Erikah is breaking the cycle after being a victim since she was fifteen. After enduring abuse for 11 years in an intimate relationship, she was left to heal on her own. Her tale of fighting through depression, trying to secure access to her children, and doing it on her own, is an all too familiar tale for those working through their own scars in the aftermath of abuse.
Submitted by: Erikah, Survivor
Edited by: Sadie and Monita
I’d like to share my story with everyone.
Let me start here– my name is Erikah, I’m 28 years old, and domestic violence has ruined my life. It all started when I met my children’s father, Tony*, in February of 2006. Six months into the relationship, he slapped me in the face for the first time. Tony swore that the abuse would not happen again, and he wasn’t physical for a long time. However, the relationship was still ridden with psychological abuse.
Fast forward to November 2007– I turned 17, moved out of my parents’ house, and rented an apartment with Tony. The abuse quickly escalated. Black eyes became a common occurrence. He once head-butted me in the face so hard that it broke the skin on the bridge of my nose. He seemed to have no shame, choosing the front yard of his stepfather’s house to host one of his beatings during a cold, Michigan winter day.
A couple of years went by, I endured every form of abuse possible. I tried to stay strong as he kicked me with steel toe boots, and destroyed many items I valued. The verbal abuse was just as heinous.
Fast forward again to 2009, I found out I was pregnant with our first son. The abuse didn’t stop during this fragile time in my life. Throughout my pregnancy, DVDs were whipped at me like frisbees and a laundry tote was pushed into my stomach. I could not believe the complete disregard he had for me and the health of our son.
In July of 2010, our son LJ was 2 months old. Tony went to jail for the first time. He was shooting airsoft gun pellets at me, throwing objects at me, and destroying the house. In my attempt to escape his chaotic episode, he hit me hard in the jaw. A neighbor witnessed the act of abuse and called the police. The following day an order of protection was ordered by the courts. However, being young and afraid with a 2-month-old child, I foolishly let him come back.
A few years later, in 2013, we moved to Alaska and had our second child. This is when the mental, physical, and financial abuse reached its max. We purchased a house together in 2016. In the first 8 months, he pulled a gun on me 6 times, almost stabbed me in the stomach at our home, attempted to loop a rope around my neck, and threatened to throw me out of a truck.
In December of 2016, I reached my breaking point and the final straw. I walked outside and *BANG* Tony fired a shot at me. I could take no more, so I found somewhere to stay. I didn’t have much support from my family and was forced to leave the kids with him. I felt I had no other choice, and he never harmed the kids.
I then found out that Tony had started using meth. During a high, he became paranoid and ran off in the woods for 3 days with our 4 and 7-year-old children. OCS took custody of the kids and they went to stay with my parents– who Tony turned against me earlier in the relationship.
Tony ended up moving back to Michigan, and I had to move back into our home. For 5 months, I was stranded 20 miles from town without friends and family. I never received notifications from the court about the custody fight for my children. My parents told OCS that they would pick me up for visitation with the kids, however, they have failed to do so. In short, my right to see my children has been terminated, with the reason being that the court felt I was willingly not seeing my kids. I had no support system, especially from my family.
It’s now a year later and I’m still living in the house Tony and I had started buying. No payments have been made since 2017. I have no electricity and no water. I am unable to afford cell phone service, which makes it very hard to secure a job. I survive off of going to the local transfer site for everything I need, including all my food.
It’s been almost 2 years since my parents were awarded custody of my kids, and I’ve only been allowed to see my babies 2 times. My oldest just turned 9, and my youngest turns 6 soon. Since I’ve been exiled from my family, I’ve missed many birthdays. Tony now has a new girlfriend who has 2 kids of her own, yet I am unable to see my children.
My will to live and purpose to my life gone. I have suffered from severe depression since my oldest child was born. Most days I don’t even get out of bed. I feel lost and unsure of what to do anymore. It’s hard to preach about not going back to your abuser when I did for 11 years, but my advice to anyone who needs it is don’t put up with abuse. If I wouldn’t have left that December, I can almost guarantee that I would not be alive to type this story. And to the mothers out there – watch for signs of abuse. My parents never suspected anything. When I tried to open up to them about it last year, Tony had already made me look like the bad person for leaving and falsely accused me of using drugs.
*Name(s) have been changed – and in some cases omitted – to protect the identity of the survivor and others affected by the abuse.
**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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