As a kid, witnessing abuse was part of a normal household because. I can remember that even after the abuse, my mother and stepfather, along with other members of my family, would act as if nothing happened. Often, abuse would occur in the middle of happiness, joy and laughter. There were predictable cycles of cookouts, laughter, and drinking, loud music and then ultimately, the joyful scenes would end in fighting, screaming and then an eerie silence.
For me I assumed that this was just what love looked like. I am guessing as time went on it was love simply because that was, among other things that I won’t discuss today, was all I saw around me. So with that being said, I adopted the notion that love meant being beaten, yelled at, and treated badly and then kissing, laughing and hugging afterwards.
As I entered my teenage years, I encountered the kind of LOVE I saw the women in my family have and I accepted and embraced it without question. I remember meeting this one guy and he was 3 years older than me, so he was able to spoil me with gifts and sweet words. I was head over heels for him because he reminded me of my biological dad. See my biological dad was hardly around and so when he was he treated me as if I was his golden child. He never hit me or yelled at me and in the beginning, neither did the new guy. However, shortly after the relationship started, he came by my house to pick me up to hang out. However, I was late meeting him because I missed the bus to get home. When I got in the car, I explained to him what happened, he looked at me, smiled and backhanded me across my face. Immediately after, he repeatedly told me how sorry he was and assured him that it was okay. He said it won't happen again. To which I responded, “It’s okay if it does. They do it at home so it's okay.” At the time, I had not realized I was giving him permission because I was saying it is okay. However, I was saying that it was okay this time and I honestly thought it would never happen again. I mean I had no clue—I was 14 years old. Even if I knew that it was wrong…Who was I going to run to? Who was going to tell me then that no person should be abusing me like that? As time went on the abuse increased and I began to use more foundation than you could imagine. It was nothing: I would get up for school, cover my face with makeup and apply lip gloss, get dressed (long sleeves year round) and go to school. No one was paying attention to me so I pretty much took care of myself.
Eventually that relationship ended because my family received orders to be stationed at a new duty station and I met another guy in a different state. This fella was a charmer—tall, handsome, a basketball player and popular in school. We were only in this particular city for a short time before boarding to another country. But when I arrived, he immediately took me under his arm and from that moment we were one. However he didn't hit me and I found that to be very odd. He actually was helping me with basketball, my grades and how to have respect for myself. Although I was 16, he allowed me to stay with him. I practically lived with him. I rode to school with him, we both played varsity basketball for our high school and I was with him majority of the time. I felt protected and safe so I thought. However, I just didn't think he loved me. He never hit me or belittled me. So I just figured he would eventually. We were still fresh in our relationship so he would soon, right? I just had to hang in there and brace myself. However, on Christmas Day, 1988, he was shot in the back of his head and died the next day. After losing him, a large part of me withered away that day.
So much so, I dropped out of school and worked full time just to get away from everyone. I landed myself in another state with a family member. After arriving, I met a guy and it all felt very familiar—safe even. At this point, I was 16 years old and in my second abusive relationship. This relationship lasted for (4) years. Now this, I could get down with it because I was used to it—it was nothing new. It was love and it was normal and all I had to do was just get myself in position to take the hits. As time went on, I was asked to go to church one day and I did. It was there that I was told that what was happening to me was not love. Puzzled by what was being shared, I silently asked myself, “So if it is not love then what is? What is love and how does that pertain to me?” By this point, I was (22) years old, a mother of 3 daughters, trying my best to make sure my daughters didn't see that I was in an abusive relationship, and doing my best to make it work with $165 a month of welfare and $375 a month in food stamps for a family of 4. The question I kept asking myself was, what was love? At this point, I honestly had no idea I was raising my children in survival mode. Because of this interaction, I eventually got myself together to understand LOVE! I started to build myself from the floor up. I moved into a shelter for abused women and children, from there I lived in emergency housing and then to permanent housing. Three years later, I built my first home by Habitat for Humanity and I had become a first-time homeowner on my 25th birthday.
Unfortunately, despite finally learning that abuse was wrong, a part of me was still yearning for the abuse because it was all I had known my entire life. It was embedded in me and up until now, it was life as I knew it. I didn't have anyone to show me true love and if my family loved me they didn't know how to show it. At this time, all I knew was God's love and that it was supposed to be enough, which was all so new to me and I just couldn't really grasp it—but eventually I did.
I ended up staying in the relationship that I worked to get away from and it resulted in (2.5) of abuse with my then boyfriend, a few more slaps across the face, busting my lip, and knocking out my teeth. After I was able to grab hold of God’s love for me, eventually, I GOT IT. Once I did, I began learning new things and figured out how to love myself better and what it meant to be genuinely loved. When I recognized what I had missed receiving as a child I began to do those things for others. I was in my late 30's before I started truly fighting for myself and it wasn't until 2015 when I recognized how much trauma was still embedded within me: it was the birth of my granddaughter that showed me a different type of love. She also helped me to understand and be released from the survival mode I had been in when raising my daughters.
Are you raising your children in survival mode? Do you need help with letting go of finding love with a side of violence? Do you have teens who are currently experincing teen daing violence? Are you a teen needing help? Let us help you create a safety plan with one of our counselors. Together we can figure out ways to help both you and your children identify ways to have a strong and loving relationship. Also to help you understand YOU to be a GREATER you! Please reach out to us. She Did That Community Advocate Foundation please call us at 803-814-5173 or email me email@example.com. We are also on all social media sites as She Did That Community Advocate Foundation.
#teendatingviolence #domesticviolence #datingabuse #datingviolence #teendatingabuse #domesticabuse #domesticviolenceawareness #abuse #intimatepartnerviolence #endabuse #avl #relationshipabuse #teendating #buncombecounty #teendatingviolenceawareness #support #asheville #safety #intimatepartnerabuse #healthyrelationships #violence #nc #helpmate #advocacy #genderbasedviolence #prevention #tdv #teenviolence #dv #domesticviolencesurvivor