It’s taken me many years to get comfortable enough to say this to people or talk about it at all: I am a domestic violence survivor. I say survivor because I didn’t just get beaten. My ex-husband tried to kill me twice (which he denies of course). He almost killed another women, years after I had left him, by beating her in the face with a brick; over $50.00. I was once told be prepared to have a bag ready and to leave on a moments notice. This came from a therapist after we attempted couple’s counseling. Silly me, still thought it was my fault back then.
I finally realized I needed more help than I could work through on my own. I wasn’t sure it was going to work, but I was able to receive group counseling through a program called STAND! A domestic violence prevention program. I didn’t participate a lot in the group, but it helped knowing I wasn’t alone. There were times I felt I had no business being there when I heard some of the stories that were worse than mine; a lot worse.
One night, we were given this poem by Portia Nelson. I held onto it for years. I needed to keep reading it to remind myself to stop the bad behavior and stop making poor choices. I’ve made some horrible choices because of being a battered wife. I regret many of them to this day. They were my choices and I didn’t do what I should have done.
“I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost…I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place. But, it isn’t my fault. It still takes me a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it there. I still fall in. It’s a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
I walk down another street.”
I am at the stage where I am walking down another street. It has taken me over a decade to reach this stage. I know I still have long way to go. It’s hard to admit, I only have sporadic memories of my first marriage. Sadly, I can hardly remember any good memories that took place as they are gone with the bad memories. Years of my life have been erased from my mind. I do have a Battered Women’s Syndrome diagnosis. My ex will always be a mortal threat, no matter how strong I get in my recovery. I do my best not to let him know that, because then he wins and I will not give him back that power. Sadly, I still have to deal with him on certain levels; just not face to face.
I have gotten stronger. I take accountability for my actions and I expect others to do the same. I feel it’s important to speak out as I now have a voice where many women still do not. Silence is the iron fist of domestic violence. Strength in voices are its enemy. It’s time to be heard.