moved by the story that i tweeted & reposted it 2 other women 2 read, so maybe just 1 person will read it & see they are not at fault.

  8. Thank you so much, for your bravery, both in being a survivor, as well as for sharing your story! May your courage inspire others to join the Brave Woman ranks! My very best to you in the New Year!

  9. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m so glad you were able to break away from the cycle and find a better life.

  10. I can really relate with this. To this day, my husband still insists that I stop apologizing for things that aren’t my fault. Thamks for being brave and sharing your story!!

    • Sunshine and Sippy Cups says

      Thank you so much for the support :) I’ve been amazed at all the wonderful women who have given me encouragement!

      Make sure to tell your friends on Facebook about the Brave Woman foundation too – they need everyone’s support!

  11. Thank you for sharing such an emotional story. I know it must not have been easy to write but I hope in some way it was cathartic for you. Thank you for telling us how to approach friends are loved ones who may be suffering. It is so important for us to act in a way that will let them know that we care and that will will always be there when they are ready.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Visit Meagan at Sunshine and Sippy Cups to read about her experiences with domestic violence, what finally caused her to rid herself of these relationships, and how she’s doing now! […]

  2. […] of a hero from A little Bit of Life.  Kids are victims too from The Kids are Grown Now what?  Personal story from Sunshine and Sippy Cups Take the pledge and make a difference for these women and others […]

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