Reaching For The Stars

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As I have started on my new journey as a blogger, “Reach For The Stars” has become the motto of my life recently. One goal reached, on to the next goal to pursue my ultimate dream of helping those suffering from domestic violence.

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With what many of us have been through, “reaching for the stars” at some point seemed like something that was far out of our grasps. We had been beat down, stomped to the ground and had all our energy drained from us. At times not knowing when our last days would be.

Dreams? Our dreams were shattered, they were destroyed. Shall we dare dream? Shall we dare dream of what we hope to be one day? Where we hope to be one day?  No, we wouldn’t,  no more shattered dreams.

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But then something happened. The survivor in us awoke from deep within. What was once dormant and in hiding had finally had enough. It was time to dream again, it was time to get out and get on with our lives. It was time to get our lives back!

Once we made the great escape, came the healing process, each day setting daily goals, no matter how minute the goal may be. One goal at a time, one step at a time and one day at a time.

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Reach for the stars, and then reach further. Never settle for just enough. Go beyond the boundaries. Break new barriers. Reach more distant stars, explore uncharted territories. Never stop reaching for your stars, keep on dreaming. “If you believe it you will achieve it!”

 

 

You Are Not Your Past

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You are not your past! You are not all those horrible things that you were once called to belittle you and make you feel powerless. At some point you said “Enough is enough!” You dug and dug deep to muster up whatever ounce of strength you had and you got up and left. No matter how long it may have taken you to get there, the point is that you got there!

 

You walked out and never turned back, or maybe you did. Maybe you looked back for a split second out of habit; maybe you looked back out of fear. But you kept on walking, you faced forward again and walked towards the best days of your life. At first it won’t be easy, but each passing day will get easier than the last. It takes time. Remember a lot was taking from you and you have to get it all back; piece by piece.

 

Do not be afraid to speak to someone, whether it is a trusted family member or friend, or even a professional. If you know someone who has been through a similar experience lean on them for support.

 

Your past is not what defines you, what defines you is how you deal and have dealt with it. What was meant to kill you made you stronger. Have you ever seen a palm tree during a major storm? The strong winds bend them, but they don’t necessarily break.

 

Youtube video used for example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siHQgN6iFRk

 

You are not your past. You are strong, you are powerful, you are beautiful. You are an amazing person. You are smart, you are unique, you are loved. You are worthy and can do anything and be anything that you want to be.
You are not your past.

 

 

Photo Credit:

“7 Ways to Redefine Yourself.” PfitBlog. 9 Apr. 2014. Web. 9 Dec. 2015. <http://pfitblog.com/2014/04/09/7-ways-to-redefine-yourself/&gt;.

My Reflection

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Through my past experience with domestic violence, I used to find it hard to look at myself in the mirror. I was ashamed of what I would see. During the domestic violence I would look at myself and question who I really was. I would sit there and say to myself: “What did I do to deserve this? What is it that I am not seeing that he seems to see is a problem?” It was always me, me, and me. But the reality was it was always him, him, and him. It was never me, I was not an insecure individual, I had always been happy with who I was no matter what life seemed to hand me. It all of a sudden changed, he took that away from me, and his insecurities drowned and poisoned me, transforming me into something else.

After I opened my eyes and found my escape route the shame was still there. I was ashamed that I had allowed the abuse to happen, I was ashamed that I actually accepted it as “OK”. How could I ever share my whole truth with someone? They would laugh at me.  I was embarrassed. I didn’t trust anyone, I am not even sure I trusted myself.

 It took months, no years for me to look at myself in the mirror with confidence. It took years for my mindset to get right again, just like I wrote in my first blog about my story.

Now I look in the mirror I stand before my reflection and confidently say:  “Wow after all of that, I am still here, I made it out alive. After all the beating, the choking, the verbal abuse of saying I was nothing and I would be nothing. I now take this part of my life for the better good. To share with those with similar experiences, to share with those still grieving through their survival. To share for those who never made it.

I am on a new journey now; I have a different destination that I am soaring too. So as I prepare for each day and I look in the mirror, I smile at my reflection, straighten my crown and walk away like the boss that I know I am.

As I finish writing this I am actually fighting back tears, bittersweet, because while I am able to smile at my own reflection; I know there is someone who cannot even stand their own. I know there is someone questioning themselves as I write this and as you read.

For someone who feels there is no way out, know that there really is. You are loved; you are missed by those you have been taken from. You are an incredible and beautiful human being. You can do and be anything you want. You are your own property. You do not belong to anyone else.

To my fellow survivors, do not give up the final fight, the final fight to stay strong; the final fight to get your identity back. That last final blow that says; “I am not broken or damaged goods, I am somebody and I will be better than I was before. Nothing and no one can stop me” Embrace your reflection, adjust your crown and take your new days head-on!

Photo credit: “Domestic Violence Quotes.” Pinterest. Web. 6 Dec. 2015. .

I am a warrior

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Like the photo that coincides with this blog: ” I have battled my whole life to become the strong woman I am today…”

My father abandoned us after my mother divorced him. My stepfather passed from cancer. I was in an abusive relationship. As well as dealt with alcoholism and other obstacles in my life.

Through the small obstacles to the larger ones, I successfully fought my way through. At times I just had to jump over a hurdle, other times I had to crawl and claw my way out. I fought and I conquered

My scars; whether their physical, or the ones I allow to be seen through my words or by my voice, will never be used as a tool to try and further damage me. They will be used to show that I am a fighter. That I am strong and that I survived and will always survive.

I am a warrior; do not be ashamed by my battle wounds. Embrace them, just as I embrace them.

Embrace your own battle wounds! You’re a survivor; you have a story that needs to be told to ears that need and want to hear.

We as the survivors of our circumstances need to be the voice for those who no longer have one, and to those who have yet to find their own voice.

Photo Credit: From Facebook page: Stop Domestic Abuse 

When Life Gives You Lemons.

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“When life gives you lemons, you don’t make lemonade. You use the seeds to plant a whole orchard – an entire franchise! Or you could just stay on the Destiny Bus and drink lemonade someone else has made, from a can.” – Anthon St. Maarten

We have all heard the expression: “when life gives you lemons make lemonade.” But too me, just making lemonade doesn’t seem enough, it’s only temporarily satisfying. So I had to google to see if I could find a similar yet more in depth quote…and Walla! Anthon St. Maarten hit the nail on the head!

When life gives us it’s best shot, We need to grab it buy it’s horns and ride it til the end! Go beyond the glass. Like Anthon St. Maarten’s quote “…. Plant an orchard an entire franchise!”

I think the reason why I love this quote is because this is exactly what I’m doing! I didn’t just take the lemons to make me a glass of lemonade, but I planted the seeds from those lemons to grow lemon trees. I used the fruit of my labors to grow my own fruit. I planted those seeds to reap the fruit of my labor.

It’s okay to drink lemonade that someone else made once in a while; we all need people that have gone through what we are going through, in fact those are the people who help to teach us how to plant our own lemon seeds. Sometimes we need to sit down and quench our thirst from the experience of others; but we cannot stay their sipping on their lemonade. We need to learn how to make the best out of the bad times.

Magnify Strength

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I find it so easy for us to look at someone else’s weakness and tear them down; instead of focusing on their strengths and building them up.

Why do you think that is? Personally, I believe it is because of our own insecurities. We do not want others to see our weaknesses so we focus on someone else’s. When you think about it, that is a weakness in itself. You are sitting there tearing down someone else to try and look better but in reality, you are actually weaker than you assume they are.

We need to change the way we view things and others. We need to think before we speak. Before anyone goes to criticize someone, think of the good characteristics of that individual and compliment them on that. Shine light on their strengths. Encourage them, uplift them, you probably have no idea what is going on in their life.

Let me tell you, we are all our worst critics. So imagine someone who has already been beating themselves up and then you come along to throw more shade. Put yourself in their shoes. What if that was you? How would you feel? Truthfully! How would that make you feel? It doesn’t feel good when you are in a moment of low self-esteem and you have others adding their negativity on top of yours.

It’s time for a change!

Magnify strength!

Addiction

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When I was young, in my early twenties, I found that there was a change in the way I drank. It was no longer about the party, or having fun. It started as just being fun. I’d go out with my friends, and we’d stay out maybe later than we should. Then I would drink maybe more than I should. After what I’d been through with my ex, I was living free, and with that freedom came a wild streak I was thoroughly enjoying. Finally, I was in control of myself. If I wanted to drink too much, or party all night long, I could, and no one was going to stop me.

Drinking became the sole focus of my life. I would spend hours a day looking for a club, a house party, a small social gathering to go to, and if there wasn’t one, I created one at my house, all in order to drink until I couldn’t function. It had got to the point where I would drink up until it was time for me to get ready for work. Even when I got to work, my job took a back seat to figuring out how to not drink alone that night.

It seems impossible to me that I survived. I can’t believe my body never shut down from the enormous amounts of Hennessey I’d pour down my throat, or that I didn’t break my neck walking on a flat surface. Crazier though, is that somehow I held together working at least 40 hours a week and was working towards my degree. For a long time, I didn’t look like I had a drinking problem, and I was comforted by that. How could I hold all of this together if I was an addict?

Eventually though, my drinking caught up with me. I dropped out of school. I lost my job. I was hanging out with a group of people I had no business calling my friends. The downward spiral didn’t matter. I could just drink more and forget about it. Alcohol was always there. For four years, it was the best friend I had.

In 2009, I had a life changing experience. I’m not at liberty to really discuss it, and in truth, I’m not ready to. I’ve promised to my readers to share my truth, and my truth is that my rock bottom moment is something I need to keep private. One day, I hope to be able to share my life with total openness. With my first blog post, I discussed an incredibly difficult relationship that I had, and it was amazing the amount of people that reached out to me to say they had no idea what I had been through, or how much my story meant to them. I’m not ready to have the same attention drawn to this one small aspect of my past.
In times of hardship, I have found a deep connection with God. As soon as my ordeal in 2009 was over, I went to church. Instead of drinking in order to feel nothing, I strived to feel closer to God. While the church isn’t for everyone, I was lucky enough to meet a pastor that I truly credit with my recovery. In our first meeting, she made it very clear to me that if I didn’t deal with my past, the abuse from my ex, the abandonment of my father, the loss of my step-dad, I would be right back to drinking, or possibly worse. That meeting I mostly recall through a blur of tears and tissues. I went home and started writing. I learned how to cope with the pains of my past without drowning them in a glass of vodka. It took time for me to deal with the issues I had been running away from for so long. From 2009-2014 I went without a drop of alcohol. Since I feel good about how I’ve dealt with my pain and have accepted what has happened to me and what I have done to myself, I am comfortable having a drink every so often. I understand that for some people, a drinking problem is a one way street, where one drink turns into ten and it’s dangerous to even be around someone else who is drinking, but this is not the case for me. The only problem liquor causes in my life now is when my editor can’t focus and drink at the same time.

Photo Credit:  “Addiction… Thought of the Day.” 945 WCMS. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.

“She Had a Little Rebel in Her…”

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I found this quote by R.M. Drake. It really spoke to me, and I would like to share it with all of you: “She had a little rebel in her. A little chaos and a little gentleness. She didn’t say much and sometimes she would doze off. She would drift away, dream with the stars and that was ok. She had a little fight in her and every time she built enough courage her voice would echo through the sky. She wasn’t complete but she had enough. There was a science to her genius, her madness, her beauty and there was nothing she couldn’t accomplish. She was unstoppable and everything she ever wanted she took, with nothing on but a smile.” ~ R. M. Drake

When I read it; it had me look at my past.

There were times I myself seemed to only have a drop of fight left in me. But somehow mustered enough courage to make it through.

No matter what life has thrown at me, I always managed to catch it bare-handed.

It would seem like life would give me its best shot. Yet, just like a tree in a storm; I may bend but the strength that is deeply rooted within would never allow me to break.

When I wanted to scream; I found a way to laugh.

I somehow knew that I would make it. I knew that at times it would be hard and maybe seem impossible, but I knew I would make it out on top.

I just knew that I could accomplish anything as long as I didn’t give up the fight! If I whole-heartedly believe it, I will achieve it.

I think that is one of the hardest things to remind ourselves: That we will make it! That we are stronger than we think. I believe that is why at times we need certain people in our lives. These people remind us of our strengths when we are at our weakest. They remind us of the beauty that shines from within when we can’t see thru the dark clouds that seem to blur our vision.
So, take life by the horns, ride it into the wind. Do not ever give up knowing that you will succeed. Even when we fail (we know we are not perfect), dust off and try again. Failures are not actually bad. They give us a deeper insight into that particular situation. It is just another branch in our tree of life.

Photo Credit:

“Facebook Logo.” Facebook. Web. 13 Oct. 2015. <http://www.facebook.com/stopdomesticviolence&gt;. 

Dear Survivors

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Dear Survivors;

You made it! You got your strength and found your courage. You found your voice and you got your dignity back. It was a traumatic road; but you managed to re-route your GPS and get back on the right track.

You broke through those prison walls, and escaped that living hell. You can now lift your head up and take a deep breath. You are safe!

As a survivor myself I applaud you! I congratulate you for taking these first steps to freedom. I know there are still some obstacles you have to go through as you continue healing, but believe me you will get stronger each and every day. I congratulate you for re-gaining control of your life! You are on your way to bigger and better things. You no longer have to had in the shadows of fear. Those dark clouds have passed and the sun is shining brighter than ever before. It is a new day, embrace it to it’s fullest!

-Shauna Driscoll

Photo Credit: “I Am a Survivor.” LoveThisPic. Web. 11 Oct. 2015. <http://www.lovethispic.com/image/43136/i-am-a-survivor&gt;.

What is domestic violence?

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, with that being said I will be posting information on this issue. Education is power, so the more widespread this becomes, the more people we can empower to get the help they need.I hope to bring some clarity to this topic as this is something that really hits very close to home for me as you may have read in my last post.

I know that there are several sites out there to offer assistance, and there is no need to fear of “being caught” I know several of these sites have a button on their page that you can click on and it directs you to a completely different site such as a clothing site or a news site. These sites are designed to inform and protect you.

So what is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner.

Abuse is to treat with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly.

Types of abuse:

·Physical

·Emotional/Verbal

·Sexual

·Financial

·Digital

·Stalking

Physical abuse is any intentional and unwanted contact with you or something close to your body. Physical abuse does not always leave a mark, and may not even cause pain.

Examples of physical abuse:

·Scratching

·Punching

·Biting

·Choking

·Kicking

·Picking something up and throwing it at you, for example; a shoe, a book, or a phone.

·Pushing or pulling you.

·Forcing you to have sex or to perform a sexual act.

·Grabbing your face forcefully to make you look at them.

·Forcibly grabbing you to either prevent you from leaving or to force you to go somewhere.

A lot of people ask the question “How do I escape?” I remember when that seemed like it was totally impossible. From personal experience, the first step is knowing that you are not alone. There is always a friend or family member that you can go to and talk about your situation. No matter how obscure your relationship may be with someone, no one wants to see anyone in an unsafe relationship. I know at times I felt alone and like I had no one to go to, but when I came forward with my story, it was amazing the number of people that came out of the woodwork to offer me strength and encouragement.

Abusive relationships escalate. So it’s important that people are aware of the warning signs to prevent any more harm.

Emotional/Verbal abuse does not include physical contact. It is verbal threats, insults, “checking-in”, excessive phone calls and/or text messages, intimidation or stalking.

Examples of Verbal/Emotional abuse:

·Calling you names

·Putting you down

·Embarrassing you in front of others.

·Keeping you away from your friends and family (Isolation)

·Making you feel guilty when you do not give your consent for sexual activity.

·Blaming your actions for their abusive behavior.

·Telling you what to do

·Telling you what to wear

·Making threats to commit suicide to stop you from leaving them.

·Making threats to harm you, your pet, or people you care about.

Sexual abuse is any action that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually they don’t want to do. It also refers to behavior that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, which includes oral sex, rape, or restricting access to birth control and condoms.

Just because you are in a relationship does not entitle your partner to have sex when he or she wants it. Just because someone does not say no does not mean that they are consenting to it either. Sometimes the victim does not resist or say no out of fear of further physical or sexual abuse.

Examples of sexual abuse:

·Unwanted kissing or touching

·Unwanted rough or violent sexual activity

·Rape or attempted rape

·Refusing to use condoms or restricting someone’s access to birth control.

·Keeping someone from protecting themselves from STD’s or STI’s.

·Sexual contact with someone who is intoxicated, drugged, unconscious or in any way unable to give a clear yes or no answer.

·Threatening someone into unwanted sexual activity.

·Constantly pressuring someone to have sex or perform sexual acts

·Regularly using sexual insults toward someone.

Financial abuse is when someone tells you what you can or cannot buy, and shares control of your bank accounts credit cards, and cash. This form of abuse is particularly dangerous when coupled with any other form of abuse. Financial abuse is often how an abuser forces someone to stay in the relationship.

Examples of financial abuse:

·Giving you an allowance and paying close attention to what you buy.

·Depositing your paycheck into their account and denying you access.

·Not allowing you to view the bank records.

·Not allowing you to go to work, or if you do work sets a limit of how many hours you can work a shift.

·Stopping you from going to work by taking your car or keys.

·Getting you fired by harassing you,your employer or coworkers at your job.

·Using your social security number to obtain credit without your consent.

·Refusing to give you money, food, rent, medicine or clothing.

·Spending money on themselves yet not allowing you to do the same.

·Buying you gifts, or taking you out to dinner and paying for it and expecting you to in some way return the favor.

·Using their money to hold power over you because they know you are not in the same financial situation that they are.

No one has the authority to tell you what to do with your own money. No one has the authority to tell you if you can or cannot work, and if you can how many hours you are allowed to work. You are your own person, your own individual. What’s yours is yours, and what’s theirs is theirs. If you want to buy something for yourself than you are allowed to do so. If by chance you have opened up a shared bank account, I suggest you go and open up a personal one right away, if you are getting paper checks, get that new account and see if your employer has the option of direct deposit. If your social security number was used, report it! And see about changing your SSN.

Digital abuse is the use of technologies such as texting and social media to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner. This same behavior is also a form of verbal or emotional abuse done online. It is never okay for someone to lower your self-esteem, make you think less of yourself or to manipulate you.

Examples of digital abuse:

·Tells you who you can or cannot be friends with on social media sites.

·Sends you negative or threatening emails, messages on social media, or any form of messaging on the internet.

·Uses social media sites to keep tabs on you.

·Tears you down on their posts.

·Sends you explicit pictures and demands you to do the same.

·Pressures you into sending explicit videos of yourself.

·Steals/hacks or insists on you given them your passwords.

·Continuously texts you and has you feel like you cannot be away from your phone in fear of further consequence.

·Looks through your phone and checks your photos, text messages, and call history.

Whether on or offline no one deserves to be mistreated. Verbal and emotional abuse hurts just as bad whether it is in person or over the internet.

Stalking is when a person regularly watches, follows or harasses you, making you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, and afraid, A stalker can be anyone, it can be an ex boyfriend or ex girlfriend, a family member, or a complete stranger. The legal definition for stalking varies from state to state, below are several examples of what stalkers may do.

Examples of stalking:

·Showing up at your home or place of employment unannounced or uninvited.

·Sending you unwanted text,letters,emails and voicemails.

·Leaves you unwanted items like gifts or flowers.

·Repeatedly calls you and hangs up, or does not respond when you answer.

·Uses social media to keep tabs on you.

·Calls your employer

·Waits at places where you are known to hang out.

·Uses other people to gain information about you.

·Damages your property such as: your car, or home.

Make sure to save your call logs, text messages, emails, DM’s etc. Even if you need to take a screenshot of something to save as evidence. If you are out and you see the individual make sure to make a note of the place,time and dates. Also jot down names and contact information of any witnesses.

Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race,ethnicity, sexual orientation, income, or other factors.

Women and men can be victims of domestic violence.

·1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.

·Men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults in the U.S.A.

·Domestic Violence is likely to take place between 6pm and 6am.

·More than 60% of domestic violence incidents happen at home.

·At least ⅓ of families using New York City’s family shelter system are homeless due to domestic violence.

·Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families, according to the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.

·Women ages 18 to 34 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.

·More than 4 million women experience physical assault and rape by their partners.

·1 in 3 female homicide victims are murdered by their current or former partner every year.

·Domestic violence costs more than $37 billion a year in law enforcement involvement, legal work, medical and mental health treatment, and lost productivity at companies.

MOST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INCIDENTS ARE NEVER REPORTED.

·Every 9 seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten.

·On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.

·1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of (some form of) physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

·1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

·1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.

·On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.

·The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.

·Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.

·Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner.

·19% of domestic violence involves a weapon.

·Domestic violence is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior.

·Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.

These stats are only of those incidents that have been reported. Can you imagine what the numbers must really be like? Take me for example, I never called the police when an incident happened, even after I left. Out of pure fear of what he may possibly do to me. Imagine how men must feel. To report that they are being abused (even if it’s not the physical aspect of it).

What people who have never been in a domestic violence relationship fail to realize is that just walking away is so much easier said than done. It’s not so easy to just break up and walk away!

Fear: He or She may be afraid of what may happen if they leave. They may have been threatened or been told something would happen to their child or a loved one.

Believing Abuse is Normal: They may not know what a healthy relationship looks like. They could have grown-up in an abusive environment.

Fear of Being Outed: If they are in a same-sex relationship and have not come out, their partner may use it against them, using it as blackmail so they don’t leave.

Embarrassment: It can be hard for someone to admit that they are being abused. They may feel that it is their fault, and worry that friends and family will judge them.

Low Self-esteem: He or She may constantly get put down by their partner, and may even be blamed for the abusive behavior. It is very easy for them to believe these statements and think that it is their fault.

Love: Some may stay in the relationship hoping that their partner will change. Hoping that things will go back to the way they once were. Some just want the abuse to stop, not the relationship on a whole.

Nowhere to Go: Some may think that even if there were a way to leave, that they do not have a place to go or anyone to turn to. What some fail to realize is that the abuser isolates the victim. They keep them away from their friends and family. Leaving the victim feeling helpless.

So I am sure you’re all wondering; “What can I do to help?”

The most important thing someone can do is be supportive and listen. Do not judge!! Please know and have some understanding that an abusive relationship is not easy to just walk away from. Assure them that there are options available. For instance the websites that are listed in this blog. You could even research avenues for them in their area and pass the info on to them.

If you have any questions please feel free to go on to my contact page and send me an email. I will do whatever I can to help.

Is This Abuse? – http://www.loveisrespect.org. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2015, from http://www.loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/

Loveisrespect.org gives detailed information on what domestic violence is, and the different forms of domestic violence abuse. They strive to educate the youth to help prevent and end abusive relationships. The website has an ample amount of information on the different types of abuse as well as ways to get help and to help others.

Safe Horizon :: Moving victims of violence from crisis to confidence. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2015, from http://www.safehorizon.org

Safe Horizon is a website which has a lot of statistical and factual information, and resources on how to get help. Their mission is to “provide support, prevent violence, child abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking to move from crisis to confidence.”

Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2015, from http://www.ncadv.org/learn/statistics

ncadv.org is dedicated in giving victims and survivors of domestic violence a voice. They strive in bringing awareness to the public by offering programs and education to increase understanding of the impact that domestic violence has.

Photo credit: “Psychology Today.” : Health, Help, Happiness Find a Therapist. Web. 8 Oct. 2015. .

#PutTheNailInIt

PutTheNailInIt

Safe Horizon has launched a campaign Put The Nail In It to encourage people to donate to the cause of ending domestic violence. The campaign encourages people to paint their left ring finger purple to show your support in raising awareness to domestic violence. #PutTheNailInIt
Donations help with sheltering victims, legal fees, providing counselling, and more. Please visit the link to see how you can help!

Photo credit: “Today I Might….” Today I Might. Web. 7 Oct. 2015. <http://www.todayimight.com/category/nails/&gt;.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month!

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month!

Be on the look out in the next few days for a couple of blogs I will be posting. Let’s get together to raise awareness. The more we educate ourselves and each other, the more lives we can save!

Feel free to comment on this post for any questions regarding D.V. that you would like to see discussed. Also, I encourage all survivors to share their stories. You have a voice and I want your voices to be heard. You made it! You deserve it! 

Shauna’s Blogs

YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES DO NOT DEFINE YOU!

buddha quote

For my first blog, I thought it would be most appropriate to talk about the fact that at times I allowed my circumstances whether past or present to define who I was. Whether I had been in abusive relationships, or have had addiction problems and/or other hardships, I would take on the stereotypes of these circumstances as my identity. For me, the biggest “identity theft” was when I was nineteen years old, and I finally came to my senses and realized that the relationship I was in was abusive. While most of my peers were coming into their own, I found myself trapped. The physical abuse I could take, but it was the mental abuse that had become the real prison.

After being told that I was worthless, that no one would want me, that I would be nothing so many times, I started to believe it. Everything he had said affected every decision I would make: Going back to school for my G.E.D; applying for jobs, dressing up to go out. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. Even around my own family, I felt like I did not belong. At times, it seemed like I would have been better off back with him, despite the real hell that he had made our home. I’m uncomfortable calling it “our home”. I made every effort to make the building we lived in our home, but the things he brought into what should have been our safe haven could never be negated by homemaker skills. No amount of cooking, doing the dishes or pressing his shirts was ever good enough. Every chance he had, he’d make clear to me that without him, I was nothing.

As time has put a great distance between myself and my past, I see my time with him very differently than I did while I lived it. I always thought he had built the prison with his cruelty. I thought every time he hit me, he was putting another bar on the cage. When he made me feel inferior, it was one more way he kept me where I was. What time has taught me is that every time he hurt me and I did nothing about it, I was barricading myself in more. I was suffocating myself, wrapping myself tighter and tighter into this cocoon. It wasn’t that he was taking my power, it was that I gave it to him. Eventually, I had given him so much control, he thought he had all of it. And so did I.

I finally realized one night that if I did not leave, I would never make it out alive. He had come home from work one evening and came into our bedroom. I simply asked “How was work baby?” He then punched the wardrobe door. To avoid any form of confrontation I thought it best if I had got up and just left the room, but he disagreed.

He had grabbed me by my arm and pulled me to where I had fallen on to the bed. Like so many times before, he pinned me down and punched the bed on either side of my head. He said, “If you turn your head and I end up punching you it is your fault not mine.”

He got on the bed behind me and put me in a choke hold. I passed out.

I am not sure how long I was out. It could have been seconds or minutes but regardless when I came to, my head on his lap. He was sitting there playing video games, and when he realized that I was awake, he began to laugh and pet my head.

That was the moment that I knew I had to leave. It wasn’t when he hit me, when he abused me, when he hurt me. It was when he laughed after the fact. That was when I knew that if I didn’t escape this hell that night, I would just be another battered woman statistic.

When it was time for bed, he told me to sleep with my head at the foot of the bed. My rage boiled over.  “I ain’t your dog, and I will NOT sleep at the foot of your bed, either you can sleep at the foot of the bed or you can sleep out on the couch, but me? I ain’t moving. Good night!”

I found my voice again. He slept with his head at the foot of the bed. In something so small as getting the good spot in the bed, I felt this sweet victory. I got my power back. It was the first big stretch I took in my cocoon. For the first time, I had loosened my confines.

Somewhere inside of me, I knew that if I didn’t keep stretching, I would shrivel up and never escape. The next morning I woke up around 6:00am. I quietly got up with my cell phone in hand and went to the bathroom to take a “hot bath”, but in reality, I was using the running water to hide my voice. When I looked in the mirror I saw his fingerprints on my neck. I promised myself this was the last time I would be muffled. I called my older sister and told her I had to get out of there. She said she was coming to get me and would call me when she was close. I got dressed and went back to the room to start packing. He was still there, sleeping heavily. I feverishly packed my belongings for almost two hours, just tossing everything I owned into trash bags.

I only had two more bags to pack or so when it happened. His eyes opened and he said coldly, “You leaving Shauna?”

I told him yes, that my sister was on her way and would be here at any minute. I was terrified. What was he going to do? He had threatened me so many times before that if I tried to leave both my legs would be broken. Even if he did beat me again, I promised myself it would be the last time. If I had to, I would claw my way out. I would drag my busted body down the stairs. I would be battered, but I would not be broken. He got up, got his towel and went into the bathroom. I continued to pack my things. He came back in the room. I waited for the rage I knew so well to come back to him. The silence was deafening. He got dressed, grabbed his keys and walked out the building. It was like all of a sudden, I had a sledge hammer in this cocoon, and there was nothing left stopping me.

A few minutes later my sister called and was outside. I buzzed her in and we started bringing my stuff down. It took just about fifteen minutes for us to load up her truck and leave. In her truck, I was numb. I left. I actually had the courage and I left. Finally, after all the pain and hurt he had put me through, I had broken free. The last pieces of my dead chrysalis fell off of me. My body was sitting in my sister’s pick up truck, but my soul, my spirit, my heart was soaring far above it. I was a gentle butterfly, floating on the wind. I saw the whole world ahead of me. My beautiful wings had spread, and no one was ever going to tell me not to fly again.

This freedom came with some caveats. It was like I was three people crammed into one. There was the person who had never met this man that treated me so brutally. She was happy, carefree and social. I felt her dying inside of me, screaming to get out. I wanted to just be her again so badly. But too often, I was the person I had been while I was with him. I was guarded, scared and shy. I ignored my surroundings, walking with my head down, because I was still the worthless person who lived with an abuser. Then I was this third person. This person who survived. She was brave. She was trying to be the before person, and told the second person that she’d hold her head up high, even if she didn’t feel like it.

I have learned that it is not the circumstance that defines me but it is my attitude that shows who I am. It is the way I react towards the situation that defines me. The only way I will be a failure is if I allow the circumstance to defeat me. And I am the only one who can cause that defeat. To this day I am a work in progress. Buddha says it best “The mind is everything. What you think you become.”  I learned to speak positively whenever I thought negatively. I learned self love and self appreciation. I learned to move forward and not dwell on what was behind me.

Being in this relationship I lost all my friends, but I was so blessed that my mom and sister stood by me. I was so grateful to them for being there for me, I couldn’t hurt them with my story, so I told them bits and pieces of what happened, but I never had anyone to fully tell the complete truth. I told myself I was just sugar-coating the truth, but the reality was that I was flat out lying. I’m not lying any more, and it feels good to speak my truth.

This, unfortunately, is not the only challenge I have faced. My goal in sharing this, and many more parts of my story is to give others the courage and platform to speak their truths. So please, share with me your story, your truths, what you’ve wanted to shout to the world and you may see it right here next week!

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