Two years and two months ago, I came back from the dead. Yep, I escaped a certain hell on earth where my sweet, charming, ex-boyfriend served as the head adversary on duty. I know it was hell because no one could see my agony or his brutality. Thank God it wasn’t the real bottomless pit described in the Good Book; otherwise, I’d still be there.
He was the last to physically assault me in a succession of way too many. Being abused as a toddler set the pace for me. I was too young to know my options and too humiliated to consider them as I grew up. Each predator I encountered detected my veiled dark mark of shame like they had a special decoder pen. The kid down the street, to the sweet-talking boxer, to the stylish sugar daddy, to the doting boyfriend, to the sexually-frustrated boss, and even the least expected – a person I considered a friend, had me all figured out.
No, I don’t believe they were part of some secret society who hunted abused women. But if there was a fraternity of frauds, they all could have taken the pledge. Whether I was punched or raped, whether I fought back, surrendered, or escaped – I was ashamed. I was embarrassed that I was a serial victim who was not only re-victimized by new assailants, but re-victimized by myself as well.
It’s easy to judge those embedded in abusive relationships as self-deprecating beings, desperate housewives, and the most absurd of all, greedy opportunists. But no one stays because abuse is better than loneliness. No one stays because a bruised rib is better than a hug. No one stays because black eyes are cured by money. And, no one stays because the burden of being temporarily or permanently handicapped is worth the “chance of a lifetime.”
I, and every survivor of domestic violence I have met, stayed because we forgot about the power of God that lives within us. We stayed because the devil and his team worked hard to isolate us, their captives, from the Truth. That’s right, the Fraud Squad made embarrassed and ashamed victims like me, lie to family, lie to friends, and lie to ourselves.
But what else can you do when you believe you’re lying to protect the ones you love, to protect yourself, to protect what little dignity you believe you have left? NOTHING. There’s nothing else you can do besides start telling the truth. But who do you tell?
In my case, I was not prepared to tell my family. Hell, I had just come to grips with the fact that my dad might not kill his youngest brother for molesting me. I was not prepared to tell the police either. In the past, I had been naïve enough to believe the police would protect me. This time I wasn’t so sure.
Instead I chose to tell my friends, his friends, my therapist, his therapist, the concierge in our building. Hell, I told everyone who would listen to me. But, I told no one who would act for me. It sounds silly, but that was by design – I had to act for myself. And when I was ready to believe in myself again, ready to reacquaint myself with the power of God within me, that’s when I packed my shit in a U-Haul and drove as far away from Hell as I could.
For me, it’s heartbreaking to see footage of a man assaulting anyone without warrant. To see a man assaulting a woman, a mother, and a fiancée – a woman who cares for him and their child. For me, it is all bloodcurdling. It was my intent to reignite the Callie Chronicles with a celebration of life. The irony: I planned to salute a former Baltimore Ravens player who helped to protect a woman’s life, not the recently banned player who helped to almost destroy one.
With Janay Rice, and billions of other abused women around the world in my heart, the last thing I want is to undermine solid attempts to forgive trespassers, let go, and move on. But neither do I want to cosign the deliberate neglect of the safety and or well-being of themselves or their children. What I want is to raise awareness of the power of Self-Love, the power of Truth, and the power of God. His power is within us all. I reconnected with mine; and with this seed of faith in action, I truly believe that those in need will reconnect with theirs.
CALL: National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-SAFE (7233), TTY (800) 787-3224
(24hours/day, for referral to state and local programs)
Immediate Protection for Victims of Domestic Violence
Immediate Protection for Victims of Sexual Assault (Children and Adults)
Shelters for Survivors of Domestic Violence in Miami,Florida
Therapists for Survivors of Domestic Violence
Therapists for Survivors of Sexual Assault (Childhood & Adult)