12152017
 

Domestic Violence (Ashley, 32)

TRIGGER WARNING. The story below deals with domestic violence. It may not cover the nitty-gritty details because the world doesn't need to know those, but it gives you the inner dialogue to an outsider's perspective. I'm very proud of Ashley for writing and sharing this summary of her account.


After reading, if you would like to contact Ashley directly to hear more about her story or talk to her about your experience, please email me directly.


If you are experiencing domestic violence — call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.



If you’ve never experienced domestic violence — oftentimes the first question is “Why didn’t you just leave?” First — I want you to know this isn’t helpful to anyone. At all. Please stop asking this. Studies show it takes someone an average of seven attempts to leave an abusive relationship. I can assure you this rings true. Abuse doesn’t typically start at 100 from the get. It’s little bits and pieces — you letting one thing go, then another...until you’re barely treading water and your life jacket is too far to reach. The shame you feel for “letting” yourself even be in a situation like that is almost unbearable.


My abuser manipulated me, gaslit me and convinced me that none of my friends or family cared about me. Questions about him being with other women (he was) always resulted in me being physically assaulted. So I stopped asking. Even when the sheets smelled like a perfume that was not my own.


I showed up to his place of business one day. He asked me to go get his phone charger from his car. I grabbed the “wrong one”. Then, in front of his employees AND his customers, he whipped me in the face with said charger and shoved me to the ground. Every single person present that day put their head down and walked away. They did nothing. They said nothing. I thought “Shit — he’s right. No one cares about me.” And that was the first moment I just succumbed to this relationship that felt like a deep, dark pit that I’d never be able to claw my way out of.


At this point I had lost over 20 pounds. I caught co-workers talking about me with speculations of an eating disorder. Other co-workers commented on how great I looked. I remember the first time I had to tell someone what was going on. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to. I was so scared. But I had to. I was at risk of losing my job. I worked in the pre-op department/OR — which meant I had to change into scrubs in a locker room at the start of my shift, surrounded by my co-workers. I would come in late so there was less risk of my bruise-covered body being seen. On the really bad days I would call in sick. I had a meeting with my supervisor, the head of the department & HR. I explained everything. EVERYTHING. I was terrified. Shaking. Crying. I was told “It is your responsibility to show up to work on time”. I was fired. Full on drowning now. Gasping for air. No life jacket in sight.


Not everyone has a “last straw” moment in situations like these — and I don’t even know if I believed myself at the time when I finally said “Okay this is it”. But he kicked in my front door & I remember thinking “I am going to die.”


Once I had finally escaped this violent relationship with a person who stole almost two years of my life — I didn’t really feel anything. No relief. No happiness. I didn’t feel “free”. Just numb. When it rains, it pours and it’s hard to imagine sun. The thing about healing is that you don’t know how it’s going to look — because it hasn’t happened yet. It’s nearly impossible to imagine being dry when you’re fucking soaked.


Some days I felt great about my progress — other days the whole endeavor was confrontational as hell. Shit was bubbling up to the surface and I could shove it back down or sit with it until I could let it go (sometimes the first choice was the answer and that’s okay).


This is just a summarized version of my truth tied up in a neat little bow. The extended version is messy and hard and really fucked and includes a TON of steps backwards. But it was worth the work. I am worth it.


If you’re reading this and some things feel familiar — you are worth it too. Reach out to someone. You ARE loved. You ARE important. Even if I’m a stranger to you — you can reach out to me.



If you are experiencing domestic violence — call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.


If you would like to contact Ashley directly to hear more about her story or talk to her about your experience, please email me directly.


Below, feel free to comment about any questions you might have, or show your support.

58 views