It took me a long time to finally share my story of surviving domestic violence. By opening up and being honest about what I have experienced, and by being honest about the journey of healing and all its complexities, I’ve realized that not only have I helped myself move on but I’m also helping others overcome the weight of these kinds of memories, too.
Surviving trauma and navigating your way through the healing process can sometimes be as difficult and exhausting as the trauma itself. That might sound terrible, and probably strange to anyone who hasn’t been through it. But I promise you, making an active and conscious effort to keep fighting and keep climbing whilst also fighting and climbing your way through everyday life is not for the faint of heart.
I was a senior in high school when I met the man who would become physically, psychologically, and sexually abusive to me throughout the course of a decade that followed. It wasn’t until we had married—that’s right, I married the man who had destroyed me—and the months that followed that I realized I had had enough.
The abuse was a slow burn. He waited until I lost my father to really dig his claws in deep. I had felt like something was off in the beginning, but at the same time I had wanted that male figure in my life that was a pillar of support and someone I could rely on and turn to. Unfortunately I had identified the one person who would make all of my pillars crumble—with me underneath and no place to go.
Many years later, I’m in a healthy and deeply loving relationship with an amazing man, we have a beautiful son and another child on the way. And yet, I still have nightmares about my time spent being abused by my ex-husband. I still have flashbacks, I still have to remind myself that I am in the present and no longer in those apartments in Virginia, and within his grip and control.
That’s how it goes, though. The healing process is not forgiving—although ironically part of this process involves forgiving your abuser (I haven’t fully arrived there yet). But, you continue to fight. You continue to find things, people, places, experiences, and beliefs and thoughts that benefit your own peace of mind and sense of sanity. You ground yourself in the work you put in everyday to keep going. You rebuild yourself every time you fall down. You remind yourself how far you have come, and how you will continue to travel onward and upward from whatever and whoever it was that held you down.
When I wake up part of my morning routine is prayer. I usually go through the same things, always focusing on the following:
Thank you, Lord, for my journey, the struggles and the lessons. Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to learn and to grow from them, and I pray, Lord, that I can continue to pick myself up and become stronger each time. I pray that I can use my strength to help others who may be suffering.
When I started my Moderncity + Main business I knew I wanted to incorporate my passion for helping others who are suffering from domestic violence experiences. I decided to donate ten percent to domestic violence awareness—to organizations and foundations focused on not only raising awareness and educating others but also giving survivors a voice. In February of 2018 I formally established Shine the Light Foundation, dedicated to strengthening the dialogue on domestic violence through education and outreach.
Full version published in my journal