Her Story…an anonymous survivors story
An 18 year old should be looking forward to adulthood and discovering who they are. When I was 18, I had a baby and was in an abusive relationship. The abuse had gotten bad enough that a friend told me I should call the crisis line. I nervously made the phone call and found myself talking for hours to an advocate. I was shocked to discover I was in an abusive relationship. Looking back, I know that is because I was made to believe the abuse was my fault. The advocate taught me about the abuse cycle and recommended that I stay in a shelter while I planned my escape and filed for a protection order and temporary custody of our child. The first 24 hours was filled with fear and countless phone calls from my abuser. I filed for a protection order and was given an emergency protection order. Three days after I filed, we had our court hearing. Both sides had attorneys and the court hearing lasted so long that we had to come back another day to finish it. I still remember the sick feeling I felt the entire time. My stomach hurt so bad from the anxiety that I couldn’t stand up straight, let alone eat. Finally, a decision was made! I lost. I lost the court hearing. I lost temporary custody. I lost my protection. It was a “he said, she said” case. The physical abuse had been minimal and hadn’t occurred recently. Most of my abuse was psychological and emotional which, according to state statues, meant it was invisible and unworthy of protection. The next few days were a whirlwind of emotion. My attorney was explaining to me the financial cost and process of a custody hearing. I was working, going to college, and a single mom, so I definitely wasn’t swimming in cash. My abuser called and asked if we could meet. Feeling beaten, I surrendered, and we resumed our unhealthy relationship. My family, filled with worry for their daughter and grandchild, begged me not to go back. Desperately, they called my advocate to try and talk some sense into me. I grabbed the phone and without speaking, hung up. I was ashamed of my choice, but at the moment, I felt I had no other choice. The words of my advocate stayed with me. I knew the abuse would most likely continue. I knew I needed to keep a journal and document all abuse. I knew I needed a home in my own name. I knew I needed to save money. I knew when the time was right, I could escape. As we all predicted, the time came in a perfect storm. I was attacked by my abuser with a witness who called the police. There was no denying this incident and he was arrested. Crisis Intervention welcomed me back without judgement and with compassion. I was prepared for a protection order hearing this time, armed with a journal of events, witnesses, and a police report. I got custody of my child and he was ordered supervised visitation that ensured the safety of my child. I was now 20 years old, not even able to drink alcohol, but fighting for my little family’s safety. This was only the beginning of several protection order violations and custody battles. Advocates from Crisis Intervention were there for me for every court hearing, every police report, and every frantic late night phone call. I never want to imagine what my life would have been like without Crisis Intervention. Honestly, I would have probably been dead by now. This story ends bittersweet. I am married to a wonderfully kind man who adopted my child, I obtained a college degree, and I am the mother to healthy, happy, safe children. My batterer went on to horribly abuse more women, as well as drugs and alcohol. Studies show that abuse gets worse with each victim, and in this case that statistic rings true. These choices led to his untimely death. Many were left with scars, both visible and invisible, but no one hoped for this ending. I didn’t survive the abuse and psychological torture on my own, but Crisis Intervention became my support and carried me through from my darkest days to freedom.