This post was submitted anonymously.
At 16 I moved from Portland, Oregon to Cleveland, Ohio to live with my dad. I was a headstrong teenager and wanted to conquer the world on my terms. Spoiler alert, I did not conquer the world…right away. I met a boy. I fell in love. It was pure bliss for six months. Then the emotional abuse started. I couldn’t have friends. I didn’t dare have my own opinions. I became bulimic to the point my parents threatened to put me in the hospital if they saw me throw up one more time. The emotional abuse quickly escalated. Before I knew it I was experiencing severe domestic violence before I was an adult.
At the peak of the physical abuse, spring break my senior year of high school, the same boy I fell in love with when I moved to Cleveland held me over the back of a Carnival Cruise ship in an alcohol fueled rage. I can still feel the spray of the ocean on my face as I made peace with my fate. Thankfully, we made enough noise for other cruisers to stop what could’ve been my demise. I wish I could say that was the one and only time I thought I was going to die at the hands of my ex.
When I started college his rage escalated. I was making new friends, finding nicer boys and he was losing control. I was still living at home and so was he. Six houses separated us. He tried to keep me close. I tried to commit suicide. He promised to change. I’d try to ignore him. He’d stalk me and try to ram my car off the road with his truck. I’d refuse to press charges.
By the summer between my freshman and what would’ve been my sophomore year of college my dad gave me an ultimatum. If he heard me taking to my ex one more time, he would cut me off and give me the boot. I don’t blame him; he couldn’t sit by and watch me destroy my life. Inevitably, one night he caught me on the phone with him; my dad literally picked me up and threw me out of the back door. As the screen door slammed behind me, it felt like a jail door locking me up for a life sentence. I had nowhere to go except six houses down the street.
About a month later I took a pregnancy test. Positive. I was 19. I wanted an abortion, but thankfully he would not allow it. After I gave birth the abuse was less physical and more emotional. “No ones going to want you now,” was a regular phrase I heard. My son was the reason I finally called it quits. I couldn’t raise my son with my ex. I didn’t want him learning those habits.
Call me stupid, but I didn’t realize how much trauma I suffered at the hands of my son’s father until pretty recently. This unrecognized trauma I suffered led me straight from one horrible relationship to the next, drugs and alcohol. I discovered I really liked raspberry vodka and cocaine, a lot. I just wanted to be numb and selfish. I hurt a lot of people during that year. I was arrested a couple times. Spent 30 days in jails. Instead of turning to drugs, I should’ve seen a therapist. I should’ve told people what happened to me, but I didn’t. I was ashamed, and I was becoming the world’s worst mom.
Today I am 34 and for the past 12 years I have been with the most amazing man and I turned out to be a pretty stellar mom. My son is my number one priority and he thrives. He plays soccer, baseball, he plays percussion in band, he holds a seat on our city Youth Advisory Council and he’s a world traveler. My husband is the most amazing man. He’s my best friend and supports me whenever I want to do something crazy like: run a marathon, get my black belt or write a book.
I’ve been a mom for my entire adulthood; an overly devoted mom since I was 22. Until recently I didn’t know who I was. While soul searching I’ve realized being of service to others and writing are two of my passions. I want young girls to know the signs of abuse and understand they can leave their abusers. I want them to realize, even if you do some shitty things and shitty things happen to you; those actions don’t have to define you forever. I want survivors to know they have experienced real trauma and it’s important to get help. To summarize, I want to help young girls step out of the shadows and SHINE!
Do you have a story to share? Write to me @firstname.lastname@example.org