I NEVER SAW MYSELF AS A VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
I never saw myself as a victim of domestic violence. When I was asked to do a talk about violence against humans and it was geared towards domestic violence, I thought back on my story and realized that yes, I was in a violent relationship. I suppose a small part of me felt like I deserved it because I stayed. I stayed for years, not knowing that I deserved better, that there was someone out there that would love and cherish me, as I deserved.
Looking back on the scariest and most vile moments of this toxic relationship, I remember one instance in particular that shook me to the core. I was eighteen, eight months pregnant, and trying to stand up to him. We hadn’t spoken in a week leading up to the blow-out, I knew he had been using drugs, and I was trying to pull back as a way to motivate him to get help.
I was sitting outside on my parent’s front porch, watching my dog Fitzroy enjoying the grass beneath his body as he rolled around. There was a huge tree on the lawn with branches that extended in all directions creating an umbrella from the sun. I was contemplating life, I had hard choices to make, as I was getting ready to move out on my own and birth my first child at such a young age.
The peaceful atmosphere was disturbed when I heard a loud exhaust that I recognized very well approaching. A few moments later I saw his car speed by. He drove a red Honda civic, souped-up, loud and obnoxious; perfectly matching the personality of the owner. It was no coincidence that he passed by; I knew he was scouting out my house. A few minutes later, he came blazing down the street again and pulled into my driveway, as I expected he would.
“Come on, get in. Let’s go for a drive and talk,” he commanded, after he stood up out of the car. He was tall, 6’4”. I’m very petite, only 5’3”, and so he would tower over me. I missed his company; maybe he was ready to change. I did hope so, and that led me to open the passenger door and get inside. I’m not sure if he intended to come over so that he could terrorize me, but it wasn’t long before he started to get completely out of control.
I was telling him that we would be unable to move in together if he didn’t get off of the drugs. I wanted a fresh start with this baby, and I had expectations for him to follow. This sent him over the top. There was nothing he despised more than being told what to do. He started driving chaotically through my little neighbourhood. Up onto curbs, threatening to drive into lampposts and mailboxes. He was speeding around completely reckless, his eyes were wild, his words were mean and pointed.
I screamed for him to stop, begged for him to let me out. Terror coursed through my body, and finally he did pull over. I sat in shock, staring out the passenger side window, unsure of what to do. “I can’t do this anymore, why are you doing this? Things could be so good.” I felt completely drained. When I looked back at him, he was lighting up a hit of crack on a pop can.
As he sucked in the heavy smoke I opened the car door to try and make my escape.
Suddenly the car lurched forward as he put his foot on the gas. I closed the door and silently prayed that he would return me home. After a few more wild and reckless rounds through the neighbourhood, more demeaning words hurtled towards me; he finally pulled into my parent’s driveway. I opened the door and popped out as quickly as I could. He sped off instantly; leaving behind the sounds of tires screeching, exhaust bellowing, and my heart breaking.
My self worth was so low. I honestly felt that I would never do better. This is where the abuser is able to pin you down. Their constant words meant to belittle, ones that affirm your own thoughts about yourself. Thoughts like, I’m not good enough, no one will ever want to spend their life with me, I’m stupid, I can’t leave because I have nowhere to go.
The truth is that we have a way out. The out comes from within. We have to believe in ourselves and I know that it is not easy after years of trauma and abuse. Not easy, but possible. I am living proof that a life beyond your wildest dreams is out there waiting for you. For me, it began with self-love and compassion. We will not find it outside of ourselves, until we find it within.