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Survivor Story: The Abuse Started During Her Pregnancy

BreakTheSilenceDV

BreakTheSilenceDV

Submitted by: *Leah, Survivor

Pregnancy can be a dangerous time for victims of domestic violence. Abusers may view the expectant mother’s shift of attention toward her unborn child as justification to either engage in abusive behaviors or escalate abuse to regain control over their partner. Not only does this carry the risk of serious physical injury to both the mother and child, but the stress of abuse can also cause further complications and compromise the health of the unborn child.

As a teenager, Leah started experiencing abuse once she learned she was pregnant. She shares how the father of her child physically abused her without regard for their unborn child and how the stress of abuse affected her.   

When Leah met the man who abused her, she was just 14 years old. Being young and inexperienced with relationships, she thought that his being older than her was an indicator that he would know how to treat her and would not hurt her. Unfortunately, Leah soon discovered that he was not whom he presented himself to be. He did not show his true colors until after she became pregnant at the age of 15; he was 22 years old.

With the news of the pregnancy, Leah thought the prospect of being a father would motivate him to be a better man, but it only seemed to make him worse. It started small with insults, hurtful messages, and him occasionally hanging up on her when they were on the phone. As time went by, the abuse continued to escalate. He did not seem to care if he hurt her, and the fact that Leah was pregnant with his child did not serve as a deterrent to the abuse.

They were in a long-distance relationship, but that did not stop him from verbally and emotionally abusing her when they were apart. The distance gave her no peace, and when they were together, he physically abused her as well. He threw her on the bed when she was pregnant with a force she did not expect, and he screamed at her to get out of his house; he had been drinking.

That was not the first time he had thrown her out of the house. The year before, he showed no regard for her safety when he left Leah alone in the middle of a busy street at night. She was lost in a place she did not know well and somehow managed to walk back; Leah was understandably terrified.

When it was time for the baby to be born, she returned to the US for her delivery. Instead of supporting her, he regularly left her alone and partied while Leah stayed up and worried about where he was. He told her that she was the reason he was going to kill himself and that she was nothing. She later found out that he had even cheated on her throughout her pregnancy.

“One night, we argued, and it was a particularly bad fight. He pulled out a knife on me, and I was so scared. We fought back and forth with it, and I worried that he was going to hurt himself or me. In the end, he ran out. He abused me mentally and physically for three years. Even after he left me for someone else, he still found a way to blackmail and exploit me.

“I was so broken at this point that I just wanted to die. But one day, I somehow found the courage to put an end to it. He did whatever he could to keep control over me, but it didn’t work. Over a year has passed now, and I’m doing better than ever. My scars and the bad memories will always be there, but I’ve chosen to use them as fuel to keep moving forward for my son and me.”

*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the survivor.

**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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