I never thought that I would be in an abusive relationship.
I told myself over and over that I would never stay with a man that hurt me. But, in fact I was a very typical victim because of my age I was 18, and in the United States, women ages 16 to 24 are three times as likely to be a domestic violence victim as women of other ages, and over 500 women and girls this age are killed every year by abusive Partners, boyfriends, and husbands in the United States. Over 85% of abusers are men and domestic abuse happens only in Intimate, interdependent, long-term relationships; in other words families the last place we will want or expect to find violence which is one of the reasons why domestic violence can be so confusing. I was also a typical domestic violence Victim because I didn’t know the warning signs or the stages of domestic violence.
The first stage in any domestic violence relationship is to seduce and charmed the victim. The second step is to isolate the victim. The third, introduced the threat of violence and see how they reacts. I never thought of myself as a battered girlfriend until after. Instead I was a very strong woman in love with a very deeply troubled man and I was the only person who could help him be better.
Why didn’t you just leave? To me this is the saddest and most painful question that people ask because we the victims know something others usually don’t; it is incredibly dangerous to leave an abuser. The final step in the domestic violence pattern is kill to her. Over 70% of domestic violence murders happen after the victim has ended the relationship, after she is gotten out. Because then the abuser has nothing left to lose. Other outcomes include long-term stalking, even after the abuser has remarried.
So to understand everything I have to start at the Tipping Point which is surprising because there are so many. It starts off that we are at the brick getting food; at the time we were homeless living out of his car and a tent during very bad summer storms and floods. I had the option of living with my grandparents but Vance and our dog weren’t welcome so at the time I didn’t want to lose him and couldn’t think of any other way but to just stay with him.
I’m inside the brick getting our boxes of food when he comes in with an officer behind him, he hands me his phone and his car keys; he’s being arrested for unpaid fines. I didn’t know what to do; I had no idea. I’ve never been in a situation like this. I had a dog in a hot car, a box full of food, and I needed to be at a job interview. I drove over to one of our old roommates house where he had said he would watch the dog and I could store the food and sleep until I figured out what was going on.
Two three days went by with little to no word from him or his mom but plenty from his friend. I didn’t know what to believe at that point. Was he actually really back on drugs? He knew how I felt about things like that; it would explain a lot though was he really lying to me again? At that time with so much on my mind and a broken heart I decided I couldn’t do this no more I was done with him.
Later on the next day I got a call from him saying that he was out and how much he missed me and that we needed to be picked up from the jail. I was on my way to work so I turned around and headed towards the jail to find him standing smiling on the sidewalk. He got into the car and his first question was as I started to drive towards work I was already late. “Where have I’ve been staying?” When I told him that I was staying at his friends house he snapped from Jekyll and Hyde. Slamming his fists into the dash and the window yelling as loud as he could. I thought he was going to hit me,I didn’t what to do. I slammed the car in the park and it immediately turn the car off throwing the keys into the passenger side floor. He’s already slamming his door closed and heading to my side when I got to the back door and started throwing my work bag amd my other duffle bag across the parking lot along with my shoes. I knew if hr drove off I might not get my stuff back and that was all I had other than one more bag of clothes at his friends. He grabbed me hard yelling in my face “Where’s my dog?” “Where are my clothes?” He tried to rip my phone from my hands but I managed to get it back, then he shoved me to the ground. By this time he caught the attention of a woman exiting her car and one of my co-workers who starting to walk over. He got in his car and floored it in reverse. I could see in his eyes when you put it in drive that he was going to hit me. I jump backwards just in time as he hit and ran over the Walgreens bag I had dropped in the fight.
As my co-workers help me inside I called his friend and told him not to give him my clothes. He could have his dog, his clothes, his car, that I was just done with him. Later that night he showed back up at my work to profess his love and asked me to marry him when I told him he needed to leave he tried to jump over the counter. One of my co-workers had to tell him to leave otherwise he was going to call the cops. The next morning he broke into his friends house by pushing the AC out and standing on a chair climbing through the window and knocking over a TV. I left it up to his friend on whether or not he was going to press charges, he did end up calling the cops. We give our statements after that I packed up my things I knew I wasn’t safe there.
After that, I got a restraining order with help from the women shelter but like he told me even before he laid a hand on me it was only a piece of paper. He proved that by approached multiple times after that telling me I had nothing to be afraid of that he “,just wanted to be my friend,” or when he saw me walking he asked if I wanted a ride each time I told him know that if he didn’t leave at call the cops. It was about 2 months after this when I unblocked him for some reason and sent him a message. I don’t know what made me think that he would have changed. But he invited me over to see his house that he was renting that had plenty of room for a family. He told me that the dog miss me too. All those things, it just sucked me right back in. From then on it was his goal two break me and isolate me from my friends and family. Don’t get me wrong the first month I was back it was great we made that house our home, we went out and did fun things but as time got closer to his court date things began getting worse. He would destroy one room at a time throwing me through and against furniture, trying to burn my clothes in the closet; but still I stayed I didn’t ask for help. I was literally brainwashed. I hope that I could help change him or he would stop because he really did love me but instead the punches kept coming. It didn’t matter when I got home from work and was exhausted he said,” you’re mine I do what I want at things that are mine”, as he held me down and forced himself on me. The following days consisted of him saying that he was going to leave and “go end it all”. He always came back though.
Now it’s October 17th …..
I still remember it like it was yesterday and probably always will. I’m in a sports bra, teal T-shirt, blue basketball shorts and fuzzy slipper socks. I was in bed that morning from just getting home from work. He had left to go cut wood with his friend. I was awoken by very loud frantic bangs on the front door as soon as I open the door he pinned me against the porch wall. Something is pressed to my neck he was screaming spit flying in rage “What did you do? Tell me what you did? I Know What You Did!” Over and over. By this time my chest is starting to get wet and I’m screaming that I had no idea what he was talking about. He grabbed me by my hair dragging me into the living room; that looked like nothing had happened the night before. I always cleaned up and tried to fix what I could but this was different there was something in his eyes. He pushed me into the chair and told me to shut my mouth. I remember touching my neck and feeling something warm and sticky on my hand blood. How bad is it? What am I going to do? I tried to get up to get something to stop the bleeding but he he grabs me and throws me through a glass top coffee table, he picks me up by the collar of my shirt and this time through the matching glass top end table.
Now I’m lying on the floor there’s glass all around us he grabs a big shard of the broken table. I immediately grabbed his hand knowing his intentions. That’s when it really hit me. He was going to kill me and I needed to fight or I was going to die. After finally knocking the piece of glass away from his grasp, I couldn’t believe it, like a rabid dog he latched on my lower jaw biting down so hard I thought he was going to tear flesh. He stood up over top of me with this Twisted look on his face and with his new boots I got him he began to stomp and stomp on my chest. Then he said, “I’m sure glad these are waterproof because well what is whatever percent water,” and then Wham the boot with what felt like the force of a train behind it hit me right in the face. “Now maybe that’ll keep you down,” he said as he walked over to the chair and sat down. What felt like hours was possibly 20-30 minutes long I don’t know all concept of time was gone at that point. I could feel in each and every piece of glass that was underneath me but I didn’t dare to move. Then the friend he was with earlier that day came through the door he saw what was going on the blood, the glass, the destruction. He tried to talk to him saying things like “,it will work out that there were other ways”. But even a childhood friend, a man like a brother to him was not getting through to this man I no longer even recognized. He got back on top of me grabbing me by the collar of my shirt slamming me against the floor into the piece of glass even more. In a collision of bodies his friend was on top of him yelling “,you have to stop let’s talk,” Vance’s reply was this “none of you are leaving today I’ll make sure of that,” in that moment I didn’t know where the strength came from I couldn’t see the whites of either of their eyes. I ran through the dining room, into the kitchen, to the back door. It’s locked! My hands felt like spaghetti and all I could think of was he was right behind me. I finally got it and started running I didn’t even stop to open the screen door. I just had to keep going one more block no… that’s not far enough two blocks. I’ve got to hide! I ran up the alley to the second house, the odds of picking this house.
The back door was unlocked I ran in so fast and duct below the window as I slammed it shut. I started clenching my neck from behind I heard a women’s voice, “What are you doing in my house get out!” I turned to see this woman and the color fade from her face. She puts her arms around me guiding me to the kitchen. “Who did this to you?” As I caught my breath I explained that my boyfriend had just attacked me but he tried to kill me. They insisted on bringing me to the ER right away I pleaded with them a few more minutes. She took me into the bathroom to clean up my face and assess the situation.
In that moment, looking in the mirror I didn’t even recognize the person looking back. My hair was in gobs mangled from the sticky blood, my shirt was torn down the middle almost in half and covered in blood, on my face a dark purple bruise was already forming where he bit me, my eyes are black and blue and a nearly perfect boot print covered the side of my face. My lips are split and then I really saw it. It was like a Nike Swoosh across my neck still bleeding we held the damp paper towel to it before I finally let them drive me to the ER. Still in my fuzzy slipper socks and blue shorts I walked into the ER. From there I went to a safe house for the night with 12 stitches in my neck ….2 more centimeters is what I was told just two more .. He was taken into custody by law enforcement the same day. Initially charged with attempted first-degree homicide, use of a dangerous weapon, domestic abuse, false imprisonment, Mayhem, strangulation and Suffocation, and bail jumping. He was found guilty of attempted first-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon, and domestic abuse. It took a year for the finally go to court. A year since I’ve seen the man I thought cared about me but then tried to take my life. Most of the things said in court are mostly just a blur now. He made me feel pathetic scum-of-the-earth, he stripped Away my self-worth layer by layer until there was nothing left of the person I used to be. I felt the weight of the world was bearing down on me and suffocated me to the point that I’d disappear and no one would even know that I was gone or that I was to blame for what was happening to me. But I realized you must not hate people who have done wrong to us for as soon as we begin to hate them we become just like them; pathetic, bitter, and untrue. Most people know me as the girl who got her throat slit; concerned with why I stayed in abusive relationship, rather than all the terrible things that happened.
Now I am focused on my family and my finance who is the sweetest man I’ve ever meet. Abuse only thrives in silence so I change you and others around you to be silent no more talk to your significant other, family members coworkers, children, even strangers about the effects of domestic violence. If you hear someone even joking about domestic violence speak up tell them that that’s not okay and if they want a joke about that they should do it somewhere else. Together we can do something.
**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org, chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777, or send a private message through our Facebook page.
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