A blog for Family Violence Prevention Month

November is Family Violence Prevention month and I’ve decided for this month to dedicate Fridays to a post on the subject.

I was in an abusive relationship for 4 years 9 months and know the terrors of what can happen in your mind and life when you fall in love with an abuser. I know how it hurts the one’s you love, your family and friends. And, I also know that we can stop it. We can break free and when we do, life opens up in limitless possibilities.

We can stop abuse. It takes all of us to commit to not do the things we do or contribute to its presence in our lives. I cannot change an abuser. I can stop their abuse in my life.

A Journey of Love

For four years nine months I endured a relationship of escalating terror. Looking back, I can’t remember what it is that kept me so stuck in his abuse. Looking back I wonder sometimes, what was I smoking? It must have been powerful stuff. And then, I remember the fear. Fear soaked into my pores. It damned the blood pounding into my heart. It permeated every crevice of my mind, consuming my thinking with terrifying reminders of why I could not leave him.

When it was really bad, and the abuser raged or sat in silent condemnation of yet another of my transgressions, I would slink into a closet, close the door and sit in the dark, my eyes shut to any crack of light trying to enter the dismal confines of my mind. Repetitively I would pet the pooch’s silky fur, clinging for dear life to this one being who laid her head upon my scrunched up knees and loved me unconditionally. Sometimes, when he held onto the pooch and would not let her come to me, I would crawl into the closet and dig my nails into my wrists, scraping the skin back, trying desperately to feel something, anything, other than the pain of being me. I wanted so desperately to peel my skin away, layer by layer to reveal the veins and vessels that carried the blood of life within this person who felt so dead to me. I wanted to see who lived within me. I wanted to expose the bones that were supposed to hold me up yet seemed to be crashing down from within me. I wanted to die.

It is hard to describe how he implanted such terror into my life. It was a moment by moment seeping away of my essence. When I met him, I was a partner in a communications firm. I had my home, my daughters, my life. He kept telling me that everything I had was nothing compared to what he would give me. I would say, “But I’m happy with my life today.” And he would laugh and ask me how that could be and he would remind me of what a mess my life was. I couldn’t figure that one out. My life wasn’t perfect. But it wasn’t a mess either. Yet, he persisted and rather than laugh back at him, I retreated into silence. Perhaps he was right. Perhaps all that I had accomplished meant nothing compared to all that he had done and wanted to give me.

And then the stalking and the phone taps and the threats of bomb’s under my car and the stories of evil men threatening to kidnap my daughters and drug them and put them into the sex trade began. And I fell into despair. The unreal began to feel too real and I could not risk challenging the truth.

By the end of that ride, I did not exist. I had completely submerged my identity and scrunched it up into a tiny pocket tucked high up into the corner of my mind as I became the vessel of his deceit. We were in hiding as he tried to evade the police. He was searching for a way out of the country. I was searching for a way out. Of life. Of being there with him, And so I existed, telling myself that at least I had gotten him away from the one’s I love. They didn’t deserve him and his abuse. But I did.

For four months my daughters, family and friends didn’t  know where I was. And I was too afraid to call and tell them I was okay. Because that too would have been a lie.

I was not okay. I wanted to die. Every moment of every day. Waking or sleeping. I wanted to die. I watched buses and semi-trailers looking for an opportunity to fall into their path or crash into the solid substance of their massive sides as they sped through my life. I counted pills. I fondled razor blades. I imagined death in every form and prayed for it to come and end the darkness that was my world.

And through it all, I stayed silent. I acted the role he needed me to play to convince those who needed convincing that we were who he said we were. Even though I knew it was all a lie. I had become his lie. I was his shill. His creation. The only truth I held onto was my love for my daughters. To take my own life would be to make a lie of my love for them. And I couldn’t do it.

And then, at 9:14 am, May 21, 2003, the police walked in and arrested him and I received the miracle of my life and thus began my journey into myself, into beauty, hope and the joy of living free of his abuse.

It has been an amazing journey since that beautiful day in May. A journey filled with sorrow, tears, laughter, joy. A journey like no other. A journey of Love.

I am blessed. Once upon a time I was an abused woman. Today, I am a victor. Today, I know my power comes from within me. Today, I know my own strength. I cannot stop an abuser being who they are, but I can stop abuse in my life. And I have.

 

25 thoughts on “A blog for Family Violence Prevention Month

  1. LG,

    We’ve talked often about your history – your story. Perhaps, for those who’ve not heard it before it deserves re-telling, re-selling, re-minding. In that regard, I applaud you for re-living that memory so we can all re-alize what you’ve been through and what you’ve done about it.

    What I would like to see you write more about – the before story, and the after story. There are reasons you were vulnerable to abuse. There were pre-cursors and warnings in your life before that event. Write about that. Tell that story.

    And, after you tell that …

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  2. LG .. p.s. (your bog service is quirky today …. hard to leave a post

    The ‘after’, the how you’ve lived since, the how you are living now – how you are making choices, how you are keeping yourself emotionally safe, physically protected, rationally well – that interests me. I believe it will interest others too. We all have our periods of trauma (few as horrid as what you endured) and I believe we need to live-past them, beyond them and without them …. perhaps more importantly than ‘reviewing and reliving’ them.

    Your thoughts?

    Cheers,

    Mark

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  3. Louise, I have read and reread your book and heard your story through the many different avenues of your writting. I am amazed at how many peoples lives you have changed by telling your story over and over and what courage that has taken. The strenght you show each day is in itself an inspiration to all of us. I am so anxious to see what your amazing spirit has in mind for when your “365 Days of Making a Difference” is complete. As always, thank you!
    Patti

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  4. Hi Louise, I don’t know that much about your history but I do know that domestic violence is a horrible thing for anyone to live with. I’m sure there are scars left behind that affects the victim for many years. I’m so glad you can blog about it. By blogging about it, I believe you can provide encouragement to others who are in a similar situation.

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    • Thanks Carolyn — I think that no matter the trauma, we have ‘scars’. For me, blogging keeps the blood flowing through the scars — and triggers are opportunities to move through them and be free of them. Thanks so much!

      Like

  5. Your story always inspires me to keep going. Too much of how you describe wishing for an end to life is too familiar with my own days, though there is no explanation as to why my head and heart reached this darkness. Thank you for your determination to keep making a difference, really you are amazing.
    Hugs xx

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  6. What a gripping post, I can not say I understand as I don’t have never been in an abusive relationship but I have seen my sisters endure one and I know it is hard for someone to leave so heres to you for finding the strenght to leave and move forward…………

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    • Thank you JOanne — I hope your sister is shining bright. I think it is one of the hardest aspects of a relationship like that — you begin to believe you can’t/shouldn’t shine.

      And we all need to shine. We all must shine to make a world of difference!

      Blessings to you and your sister.

      Like

    • Ah yes, well there’s the thing Diana — they came because two girlfriends here wouldn’t quit pestering the police to find me. There was one Detective here who was amazing and when he got a lead on where Conrad was, and it proved to be true — there they were :).

      I’m glad they came!

      I am grateful 🙂

      Like

  7. “I would crawl into the closet and dig my nails into my wrists, scraping the skin back, trying desperately to feel something, anything, other than the pain of being me.” I never said it, but that’s what i do 😦

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    • Ah Nikky — the path to loving yourself is to do what is loving and caring and kind for and of you. I was always shocked that the hurt inside didn’t leave visible scars and that was partly why I did it. Are you able to make a commitment to love yourself — I know in the other post you mentioned not forgiving yourself — are you willing to give yourself that forgiveness — and then stay the course. To always move back into forgiveness of yourself so that you can be free?

      Your courage in acknowledging that is what you do says you have the courage to move beyond the act of self-harm into self-care and forgiveness.

      Be bold. Be brave. Be your most amazing self. You deserve to be free!

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      • thank you so much Louise. In fact, i don’t feel that it is something I can really control as i sometimes only realize what happened after i start bleeding, but i will keep trying.

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  8. I’ve read your book, and know some of your story – yet I read your words and some of it is like I’ve never heard it before. Telling a story such as yours takes guts and many of us can’t begin to imagine living like that. I’m amazed by your strength and your desire to make a difference, and you do – make a difference – for so many.

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    • Thanks Fi — that is the beauty of today for me. I love that woman who was abused. The woman who abandoned her children. I love her and know she is me — and in loving her, I accept all that she did and let go of shame.

      For me, living my life ‘in the difference’ today, is an important element of letting go of that shame and sorrow.

      One of the reasons I write of those times is to encourage and inspire others to know — the only way to be free is to forgive ourselves and love ourselves for all we’re worth.

      I can’t change one millisecond of what happened or what I did — what I can change is how I live today and how I ‘see’ that woman who was me and is me. And when I live in the light and beauty of my life now, when I cherish everything about my life today, I create a world of wonder — and in that, I am blessed.

      Hugs dear Fi.

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  9. Thanks for your story. With the recent death of the Calgary woman, the issue of domestic violence in Calgary always made me wonder about what was truly going on since one doesn’t really much about commentary/analysis on hot social issues in the local press. Just little incidents here and there.

    But now my suspicions have been confirmed..re domestic violence after reading statistics in the last few days in the news. Coming from Vancouver and Toronto where I’ve lived over 33 yrs. in total for those big cities, such issues and others are discussed more openly in both of those cities with support groups who are WAAAYYYY more vocal to the local press. I wish for Calgary, courage for ongoing courage to speak out. Otherwise bigger change to solve problems won’t occur. We cannot fool ourselves that we are a world-class city or whatever, if look to our the health of foundation, our people.

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  10. Hi Jean — thank you so much for what you wrote — it is true. We need to speak up and out about these issues. And I think it’s amazing that here we both are, in Calgary sharing a belief in the power of speaking out — colliding in blogosphere!

    Because you’re right — the bigger changes that are necessary until we ‘get real’ with that the issues really are.

    Like

  11. Pingback: Heroes in our midst « A Year of Making A Difference

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