HJ Newsletter

I'm working on the HJ's newsletter, and I interviewed a survivor for an article today. I thought I'd share the finished article, mostly because she reminded me so much of Mom... not her personality, but her story, her decisions, how she fought tooth and nail for her kids and got them! She inspires me. Totally.

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.” -Confucius-

Statistics show that a woman in an abusive relationship will leave her partner an average of seven times before she leaves for good. For one domestic violence survivor “A”, it didn’t take seven times for her to leave for good, but it did take an extraordinary set of circumstances to open her eyes to what was truly going on.

Like many abusers, her husband did not start out overtly manipulative and controlling. After their son was born, however, he began to control her more and more closely, until it just became too much of a hassle to try to go out anywhere. Even after financial circumstances forced her to get a job in order to make ends meet, he obsessively monitored her whereabouts and timing. (Note that this is a common trait in abusive relationships. Isolation and control are some of the first red flags.)

She left once, in an attempt to change the relationship and get him to work on the issues she knew were there, but a lack of finances and support forced her back. It was a strategic move on her part, a way to get on her feet and be able to maintain the separation for good next time, but it was also because she lacked the knowledge on how to get out and stay out.

A year and a half later, she was still there. She still intended to leave, and she was working and saving money, but one thing after another came up... until her son was admitted into the hospital for a fractured skull. Though the relationship was definitely abusive, physical violence was a line that her ex-husband never dared to cross, and to this day the origin of the fracture is uncertain. CPS got involved, and the children were taken away.

It was a few days after this incident and being interrogated by police that a CPS caseworker called “A” into her office. She explained that this was a domestic violence situation, even though her husband had never hit her. The caseworker informed her that if she stayed with him, she was more than likely not going to get her children back, and she directed through the initial steps for leaving the relationship. “A” followed those steps, appearing in court to get a restraining order, moving into a safe house, and contacting the Sheriff’s Department and CPS when her husband violated the restraining order a month later.

In January 2012, she began attending the weekly domestic violence peer support groups offered by The Healing Journey. “From there”, she says, “it has been one progress after another.” There have still been setbacks and frustrations, as she shares, but the road has led ever forward. 

“It’s been rough. Many times it felt like a black hole, most days it felt like it was never going to get better. I definitely feel stronger now. The trials that I’ve had to go through with just that weekly visit has been a relief. It’s allowed me to brainstorm and bounce ideas off of others. Even if I felt it was doom and gloom and nothing getting better, I go to group and leave feeling refreshed, as odd as it sounds. It’s comforting to go into group knowing that no matter how bad my week has been, I’ll talk about it and it’ll be okay, then I’ll sit down and find a way to approach it and tackle the situation. It’s given me a lot of confidence I didn’t have when I started. I was an absolute train wreck! ... It helped give me the fight that I needed to.”

Fighting for the return of her children has been her focus, her own personal war. Aided by her support network and her assigned case workers, the war has been won! “A” and her children have been reunited and are rebuilding their family on solid, healthy ground. “A” continues to come to domestic violence support meetings, offering a valuable perspective on how this experience has changed her outlook on life.

“It’s hard to go from having a life and having your kids and having something to absolutely nothing. When you do have absolutely nothing, you treasure every single thing you have after that.”

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