1:4 # 12, The face in the crowd

Woman in a Crowd(Editors note: This survivor has asked to have her photos be done anonymously to protect her kids from being embarrassed. As this wasn’t the first time I’d heard that idea, I was glad to do so. This lady is the first to ask for anonymity and be assured that was doable, and be willing to push through and do the project. Others have asked but decided not to push forward. She doesn’t want anyone else to feel as alone as she did. It has taken her many months and several discussions to come into the light. )

Please Share What Happened to You:

I have been abused in a couple ways, physically and sexually, by people I trusted and knew and by neighbors I thought I could trust too. I guess after a while and hiding all those little secrets you cannot even comprehend what is real or right especially when nobody even taught you about sex or your body and how it functions. Not back then anyway. There is always that gut instinct and my gut told me it wasn’t right, but how did I really know?

I was about ten years old when a neighbor and coworker of my fathers, I’ll call him Mr. 1 had me sit next to him on the couch. He was probably in his early fifties. He asked me to sit closer to him, but I didn’t and my parents, who were in the room, prompted me to sit closer. So, I scooted over closer to him. As my mom and dad sat there talking with him, he slowly put his hand down the back of my pants. I sat straight up, eyes wide open as if to say, “um, hello!! Are you seeing this?” Nobody said a word. I got up and excused myself. Whenever he would come around, I would leave or go outside although he always begged me to come sit next to him. He always drove slow around the neighborhood looking at all the girls. We all called him a pervert. My mom would do ironing for his wife to earn some extra cash and one day she sent me down there to take her some shirts my mom ironed. I prayed the whole walk there that she would be home. My younger sister went with me. I knocked on the door and he answered. I asked if his wife was home and that I came to deliver the shirts my mom had ironed. He insisted we come in. I told him no that we had to get right back home. He wouldn’t take no for an answer and insisted we come in. My sister was not afraid because nothing had happened to her so she was fine with going in and went in. The house was poorly lit and he went in and sat in his chair and asked me to come closer. I wouldn’t. He kept trying to tell me not to be afraid and to come sit on his lap. I still said no. Then he asked my sister who is four years younger than I to come over and sit on his lap. She started to go towards him and I grabbed her arm and told him we had to go and I ran out of the door with her. I wouldn’t allow that perv to touch my sister!!! I avoided him at all costs from then on out. I finally told my mom and dad five years later about what he did, right in front of them and how all the girls got the creeps from him and my father was ready to go to his house and kill him. My mom stopped him, thank goodness.

His next door neighbor was no better. I will call him Mr. 2. I babysat for Mr. & Mrs. 2 a few times and on this one night (I was 14) Mrs. 2 was still upstairs getting ready. So, I waited downstairs with Mr. 2. I was at the back door watching their daughter play outside when Mr. 2 asked me if I would like a beer. (Wait….what?) I told him I was only 14 and not old enough to drink alcohol. He put the beer back and started walking up behind me. I stood with my back turned to him. The next thing I know, he wraps his arms around me and starts to raise his hands up to grab my breasts. I pushed on that door handle so hard and fast and flew out the door!! I didn’t go back in until Mrs. 2 yelled to me that they were leaving. I never babysat for them again.

I was just about seventeen years old when a good friend introduced me to my first husband. He was the oldest of five children to a well-known doctor where we lived. Shortly after meeting him, he was involved in an accident. My friend asked me to go along with him to visit him in the hospital and told me he really liked me and wanted to take me out on a date. He really wasn’t my type and I really didn’t want to go out with him. Going against my gut instincts, I agreed. We dated for about a year when he slapped me across the face because I didn’t want to leave a party we were at and he did. I was shocked. I was stunned. He apologized. Same scenario as most situations like that. I forgave him. He didn’t want me to wear make up. He would make me go back in the house and remove it immediately if I had it on. I would do what he said out of fear. We broke up for a while.

After the breakup, I shared an apartment with my best friend. Eighteen years old, out on my own, doing what I want, nobody telling me what to do, taking care of myself. We didn’t have a lot of furniture. What we did have were hand me downs from our parents. We had lived in our apartment for a couple months and were just starting to get to know our neighbors. There were two guys who also shared an apartment in our building. One day, one of the guys was working on his car. I talked to him for a while through my apartment window as he worked on his car and then I invited him to come up for a beer when he finished. We sat on the floor, drinking our beer, talking about jobs, friends, roomies, etc. when he leaned over to kiss me. I allowed that, but said “hey….I didn’t invite you here for any more than a beer”. He said “come on….we both know why you invited me here and pushed me back the whole time I was telling him no. He held me down and forced my pants off and then he forced himself inside me. My roommate was in the next room and didn’t hear anything!!! How could she not hear my cries?? How could she not me my struggle? When he was finished raping me, I laid there in a ball crying and he said, ” oh come on…you know you wanted it too!!” I felt so dirty. So inhuman. So disgusting. Emotionally paralyzed. I moved out of the building a few months later.

I ended up making up with my boyfriend and moved in with him. Everything was fine. No more abuse. He was nice to me. Treated and spoke to me fine. A year later, we married. I was nineteen. He was 22. A month after we married, I got pregnant. I was so excited!!! I always wanted my own baby. My own little person to love. Who would love me….. That is when the regular abuse started. Especially when he drank. Nobody ever called the police or came to my aid. I was alone. Physically, emotionally alone.I would play dead so he would stop. He would slap, punch, kick and choke me to almost unconsiousness. I couldn’t go out into public because of my bruises and black eyes. How could I explain them? Everyone knew who he was. Who his dad was. He always apologized and swore it would never happen again.

I avoided arguing with him because I knew…..I could tell by the look in his eyes when he was in the mood to beat me. He told me once that the reason he hit me was because I reminded him of his mother. (I thought, well go beat her then, but I never said it out loud.) I was nothing like his mother. Nothing at all! I had two children with him. I did use birth control to avoid having another child with him, but it failed and I ended up pregnant a second time. I love both of my children with all my heart!! I don’t regret having either one of them, but I do regret not making the right decision when I had the chance the very first time he hit me when we were dating.

I tolerated his abuse for six and a half years until he told me he would kill me and I knew then I had to get away. I couldn’t bear to allow my children to see any more violence. I couldn’t allow him to kill their mother and leave them parent-less. He would be in jail and I would be dead. I hated the idea of a divorce because I was a child of divorce and I didn’t want to put my children through that, but exposing them to the beatings, the name calling, the degrading, hateful comments would have been worse. (He told me I was the laziest white woman he ever saw. I had the body of an eighty year old woman. I was fat. Ugly….you name it, he called me it.) He left without incident, but my neighbor would see him parked up the street in the early am hours (like 3am). Just sitting there…staring at the house. My neighbor finally told him to go home. That he was only tormenting himself and it wasn’t doing anyone any good. I was petrified for my life!!!

After we split, my friends and neighbors would tell me things he would do to my children when I wasn’t there. He would pick my daughter up by the hair on the top of her head and carry her across the street when she wouldn’t come home when called; he stepped on her belly when she was three years old because she would not stop crying. I was so upset nobody told me when it happened and their response was they didn’t want to get involved. THEY WERE DEFENSELESS CHILDREN!!! I did see a couple times how he would grab their noses by his two fingers at the knuckle, pinch hard and pull them to where he wanted them. It would bruise their little noses. I told him to stop that and to stop hurting them, but he did it anyway. I deal with a lot of guilt because of that and the fact that they were exposed to his violence. His degradation of us. His bullying.

So, I stayed and tolerated the abuse. The physical and the emotional abuse for six and a half years. Exposing my poor babies to this monster, to the screams, the crying, the bruises, the pounding….. What a horrible mother I was to do that to them. I can never forgive myself for that. And I won’t put them through anymore and that is why I am remaining anonymous to save them the hurt and heartache. They love their dad. They have a relationship with their dad. I just don’t need to put them through the embarrassment of poor decisions I made.

Woman's Hand

How are you doing now?

A few months after our separation, I met a wonderful, hard working, caring, trustful and trusting dependable man that was great with my kids. They loved him and visa versa. He loves me and I him. Has it been easy? NO! We both brought baggage to this relationship, but we were determined not to let that baggage interfere with what we had. He has taken great care of us for thirty years and has been a wonderful supporter, provider, partner and friend. We have taught each other that you can trust. You can love unconditionally. You can depend on the other one without doubt. And above all, you can love without fear of hurt or pain. (A little background also…..I was abused by my mother as a child. I was the one she took it out on. She never believed me even though I told the truth. She slapped me, punched me, back handed me, pushed me against the wall, screamed at me, punished me for things she thought I did, but I didn’t. So, maybe that is why I allowed the behavior from my ex. I used to think that was my reason for being born. My ex told me that he had a talk with her and asked her why she treated me like that and he said her response was she got pregnant with me to save her marriage. Her marriage failed, so she blamed me for it and so, the abuse. She denies having that conversation with him, but it kinda makes sense. I have forgiven both of them, but I have not forgotten.) I feel sad for me sometimes because I so desperately wanted to have a close relationship with my mom but, she didn’t. Years after my second marriage, my parents disowned me and cut off communications for ten years after I shared my feelings and confronted them with a certain situation that happened between us. We are just now working towards reconnecting. Everyone only has one life on this earth. There are no do-overs. This is not a dress rehearsal. She cannot give what she took away from me and neither can my ex. But, I was lucky to have survived. I was lucky to be given another chance. I was lucky to find someone who truly loves me and gives me the life I deserve. One without violence. One with love, support, care and friendship. And for that I am truly grateful!!

What would you like to tell the world about Domestic Violence

This project helps let women know they are not alone. I felt so alone. Like I was going through it in silence but I was screaming inside. They need to know they are not alone!! Even in anonymity, I am hopeful that I can help just one person find the strength to tell themselves that they can do it!!! That they can leave, that they can survive and that they can be truly happy. This is not a dress rehearsal. Go….be happy

 

1:4 #11, the Warrior

Domestic Violence Survivor #11( Editors Note: The usual format for these posts is for the survivors to answer the three questions. In this case, the Warrior went with a little different format. I think you can pick out the answers from the story)

As humans, we all experience the pain of abuse, at one point or another in our lives.  Whether it be physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, spiritual abuse or even abandonment.  Unfortunately, it’s almost inevitable.  It’s the nature of the beast…us.  The human “beast” if you will.  As for me, I can only speak of my own experiences- which by the way- I am ready to share.  I state that I’m ready to share these experiences because the majority of my life I held them in.  Held the memories of these shameful, embarrassing happenings that I would let fester within me..which would only , ( as I see now), dim my inner light.  I know now that it’s not healthy to withhold things like this in…and also..it’s equally important to let it ‘all out’ for the process of healing to be able to begin.  In sharing my abuse, I also realize that I am speaking out for those who cannot…I’m helping to put a voice into the atmosphere for those individuals and I am possibly giving them inspiration..to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel…and that they too, can grow from this.  Lastly, it’s damn time to share.

    I was born in 1980.  Culver City (a city in western  Los Angeles County).  My parents are both from the East Coast.  The BX (The Bronx) and The Bricks (Newark, New Jersey).  My father and mother both left the east coast at different times- both with the intentions of starting a new life and making a fresh start for themselves.  At the time my father was struggling with addiction and figured the change of scenery from New York City could help get him cleaned up.  My mother was running from a severely abusive past in New Jersey. When my mother and father met by chance in Los Angeles, they fell in love for their own reasons with one another.  It goes without saying: this is when yours truly, was conceived.

    According to my mother, she was extremely naive to the world- being that she was raised in a controlling and abusive house- so she wasn’t “hip” to all the things that my father was at that time.  She states that the first time she realized my father was an addict was when she was 8 months pregnant with me and she caught my father shooting up in the bedroom.  This is where my story begins…..

    I was born into a household where there was a lot of anger, angst, resentment, abuse, deception, abandonment, and poverty.  I’ve heard the stories about my father being gone for weeks with no call.  I’ve heard about how we had a mattress in a studio apartment with no food and just the clothes on our backs because my father was taking the little items we did own and was selling them to support his habit.  My mother had her second child with my father in 1982.  By then we had moved back to the East coast and was living in the Bronx; of course for another “fresh start”.

     I was also told about how my mother didn’t have diapers for my sister, and was wrapping her up in my father’s boxers.  My mother didn’t have money for milk to feed my infant sister, so she would give her rice water, and because of this my sister suffered from diarrhea and diaper rash.  And because my mom wasn’t eating properly she couldn’t produce the milk to breastfeed my sister.  I heard about the stories how my mom would  have to walk blocks through the snow to the nearest church to beg for money from the priest so she can feed us.  I also heard how, as a 3 year old, I would never complain about how hungry I was, or how cold I was, or how tired I was from having to walk all that way.

    Somewhere around this time, my mother grew very angry and threatened my father with a divorce.  So this is when we made another move …yep, you guessed it, for another fresh start.  We moved to sunny Naples, Florida.  Promises of sobriety from Daddy and a better life for all of us.  This is when I started having my own memories of our life.  When things were good…they were amazing!  I remember as a child hearing my mother and father laugh together, and I remember thinking in my little 5 year old mind, how beautiful my mother looked when she smiled. I felt happy, I felt safe, I felt LOVED.

    But…like they say..all good things must come to an end..and surely they did.  I noticed that Daddy wasn’t home as much.  I noticed the familiar look of worry on my mom’s face.  And when my mom was worried…or sad…I felt it was my responsibility to be worried and sad with her.  Though, I didn’t completely understand what was going on, I knew it had something to do with my Daddy.  My mom was so wrapped up in the whereabouts of my father that she didn’t know, nor would I dare bother her with it, that at 5 years old, my older half brother- who was also a recovering addict ( briefly staying with my mom and dad until he could get back on his feet) was molesting me almost everyday.  He was 19/20 years old around that time. I remember it feeling wrong, but I remember being told that this was my fault and if I told anyone, they would know that it was my fault.  Not his. At one point, my half brother had held a gun to my head – this I actually don’t remember.  I know I was being babysat on this particular day and he held a gun to my sitter and to my head.  This is probably one of those repressed memories that I’m waiting to come out at some point.   So, all in all,  I kept the sexual abuse I endured inward until I reached my 20’s.    As far as with my mom and dad,  things became worse (again)- the fighting started.  Screaming, banging, crying.

    I remember this one instance where my mom put my sister and I into her Toyota.  I could tell she was on a mission.  I asked where we were going and she said: “I am going to find your father!”.  I remember we drove to a very sketchy neighborhood in Naples called George Washington Carver Apartments.  I knew from overhearing my mom, that this is where Daddy spent a lot of his time.  When we arrived, before exiting the car, my mom told my sister and I to lay down in the backseat and not to get up for anything!  I will never forget what I saw when she exited the car.  In my child’s mind it looked like something out of a zombie movie.  As soon as my mom had closed the car door behind her and locked us in, there were many people that looked like literal zombies that walked up to my mom’s car and looked in the windows down at us.  I sat up slightly, because I was worried for my Mom.  I saw her standing there with a gun in her hand pointing it at the “zombies”, “Where is LOUIS!!??  Get Louis here NOWWWW!!”

   Domestic Violence Survivor Looking Away Moving forward, about a year later, my mom came to her senses and finally left my father.  I was in the first grade.  I worried for my father because he was alone, and because I knew he was very sad.  I failed the first grade because all I did was cry and refuse to partake in school work.  My mom struggled.  She worked 3 jobs and was in and out of relationships with men that I hated.  And in between relationships my mom was miserable, angry and would direct her blame on me.  Yes, this wasn’t how I perceived it at the time.  This is exactly what it was.  Just about everything was Natasha’s fault.  I was always screamed at, cussed at. I was beat, thrown and punched.  I was called a whore before I even knew what the fucking word meant!

 There was this one instance where I was playing outside our apartments, and my mom told me to stay within yelling distance.  I was always and imaginative child.  I loved being outdoors and looking at the clouds and trees, and imagining all the far away places I wanted to visit.  I had seen a few beautiful peacocks outside- and I remember following them- anxiously waiting to see their tails open up into that beautiful display of colors I so much loved.  I guess time had caught away with me- because when I finally made it back home I was greeted with an ass whooping of my life.  Remember that game: Airplane?  Some parents would lovingly play it with their children?  For those that don’t know: You grab a hand and a foot…and the parent would turn round and round until the centrifugal force would build up enough to make a child’s body go upward in a flying motion..like an airplane.  Well..in my mom’s rage- she played her own version.  She grabbed me by my foot…and a fistful of hair…swung me around and around to build up that good ol’ centrifugal force…but she let me go airborne.  I remember hitting the ground with such force…and the severe pain of all the air in my body being knocked out of me.  This was common place when it came to punishing me.  Especially on her bad days.  Let me not excuse this behavior…it was horrific- but my mom was not healthy mentally.  She grew up with abuse beyond most human comprehension.  I’ll leave that up to her to tell her own story on that one.  I believe in her mind, I was lucky I wasn’t getting beat like she use to.

    My mom was so wrapped up on trying to find a boyfriend/husband that my sister and my emotional health were not priority.  As much as that may sting, that is the truth.  When you bring many men in and out of your children’s lives, only worrying to fulfill your own needs- despite how your daughters (children) may feel, it’s a selfish act.  Many times, we witnessed full out fist fights between my mom and her boyfriends.  When this would happen, I felt it was my duty to protect my mom and my little sister.  I have kicked in doors, I have jumped on grown men’s backs and clawed at their faces and pulled their hair- all to protect my mother.  Later in life, I was even arrested trying to stick up for her.  For the majority of my life growing up, I had felt the need to Protect- despite how I may have been treated.  Despite who I may have been exposed to.  Despite how my feelings always seemed to be irrelevant.  This treatment is what I grew to know as “normal”.  And sadly, I took this into adulthood- but later retrained my brain and way of thinking.

    Going back to my father, he on the other hand finally got his life together.  We would spend weekends with him.  It was like heaven!  My father clean and he was absolutely amazing in so many ways.  The memories were amazing…and we connected with him like daughters should with their father.  We got to know him…and he got to know us.  Three years of being clean and then he finds out he has Full Blown AIDS.  He lived for 3 more years with Full Blown Aids, remained clean from using and made the most out of his time with us.  He died in 1993.

    My mom did remarry to a man that provided a good life for my sister and I.  He fulfilled his promise to my father to protect and take care of my sister and I. But of course, that didn’t last too long either.   Still, growing up into a woman without my father was excruciatingly hard.  I had a rough start in life and not much self confidence or self love was instilled in me.  I became deeply depressed because all that kept replaying in my mind was the unconditional love and affection from my father that only lasted a few short years.  I wanted and needed that in my life so badly I started to seek it in men.  My first marriage ended in physical violence.  My second marriage, I stuck through the shitty times even more because I thought that is what you are supposed to do instead of just running.  There was a lot of emotional abuse that I saw was affecting my first born from my first marriage.  I had my second child in my second marriage, but things increasingly became worse, so I left that one after 5 years.  Then years later finding out that my 2nd husband, while married to him, had been raping my first born child.

    Our justice system is terrible, and he got away with it.  I had to fight him in court for custody of our daughter…they gave us joint custody, but thank God he hasn’t tried to even see our daughter.  My last relationship is where I had my last child.  He couldn’t be monogamous and we physically fought.  I did have a moment where I looked at myself in the mirror and I started to see my mother.  I was repeating her life.  I knew I loved my children more than life itself.  I knew things had to change.  I sought   counseling on and off.  Read many self help books, and started to learn to be thankful for the blessings in front of me.  My three beautiful children.  My three rainbows in my storm of life.  I decided that they were more important than my want to be loved…or my want to have a husband to have that house and white picket fence fairy tale.  I saw that I was enough for them…and that they were enough for me…and mostly…I was enough for myself.

    I took you on a brief magic carpet ride through the hurricane of my life.  All this shared to say this:  The abuse that people endure have nothing to do with the abusee and everything to do with the abuser.  Just like with my mother.  She loved my sister and I , in her own way.  But she was a damaged individual who never got proper help nor was able to have the insight enough to make her life better/ parenting skills better, (to put it lightly).  She never had the self love to know she deserved better…and so did her children.  I had taught myself, with the help of some great loving friends and some good counseling…and books…that I have the POWER!  The power to make my life something GREAT or something SHITTY!  And the so- called power we may think our abuser has…is given to them by US.  I will repeat.  We give the abuser the power…so when you take the power away…you GAIN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE!  Now, with innocent children in mind, such as myself and my own child- we were too young and didn’t understand what was happening.  We were vulnerable to the abuse.  Thank God we survived it.  And in survival- as I taught myself- and am teaching my son as well…you do NOT claim the name of VICTIM!!  NEVER THAT!!  You claim the name of: KICK ASS SURVIVOR!!!!!  And you take the pain…and you don’t EVER hide from it.  You speak about it…until it becomes easier…until it doesn’t hurt as bad…and you turn it into a story of survival…and a story that could bring LIGHT into other’s lives…a story that could potentially SAVE THEIR LIFE!

Domestic Violence Survivor #11 final

1:4 #10, the Student

1:4 # 10

Please share what happened to you:

My story started when I was just a baby. Around the time I was six months old and I was very sick. No one could figure out what was wrong with me, and I almost died. My mom took me to the hospital, where all these different doctors looked at me and couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Until one, finally figured out that I had an abscess in my throat. He saved my life. That’s when I started going to him. I don’t remember much from the earlier years of going to him because I was to little, but I do remember that every time I went for a visit, he would pick me up and give me a huge hug, shake my mouth up and down and then I would get to pick out a toy.
I loved going because I knew that I would be able to get to pick out a toy. Little did I know that was the beginning of the abuse. That was the grooming process. At the young age of 5, I understood what good touch and bad touch was, but that meant from strangers. This was someone we were taught to trust and that other then mom and dad was allowed to touch us. I didn’t realize at the time what was going on. The next couple of visits are blank holes in my memory. I remember the rooms and can describe in detail what they looked like but I don’t remember what happened in them. My mind has blocked them from my memory. But as I got older it got worse. I remember the main abuse, or at least what I think is the main abuse but your mind has a funny way of protecting you and that’s to cut out the bad memories so you don’t have to relive them. I remember every time I would go for a visit, I was molested. Every time he would do it, he gave the excuse of trying to figure out when my period was coming. Mind you, this started when I was 7 or 8. My period did not come any where close to that. I remember being that little girl wanted to scream and yell because I knew something was not right. But I couldn’t because this was someone we are taught to trust from a young age and I thought no one would believe me. This was someone who saved my life. It was something that happened every single time I went to him. Even if I went for a cold. He would always end it with that hug and moving my mouth up and down. I began to cringe and hated going. The molestation went on until the time I was 13. When I was 13 I stopped going because I went to high school and it was easier to just go to the wellness center. I was thrilled that I didn’t have to go there any more but I still didn’t fully understand what happened until the day he got arrested and the day I broke down in class. I showed signs through out the years that I was being molested but no one ever thought anything of them. When I was in elementary school, I used to wear my belt so tight that it would dig in to my skin. I was sent to the counselor but I refused to loosen it. But no one knew what was going on and so it got brushed off. I finally told someone when I was sitting in my high school Spanish class and my teacher was talking about the news story and his arrest. I had a panic attack and my teacher pulled me out of class. I told her what had happened and she took me to the counselor. Finally my torture was over.

(ed note: The perpetrator is serving 14 life terms, plus 165 years, without parole,  for the 529 charges he was convicted of.)

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How are you doing now?

I’m doing a lot better then that junior in high school who had a panic attack in the middle of class. But its been a process. I have had more panic attacks than I can count. The biggest issue I face is with change. When something changes I don’t feel in control and all I want to do is feel in control. When my routine is different I feel as though something bad is going to happen. It throws me of for the day and it could be the littlest thing. But I have gotten a lot better with change and routines in the past year. I started counseling and Ive become a much stronger person. I also have a hard problem with trust and opening up to people which has affected my relationships. I am terrified to tell potential boyfriends about the abuse because I’m afraid that they will think I come with to much baggage, and they wont see me they will just see the abuse. It takes a while for me to trust them and this puts a strain on the relationship. I need to be reminded that they do love me even when I am not being lovable. If they do take the chance, I learn to trust them and I give them my all but it hurts 10x’s worse when they eventually leave, and they do because the attacks become to much for them. But if you look at me now compared to where I was a year ago, I am a much better person. Thanks to counseling and listening to survivors I realize I am more then my abuse and that I’m not going to let it affect my whole life.Ive worked through the memories and have processed them. Now I know how to turn them off or move on from them when they do appear. I don’t get stuck in this cycle of remembering the memories. I am now a junior at Delaware State where I major in Communications. I plan on working in radio but I eventually want to become a spokesperson for sexual abuse. I am also competing in Miss Delaware this year which I have competed in for multiple years. But this year is different. I have changed my platform to “Victims to Victor, Helping Sexual Abuse Victims Find Their Voice” I am helping others find their voices by sharing my story. I also want to make sure that victims know that they can survive the abuse and not let it affect their whole lives. I have also partnered with Senator Lopez to co write a bill called Erin’s Law. If passed, it will require schools to teach students K through 6th about sexual abuse, things like good touch, bad touch. It will also teach them to tell an adult if they are being abused even if it is by someone they know. It also will give teachers the tools to know what to look for in a victim. I’m done being silent on an issue that affected my life for 10 years. I’ve become a much stronger person since the abuse started, yes I still get a panic attack every once in a while but now I have the tools to cope and get through them.

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Is there anything about domestic violence you’d like to tell the world?

I first want to tell the victims that they aren’t alone and they don’t have to face it alone. I promise you there is someone out there they can talk to and will understand what they are going through. I also want people to know that we are more than our abuse. We are people. We have baggage yes, but we are more then that and we want to be accepted as people. Lastly, if there was anything I learned from the abuse is that you choose how you react to the situation. You can chose to let the abuse control your life for the rest of your life, you can let the perpetrator win. Or you can chose to let it make you a strong person. You can chose to take back your life and take back the control. You chose if you are going to win or lose. Even after something bad has happened to you, you can still do everything you set your mind to. You can survive it and move forward. It’s going to be tough and it’s going to be a long road but you can and will do it. Have faith that you can do anything you set out to do.

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