“Slut, I told you not to go anywhere,” he yelled, slamming his fist against my right eye. “Where did you get any money to go to the store with anyway?” he continued as the words stung just as deep as his first blow.
Ashamed, I looked around hoping there was no one outside to see my assault. I had grown accustomed to being verbally and physically abused behind closed doors, but being humiliated out in public was a first. Thankfully no one was outside to witness my shame or to help me. I dashed into the house before he could land another blow upon me. What did I do to deserve this, I asked myself. I took it upon myself to go to the corner store to purchase a pack of cigarettes that I had traded in aluminum cans to get.
Although my pride and face were wounded, I had grown used to this kind of abuse from him. I believed him when he told me I was worthless, dumb, ignorant, useless and just plain not worth the oxygen I was breathing. I went through this kind of abuse for 11 years until I had finally had enough, especially after he decided he would beat me with two fishing poles. I couldn’t believe he actually used the fishing poles because he knew fishing was my favorite pastime. He would stoop to any level to degrade me. Somehow, I found the inner strength to snatch the poles from him and reined upon him some of the abuse he had given me for so long. I walked away that day and never returned. That was over a year ago. Thus began my journey back home.
Life has an interesting way of reminding you of what’s truly important and what matters most to you during situations like this. As I walked away from that relationship, I recalled all the love, joy, patience, sacrifices and wisdom my parents and family instilled in me—the exact opposite of what he tried to make me believe about myself. Although those things had lain dormant for so long, they came back to life with a passion on that fateful day. It was at that moment I remembered the love God has for Jesus and I told myself “surely God, you love me because you created me and being made in your image wasn’t just a coincidence, it was done for a reason.” He didn’t create me to be dogged out by life. I know and still hold on to the belief that my life has a greater purpose. I also knew that if I stayed in that relationship, I would never come to know my purpose so I was walking away from misery and destruction and walking toward my future. In order to get to my future though, I needed to go back to a place where I was loved and accepted. And that place was home.
On the days when I think back through some of the turmoil I went through, (oh yes, I have those days), I find myself deprogramming negative thoughts that my abuser tried to instill me. When he was angry, the word “Bitch” became his name for me. “Bitch.” Funny… I don’t recall that name listed anywhere on my birth certificate. But I did remember the love God has for Jesus and I knew he had that love for me, too. I just had to learn how to love myself.
But loving me was one of the hardest things I ever learned to do. I have to constantly remind myself of what God says I am through scripture. I post these affirmations on my facebook statuses every day. As a small child when my siblings called me, it was never “come here Ho!” It was “Nickoo, where are you?” I was a beloved child and that love helped to restore me. When I would look in the mirror during my first days of self-liberation, I would see that “fat ass” he saw, now I realize I gained this weight trying to cover up my heart sort of as a defense mechanism, protection so to speak. Food comforted me at that time, now I find comfort in God. I look in the mirror now and see the progress I have made from shedding some of the pounds and maintaining a healthy diet and I even had the nerve to implement an exercise program into my daily routine. I am doing things that make me feel good, not having to worry about if I’m doing something that cause him to cuss me out or beat me.
I feel so free now, I just have to share this with somebody and I am making plans not only to share my story, but to help someone else as well. I feel so good about me, that I just want to scream “Hey world, look out I’m back!”
Today, here and now, I realize that God had his hand of protection over me and kept me from death on several occasions. I have had lit barbecue grills thrown at me, rifles pulled on me, numerous black eyes, busted lips, fractured ribs, broken bones and I was choked close to losing my life, several times. Choking is the number one cause of how abusive spouses kill their partners, choking them to death. I know of the personal loneliness, the uncertainty of not knowing how I will survive without him, thinking no one else would want me, and wondering where I would go and what I would do. Those questions alone are enough to cause one to stay in an abusive situation.
I am not just reciting statistical fact, I am speaking from experience. I stayed all those years because I thought I had nowhere to go and I bought into his idea of me. I had even left a few times before only to return because I thought he really loved me. Now I know that was a pure sham. If he loved me he would have never raised his hand to me the first time and if I loved myself I would have never allowed him a second chance to do so. I was walking in circles then. I ensure that won’t happen again by practicing meditation and affirmations, that’s what has helped and is still helping me. Whenever I am going through something I tell myself “This too shall pass” and anything worth having is worth working for. I believe I am worth working for.
My hope is to further my education and be a help to women who are going through the same circumstances. I want to be a counselor for these women who have lost their way. I want to share my story, inspire, and instill in them the hope and love I have found inside of myself. I will strive to help give them the courage to be all that they were called by God to be because we all have a reason to be here and it’s not to be somebody else’s punching bag. It’s not to become the scapegoat for someone who is feeling “less than” and making it their mission in life to make you feel the same. I want to pull the covers off of the ugliness of domestic violence and help women who are victims to become survivors, like myself.
I realize in order to truly be effective I need to have an education behind my horrible experience. I want to use this unfathomable experience to help someone. I believe God put me through the fire so I could have a testimony because there is no testimony without a test. I plan to do so by returning to school and becoming a counselor for abused women, so I can counsel women through the fear of the unknown. I want to point them toward a future where they can become anything they desire to be no matter not what age, religion, race or creed, nor what their tormentor told them. I want to help break down those walls of self-doubt, self-loathing and help to replace it with self-reassurance and self-love. I want to give them the tools they need to tackle the negative feelings that are sure to come and tempt them to run back to a life that has no growth. I want to educate them, but first I must become educated.
Freedom has given me clarity and with that I am willing to go to any lengths to accomplish my goals. I have made up my mind that nothing and no one is going to stop me. I am determined to become a success in spite of the odds I once faced, as a matter of fact those odds and that situation have motivated me to be all that I can be. I have taken the scripture Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” and instilled into the very core of my being, it has become my mantra. With Christ there isn’t anything I can’t do. My new walk has just begun……