So many people, even my therapist, are completely surprised, sometimes even shocked, at how a person can endure so much repeat, systemic trauma and still be a force for good, a positive individual. Repeat violence and abuse for over 30 years. Some will say it is nearly impossible. I have so many stories to tell and don ‘t even know where to start. I have suffered enduring mental/emotional abuse, broken bones, black eyes, poverty, bullying, sexual abuse, attempted sexual assault, almost everything under the sun. It was a very long ride but I managed to pull myself together, even after two traumatic brain injuries and living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). And honestly, I don’t know how I did it, I truly don’t. I focused on my children and helping other.
Getting an education really helped me to pull it together. While earning my psychology degree at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and basically earning a minor in criminal justice, I learned about myself and how to stand up for myself. I learned I truly wasn’t stupid like I was told over, and over again. I actually found my niche, something I was good at, psychology. I developed the will power to leave. I learned about domestic violence and victim prevention. I slowly started to regain my self esteem. I had my teeth fixed, I started feeling not just beautiful again, but amazing. Like I had a purpose in life. When you have a purpose, you have LIFE. You become a force for good. I became fierce, driven, ambitious, determined. I was going to make something of myself, not just for me but for my children. I gained a knowledge like no other. In that knowledge was POWER. I now had money, enough money to pay my own bills, all while my abuser lived with ME. Everything I was gaining in the process was MINE and NO ONE could take it from me. I could pay everything MYSELF. I didn’t money from abuser and his mother any longer.
How did I get out after 15 years? For me it was a matter of time and gaining strength, finding my voice to say ENOUGH. Even though my abuser wasn’t drinking and was sober a few months, I couldn’t take the tension, worry, and PTSD fear anymore. Every damn day I was worried, terrified, that today is the day. After 8 years of physical abuse absence, today was going to be it, the day I get another brain injury, today is the day I have another black eye, today is the day DCF (Department of Children and Families) takes my kids away, today is the day I could die. Well, I woke up and finally said TODAY IS NOT THE DAY!! After waking up, I walked downstairs, where my abuser was sitting on the back porch smoking a cigarette, and I said to him, as matter of fact, point blank, as rude as I could be, “PACK YOUR SHIT AND GET THE FUCK OUT.” He was befuddled, the look on his face I will never forget, it was almost one of fear. I told him everything in this home is mine, pack your clothes and get the fuck out. He tried to buck it at first but I told him I had enough. Just pack up and leave. I was completely shocked that he did just that. Packed all of his shit and left. I avoided him while he did. He called his mother to come get him. Of course he would call his mother because she did EVERYTHING for him and still does. Since he left that day I have NEVER looked back. I looked out the upstairs window once, just to make sure he was gone.
I was FREE, i was fucking finally free! Free to be myself, free to do what I want, go where I want, see who I want, free to complete my education. and the best part of all, I slowly became FREE OF FEAR! Free is such a powerful word that so many take for granted. I started finding myself again. At the time I left my abuser I was age 37. I had been with that man literally half of my life. Half my life in an abusive relationship. So my advice, please do not be like me. Get out, there is help.
So now when people ask how I left, I say Hell was full so I just came back. There was no more room in Hell for me. Hell doesn’t want someone with attitude, drive, ambition, determination, so, the devil gave me back. My Hell was over and a new chapter has begun…