By Allison Crowe, See the Triumph Co-Founder
When we started the See the Triumph campaign, I had no idea how many powerful, painful, triumphant stories I would hear from survivors of intimate partner violence. When we have heard from our research participants about their experiences with leaving an abusive relationship, how they did it, what challenges they had to overcome, what messages they’d like to share with others, I am blown away by the strength and perseverance it takes to triumph over abuse.
One metaphor we have heard over and over is the notion of the uphill battle. Not just in leaving the abusive relationship but also after the person has left and begins the process of rebuilding his or her life after the abuse. Take “Barbara,” for example, who had been married for some time to her husband, “Steve,” whose abusive behavior only grew worse the longer they were married. (Note: these are not their real names.) Years into their marriage, he was diagnosed with two major mental health disorders, and soon became so paranoid that she was cheating on her that he would insist that he tangle his fingers in her hair while they slept so that she could not leave in the middle of the night without him knowing. Steve was in charge of their finances, drove Barbara to work and all other functions, started listening to her phone conversations, and checking her belongings every day before and after she came home. Any sort of refusals on Barbara’s part resulted in brutal beatings.
Ultimately, Barbara was able to leave Steve and end the marriage, but only after many months of careful planning with Steve’s mother who knew of the abuse and wanted desperately to help.
One of the biggest takeaways from Barbara’s story is not only the uphill battle she faced in order to get out of the abuse, but also the uphill battles she faced after leaving Steve and rebuilding her life. She described these uphill battles that she had to fight everyday as she established her new life, free from abuse. From negative attitudes from attorneys to unfair and dangerous custody arrangements to blame from her friends and family, to having to quit her job and find a new one when her boss was unsupportive of her needing a new schedule. Barbara faced a new challenge almost every day. And all at a time when she felt the most fragile after suffering from years of abuse.
Today, Barbara is triumphant, strong, and resourceful. She had years of therapy to repair the damage Steve had done and enjoys reaching out to other people who are still struggling in abusive relationships. Even though most days are good ones, she still has those challenging days when it might feel like an uphill battle. She recently met a man who is kind, patient, and empowering. She had this to say when we asked her what message she’d like to share with other survivors who might be struggling, “You will get there. Little by little, just keep on fighting the uphill battle – even if there is a new hill every day.”
Triumphing over abuse means not only ending the relationship, but then facing more challenges and uphill battles. Barbara is one of many of the courageous survivors whose strength and courage inspire us every day. We're thankful to Barbara and so many others who have shared these courageous stories with us.
By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
When we first started See the Triumph nearly three years ago, we often were asked about the name of the campaign, and people wondered if the name would be clear enough for our audience to understand the purpose of the campaign. We knew we could have selected another name that made more clear that the focus of our work was on intimate partner violence, but we also felt strongly that the name “See the Triumph” was the best way to capture our mission of ending the stigma surrounding intimate partner violence and supporting survivors.
As we’ve shared before, the name “See the Triumph” came from a quote from a participant in our earliest research study. This woman had been horrifically beaten and verbally abused by her former boyfriend and the father of her child. She told us how people have asked her if she is embarrassed by her history of having been abused, and here’s how she responded to that question:
As part of our “No Stigma/Only Triumph” series for 2015 Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I wanted to highlight this woman’s story, as it’s an example of the many stories of survivors that drive our work with See the Triumph. I had the honor of interviewing her, and her story stays with me to this day as a reminder to keep our focus on promoting the view of survivors of past abuse as strong, resilient, and, yes, triumphant.
To protect her privacy, I’ve altered several potentially identifying details about this participant, including her name (i.e., Sheila is not her real name). However, the key details are presented as she described them to me. This is “Sheila’s” story, and the story behind the name, See the Triumph:
When we met for our interview, Sheila was flustered and running a bit late. She was facing a number of challenges in her life at the time, including a health condition and romantic relationship transitions, as well as ongoing responsibilities to care for her children.
Sheila began by sharing her reasons for wanting to be a part of our study. She said, “A lot of things have gone on in my life have to do with…trying to straighten out things from your past, when they were already kind of thrown up and messed up in the area in the first place…Sometimes it takes a lot longer than you would want it to. Sometimes you don’t realize how long things are going to be affecting you in how many different ways, too.”
Before her current marriage, Sheila was in an abusive relationship with the father of one of her children. Having grown up in a family in which abuse was prevalent, “It was normal. So, getting in the relationship with him was just, it was just normal.”
The abuse didn’t start right away, but rather grew gradually over time. She describes the progression of abuse as building over a time period of a couple years. The physical abuse began gradually, and sexual abuse also became part of their relationship. She said, “He would have sex with me rough. But I was sexually abused growing up. So, to me a man treating me bad like that or using me in any way, it seemed normal.”
After about two years had passed, and she told me of a night when her partner got drunk and beat her badly, verbally abused her, and forced himself upon her sexually. Even after such a violent incident, Sheila stayed with her ex-boyfriend. As she said, “I excused it away. He apologized. He was so sweet…He also said it was because of how I was with him when he was drunken, and that I needed to, that something I had done or said had, you know triggered. So, all I kept thinking was, ‘OK, I’ll just try not to do that again.’”
After that, the abuse continued and got progressively worse. Sheila said, “After that, it just seemed like eventually it just became a habit. It became, it just, it would happen more often. He drank more. I mean, it just progressively got worse and scarier.”
Eventually, a particularly scary incident led Sheila to file a police report. She describes the beating as so bad that it led her to feel “like either I was blacking out or something, because I couldn’t even feel it even more.” Her abuser blamed her for that beating, saying, “Look at what you made me do.” The damage from this incident was extensive--Her face was so badly swollen and disfigured that she was practically unrecognizable. The incident also left Sheila with multiple concussions.
After that incident, Sheila did leave the relationship and went to live with a family member. However, it wasn’t long before he pursued her again. She initially resisted the idea of reconciling with him, but even her family members encouraged her to get back together with him. So, she decided to give the relationship another chance. But, it wasn’t long before the abusive and controlling behaviors re-appeared. At this point, Sheila didn’t believe that leaving the relationship was a safe option. He had threatened that he would kill her if she left him.
Eventually, though, the final straw incident finally came. It was during an especially violent incident that, fearing for her own and her child’s safety, she called the police, and she was able to leave, not even wearing shoes and carrying only her baby and the baby’s diaper bag. From there, Sheila took up residence at the local shelter and began reading to learn about abusive relationships. She took out a protective order, which he violated and was arrested as a result. Shortly after that, she decided, “No more. I was over it…And he knew I was serious.”
Sheila shared that, after the relationship ended, she “went through a lot of therapy and counseling and stuff like that just to make sure I didn’t get back in another one.” She found great validation after a meeting with a mental health professional, who helped her realize that she wasn't "crazy" and who helped Sheila get on the path to recovery.
Sheila shared the sentiment that she wanted to help others, and that was one of the reasons why she came in for our interview. She said, “That’s why I come here was just so important. It was just – it was just so important to do this...Because I know that I couldn’t have been the only – I’m sure I’m not the only one. It felt that way. And went through that stuff. I was in a shelter. I saw other women. But I want them to know that on the other side there is happiness, and that you can be fulfilled, and you can be – and that it doesn’t take a man.”
Far from being hopeless as a result of the difficult experiences in her life, Sheila remained hopeful and excited about the future. She said, “I’m excited. I’m excited about just the new stuff. And even just thinking about new things. It used to scare me…It used to scare me so bad. I remember – I was thinking about that today on the way here. I was thinking about there was a time when I wouldn’t have done this [interview]. Because it would have been just too scary.”
I don’t know if Sheila knows that her story has inspired the name of a campaign that has grown to thousands of followers across numerous social media channels. I don’t know if she knows that her important reminder about keeping our focus on the triumph in survivors’ lives has inspired and motivated so many other people to re-focus on the triumphs in their own lives. But I do know this: Sheila wanted to share her story in hopes that it would help others facing similar abuse-related challenges in their own lives. For as long as we continue to grow and build the See the Triumph campaign, we are committed to honoring Sheila and the countless other survivors who have shared their stories with us. It is in their stories that we find the keys to ending the stigma that far too many survivors face.
By Claire Cappetta, See the Triumph Contributor
It is that time of year again when everyone wishes people a “Happy New Year.” We start to think about the next twelve months as they stretch out before us, wondering if by the time the New Year rolls around again, any big changes may have happened in our lives. Our thoughts drift to resolutions, most of which are quickly broken within hours, even minutes. If we are really strong we can sometimes, make them last a few days.
What changes can we make? What difference, however small, can we bring to this world we live in, our world? Some changes can seem so small, like snowflakes. But those small snowflakes all add up, turning into a pure, white blanket covering the ground. Beautiful, fun, and sometimes difficult.
When we become involved in social media it can seem overwhelming to have our voices heard. There are so many people now, all looking to make a difference, which is a good thing, but we can get drowned out in the noise. It is akin to walking into a room, and everyone is talking and few are listening. We need to remember, though, that just like snowflakes, it all adds up. If we keep pushing, talking, singing and dancing, people do stop to listen.
January for me is a very special month. It is Stalking Awareness Month. There are too many times when an abused person leaves an abuser, and the abuser then turns to stalking. One in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have experienced stalking in some way, that’s 6.6 million people in the United States alone, according to the Stalking Resource Center’s Statistics for 2014.
It’s terrifying to be stalked. There’s a knock at your door, constant phone calls. Your house is under constant surveillance, as are you. A car follows you wherever and whenever you go anywhere. Now with social media, your sites become constantly monitored, and if you are completely unlucky, like I was, there is always the one aspect we dread… The break in or being held hostage. I was lucky I escaped with a lot of emotional baggage, bruises. My PTSD has escalated now, as I was paranoid, as well. The panic attacks, mind crashes, startling at any small noise were all part of my daily life of survival. I owe my life to one best friend, one policeman, and my own efforts to keep my wits about me, while I organized and made changes in my life to escape, to move many miles away. I was told he would kill me if I stayed, and I believed it.
Now, I am safe. I have lost a lot, but I have also gained. I lost being able to see my children grow into wonderful people, and I have lost family members. For a long while, I lost trust, friendship, and love. These I have gained back over time. I learned how and who to trust, love and become friends with. I am left feeling that I owe something, and sometimes it’s an overwhelming desire to give back because I am alive. Who do I owe something to? My best friend, of course, but I feel something much deeper too.
My stalker was there before the Internet, before emails and social media, with its knowledge and support groups. It was a lonely time, but we can raise our voices on it now. We may not become viral, like fluffy kittens playing on Facebook, but we can be beautiful like snowflakes, collecting together and making a blanket of awareness that people start to notice.
January is a busy time for me now. I’m organizing a Stalking Awareness Event in my local area. There will be speakers talking about awareness and safety. A friend will be there teaching line-dancing, and there will be amazing indie-rock songs from another. A local store has already collected two large bags of clothes to donate to survivors to help them get back into the workplace.
Our collective need to help people feel safe is now extending more online, with webinars filled with song, dance, talks about survival and what “Finding Our Inner Happiness” is all about.
Christmas is when we always think about giving, New Year is for new starts, but maybe if we think about starting anew and giving throughout the year, we can be like snowflakes, amalgamating slowly into something much bigger and more diverse. A Snowball of Abuse Awareness…. Because that’s just how we roll!
By Maxine Browne, See the Triumph Contributor
Healing is a journey. When you’re on the road to healing, it doesn’t feel like you’re getting anywhere. You may feel stuck. But you are moving forward. Trust me.
My ex took everything from me. He stripped me of my friends and my family. Then, he separated me from my children. He took my money, my career. He took my sense of self. He told me I was fat, ugly and stupid. He said it, and I believed it.
I was brainwashed. Controlled. Silenced. Erased. I became so depressed, I planned my suicide to escape my mental anguish.
When I left I was mad. Mad at God. Mad at my ex. But most of all, I was mad at myself. How did I get here? How could I have allowed this to happen? How could I have been so naïve? These questions repeated themselves inside my head during the day and kept me awake at night.
If anyone mentioned religion, look out! As a minister’s wife, I blamed God for my suffering. Why hadn’t He protected me? After all the prayer and fasting, begging God to save my marriage, I thought He would part the Red Sea, come into our living room and rescue me. Instead, the minister I was married to cursed me in the name of God, used the congregation to pressure me, quoted Scripture in twisted ways to force outcomes in his favor. He used my faith as a weapon of control.
Friends and family asked, “How can you leave the church? How can you blame God?” My answer today would be that this was one phase of my healing journey. It was like a town I passed through on a road trip. I hadn’t moved there.
For a season, I cursed like a sailor. I spoke with a sharp tone of voice. I was sarcastic and skeptical of everyone and everything. I had castle walls around me for protection. I rebelled against my supervisors. I struggled, but I kept moving forward.
I sought therapy and rebuilt relationships. I created a new life. And with each step forward, I softened.
There are many points of view when it comes to forgiveness. Some believe that if you forgive someone who wronged you, it’s as though you’re saying the pain they caused wasn’t that bad. I’ve heard some say that the abusers don’t deserve such kindness and generosity.
In my view, forgiveness has nothing to do with the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is about you. I like what Buddha said, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Unforgiveness poisons you, not them. It traps you in the ugly past. Forgiveness sets you free and allows you to walk away and begin anew.
I have forgiven my ex. That doesn’t mean we’re buddies. We don’t hang out together. I have no contact with him, unless I must attend a graduation, wedding or funeral. Trust me, that’s more than enough contact for me. I avoid him, but I’m not angry anymore.
I’m not mad at God nor do I blame God for those years. I now understand that He created us all with free will. My ex chose to abuse his authority and not even God could stop him from doing what he wanted to do.
I may cuss from time to time, but it’s not the same. I’m at peace. My problems with authority figures have dissolved, and I even married again, something that was unthinkable a few years ago. It’s been a journey.
So, you may feel a certain way today. Don’t be hard on yourself. Keep taking steps forward. You’ll be amazed in a few years just how far you’ve come!
Maxine Browne Maxine Browne uses her inspirational story as a keynote. She facilitates workshops on domestic violence and healthy relationships. Other workshop topics deal with life after divorce, co-parenting and spiritual abuse. Maxine co-authored the International Best Sellers, The Missing Piece and The Missing Piece in Business. She is the author of Years of Tears, the story of her family’s journey through domestic violence and recovery. Contact Maxine to speak at your next event at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website at www.maxinebrowne.com. Years of Tears is available on Amazon by following this link: http://tinyurl.com/mljqmyn
By Susan Danielsen, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
Unless or until it involves celebrities, politicians, or athletes, domestic violence seems to get very little national attention. Of course, there are some well-known folks who make this topic their platform or cause célèbre; and, by connecting their names to the issue, domestic violence never really leaves our consciousness.
Yet, despite the (seemingly) more frequent news splashes about someone-famous-we-have-never-heard-of-before-this making headlines about abuse, and the omnipresent lists of celebrities who are domestic violence advocates, the topic of intimate partner abuse still seems very distant to so many people.
They don’t get it.
‘They’ are the people who have certainly heard about domestic violence (who hasn’t?), but who have never been affected by it. ‘They’ have never been involved in an abusive relationship, or don’t think they know anyone who has. To ‘them’, domestic violence is an ugly – but abstract-- condition that affects only other people. To ‘them’ the stories of domestic violence are remote and disconnected from ‘their’ world. After all, the faces of famous victims or abusers that reach them through their televisions or mobile devices or computers are pixels on a screen. They are images of people they know only through the media; people who live vastly different lives than they do.
‘Those people’ – the celebrities, the athletes, the politicians, - are not ‘them’ – the teacher, the clerk, the small business owner, the-person-most-would-consider-ordinary.
But, you, local survivor of an abusive relationship, are ‘them’. You are the person who lives next door, the person who works hard for a paycheck, the person who seems to blend in to everyday life. You are NOT the person who has national fame, or an Oscar, or a Heisman. You are just a regular person.
You are not ‘those people’. You are ‘them’. You are…..Just. Like. Us.
We see ourselves in you. We don’t see ourselves in the million-dollar-an-episode-actress, or the world record holder, or the six-term politician who couldn’t figure out how to find the canned soup in a grocery store without a forming a committee and doing a study on the most effective shelf displays.
And THAT is what makes your story of your journey out of an abusive relationship so very, very powerful. You are real. You are us. We are you. We can relate to you. Domestic violence is not so distant anymore: you are the face of someone we know. You are someone we have seen, spoken with, or maybe even touched. Your circumstances, your pain, your courage, are REAL. We know you.
You will still be a part of our lives long after the rich and famous have their news splashes, court case, and any made-for-TV movie. Because we see you in us, you MUST tell your story. And you must tell it often. And tell it loud. And tell it with pride. For your voice is powerful to us than any celebrity’s.
Susan Danielsen is the Public Information Officer for the Greensboro (N.C.) Police Department.
By Claire Cappetta, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
October is here once again, the leaves turn gold and red hues, and the sun is struggling to make its once heady heights in the sky as it did in summer, casting long shadows on the ground. This time of year brings back memories for me of how I survived, as it was this time 18 years ago that I was amidst selling my house and organizing my new life to start afresh.
I had ended a relationship due to many reasons. I found out that not only was I fully supporting him financially, but he had cheated on me, as well as several other reasons. He didn’t accept it. He held me hostage, threatened to kill both myself and my children. I turned to family, asking for help. I told them I had been given an opportunity to start afresh, but my plea fell on deaf ears. There were only two people who could hear me: the policeman who was assigned to my case after I called to ask them what I should do, and my closest friend, Chrisie.
Chrisie gave me the strength to call the police. She knew some, but not all, of what I was facing. Out of all the people I knew who could have even just listened and heard how traumatic life had become, she was the only one who could hear me. She knew my ex-boyfriend and, in fact, was a member of his family.
She stood by me when the police were trying to convince me to have my ex-boyfriend arrested for stalking and harassment. That day, I completely broke down after hearing that one of the policemen had released him. They had let him just go home after I had found the strength to say, “Yes! Take him and arrest him!”
One evening, he pushed his way back into my home, knowing my friend was due to arrive soon. I had warned him with a simple, “You need to leave, Chrisie’s coming!” When she did arrive, his car had already been noticed, parked 10 yards down the road, as it was every night. He slept, ate, and lived in his car for four months. I believe he may have had a change of clothes and a shower twice in the time he called his car home. He had lost weight, he looked drawn and haggard. His eyes had become dark, sunken, desperate, and depressed. There was nothing I could do to help him.
The police told me he had become fixated and was now a danger to me and my children. That evening, Chrisie grabbed him, dragged him down my hallway, shouting at him not to return. We both knew he would.
He was arrested, finally around Christmas time, under a new “Harassment Law” that was brought in to power in 1996. I also was given an Order of Protection, meaning that he couldn’t come near me or drive down the road I lived on. I had very quietly sold my home, packed my belongings, and organized my children for the move. I was making the big push to a “normal” life, sanity, and freedom. We needed to survive. I had told someone close that he had threatened to kill us. What was their response? “At least your graves will be nearby and we can visit,” they said with a smile.
Moving day arrived. A truck parked outside my house as we loaded my life into it. I collected my children from school and picked up a rental car so I could leave mine outside, hoping people wouldn’t know I had left for a couple of days. I needed everything to “look” normal.
That didn’t work. He had passed my house and seen the truck. When I walked into the house to collect the remaining bags to take in the car, the phone was ringing. It was my friend, screaming at me to get out and leave. She told me he had seen the truck, and he was getting a weapon to come back and kill us. We had fifteen minutes… We left, immediately!
I think back now each October of how a friend saved my life. She is a wonderful, beautiful, kind, loving friend. Without her friendship, I would not be here today. We lost contact over the years, but two years ago, we found each other again, 16 years later and 3,000 miles apart. I dedicated my second book to her, she will always be my friend, my hero, and the one who--if she hadn’t been there then, in my life--I wouldn’t be here today.
Please remember those struggling to survive, to stay alive. I’m alive today because of my friend. She heard me. We do our best to raise awareness every October, but we need to continue this message all year round. You never know if by listening, believing, and helping, you too could save someone’s life.
Claire is the author of A Broken Ring ~ A journey of Empowerment and Stalking Liberty ~ Are you safe?..., (Parts One and Two of the Ride to Liberty Trilogy). Born and raised in Yorkshire, England, she recently retired from the financial world to concentrate on writing her personal journey through relationships, child abuse, rape, domestic violence, through to healing and empowerment. Although at times heartbreaking it shows healing is possible. The story is heartwarming and inspiring. She now lives in New York with her husband and step-daughter, while her two grown children live in England.
“The biggest thing I did was to dive into my strengths- I studied hard and worked hard. I needed to accomplish things on my own and I did. I ditched the crappy counselor who was dismissive and found one who cared. Doing advocacy work with people who experienced IPV was too close to home for me, but I found working for causes of other kinds to be healing.” ~ Domestic violence survivor
This quote concludes our “31 Days of Stories” series, but we will continue to share stories of survivors through the See the Triumph campaign. These stories fuel our work, and they’ve motivated and inspired us to continue our work to end the stigma surrounding intimate partner violence.
We hope the stories we shared throughout the month had an impact on you—and most of all, that they provided you with a deeper understanding of the dynamics of intimate partner violence, as well as the strength, courage, and inspiration of survivors!
Note: The following piece was written by one of the anonymous participants in our most recent research study. We’ve changed a few of the details that we thought might give clues to her identity, but otherwise, the words are hers, and we are so grateful that she shared her story with us. Her story reflects so many of the themes we’ve heard from many others who have shared their stories with us through our research, too. We were so moved by what she wrote, and we hope her words will offer inspiration, encouragement, and hope to others as well. Please note: Some of the details in this story are graphic, so please use discretion in deciding whether to read further.
“Oh yes, it is a journey. It is a journey where you discover that you have been charmed, he rewards you for doing it his way, he takes over more and more until you literally lose yourself. You live in a cycle of fear, anticipation, and violence if you disobey.
Others are brought into the picture to support the abuse rather than the love that is supposed to be present. You learn to keep quiet and obey. You slowly decline while he increases and at the same time finds new ways to destroy you.
You will look like a crazy woman, a mental patient, all worn out, a shell of a person. People will believe him, not you, simply because of how you look. He will take everything that means anything to you. One day, he will consider you so used up that you become secondary to whoever he has chosen as a new victim(s).
He will want a harem of victims. “Look at you, why don't you go fix yourself up, I don't even know if I like you anymore, I have someone new, I want to leave, but I am taking your children with me, I am trading you in on two twenty-somethings, why won't you take the rap on bad deals like her, here's a list of what I want, do I have to retrain you to do what you are told?”
Eventually the abuse becomes bolder and bolder and very obvious, but he is a charming prince and people describe him as a faithful husband in public. You see him choke your son, choke your dog, lie about you to others. You see no food, no water, no heat, you are left to freeze in a blizzard with no way out with no oil for the furnace.
You have no phone, no gas for the car. He controls the money. Sometimes, he does not even come home for days. You find drugs, guns, strange bills, strange calls. He even goes on vacation out of state without telling you he is leaving.
Every morning that he is home, you get raped and forced to watch porn and act out. You know that this is not an act of love. You worry about STDs. Sometimes he spits on you during sex or ejaculates into your face and eyes.
You think no one will care, no one will believe you, that there is no place to go. If you complain about no heat, he holds a gun on you and the kids. It is down to the bare bones of who and what you are, having kids, and you know you would be better off on the streets. He comes home and injures you to the point where you think I can't run away and he will hurt the kids.
The cops come, the people come to talk to me. I make the DECISION to leave it all. Three months of seeing other women, some addicted, some abusive, some abusive counselors and professionals, some who have lost it mentally. I struggle to be up at 5 AM to get kids to school, to get to appointments to get food benefits, housing, medical. I've never been in the system before.
I have to seek a job. Legal matters, court dates, attorneys, counselors, journaling, children's counseling. My head swims. He is out there when I leave everyday threatening from afar. Each day I fear the bullet waiting for me.
I get a job, I get a car, I get housing, my kids have issues. We treat and sooth the problems. I rediscover myself - I cry because I don't know what I like. I realize how bad I look and fix that.
I give hope to my children. I win the client of the year at the domestic violence agency for outstanding accomplishments. I cry some more. I go to school and work. I get a [work credential]!! It's my passion. I am looking for a job in my field.
I help others along the way to give them hope and direction to get out of their abuse. I have part of my credit rating back, I bought a better car. I have my little garden to play in. My kids are thriving.
I have a 5 year [protective order]. He violated it along the way, but I kept fighting and say thank goodness for court advocates to hold my hand and help me breathe when I have to see him in court dates. He tries to get visitation...He is in violation of [the protective order], has other charges, and tried to talk to my children. I go to the police, I go to the prosecutor. I think here I am, it's [been years] and he is still at it! He will not see my children, he will not corrupt them.
I go back to [the agency], where they welcome me with open arms to talk for hours. I come armed with evidence - court dockets on him to the ceiling. We get an attorney, I sign papers to let them represent me to the court. This time he will not succeed in domestic violence.
I am free, I know what I like, what I believe in, I recognize abuse when I see it. I see it plenty too in the real world, not just from him. It is an ugly thing that is out there that everyone needs to be educated about.
I am still fighting. But today, I know that I like the scent of [flowers], I like coffee with cream, I like to have my bills paid, I love my children, I like to read, I love [my work] and I can help others, I don't have to have sex with anyone, I do not like porn, I know that I am not stupid or ugly, I can walk with my head up high. I am a survivor not a victim.”
~ Written by an anonymous research participant, See the Triumph
“I started to trust, believe in myself, and to care and love. I think the one thing I learned to do was to forgive. It took so much pressure off of me and my family. I got a job, went back to school and help anyone as much as I could that was experiencing what I did.” ~ Domestic violence survivor
“I went from a pregnant (teenage) wife that dropped out of high school and became a victim of domestic violence to a independent…woman with a college degree with 3 beautiful children…working at a domestic violence shelter as an…advocate for victims in our shelter. There is nothing weak, dumb, incapable about myself. I do presentations in my community to educate about domestic violence.” ~ Domestic violence survivor