To the woman who feels alone,
My name is Grace, and I am a survivor of domestic abuse. We have never met, and we probably never will meet. You may not have had the same experiences that I have, but I guarantee I know the fear, anxiety, struggle, and hopelessness that make you feel as if there is no way out of an abusive situation. Regardless of the type; whether the abuse be mental, physical, emotional, or a combination of each; you are not alone. I feel like it’s important to tell you that.
I felt very alone and stuck when I was in an abusive relationship; like no one could understand what I was going through, and because of that fact, I didn’t talk about what was going on. I watched and lived as a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship teetered on the edge of physical abuse. I didn’t think anyone would understand how I felt or empathize with the situation I was in. I thought it was my fault that things were at the point they were at. That it was my fault my relationship was out of control, dysfunctional, chaotic, and abusive.
About a year ago, I finally got the courage to go to Safe Harbor and file an Order of Protection against my live-in boyfriend. Our relationship had gotten to the point where he would threaten to veer our car into oncoming traffic and body-check me around our apartment when he was angry. Things had escalated from yelling, the silent treatment, breaking objects, and threatening me to more extreme levels of aggression. He was using drugs more and more frequently, and I made excuses for his actions surrounding drug activity. I had even convinced myself that it was my fault he was using, and that his abusive behavior was drug-related and not due to his need to control me.
Going to Safe Harbor helped me realize that the drugs were not causing the abuse, but rather compounding it. Safe Harbor also helped me realize and rationalize his actions as his actions, not mine. I had been verbally and emotionally beaten down for such a long time that I believed I was the root problem and cause of his unhealthy decisions. I now know that is not the case and never was.
Safe Harbor provided me with the resources to get an Order of Protection, which was the safety and action I needed in order to ensure that my boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend) had to leave our apartment and could not contact me in any way. Safe Harbor also connected me with a counselor, who helped me work through my relationship and past relationships that had led me to have such low self-esteem and belief in myself.
Over the past year I have had to change my way of thinking and rebuild my self-esteem to believe that I am someone who deserves loving communication, security, and stability. There have been nights when I wake up in sweat, fearful of seeing my ex-boyfriend’s face in public, or showing up at my door. I have fought the urge to react to triggers that remind me of certain situations related to the abuse I endured. It’s hard. Some days I forget that I’m a victim of domestic abuse, and other days I feel trapped within that label and stigma.
What I want you to know moving forward is that the path to deserving better and receiving better is hard, but it is worth it.
The struggles that you are going through now make you a stronger person than you were the day before. You are not weak for being in an abusive relationship. You are not weak for asking for help. You are strong, brave, and resilient for making it through a terrifyingly difficult situation, and taking steps to better your life and the lives of those around you.
Whenever you feel alone in your struggle, remember that you have a whole army of women behind you that have experienced what you are going through, even if not in the same way. You have a community supporting and uplifting you; whether they have met you or not. I am one of those women in your community of support, and I hope that my story and my words have helped you find whatever it is you are looking for in order to find safety, security, and tranquility in your life.