Friday, March 4, 2016

My Cross: Surviving Domestic Violence

Lent is a time to better ourselves. To pray, fast and give alms in order to strengthen our connection to God. There are other times in each of our lives that truly tests who we are to the deepest levels.

I feel like it is time I share my story of trial.

I am a victim of domestic violence.

My two children are victims of domestic violence.

I was previously married to a man who began a relationship with me when I was very young and going through a hard time emotionally. I had just started college in a city far from my friends and family. I was also very naive. I always assumed you could tell who the bad guys and good guys were just by looking at them. I was wrong. I married this man not truly knowing who he was because he had lied to me about everything. I didn't even know his full real name. Stories about his childhood, going to college and achievements he made throughout his life were all lies.

At first everything seemed good. Then he started to remove me from my friends and kept me from my family. He didn't want me working much and slowly began to control all aspects of my life and our children's lives. As I slowly learned things about this man, I realized that he did not truly care for me. He considered me his property and he liked me as the young naive kid I was when he first met me. I began confronting him about some small lies that I uncovered by accident... like him not attending college or obtaining a degree and things began to unravel. I don't even know when things took that big turn but one day the screaming turned to pushing and punches holes in walls near me. Then that escalated to throwing furniture and food on me. I will never forget the day he dumped a container of yogurt on me and he scolded my oldest son for trying to help me. He said "Leave Mommy alone! She has a mess to clean up"... I was mortified.
One horrible night he began punching me.

One day I woke up and everything I thought I had was gone. I felt like I was stuck. I thought that because I had married him that I had to stay with him even though I was miserable. By the time I realized I married a man I barely knew he had already made it clear that he would do everything in his power to make stay. He had been unfaithful to me too. He had affairs and used pornography frequently. I knew I could not leave and provide for my children...He had all our money and I was scared. I was overwhelmed by my fear and felt so ashamed of the life I was living. I didn't even confide in my family.

God heard my prayers of despair and slowly started a fire within me to start the process to gather my strength. Believe me it is a process... and I am sad to say it took me longer than it should have to feel brave enough to leave. Something changed in me and I knew I had enough. I packed a bag for me and my children and things changed... I began sharing my story with my family and closest friends. Many were shocked... others felt like they had felt the uneasiness in the marriage but never thought abuse was the cause.

I wish I could say that this was the end of my experience but my fight had just begun. My ex-husband wanted to cause me pain no matter the cost and he made it clear he was willing to do whatever he could to "punish" me for leaving him. First, he shut off my power and water at my house and I had to bounce around from friends' and family's couches. Then the harassment started. He recruited his family, coworkers and his mistress in sending me nasty emails and Facebook messages. They didn't stop with me either, they contacted anyone they thought was helping me and did the same to them. When that didn't work I began to get suicide threats from him. He said he would kill himself if I didn't give him another chance. That jumped to death threats... That he would come and do things to me because I was an awful person and mother and deserved nothing better.

I can't begin to describe my pain and heartache at this time. I lived in a constant paranoia that my children and I were in terrible danger. I cried uncontrollable tears and thought I would die from the pain that was eating away at my soul.

What had I done to deserve this? My ex said I deserved it... he had convinced others to continue to torment me... maybe I did deserve it? Maybe I was an awful person who needed to be punished? I don't know... and I still don't. I think this will be a question that will never truly be answered.

What I do know is that this was my cross. I was meant to bear its weight. Even though I thought many times the heaviness of the situation would crush me, it NEVER did. God was with me throughout my journey and trust me when I say, he carried me quite often. There were times that I felt so close to God that I was numb to the pain, then there were times when the darkness of my situation consumed me and I felt so alone. This was my crossroads. I fought with my faith and myself...

This struggle lasted 4 years... I finally got my divorce and the courts ordered us to exchange the kids at a Police Station near our house for visitation. But I was still fighting for my kids! During our divorce, I had DCF involved several times. My children had shared things with them I never knew they saw or were forced to endure. I died inside. I only stayed because I thought my kids were safe and I was the only one suffering. I was wrong. I do not feel it is my place to share my children's crosses here because they were victims and I want that to be there decision to share but they were victims as much as I was.. if not, more.

The day finally came where my ex-husband decided his money was worth more to him than
the kids finally and he requested to terminate his rights because he no longer wished to pay child support (that he was extremely behind on) if I would forgive his debt to me. It was an easy choice to make. I forgave all debts and began the process of rebuilding our lives. No amount of money could be more important than my children.

Our 4 year fight for freedom and safety was finally complete.

I am sharing this because this is my true story of survival and I wanted anyone who is living in a similar situation that God does not want us to be in a relationship where we are abused. As hard as it is to gather your courage... you can do it! You can leave and survive! No one deserves to live their life in constant fear. Marriage is a Sacrament and must be treated with respect.

I am now remarried to an amazing man that has respect for the sanctity of marriage and our family. I never thought I would have the courage to do that. He fought with me in the trenches against the evil that threatened our children for the past 2 years. He adopted them when my ex-husband wanted to throw them to the side. I am happy and life feels like an endless possibility. I have learned how to forgive and I hope one day my ex-husband realizes the error of how he treated us one day but even if he doesn't, we have light hearts and hold no judgement. He is a man that obviously has several heavy crosses to bear himself and I am asking anyone who reads this to say a prayer for him as well.

Thank you for reading my families story and I hope that it touches someone or helps them make that leap of faith to make changes in their life to build a better one.

My family has a GoFundMe Account to help us pay for our attorney fees. They are over $9000. If you feel inclined I appreciate any prayers or small donations you can spare. I know some people don't like to send money via GoFundMe but you can send money via Paypal instead if you prefer.

Thank you and God Bless!

No comments:

Post a Comment