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Kristina Laine

male domestic abuse survivor

Kristina Laine

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He would tell me that my parents don’t love me, friends don’t love me that he was just trying to help me and that it was my fault

My name is Kristina Laine, and this is my story.

I met a man in 2014, who pretended I be the night in shining armor that I needed. I was obvious to what was happening around me and this is my story of surviving.

People often think that abuse only comes in one form. That you have to be hit to suffer at the hands of someone. You don’t see it coming, you make a story in your head that it’s you and they are right. You start to believe that something is wrong with you.

When I met Andy, I had just had an abortion, my sons father moved out of our apartment, and he moved in on me. At first, he was a friend that I thought I so desperately needed. He would help me through my sons leaving, would help me clean up the house and help me take care of my other two children. At the time I didn’t know he had charges, or that he had one child he has never seen and only had known of one who lived with him. He seemed like the type of person anyone would want. There were red flags that I left unnoticed or figured if I just loved him enough maybe he would stop stealing and he’s just going through a hard time.

The first time I ever noticed anything was a few months after 4th of July in 2014. A fight broke out, his rage had boiled to the point of him calling me a cunt and a bitch and he would storm off and go back downstairs to blow up my phone telling me how terrible I am and made me believe it was all my fault. Would promise to change and while it would last for a short period of time it never fully changed.

I started notice odd behaviors, he would grab a cane and pretend he couldn’t walk and go downstairs to his mom’s house and get pain pills and opioid’s, she would give him some of hers and then miraculously he could walk again. I would make excuses in my head despite my mother telling me something is wrong.

During this time, he would tell me that my parents don’t love me, friends don’t love me that he was just trying to help me and that it was my fault. I know now looking back it was not my fault, but I was young and naïve, and I didn’t realize that people were capable of this kind of thing. I never saw it coming.

In between that point and up until November of 2014, Andrew had started multiple fights and would just snap for no reason, and it would be become well you’re a bitch and a cunt and was always my fault. He would twist and turn until the facts no longer remained and it became about how I did it. While I knew in the back of my head something was wrong, I just allowed it. I figured if I didn’t upset him, it would stop, and it never did. This fight was different, I had put my two-year-old into his crib and Andrews older son was in the living room and that’s when it happened. In one moment, Andrew decided he was going to start taking a ton of sleeping pills and was saying this is your fault and you made me do this. I struggled to cover his mouth with a bottle, but he shoved me to the ground and continued to take them. At that time, I told his older son to go downstairs and get Andrew’s mother. Both Andres mom and stepfather brought him back to life and the first thing his mom said to me is why did you let him take pills? Why didn’t you stop him. As Andrew was taken away and put on a 5150, I was called multiple times in jail telling me how it was my fault he was in jail, how could I do this to him. I started thinking it was my fault so I did everything I could to get him out of jail and out of the hospital and stood by his side while he had this horrible ideal that I had caused.

After his first suicide attempt, we were evicted from our apartment and had to move to another apartment. This point he was on multiple different medications prescribed from the doctor, most of which were opioid’s and on top of that his mother would give him his prescription pills. The cops were constantly at our house, either for contempt of court for nonpayment or because he overdosed again, or because the neighbors called the cops. One day he took an extreme number of pills, was pacing our apartment in front of my daughter who was 7, son who was 3 and his older son who was 13. He began to hold a knife at his throat and proceed to tell me he will do it if I want. We sat on the couch in complete silence and had no idea what to do. I couldn’t call the cops because if he found out all hell would break loose, and his older son was in the bedroom, and I didn’t know how to get him out safe. Previously in over 6 different occurrences before this one we would lock ourselves in the bathroom to hide from him. He would break down the door, while me and my two-year-old were curdled up scared and frightened. When he put the knife down, he then proceeded to throw are large wooden coffee table up against the wall and I had to shield my two-year-old and was hit with the coffee table. He would start mumbling around the house and looking for a nonexistent key to a motorcycle he never owned. He finally proceeded into the laundry room, and I lied and said I was taking our dog for a walk. I called the cops, and they came, and he was once again put on a 5150.

At this time, I couldn’t leave because I was pregnant and he would stalk, harass, apologize every time and at this point I was convinced that it was my fault, and I became a shell of a person. I made the decision to protect my daughter and she went to stay with my father and stepmother.

I could never get out what I was going through. I could call my mom and try and explain but at the time I truly believed it was me. He had me convinced I was bipolar and if I didn’t do this or that then he wouldn’t act that way towards me.

While I was pregnant, he was arrested because was sleeping in the desert and attempted to fight himself and almost got hit by a car. He wasn’t staying with us but would randomly show up and pound on the door in the middle of the night. He would leave gifts and would stalk me for days until I would let him back.

No one ever heard the silent screams of his screaming in my face for hours calling me names, punching the wall next to my face, breaking down doors to get to where we are and spinning it to whoever would hear it. He broke down doors because I was supposedly trying to kill myself, he was yelling at me because I wouldn’t listen, and it was my fault for making him angry. At some point you take it because you have little ones and if you fight back, he gets worse and starts breaking things and my greatest fear would be he would move from me to my kids, and I was stuck. I was stuck in this cycle of abuse for too long believing it was my fault, believing if I just would listen better, behave better that he would stop, and it never did.

I allowed him back in again and multiple times he would hold a knife to his throat, it was always threating to kill himself if I leave, if I don’t listen, if I just did what he asked so I always did.

Multiple times up until this point he would OD in public and have seizures and I lost count how many times paramedics came. I lost count how many times the police would show up. There is a sense of shame I carry now for allowing what he did to us to my kids. I am an adult, but it was my fault I allowed this man to be in my kid’s life.

The same night following with the knife the cops did come and put him on another 5150.

We once gain was evicted and had to move into a weekly because he would spend our money on getting pills on the street when his mother wouldn’t provide them for him. I was pregnant and trusting a man to take care of me and instead was living in filth.

A few months passed and my wonderful mother and parents helped us get a house. I was pregnant so my mom went on the lease to get me and the kids a house. Multiple times Andrew wouldn’t work, get fired and stumble around our house high and crashing into walls. This time he pooped in the kid’s playroom, and I had it. I told him he had to leave, he had to move out that me and the kids did not want to be around him. He was stumbled around the house calling me names. My son who was 2 at the time started crying and freaking out Andrew was in the dining room and my sweet little two-year-old got angry he was screaming and threw his juice at him. Andrew smacked my two-year-old, so I then told him to get out that I was calling the police. Later I realized it was a mistake. He started slamming doors, kicking the wall and throwing things. I picked up my son and we went with the baby who was now born and hid in my daughter’s bedroom. We put her dresser in front of the door, and I was in shock that I didn’t call the cops and thought he would just leave, he didn’t. He instead stood quiet and opened the garage to make me think he was gone so I opened the door. I will never forget the evil he had in his eyes and the hatred as he stood there screaming in my face calling me names and cornering me into the wall. I slapped him to get away from me and he took off.

All day goes by, and he wasn’t anywhere to be found and then there was a knock at my door. I held the lock so he couldn’t get in and he started pounding on the door. I called the cops; he called the cops. What happened next, I feel I was robbed by the justice system. I told the truth even have police reports and show them the history. He told them I had postpartum depression, and I was going to hurt the children. I was going to hurt the children. Me? I have never even smacked my children, never once did anything but the cops believed and found me to be the violent one even with holes in the door, where we barricaded ourselves to hide from him, multiple reports prior and I was taken to jail and was at that point I lost hope that anyone would believe me.

After me being arrested I was done. He would use the police on 2 different occasions to gain access to the house, come in the middle of the night banging on the door. I lived in utter fear and there was nothing I could do. The cops let him in and by law since was on the lease I was told by an officer that what I am doing is wrong and I have to let him in. Me and my mom contacted the rental property management and had him evicted.

For months he would continue to show up and at this point I didn’t trust the police. He would play the victim and every time they would believe him, feel sorry for him so I stopped even bothering with the help of Henderson police department. I had given up that anyone would help me. I couldn’t trust anyone, and I hated myself and the whole world.

My parents helped me move to a new apartment across town. I figured I would give him a chance thinking he was a terrible husband but maybe he could be a better father to Wyatt. On Wyatts 1st birthday he showed up high to our house and was slamming doors and acting violent till a neighbor told him he was going to call the cops and he left.

From the time Wyatt from a few months old till about 3 Andrew would come over once in a while and every time would start a fight and create chaos in our home. I always made the mistake of telling him where we moved to, and we kept moving and then my mistake would tell him again. I was lying to my parents about him coming around, myself and I was completely stuck. The final straw for me was in 2017 when someone broke into our house. I still to this day do not know if it was him but police were called, and someone walked into our downstairs only to get attacked by our dog. Wyatt was little at the time and just said a man was there. Our screens have been tampered with and to this day I still fear he will try to come into the house.

In 2017 Andrew blew up in front of Wyatt who was 2 at the time over bell peppers. I will never forget Wyatts face crying on our stairs saying daddy gone. I made the decision to run, that if I didn’t, I would end up dead. This was the fear I lived in, taping the doors at night, putting chairs up against my door, all of us sleeping in my bedroom because I was afraid for my life and my kid’s life. We packed up and moved to CA and finally free I started rebuilding my life.

I can never explain how it feels too not be afraid anymore. I knew he wouldn’t find us because he didn’t know where my mom lived in Simi Valley. Previously Andrew had never even supported Wyatt so I knew he wouldn’t fight for him because his obsession was with me.

For 4 years we rebuilt our lives, I started healing going to counseling and finding out from a therapist the extend of abuse that I suffered and how it emotionally damaged me.

In 2020, Andrew stated he was clean and wanted a chance to be a father. Both his mother Janet and he had seemed to turn a new leaf and were on the outside looking like they finally got off of drugs. It started with small visits, where he would get the day with Wyatt. I would get text messages telling me I need to make Wyatt eat foods at their house, he would hold Wyatt hostage till I would beg and plead and apologize for things I didn’t do just to be able to get my son back. See apparently whoever has the child doesn’t have to return them and he used that every chance he could. I thought by law I had to allow him visitation or I would get in trouble so I would apologize, beg and tell him anything I wanted him to hear just to get my son back. I would get him back and flow him. Later I found out his obsession would turn into hate because I kept Wyatt away. For a while he would see Wyatt here and there never driving to see him, we would drive to see my dad and would take Wyatt to him. Everyone around me always made me believe that he’s his father he will be ok, but something always told me something isn’t right. Wyatt would always come back angry, say terrible things about me. This isn’t Wyatts character to act this way, he is sweet, smart, kind and a loving, outgoing child. He could come back telling stories of how daddy lost him in the forest or told him he was a little bitch at 4 or would scream at him at a water park because he was too scared to go down the slide. I of course told it was lies and Wyatt was lying and making up stories, but Wyatt wasn’t known for lying.

One day after covid me and my boyfriend at the time had to move for work temporary in AZ, we couldn’t afford CA and so I had asked Andy to keep Wyatt for a few weeks while we were moving because he was 4 and I didn’t want him living in a weekly. He would stop letting me call, avoid my phone calls, accuse me of abandoning Wyatt and even going as far as to tell Wyatt that I didn’t want him when that wasn’t Tue. When I would visit his friends would come out and harass me telling me I need to buy things for my son and accused me of abandoning my child because it was the narrative, he told everyone to make himself the hero. We immediately devised a plan to go get Wyatt and make a plan to get back to CA, so we did. At the time he had warrants so threating to call the cops ensured I would be able to get Wyatt back. We moved back to CA and Wyatt started Kindergarten and life returned to normal and we had peace in our lives. Andy barely called and when he did, he was cordial and seemed ok. What I know now is frightening to how far his obsession was and I feel he was playing a part to get on my good graces. He mostly would call to talk to me, be nosey about my relationship and barely asked about Wyatt but I didn’t see it because I am friends with my other kids’ dads and can talk about anything, so I never really saw he was obsessed with me or was still in love with me. He would try and be a friend to get information to use on me later. He would then start telling my current fiancé which at the time was my boyfriend, that I could cheat on him, that I was bipolar, and he was with me when I was diagnosed and all false allegations and never been diagnosed. This wasn’t the last time he would try and convince people in my life that something was wrong with me and he’s an amazing dad. My boyfriend actually started thinking I was in fact keeping a child away from this amazing father, which now he’s sees otherwise but that is how convincing he is. Even though I was living with this man he was starting to believe the narcissist.

Multiple times from that point to current status Andy played the poor father whose ex stole his child from him. Yet never once has supported Wyatt or even helped, despite being asked, would have an excuse as to why not to help. In 2022 we got engaged were moving back to Nevada and I thought it was all behind us. I let Wyatt come out here early to spend time with his papa and Dad and in this time, Andy used it to tell my parents he should have custody of Wyatt and for my parents to see I am a bad mother, and he should have custody. My parents knew that wasn’t true, but it didn’t stop him and his mother from calling to trying to be best friends with my stepmom to try and turn my own family against me. He started a fight because he couldn’t register Wyatt for school, he had to take Wyatt to school for one day and tried to control everything hiding paperwork from me to the point I had to go to the office to make second accounts.

Wyatt is now 7 and this has been going on since 2014. I finally had enough and after he tried to kidnap Wyatt again, claiming I was violent and so on I finally thought I would try the legal system again to get help. I first tried to file a TPO so he would be legally not allowed to kidnap Wyatt anymore and was denied.

On September 22 on Wyatts birthday Andrew called to tell Wyatt he could only get his gifts for his birthday if mommy let him come to his house. That mommy was keeping him away and I hung up the call. On his birthday?? I finally decided it was time to get a divorce and go after sole custody and prevent Andy from hurting Wyatt anymore. That the courts would see how a child is being used as a pawn and we would get peace, that’s not what’s happening. I filed for divorce on 9/23/2022, Andrew contested so we had a court date to see the judge. I advised the judge with dates and incidents and thought I had enough proof and that they could easily see he recently had a batter charge and wouldn’t put us in danger and boy was I wrong.

The judge gave a suicidal, drug addict, violent offender every weekend and told me I needed proof, so I convinced myself to get all of the 911 calls, incident reports, his criminal record to file a motion which was denied. The first weekend he had Wyatt, he told him I was violent and a bad mother, that David my fiancé was violent, and Wyatt came home angry, upset and extremely mean. I then confronted Andy and of course was oh he was fine at my house. I contacted the school to find out Wyatt was having behavior problems in school, so I got all of my proof and sent it to the judge and my motion was ignore. Until this point and if I didn’t file for divorce, he still would have not picked up Wyatt or bothered. Andy would complain when asked to help with school that we woke him up, he would try and get my boyfriend to turn on me and even go as far as to tell him me and him are getting back together and that was not even true. Currently he stalls mediation to grant me sole custody then turns around to ask for a mediator to prolong the case. I have filed multiple motions to be denied, to be ignored. Proof of 3 suicide attempts, incident report of trying to fight a police officer, multiple cases where he even went after his parents are gone ignored.

On 1/14 Andrew was a no show, didn’t bother texting, emailing or stating he wasn’t going to come. Wyatt waited till 12 and then we gave up. We want to Central, enjoyed the weekend and still nothing all week. Andrew showed up on 1/21 and he wasn’t there the previous week, so I just didn’t want to get Wyatt ready to be disappointed. He knocked on the door so I told him he would have to wait were not expecting him and you can tell he was mad but on camera, so he knows to make sure to not do anything on camera to get in trouble. Our agreement was to return Wyatt back at 10 AM, I texted at 10 am and he said he wasn’t coming because court order says 6 pm and that’s not true. We are in mediation, so court order is 10 am and he purposely never told me because he wants to get a reaction, so he sends me the mediation and I tell him that is not a court order it’s a parenting plan being built and was blocked. Panic sets in because so many times he finds a way to twist and turn any narrative to make him look like a doting, wonderful father following the rules, but he knew that wasn’t the case. ^ pm rolls around and he is nowhere to be found I text him and ask where Wyatt is, and he tells me they are running late. I tell him he’s in volitation of a court order and Wyatt is 7 hours late, he calls the police to play the victim and have Wyatt brought to his house with two police officers.

This morning I filed contempt of court. He purposely did it hoping I would flip out and get mad and he called the cops. He called the cops to pretend he is the victim to look good in front of a judge and play the role.

I have contacted the mayor, city attorney and anyone and everyone I can to get help. I don’t know what to do except to get my story out there and show how the system fails us moms who are victims of abuse.

I am writing you in regards to my current custody case. I was married to this man for 14 months back in 2015. My children and myself suffered at the hands of this man from verbal abuse, putting a knife to his throat in front of us, constant police coming, and he will not stop at attacking anyone. For years I have suffered from what he put me and the kids through and while I finally got out and away now the judge is allowing him to be a constant presence in our life. Who protects the children from violent and suicidal drug addicts? I have tried showing the judge everything from 911 calls to incident reports, previous record on not even caring of his other two children. I provided 911 calls from over 3 suicide attempts. How is that not enough? I feel the justice system has failed me and so many other moms. In 2015 while me and my kids had to lock ourselves in my daughter who was 7 at the times bedroom Andrew Bailey tried to kick it down, I was the one who was arrested for smacking him to get away from me. Even though they took photos of the door and Andrew told the same story he became the victim was I was asking for help. You become a shell of a person when no one wants to help, no one hears you, you become another statistic. He has even gone after the police.

For so many years I stayed silent, for so many years the few times he did see Wyatt and I would beg and plead for him to bring me my son back. When will enough proof be enough for mothers during custody cases? Currently as I write this, he had agreed to bring Wyatt back at 10 AM and decided to keep him till 6 PM, he has tried to kidnap Wyatt, is extremely manipulative towards him and I don’t know who to ask for help. Last week he didn’t even show and the previous weekend he tried to tell my son who is 7 I am violent and a bad mom. I tried asking the judge, no one ever hears the victims. I can never explain the terror I feel when he is legally allowed to pick up my 7-year-old boy. I need your help in finding me an advocate or having someone look over my case and tell me why 4 suicide attempts, attack on his stepfather, violent charges is not enough to allow a violent man to be in a child’s life he doesn’t even know. For 7 years Andrew has seen Wyatt 6 months in 7 years, he didn’t even have him over night until 2021. I need help! I am trying to get my story out there because the justice system will not hear me. I have lost hope of anyone being able to do something and afraid will become another statistic.

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True Colors Revealed

male domestic abuse survivor

True Colors Revealed

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He made me alienate my friends and family so nobody knew what was going on.

I married my ex husband in 2013. First few months were great, and then he revealed his true colors. It started with emotional abuse – I never looked good enough, didn’t say or do things the way he wanted them. He first hit me 6 months into our marriage – a punch to the side of the head because I didn’t wake up with him to his alarm to pull his clothes out of the dryer.

The abuse got worse and worse over the next few months. Punches, kicks, head slamming into the fridge. But he made everything better because he would buy me stuff the day after he hurt me. Fast forward to 2016 – I found out I was pregnant. Although we were married, the sex was not consensual. I was raped by my own husband – beaten til unconscious and then he raped me.

A week before I “escaped”, I tried to leave and he jumped through the windshield of my car and repeatedly kicked it until the windshield shattered. I ran upstairs to our apartment but he was right behind me. He beat me to a pulp with the worst injury being a broken sternum in three places.

The cops let me down repeatedly. He was military and we lived off post so they refused to arrest him – kept saying I need to go through military police and his chain of command. So I went to leadership and they let me down too. I ended up in the hospital for my sternum and he was with me the entire time and convinced the doctors I was attacked by our husky which jumped on my chest and broke my sternum. I had no family in the country, and no friends because he had total control of everything – money, my work etc. He made me alienate my friends and family so nobody knew what was going on. I was his rag doll to do whatever with.

The day before I escaped he tried to drown me in the bathtub and said “I will kill you and this bastard baby”. There was NOTHING behind his eyes. No pleasure, no anger, nothing. Just cold. I was saved by our neighbor banging on the door because he heard me yelling. The next day I drove myself to the airport with nothing but the clothes on my back and a suitcase full of my clothes and I escaped.

I flew back home and I stayed there and had the hardest time bonding with my child – my parents are now raising him as their own because the trauma is too much and I knew I couldn’t give my child the love and the life he deserved. I am in a safe, happy relationship now, but the trauma still remains just as strong as ever. I don’t know if I will ever heal, or ever be at peace, but knowing my child is safe in a place my ex husband will never find him, in a sense makes it ok. My child is alive and I am alive too.

Time does not heal all wounds, we just learn to live with the weight we carry. I am slowly learning to love myself. It’s an incredibly long, hard road. But I am on it. I got out, you can too.

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You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore

You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore

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I was traumatized, abused, neglected, and abandoned from childhood into early adulthood. I felt as though this was all that I deserved.

The first time he hit me, I was certain it wouldn’t happen again. If I just kept my mouth shut, not challenge or stand up to him, and be obedient, and let him drink himself to a stupor, he wouldn’t put his hands on me again.

I married my abuser and it was the worst years of my life. I was always accused of cheating, nothing I did was ever good enough, and everything I said was held against me. His drinking got so much worse after we got married. And so did the physical abuse.

My father was an alcoholic, and did unthinkable things. But, he recovered, got sober, and our relationship exponentially improved over the course of my adult life. It gave me hope that if my father could overcome this awful addiction, certainly so could my husband. I didn’t know how wrong I was… When he was sober, I was his obsession, but not in a loving way. When he was drinking, the name calling hurt almost as much as the punching and hair pulling. He literally drug my face across the floor calling me “dirt”.

I can’t say I wish I never met him because I wouldn’t have my boys, but I do wish that after my childhood trauma, that I had taken the time to heal properly.

To all women who have been in an abusive relationship; to all women who are domestic violence survivors; to all women who can’t seem to shake the abuser and the trauma bond that you feel; I have been there. I understand completely. I had my very own Jekyll and Hyde. He was an abusive alcoholic who didn’t appreciate anything I had to offer, and showed me on a daily basis that I was a piece of property with no value or worth, and that nothing I did or said was ever good enough. I see you.

I was traumatized, abused, neglected, and abandoned from childhood into early adulthood. I felt as though this was all that I deserved. When I met my abuser, he was kind, attentive, caring, and loving at the right time and I fell hard for his ill-conceived charm. The abuse escalated quickly and every time I threatened to leave, call the police, or literally tell anyone, he’d swear things would be different. Only they got worse every time. The night he put his hands around my neck, I was in far too deep. Seeking help from local resources, I fled but he would not just let me go. The stalking lasted for several years, the emotional and verbal abuse continues to this day. However, through my own healing journey, he can’t hurt me anymore. In any aspect.

I wrote a book about my time in this abusive marriage. I encourage you to purchase a copy and find some hope that there is life after domestic violence and you can find true love-love that doesn’t hurt, and that you can feel worthy, valuable, LOVED, and that you are enough just as you are after being made to feel the complete opposite. Break the Silence. “You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore” by C.A. Russell

You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore is a true story of overcoming trauma bonds and domestic violence, rising above it to find the inner strength I didn’t know I had. Decades of mistreatment programmed me to believe I would never be enough.

When the people I loved hurt me the most, my constant yearning for validation began. Finding the power to stand up to my abusers, re-learn acceptable behaviors and transform my cognitive perceptions was the ultimate feat.

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Jacqueline Floyd

Jacqueline Floyd survivor story

Jacqueline Floyd

Jacqueline Floyd survivor story
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The worst part was the cops not believing me until months down the road!

After my first marriage getting married at 17, having 2 children with a mentally unstable, bipolar extremely violent husband who punched me, kicked me down stairs, locked me outside in the snow, threaten to kill me and my children. I vowed to Never be with anyone violent or abusive again! Just to turn around and be drugged and raped, sodomized, tortured for hours by a family member and left for dead in a ditch… Fought to survive that and Years later working in law enforcement to meet and marry a coworker who became mentally unstable and my recent last abuser I thought I wouldn’t escape! For only a year and 10 months but felt like several years, of abuse. Terrible temper, violent, breaking things and hurting the animals and me. The worst part was the cops not believing me until months down the road! After almost killing me and threaten me , bruised ribs, throwing hot coffee in my face at work. Refuse to stop stalking me. A judge finally gave me a restraining and protection order thank God. Live and learn! My grandkids are my priority now. God bless you all! Stay strong!

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Tammie Johnson

Tammie Johnson survivor story

Tammie Johnson

Tammie Johnson survivor story
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I was constantly worried about what I said, how I dressed, or even what I cooked for dinner.

Hello, my name is Tammie, and I am a paralegal/Victim Advocate for West TN Legal Services. I am here to talk to you today about domestic violence. I received an Associates of Applied Science from Kaplan University in 2007. I was a bankruptcy paralegal for over 20 years and in 2020 I decided to make a change. My initial position with WTLS was in the intake department but it didn’t take long for me to realize that I wanted to work with the domestic violence victims.

I chose this field because I am a survivor of domestic violence and I feel that my experience allows me to connect and relate to our clients. This is not just a job for me, it is a passion.

My first abusive relationship was when I was 18 years old. He started out as a romantic, always complimented me, and made me feel special. It wasn’t long before I had quit college because he didn’t like the way other men looked at me on campus. I worked 3 jobs to support us, and he was free to do what he wanted when he wanted. It turned violent. This was in 1989 and the laws were different back then. I called the police one time; he was arrested but I dropped the charges. He eventually moved on to another woman and left me.

My second abusive relationship was when I was 26 years old. He also started out as a romantic. He made me feel like I was the most important person in the world. He slowly started to change. He became very easy to anger and I believed him when he said that it was my fault. I wasn’t aware of the cycles of violence back then, but at this point I was in the tension building phase. I was constantly worried about what I said, how I dressed, or even what I cooked for dinner. Just any little thing could set him off. He slowly isolated me from my friends and family. He would tell me that they were only using me, and he was the only one who really had my best interests at heart.

We would then enter the outbreak phase. He would become so angry over little things. For example, he had told me the day before that he wanted white beans, ham, and cornbread for supper the next day. So, I soaked the dry beans overnight and the next morning I put everything in a crockpot to cook all day while I was at work. When I got home, I poured the beans in a pot to make sure they were done and made cornbread. I always brought him his plate in the living room. When I brought him the plate, he looked at me and asked why I cooked this for supper when we had just had it 3 nights ago. I told him that this is what he asked for last night. He got so mad that he threw the plate of ham and beans across the living room. He then got up and grabbed me by my hair and rubbed my face in the carpet and told me to clean it up and fix him something else for supper. This is just one example of the outbreak phase that I endured with him over the years.

The next day he would come home and be super nice to me. He would offer to take me to eat, or to watch a movie that I picked out. We may even ride the 4-wheelers, which was something I loved doing. You see, not every day with him was a nightmare. We had some wonderful times together. And when he wasn’t angry, we actually had a lot in common.

But eventually the cycle was turning faster and faster. Our bad days started to outnumber our good days. He was controlling the money. He split up our bills and made sure that I was responsible for enough that I barely had anything left over from my paycheck. It was like I was a piece of property that he owned.

I started praying at night that God would just take me in my sleep. I had hit bottom. I believed that I was nothing and I believed that none of my family or friends cared for me. I would beg God to take me in place of someone that was dying of cancer and had a family that would truly miss them. I honestly believed that if I died no one would care.

I was finally able to leave this dangerous relationship after one final and sadistic act. I realized that the man I loved with all my heart was going to kill me. One evening, I came home from work. He was being extremely nice to me for some reason. He offered to go pick up supper, so I didn’t have to cook. That was something he NEVER did. When he came back with supper, we sat on the couch together and he massaged my feet. I wasn’t sure what was going on and why he was being so nice, but I wasn’t about to ask him and make him mad. I started getting really sleepy and I guess I fell asleep on the couch. The next thing I knew, I woke up coughing. I was having trouble breathing. The house was full of smoke, and I couldn’t see clearly. I screamed out his name, but he didn’t answer. The back of the house was engulfed in flames. I couldn’t get to our bedroom. I thought I must call for help. I was screaming as I ran out of the house. I was going to run to the neighbor’s house to call 911 but when I got in our front yard, he was already outside. Now the way this house was laid out, he had to come through the living room to exit any door we had in the house and how did he not hear me screaming? When he saw me, he started coughing and said he had to come out and catch his breathe. At this point I knew that he was going to kill me if I stayed or if I left. So, I made a plan and I left. It was the scariest thing I have ever done but I made it out.

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A Few Words To My Abuser

A Few Words To My Abuser

What I failed to realize was that nothing I did was ever going to be good enough for you.

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To my abuser:

Today is August 20, 2022. It is exactly one year from the last time you put your hands on me. The statute of limitations has officially passed. I did everything I could for months to fix our relationship even after I left you in Vermont despite your countless cruel transgressions. Then I spent months agonizing over why I didn’t call the police on either of the nights you physically hurt me. Why wasn’t I stronger? Why did I continually let you get away with verbally accosting me, manipulating and hurting me sexually, torturing me emotionally, and physically abusing me? Why didn’t I drive away from Vermont on your birthday, September 1st, and never look back? I’ve spent months trying to decide whether pressing charges will help me find inner peace and closure.

The truth is my love for you became an addiction. You tested my tolerance for mistreatment to the limit. Like an addict I took more and more seeking that high. I was willing to accept any treatment as long as I still had hope of getting back to those ‘good times’. I hesitate to call them ‘good times’. I am not sure we had any truly good times. Even during our best times my mind was fraught with trying to please you- wear the right clothes, do the right things, act the right way. What else can I do for you, sir? What I failed to realize was that nothing I did was ever going to be good enough for you. No matter what or how much I did, it was never going to be good enough. You will never be enough for someone who does not love you.

I believe in some twisted way which is beyond my comprehension you enjoyed watching me struggle while dangling our relationship and future just out of my grasp. How high will I jump to attain it? You once told me that I liked to be treated this way, that I asked for it. You slept peacefully at night knowing you were destroying another human being. You know those monsters under our beds that kept all of us up at night as children? Well, YOU are that monster incarnate.

In the words of my dear friend, Matthew: ‘Sometimes we realize we were reading for the wrong role”. was reading for the wrong role. I was reading for an unattainable role since the moment I met you. I was reading for the role of girlfriend in a happy mutually respectful loving relationship but the role I was auditioning for was your slave and kicking dog. I see this now. It’s cliché, I know, but hindsight really is 20/20, isn’t it?

I do not and will not ever respect you nor care for you again. It is unlikely I will forget the ways in which you treated me. Your merciless words and actions are imprinted in my mind repeating daily on a loop. You do not deserve to get away with the things you did but it is not my job to serve justice or protect the next girl (or boy if you ever come out of your closet). So, I choose not to prosecute you. I choose not to undo the healing I have obtained thus far. I choose not to look at you across a court room and to listen to whatever lies you will tell about me. I choose me. I choose to walk forward with grace.

You see- grace costs you nothing. This is something you will never understand or grasp. It costs nothing to be kind and gracious towards another human being. It costs nothing to treat others with human decency and dignity. In that vein I choose to be graceful whether you deserve it or not.

At your core you are a damaged, sick, and twisted man. You will continue to loath yourself and take it out on those to dare to love you. You will get whatever is coming to you without my lifting a finger.

One day I will look back at you and the time we had together as a distant memory. Maybe I will remember this as a time of learning- learning to respect myself and to only accept those who treat me with mutual love and kindness. Who knows?

What I do know now in this moment is that I choose to walk away from you gracefully.

-Erin

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