It takes a lot for a victim of domestic violence to speak about the horrible abuse that they went through. But, if and when they do feel comfortable enough to share their stories with us, it is extremely eye-opening. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which may bring back some unwanted memories for former victims. However, hearing stories of struggle and seeing how those who have been beaten, broken down and abused have risen up and become stronger people is inspiring. One brave woman* felt that it was time to share her past after years of not talking about it to most people. Here is her story.
*The victim’s name remains anonymous for her protection.
What a lot of people don’t know about me is that I was married before. I mean, other than my family and close friends that know me.
I had met this gentleman on a blind date. It ends up that another couple that was suppose to be on a double date with us canceled, so we were left alone and got to know each other.
We started off as good friends at first, for maybe a few months, but being the person I am, I am a hopeless romantic.
I was barely 21, finishing college and he was a few years older than me, about five or six years.
He was always there for me during a lot of hard times in my life. He took care of me. He created a safe place for us to be friends and we got engaged really quickly. I was a different person back then. After we got engaged, we waited two years to get married.
In the meantime, things got bad. He became addicted to drugs, and at this point we were already engaged and I didn’t no what to do. I sent him to rehab and therapy. Then my story takes a dark turn. But you know I was still getting help, too.
We got married and went on our honeymoon and everything was fine.
When we got back he was still having problems and I was traveling a lot – it seemed like he just stopped caring and he was putting me through emotional abuse.
It ended up turning physical. I found out that there was money missing, and he was back into his drug addiction as well.
The first time it happened, he slapped me and I was in shock, I had never been slapped before. I didn’t know what to do. I thought, “Maybe he was just really pissed off, this isn’t like him.”
His father abused his mom, physically and emotionally, so he grew up in a home [where] this kind of behavior was a normal occurrence.
Then the next time, he choked me. That was the night I called my parents. They didn’t really understand what was going on.
So I ended up leaving him and telling him that this was over.
I found out that his addiction was back and that he started using again. And when I confronted him, he ran away from me and didn’t want to talk.
So, I went back to therapy and I ended up seeing him shortly after. But, he just didn’t want to get a divorce and didn’t want to give me anything.
Our last time talking, we went a restaurant in Chicago and I told him how much he hurt me and I wanted to be separated.
We needed to move toward a divorce, and I started yelling because I was so upset. So he stood up and hit me, in the face, in front of everyone in the restaurant. I made the decision to call the police and told them what happened. When the police arrived, he ran away form them. But they ended up catching him and took him to jail.
I had to go to court and press charges against him, at the time we weren’t fully divorced. He wouldn’t divorce me so I couldn’t get new health insurance. During our marriage he never paid for anything for me – I was already financially independent.
It was crazy to get a divorce. My lawyer fees cost a minimum of $10,000 because [my ex-husband] didn’t want a divorce.
At the end, he was charged with assault and a year of probation. He also had to go to anger management classes.
Today, I still believe in love even though I haven’t found it yet. I was the type of person that wanted kids. But I know it wasn’t a good marriage.
I spoke to him after court and he was complaining about me putting him in jail. But why did I care? It was the weirdest conversation that we had.
The last time I saw him I had an order of protection against him. I didn’t want to see him anymore. I just wanted it to be over.
I didn’t admit I was being abused until I saw this sign in a hospital in a bathroom and then it clicked. I needed to talk about it. I lost a lot. It didn’t make sense because he was the one that was abusing. I could not stay married to this person.
My perspective on men hasn’t changed; I don’t think all men are evil or anything like that. You just never know how people can flip.
My advice is that some men think of women as objects and if they think of women like they have no feelings or emotions, then they won’t care how the treat a woman.
The number one thing is to get out of the relationship after the first time you get hit. It escalates pretty quickly. Just get out.
Resources for victims of domestic violence:
There are many stories like the one above, in which a woman decides that enough is enough. But, sometimes women who are victims of domestic violence don’t know when or how to get out.
WINGS is one of the largest not-for-profit organizations in the Chicago area that is dedicated to ending domestic violence. WINGS now owns and operates an emergency domestic violence safe house in the northwest suburbs, as well as 30 homes and apartments, primarily in the northwest suburbs.
“The most damaging thing to these women is the finical issue that they go through. The abuser holds all the money from them,” says Rebecca Darr, CEO of WINGS. “We are very blessed to be in a community with so many donations that drive WINGS, giving victims a new live from the ground up.”
On Oct. 17, WINGS is hosting the Purple Tie Ball to raise awareness about domestic violence.
Plus, A Safe Place provides housing and counseling for survivors of domestic violence at no charge.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please do not hesitate to call the Domestic Violence Hotline: 877-863-6338.