I met this woman through a mama community when I was back in my hometown of Utica, NY
last year. She has chosen to keep her story about domestic violence anonymous, and I thank her for sharing her powerful words with us. #fromtheheartstories
We got married when I was 18.
The abuse started after
I was pregnant with my daughter
when I was 22.
We had domestic violence issues,
and it took me a full year to decide to actually leave him.
When I initially filed the first police report,
which involved kicking my husband out of the house,
both sides of the family felt domestic violence
is an issue that should be taken care of inside the family.
It created a stigma for me.
I felt my life was over for me
because of the lack of the support.
And I felt like I was labelled.
So not only did you have the trauma from the abuse,
but also being ostracized from your family?
One cousin even asked me,
what I did to him to cause him to be violent.
Other family members asked if
I was sure I wanted to be a single mother.
So this created a whole year
of going back and forth in my decision.
Were there good times?
Yes. Of course.
That's what people might not realize:
it's not abusive all the time. There's good and bad times.
You're a family, just with a lot of craziness.
And that was part of the problem,
people only saw the good times.
People want to believe
what they see and can't believe
what's going on behind closed doors.
And some people still believe
that an intact family is a better
than a family getting divorced.
With my ex mother-in-law,
there is still a lot of blame.
In my family,
we just don't talk about it.
I just sat down
and accepted the label
and that life as a single mother.
Once I looked past my family members,
I put positive people around me.
I realized I had to press criminal charges
against my ex husband.
I wasn't responsible for his criminal charges.
He was responsible for his own criminal charges.
That was the first step.
And then creating a support network for me and the children.
I don't really talk about my divorce
because of the fact it was caused by domestic violence abuse.
I want other people to realize that you are not the cause of it.
I did make excuses for a long time,
as what I could be doing to cause the behavior.
I want others to know that everyone
deserves a healthy partnership and relationship.
What about the impact on your children?
My son is the oldest.
He saw and remembers everything.
He mimicked his father for a long time in regard to his sisters.
We worked to reverse his behaviors.
Like if he hit his sisters,
I started to focus on his emotional needs
and what he was feeling and how he reacted to that.
And was that something you knew to do intuitively or did you have support?
I have an associates degree in humans services, which is similar to counseling.
But it is difficult to apply that information to your own life.
And I also took the Nurture Class through UCP (United Cerebal Palsy).
I think they offer something similar at the Family Nurturing Center.
Also, if you feel your child is not getting along with peers or family members
you can can bring him/her in to be evaluated
at the Community Health Behavioral Center,
and then learn how to coach them in appropriate behaviors .
How is your son doing now?
I mean not perfect,
his mama says with a smile.
It makes me very happy to know I did the right thing by leaving my ex.
I truly feel healthy relationships are not talked about enough,
whether it's in school or at home.
Mainly in romantic relationships,
it should be talked about:
how you should be treated,
how you treat others,
and how to maintain your identity.
I don't want to put everything on the schools,
but I think middle school in health or sex education,
healthy relationships should be covered.
As for as breaking the cycle,
if I stayed in the relationship,
I would have a son who thought that is how he is to treat women,
and a daughter who thinks this is the way she should be treated.
What about the impact on your daughter?
My older daughter has some attachment issues.
She's very friendly, but it's difficult for her to attach to people.
She's bubbly, but it's hard for her to trust people.
She always feels like people are going to leave.
I worry how this will affect her as she starts to date.
One time we were shopping
and she saw a mom, dad and baby walking
and she said to me, “I just have you.”
I see my dad a couple times a week, so it's hard for me to accept.
Did you have an experience with domestic violence as child?
Often patterns are set early in our childhood and then repeat themselves.
No, but my mom is mentally ill.
I remember her kicking me out of the house.
I was looking at an escape from a young age.
Then I got myself into a less than ideal situation.
First, I was defined by having a mentally ill mother.
I remember at 13,
people started to watch me to see if I was going to become bi-polar.
What I have learned is not to let situations define you.
I hate when I see people define themselves on a situation and get stuck.
Then you miss out on the rest of your lives,
and exist only as that person who went through that experience.
I've learned to ignore other people's labels and take care of myself and my children.
What may have happened to you early in life doesn't define the rest of your existence.
When I was young, I sought an escape from living with a mentally ill mother,
but ultimately my escape led to a less than ideal situation.
I've learned from my experiences,
and today my goal is to give my children
the healthiest home environment possible.
It's important not to feel victimized,
and also to remove people from your life who are full of negativity.
Today, I want to use my experiences to help others have healthier relationships.
Working in my field helping people find services and housing,
is an empowering experience, and I am grateful to be able to help people.
Starting a new chapter allows you to define the person you want to be,
not the person you were once told you were.
So those situations don't define you, they are pages of your life.
Nation-wide domestic violence crisis hotline at (800) 799-SAFE.
Resources in the Utica, NY area and Central New York State
YWCA Mohawk Valley Crisis Services
Oneida County 24-hour hotline: (315) 797-7740.
Herkimer County 24-hour hotline: (315) 866-4120.
24-hour hotline: 315-866-0458
Samaritan Counseling Center
24 HOUR CRISIS & SUPPORT LINES: 315.468.3260
Resources in the Portland metro area and Columbia County, Oregon
Portland Women's Crisis Line
24-hour Crisis Hotline: 503-222-6222
General Organization Calls: 503-222-6507
Emergency shelter in a confidential location, support via a 24-hour housing access line, & transitional housing and advocacy programs,
Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
Office: (503) 230-1951
Not an emergency crisis hotline or shelter service.
Use their FIND HELP directory to locate services near you.
SAFE of Columbia County
24 hour crisis hotline: (866) 397-6161.
Hi friends, I write from the heart to tell my life story, and the story of those in my neighborhood called life. Research shows that our children's emotional & mental health is contingent upon us parents being able to tell our life story, or "coherent narrative." This is my coherent narrative, my life story in the making, with some of what I love in life too. My goal is to share my life in a way that is real, uplifting & positive- sometimes serious, sometimes fun. In my practice, I inspire parents to empowerment through reclaiming our life stories and learning respectful discipline. My work is my offering to our children- our future. Wishing you all a happy family!