Marie Bartos Survivor Sister Story

Survivor Sister Rachel H breaks her silence about domestic violence


My dad wasn’t in my life most of the time. Either too busy with work or just couldn’t bother to come see me, so when my mom introduced me to her new boyfriend I was really excited to have a dad. I was 4 when they met. He was really nice in the beginning, bringing my mom roses and bringing me teddy bears whenever he would come over to visit.
Fast forward 3 years later, he moved in and my half sister was born. He changed after that. He made me practice in my notebook every day, writing my name over and over again. Hitting me when it was sloppy, hitting me when I misspelled something, hitting me because he was just drunk. He justified it saying that he just wanted me to have better handwriting. I was 7.
I was at school and my teacher handed out our essays we did a week before, I got a perfect 100%. I noticed my handwriting was sloppy. I knew if I showed him my essay i would’ve gotten in trouble. I cried to my teacher and after telling her what was wrong she called in my mom and him. When I came home I got beat again. I remember him and my mom telling me that, “whatever happens in this house, stays in this house.” If I were to tell anyone else, they were going to take me away to a different family. Since then I haven’t spoke out, but the abuse didn’t stop until I was 14.
I remember once when was done with my shower, I accidentally spilled a little bit of water outside the tub. I remember he dragged me by my hair across the hall and hit me until I couldn’t cry anymore. I couldn’t take it. He told me I was alone and no one wanted me. I tried to take my life at 14. I ended up getting hospitalized and my mom brought him to visit me everyday. He said he was sorry and that he would change so we could be a family again. He never did.
He said I never meant anything to him, he said I wasn’t his daughter and he couldn’t care less if something were to happen to me. His abuse was mentally, emotionally, verbally and physically. I told my school counselor, my therapist, and my teachers what was going on. But none of them did anything. I ended up leaving home at 17 because I knew I deserved better.
He’s still with my mom. Whenever I bring the abuse up, he denies it, and my mom says she’s tired of hearing it.

Notice: The names in this story are fictitious to protect the request for anonymity.

New Board Member: Sharai Johnson

By Olivia Pikul

Please join us in welcoming Sharai Johnson as a new Break The Silence Against Domestic Violence board member.

Sharai learned about BTSADV during her time as a member of Leadership Pikes Peak, a Women’s Community Leadership Initiative (WCLI) designed to help women unlock their full potential and make a difference in the world around them. During the program, Sharai chose BTSADV as her volunteer project. As she completed the program, she realized that she related to the mission of BTSADV and wanted to stay involved. She is now deeply involved as a board member.

Sharai chose to focus on Break The Silence Against Domestic Violence due to her personal experiences as a survivor of teen dating violence. Although her experiences were traumatic, she said that they helped shape her into the confident and able woman that she is today and gave her a much deeper love for herself.

“If I had any advice to teens going through similar situations [to what I went through], it would be to surround yourself with people that treat you well, and always love yourself first,” Sharai said. “If there’s anything I’ve learned in life, it’s to prioritize [your] mental and physical well-being. If I won’t do it, who else will? Focus on yourself and know your worth. You are worthy of [a] love that doesn’t hurt.”

We are fortunate to have such a strong, passionate woman on our team. Congratulations, Sharai, on your new position!

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.


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