In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October, SAFE San Juans is submitting a series of stories to your local newspapers. Below is an essay from a survivor of domestic violence.
So often as a survivor I was asked or told:
“Why didn’t you just leave…..???”
“If someone did that to me, I would have been out of there in a heartbeat!”
“I would kill someone if they hurt my kid!”
“I can’t believe you stayed with him. What were you thinking!?!”
There are many more things that were said that all centered around the abuse that happened to me and my children as “my fault.”
I held on to that guilt and blame for many years during and once we were free of the abuse.
This perpetual blame caused pain and guilt deep within me. At first, I did not know how to answer. With healing, growth, forgiveness, and hope I was able to begin to answer these questions and heal from the abuse and comments.
sometimes staying is…
child’s speech therapy
a place to live
food for my children
not being beaten while trying to leave
loss of self
fear of court
no money for court
fear of the police arresting you for kidnapping (as I was told by my abuser)
fear of unknowns
losing my children
isolation from everyone I once knew — nowhere to go because no one knew about the abuse,
attempts to try to leave and being beaten and abused even worse
I am now free.
I now know that a mother fleeing domestic violence cannot be arrested for kidnapping. I now know there are safe homes and safe shelters that help women and children with places to sleep, a plan for childcare and support for finding jobs. I now know that there are lawyers to help for free, domestic violence and sexual assault agencies to walk beside you while you are healing and navigating the court system. I now know I am not alone.
I have found my voice again!
This process was not quick or easy. I had to accept “survivor” as part of my identity. I had to plan for years on how to get out.
But once I was able to flee, the amazing support that surrounded me by my family, reacquainted friends, and SAFE San Juans are why my children and I are standing free of abuse today.
There are still times the mama guilt creeps its way back in, but I am grateful to be stronger now and quiet the blame and guilt that are not mine to hold.