Victim Turned Bad Ass Survivor
One of my favorite sayings is: "Get BETTER, not BITTER."
I will admit that for awhile I allowed my situation to get me bitter. I was mad at the entire world- but more so myself. I hated that my mind betrayed me and I developed PTSD, Panic Disorder, and Agoraphobia. I hated that I did not get better quicker, and that I lost so much time due to it. I felt like it took my 20's from me..
But now (late 20's to present day)...
I see that it was all for this moment now. That I needed to go through all of that to be here to help others and change the system to protect people. To allow the system to actually help the victims and stop protecting the 'rights' of the abuser. My mindset back then, was 'my 20's were taken,' and yes I missed out on a lot, but I did some amazing things as well. I took trips (even though the drive was hard), I went to college and graduated with honors, I lead events around mental health, I have talked many people away from suicide. I went to concerts, made friends, flew on a plane to Seattle, I was in a friends wedding, and so much more. I did all of this- I alone, pushed myself out of agoraphobia. It was not easy, a lot of times with big events it made me feel so sick. I remained in a state of panic for most of the event, and usually the day after, I had to rest and stick around my home doing stuff. BUT I DID IT!
What I am talking about is exposure therapy.
I would expose myself, to things that scared me, that induced panic attacks, and gradually I came out of it. I will always, on some level have it, but I will never let it stop me again. Where I see it peaks its annoying head is big stuff like public speaking, flying (heights and I do not mix), but as I do these things more and more- it will get easier. The key to exposure therapy is staying in that situation for more than 40 minutes. You need to allow the panic to peak, and somewhat ease down, before you leave whatever makes you scared. This is NOT me telling you to stand in front of you abuser for that long- absolutely not! This is for anything else that might bring on a panic attack.
You have to have the want to get better. I so desperately wanted to be the 'carefree Stephanie that I use to be.' When in reality I became so much more that I use to be. You have to actually do things to get better- you have to work on you. When you get knocked down, you have to get back up. I read all the time, I push myself to become the best person I can be. At times, like always I will fail at something or someone, and although it hurts like hell. I will do better next time.
When people ask me about my domestic violence situation, my heart rate speeds up a bit, but I can talk about it and even laugh at some of the things I did during it. When my abuser kicked in the locked door and confronted me I popped off with: "what are you gonna do hit me?" Like seriously Stephanie? Out of every damn thing you could have said, you chose that? Haha
I seen my abuser after that night, a few times, up to nine months after actually. I do not fear him. I know exactly what he can do and I do hesitate when it comes to sharing my story- for my daughter. He does not know where I live or anything like that, but I do know he keeps track of me even to this day online. That part worries me and even my family. But I can no longer live in fear, and if he tries to retaliate for me speaking the truth, I will fight and he will lose this time.
It took a lot of work for me to get to this point, but you will get there too. I have never let this situation jade my life when it comes to people. I still let people in my life, I still give people to benefit of the doubt, and I never let it stop me from trying to find my person.
I never let him, jade me from other men- I just elevated my damn standards!
I speak or rather write about that night, anytime I can, but it is not about me living in the past. It is the fact that domestic violence is still silenced. It is still looked at like some voodoo shit, that you must never speak of. I talk, I write, so others will stand up and come forward. I will be the voice to their stories, until they are ready to scream it from the rooftops. This is the only way to bring change to this messed up system. We are losing to many women, children and yes even men to domestic violence and it needs to stop now.
So if you want to share your story, but you are not ready to give your name- I will share it and keep you anonymous!
So I leave this with:
I am not the woman I want to be.. yet, but thank God, I am not who I use to be!
Keep fighting to become the best damn you, that you want to be! Do not let anyone keep you from it again. In time you will close that chapter of your life, you won't have the flashbacks, nightmares, etc. It will be a story that you share, that made you into the person you are now.
Let it turn you from a victim, to a bad ass survivor, who will speak the truth and fight for change!
Fuck them, its all about you, your future and our fight against this system who protected our abusers and failed us!