Twenty years ago I was a young single mother and didn’t realize that I was embarking upon a new relationship that would nearly destroy my spirit. I knew going into the relationship that my then boyfriend was controlling and prone to what I thought were temper tantrums. Like a lot of abused women, I thought that if I loved him enough that I could help him heal…to finally know unconditional love. He belittled me, called me names and cursed at me in a way that to this day makes me cringe at its cruelty. He constantly accused me of cheating on him, and made me feel ashamed of who I was and the mistakes I had made in the past. And, as is unfortunately all too often the case, he eventually began using physical violence as a means to try and break my spirit.
Our relationship was a crazy, unpredictable 4 ½ years of soul crushing abuse. I finally got out of the relationship after one too many trips to the emergency room – trips that finally broke through my denial about the true nature of the man I “loved,” our relationship, and especially myself. Today I am grateful to be alive, to have two beautiful children who weren’t raised in a home filled with emotional, physical and mental violence and to have the opportunity to serve other women who are or have been abused.
However, there is one thing that still gets me from time to time, which is that it took me 4 ½ years to break free from my abuser. I remember being so desperate…so confused, and so needing of support. If I had had access to an organization such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline back when I was being abused, I believe it is highly likely that I would’ve gotten out earlier. The knowledgeable, empathetic support and vital resources they provide, 365 days a year are critical to helping a victim of abuse break free of the violence. Victims may only reach out for help once. It is so essential that the hotline answer as many calls as possible so that every victim can become a survivor.
Services such as those offered by the National Domestic Violence Hotline are not optional…they are essential to the health of our families. The hotline arms victims with a truth that can eventually truly set them free.