I wouldn’t call myself a victim of domestic violence, I call myself a fighter, a survivor.
I WAS a victim. Today I am sharing my story with the hope that I can help at least one person to seek help. To be a fighter, to be a survivor.
I close my eyes and can still clearly see his facial expressions and anger in his eyes. I can see his fists, feel his breath, and hear his teeth grinding.
If I close my eyes long enough, I can hear his tone of voice and it takes me back to the darkest times of my life.
It would come in waves, there were good times where I was happy, we were happy. Times I had convinced myself that there was nothing wrong in hopes that it would stay somewhat good. It never lasted.
It started in small stages.
We had one car, my car. I worked, he mostly didn’t. He would use my car and take me to and from work every day. He would tell me he needed to go to the gas station and asked for my debit card and then keep my card. Soon, it seemed he always had my car keys and always wanted to read my text messages.
When I asked for my keys, he would hold them over his head, leaning down and putting is face right next to mine and yell “Dangle, dangle, you think just because it’s your car you can take it whenever you want? Take your car and your money and get out.” And I am cleaning up the language for you, omitting the vulgar names he called me over and over and the horrible things he screamed at me when he told me to get out.
And then it got worse.
One time is clearly burned into my memory.
He told me that if I left, he would kill me. But more… he said he would take me to my parent’s house and set it on fire, and burn it down while they slept inside, and he’d make me watch. While he described this terrible scene, he yelled and screamed at me, putting me down, telling me I was spoiled, I was worthless, and the disgusting, horrible string of names he called me…
Then came HIS hand on my throat and MY body being slammed against the wall—head-butting and choking; running me down the hall, slamming me into the closet door. I knew better than to ask for my car or my debit card back again.
Though many times in the future, when he fell asleep, I would take back my debit card and hide it somewhere in the house where he I hoped he couldn’t find it. But he always found it, and there were always repercussions that followed when he did.
Each time, he was sorry. He said he loved me. So, I stayed.
I stayed out of fear. He would leave for days, and I would not have a way to get to work. . . And then he showed back up acted like it was my fault he was gone. I made him leave, it was my fault he’d stayed away.
My friends knew something was going, I eventually broke down and told them everything. They helped me pack some bags. I was going to leave. We didn’t make it out in time. It got ugly. My phone was destroyed, my friends got pushed around. He grabbed me by my throat and pinned me against the wall.
I couldn’t live like this.
The only time I was able to talk to my family without him knowing was when I was at work and through e-mail. I wrote my dad an email, explaining that I needed help. We made a plan for me to move back home. It worked.
I got out and was safe.
But he was sorry, and he loved me. So, I went back. Again.
I will never forget the day I walked out on my family. I will never have the words to express how sorry I am. When I walked out that day, when they all went to work and came home to find that my stuff was gone.
It turned into a viscous cycle. Sadly, one that I couldn’t be pulled out of because of fear.
I gave birth to my son.
Things escalated, the situation deteriorated quickly to verbal, emotional and physical abuse becoming common occurrences… I struggled with post-partum depression and our son was ill and hospitalized for a time. I was isolated. I was confused and afraid of what would happen if I asked for help.
History had taught me that. What he would do. One day, after a particularly degrading and awful Mother’s Day that I will never forget (my first), I looked at my son and knew this was it. I had to have a better life for him, for us. I started hiding money, I opened a secret bank account and started placing random bags around the house with clothes for us to escape.
It wasn’t going to be that easy though. We were evicted before I could escape, we stayed in a motel downtown and lived in my car or with his mom. I was officially homeless.
I had hit rock bottom. I had no money even though I had a job, and no place to live.
We got into a fight and I took him to a friend’s house. I woke up the next day and he hadn’t come home. For the first time in months, I had my keys, my debit card, and my phone.
I grabbed three plastic shopping bags and filled them with whatever I could get my hands on and I left. I went to my parent’s house at 7 a.m. and told them everything.
My dad held me while I cried.
We went back to collect my things. There were knifes in the wall, the house where I had been living had been destroyed. We also learned that all of my belongings had been either been pawned, sold, or taken to the dump.
I had nothing.
The situation continued to deteriorate that day. I had no childcare and I had to work, so his Mother offered to watch my son. But during the day, HE called me screaming at me, wanting to know where I was, accusing me of cheating on him. So, as soon as I could, I drove to back to his Mother’s house.
He grabbed my phone and broke it, took my keys—left my son sitting in the car seat, screaming. Then he grabbed a gun.
He spun the gun around and asked me if I was scared.
He laughed again and said ‘do you really think this is how I am going to kill you, do you really think I would waste this bullet on you?’ and he laughed.
He grabbed my throat with one hand placed his hand over my mouth with the other and ran me into the wall. Then he spun me around, we tripped over the coffee table and we fell.
He pulled me up by my arm, covering my mouth–my lip was split and I was bleeding. He saw the bruises on my arms and THEN HE started crying and apologizing.
He finally gave me the keys, I grabbed my son and left.
This all happened over the course of just one very, long hour.
I left and never came back.
A few days later, he called and wanted to see our son, becoming very angry and yelling at me over the phone. He showed up soon after and when I saw his pale face, clenched jaw and fists. I knew something was about to happen.
I came out of the house, with my family right behind me. He launched himself at me and snatched my son right out of my arms and tried to take off running.
My mom dialed 911.
Three Boise PD cars, 2 fire trucks and an Ambulance came that day. I stayed locked in the bathroom until an officer came to get me out. He said I was safe to come out. My son had bruising on his cheek and a cut on his head. The officer saw my injuries from a few days before.
We were all interviewed and later saw a KNIFE, laying in the grass… my ex had brought it with him.
I remember what I was wearing that night. I remember the officer’s names. I remember one officer hugging me, telling me I was safe and okay. I remember my son’s cut being measured by the paramedic, and what his screaming sounded like.
Those are sounds you would never wish anyone to hear.
I remember the officer telling me that they were charging HIM with domestic battery and felony injury to a child. I remember how I felt knowing that I was safe because they made that choice for me. They knew what I needed. I was too afraid to make that decision.
I AM forever thankful to those officers who stepped in and stepped up for me and for my son.
Without them being there for me that night, without them telling me the resources, support, we needed, I don’t know where we would be.
You see, this is was what I had been waiting for. I had been too afraid to call the police or file charges. I had been too afraid of the repercussions. What would happen if I did, when he came back. Because he ALWAYS came back. I know now that fear is NOT uncommon for victims of domestic violence.
I am here today because of our law enforcement, the WCA, and my family. The WCA helped me obtain a 5 year protection order against my ex, which as the judge told me is unheard of. I utilized WCA counseling services and with their support I gained sole, legal and physical custody of my son.
Although he was allowed supervised visitations, he never saw my son after.
After years of convincing myself I never wanted to date again, I am about to be happily married to an amazing man. It hasn’t been easy, but he is patient and kind. He listens when I need to talk and validates me, so I feel heard. My son has someone he can now look up too. We are a family. I am grateful.
I still have nightmares. I still wake up crying sometimes. As a survivor of domestic abuse, the memories don’t leave. But every day you get a little stronger and every day you realize you’re safe and you’re okay. And every day I look at my son and think we did it.
I hope that by sharing just a sliver of my story today, it can help you if you are in situation where you are being abused; whether it’s physically, mentally, financially, or emotionally or if you know of someone that is or might be being abused, encourage them to get help.
Watch for signs, provide services, and show encouragement. Let them know they are worth it. There is hope.
– A Former WCA Client and Domestic Violence Survivor
Back to Blog >>