Survivor Story: You Won’t Keep Me from Living Any Longer
Written by: Catherine, Survivor
Over two years ago, I lived in a constant state of anxiety with my weight continually dropping, and the beginning of hair loss due to stress. Two years ago, I was a woman in an abusive relationship. I hate admitting that, that I was one of those women I swore I’d never be. The kind I tell my friends to leave.
I stayed for 2 1/2 years, luckily leaving before any children were brought into a terribly toxic situation. For 2 1/2 years I listened to you belittle me and tell me how I wasn’t good enough in every way imaginable. I heard you call me every name in the book, and you even put your hands on me.
I remember the day in the pictures, I don’t remember why we were fighting, but I do remember the fight. You were angry, pacing back and forth. you had yelled for at least 2 hours before I started zoning out because you were just repeating the same insults. My dogs were hiding because your yelling scared them, and the fact that you’d thrown your clothes and belongings all over the house didn’t make it less chaotic to them.
I had gotten up and started toward the door (which you were standing in front of), and you pushed me into the frame and then to the floor. It was at this point that you put your knee across my chest and applied so much pressure you not only broke several ribs but also almost suffocated me because the weight kept my rib cage from being able to move. My lungs could no longer expand to take in air. You claimed you didn’t know that I wasn’t coming after you and said it was self-defense.
I had told you I was done, that I was taking the dogs to the beach and wanted you to pack your stuff while I was gone. I went around the house trying to get stuff together for them while you followed me and continued to berate me and call me names. You even followed me outside as I tried to load things in my car and continued yelling from my front porch about how I was a junkie (I have six years clean thank you).
I told you to go inside and to not scream on my front porch. I walked past you back into the house knowing that would get you back inside. Once inside you continued your yelling and throwing whatever you could on the floor. Every time I tried to walk past you, you knocked me down, at one point hard enough to hurt my back. While I was on the floor crying, you asked if it’s okay to kick me while I’m down.
Even though it was the middle of August and well over 90 degrees outside, I found my way back to my feet and went to change into some sweats and a hoodie. I knew the bruises and rug burn were showing already; after all, at this point, we had been arguing for close to five hours.
You still yelled about how I was ungrateful and worthless while I put the leashes on the dogs. I got out the door a second time, and again you wanted to yell about my past and try to embarrass me in our new neighborhood in front of our new neighbors. I told you that you weren’t going to yell at me on my front porch and to go inside or I’d call the cops. You said I wouldn’t, so I did.
It didn’t take you long to realize I was serious and had had enough. You went to hide in the laundry room and got me to send the police away by saying you walked off. They asked the usual questions, including if you hurt me, and I instinctively denied it all the while knowing I look like a complete loon wearing sweatpants and a hoodie in the middle of the hottest part of the summer. I could see the state trooper didn’t believe me, but there was nothing more he could do. He left with the advice that should you return to try and keep it calm and to call again if I needed to.
The argument lasted for another 4 hours. I think about that day often, I think about the things you’ve said and the things you’ve done.
Every time I think about you or that day, I get so mad I just about cry. Not mad at you for what you did, but angry at myself, because I recognized the signs and red flags. I listened to my friends telling me to leave you and not to waste years on an asshole. But most of all, I’m mad about what you’ve done to the inside of my head, what you’ve done to my thinking and the way I view things.
I suffer from PTSD because of the things you did. I suffer from panic attacks regularly, and the slightest thing can make me jump.
You see you have affected me in a way that will affect me the rest of my life now, but what you won’t do any longer is keep me from living.
I live an amazing life now. I have met my soul mate and am engaged. We are expecting our first child (a baby girl in December of this year). I’ve gotten several promotions and pay raises in my job that has allowed me to get a new car. A lot of the time now when I think about you, I also think about how you always said when you left your life would get exponentially better, and mine would stay the same at best or more likely get worse. Not only was I the one to leave you, but I am also living the life of my dreams, and I’ll never stop fighting the demons you left behind. While you’ve proven that you’re stronger physically than I am, I am stronger in every other way.
I will continue to share my story not only to spread awareness of how common a problem this is but also for my daughter coming into this world. As survivors, we need to learn the first step to ending the cycle is to talk about it. TELL EVERYONE – this is the only way to bring awareness and take power from the abuser.
I wish I had let the police take him that day, as I knew he had a warrant, but I continued to protect him because, even then, in my mind, I wasn’t an abused woman. I was a woman in love with a terribly troubled man, and like most partners of abuse, I believed I could love him through it. I allowed the abuse to continue for several more months before I finally got to the point where I realized I deserved better, and I am lucky to have made it as far as I have.
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