Story edited by Kelly Longmore
I was raised in a local (dominant) religion that taught me that a woman’s role was to be a wife and mother. Also, that sexual sin was the woman’s fault – that women were responsible for men’s inappropriate sexual behavior. This has shaped much of my life.
When I was 6 years-old, I witnessed a family member being molested. I had to relive it again in a court deposition. Then, at 9 years-old, I was the one being molested. This lasted for a year. I never told my parents. However, I did tell my church authorities. Their response: It was all my fault.
In October 1997, I met Daniel. We began spending a lot of time together. He seemed okay with my past sexual history but said to keep our relationship a secret. A few days later, he changed his mind. I ended the relationship.
After avoiding him on campus, he found me. He literally chased me down, dragged me into a room to confront me, and demanded I take him back. Believing I was dirty and used because of my past, I took him back.
"From the beginning I was subjected to controlling behavior, who I talked to, where I went, what I spent money on, what career path I had to take, cancelled my credit cards."
This lasted our entire marriage, escalating into much worse. Shortly into the marriage we had a fight. He broke through the door and assaulted me, leaving visible marks. When questioned about this, he told people I’d tried to commit suicide.
He had always been controlling, physically, and sexually abusive, but in early 2008 while living overseas, Daniel took it even further. One afternoon he repeatedly insisted on physical intimacy. I repeatedly said no. Then he raped me.
Several days later, I broke down and tried to leave. He called my parents asking them to convince me to stay. My dad said he’d help get me home but, I stayed. Daniel said he was stressed, that sex was owed him for putting a roof over my head. It was all my fault again. He said God expected me to forgive and forget – that I couldn’t leave him, we were together forever. I believed it all.
These are only a few of the horrific abuses I was forced to endure for years – never believing I could leave. But in September 2016, after 18 years of abuse, my divorce was finalized – the marriage was over.
I am still not free from Daniel. He has continued to harass me and my children.
However, I have a great therapist. I belong to several support groups. I also tell others about Domestic Violence, and some of these people said I have inspired them to leave an abusive relationship or share my story with others in similar situations.
"People have sent messages saying that my stubbornness and positivity has helped them realize that it’s possible to survive and thrive – to find healing. Helping people has been a big part of finding peace."
I have also rediscovered myself. It hasn’t been easy, but well worth it. I pay attention to my appearance more. I’ve learned that I’m pretty and I deserve to look and feel good.