How My Dad Taught Me To Be A Father

Psychologists say that your childhood is what molds how you will live your adult life. The more I look back, the more I realize that this statement couldn’t be more true.

When I was growing  up I had loving parents-who not only loved us, but loved each other, two little sisters, and all my family surrounding me. I always dreamed of having the same life for my future children. Two happy, loving, and supporting parents, siblings, a huge family support system, but my story didn’t end up that way. I got pregnant with my abuser at 22. Ended up being a single mom, a domestic violence survivor, and the sole parent for a child. And by sole parent I don’t mean just sole/physical custody of him, I mean the ONLY parent that my child has. His father chose to be an abusive addict and abandon him instead of owning up to the mess he created and turmoil he caused, but if you read my blog you already know all about that.

I never realized it until today, but God was paving the way for me to be a great father through my dad. My dad taught me how to ride a bicycle, ride a dirt bike, to play golf, throw a football, and shoot a gun. He taught me to always defend myself, defend my family, and always have loyalty to them. He showed me that hard work and determination pays off, math is the only subject you can be sure of, and to measure twice and cut once when building something. He showed me how a man always should put his family first, provide for them, and always protect them. He showed me through his patience that the first person to yell in an argument automatically loses. He showed me that talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. He taught me that education is everything (well I may have understood that one a little too late). He taught me to always be punctual, to be respectful and the best at your job. He taught me the difference between a phillips head and a slot head screw driver, how to punch with my thump on the outside of my fist, and if I ever get into a fight, aim for the opponents nose- it’ll blur their vision. He taught me how to jump a BMX bike and that sometimes there are “extra” pieces when building shelves, toys, or play structures.

I never realized this back then, but my dad was teaching me how to be the father I need to be for my son.  While teaching my son to ride a bike I am using the same tips my dad used on me. I am instilling the same values my parents did in me with my son-Family over everything, Loyalty is everything, Love with all your heart, and Respect is earned not given. My dad has stepped up and has been the best grandpa any kid could ask for.

So, Thank you dad.

Thank you for being the best dad to my sisters and I. And being the best husband to mom.

Thank you for not only teaching me how to be the best father I can be, but the father my child deserves.

Happy Father’s Day!

 

A letter to my followers

To all my fellow survivors,

I get so many messages, comments, and shares on here, A Survivor’s Mission page, and my personal Facebook page that it’s hard to thank all of you individually but I wanted to take a minute to write you guys to tell you how much I appreciate each and every one of you.

If you read my blog, we are automatically connected. We have all, in some way have been close to someone who was hurt by domestic violence, or have been victims ourselves. We understand the struggles of everyday life living with an abuser. We all know how hard it is to move forward and connect with people, how hard it is to trust again. We have all had the flashbacks, anxiety attacks, and have been crippled with fear.

If you read my blog and are a family member or a friend of an abuse survivor-Thank you. There aren’t enough of you out there. So many people just write us off as being stupid for staying. They say that we are weak because we couldn’t stand up for ourselves. It’s so easy to judge looking in, until it touches you. I know because I was one of you. Before I was ever abused I didn’t understand how someone could literally be at the point of dying at the hands of someone else and not just get up and leave. How hard can it be to pack a bag? Ask for help? Or just start a brand new life? I judged, but then I became a victim.

So many readers comment or share my video calling me a hero. I am not a hero by any means of the word. I am just a girl who understands what it’s like to feel completely alone, yet be surrounded by so many who love you. To know what it’s like to want to say so much and scream for help yet when you go to talk no words come out. You are so afraid to disappoint your family for the person you have become so you stay silent. You are so afraid to leave because if he/she finds you he will actually go through with what he promises-to kill you.

I can not explain to you the relief I felt when my first birthday came after I was free from being abused. I distinctly remember sitting around with my family and being able to breathe, genuine blissful peace. There was no fear of what will happen when we go home, no babysitting his drinking, no lies to tell to cover up where the bruises came from. I didn’t have to worry about anyone asking me why I looked to tired, or why he was being so rude. That first birthday was only 6 months after I had gotten out of the horrible relationship I was in.

When I put out the video of my story in October I would have never dreamed it would reach as many people as it did. facebook.com/…382713971/10207405038069140 Thats when I started Alyssa’s Story, and now A Survivor’s Mission. I swear by counseling and family support. Please please please let your family in. I didn’t until it was almost too late. If you ever wanted to share your story, I am always here to listen. I felt so much better after I started sharing mine. Everyone hears the lies that your abuser spreads. How he didn’t do it, We are the crazy ones, We are controlling and mean. Once I started writing it was a chance for me to get my side of the story out, finally allow people to hear the truth of what happened. I was terrified of what his family would think if it ever reached them, which it has, but they can deny it all they want. I can understand why they would, who wants to believe their child is capable of being such a monster. R can deny it ever happening but police reports, medical records, and witness statements don’t lie. I know that the road to freedom is long and scary-but its so worth it.

Thank you all so much!

~Alyssa

It’s Okay To Have A Day

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I need to remember that its okay to have emotional days. So do you. Being a single mom is hard. Being a domestic violence survivor is hard. Being a working mom is hard. Shit, just being a woman is hard sometimes.

I try to be strong for everyone-all of you across the world who read this, my friends who are going through things in their lives, my son and my family. I need for Beau to see that I am strong, that my family and I are all he will ever need. I feel this need to show everyone that you can come out of a domestic violence relationship on top. That by being completely broken by someone can make you stronger than you were before. I answer every email, every comment on social media, every text trying to help everyone. It can get really exhausting and I hate looking weak.

Somedays I miss the good in the relationship I had with R. Now, before we all jump to conclusions and think that I would ever go back to him ,the answer is HELL NO. This is a completely normal emotion after leaving a DV relationship. You miss the happy times. Now, in the same breath, today I hate him a little more than usual. I hate that my child has to see other dads in their child’s life and him feel different. I hate that I am going to have to make up some cover story to answer the “Why?” questions Beau will have pertaining to the absence of a dad because I can’t tell him the real monster his sperm donor was. I hate that I feel awkward in situations around married couples with children. I hate that Beau gets asked if his dad cuts his hair or if is dad taught him to do things. I hate that I am always wondering if someone is believing the lies R told about what happened. I hate that I put this pressure on myself to be tough like a father yet soft and gentle like a mom should be. I hate that I get looked at weird at a park for being a single mom when asked where his dad is. I can’t exactly explain over 2 years worth of abuse to a stranger, nor do I want their pity.

At the food store a few weeks ago Beau had his treat of choice for behaving well at the store. While I loaded up the bags in the car he saw a family next to us. He asked “Mom whats that name?” He is three years old so I told him “Its a mommy, a daddy, a little girl and a little puppy.” He responded with ” I want one!” I said “The puppy?” He answered with “No, a daddy mommy, can I get one?” Total stab right in my heart. If you have been following my blog since the beginning you would know that I fought with R to get his parental rights taken away. I fought for over a year and eventually I won. The judge said he had never granted that in his career but he knew it was the right choice for my child. While I am so happy and thankful that R isn’t in our lives, times like that make me really hate him and hurt. My child is the friggen best. I know every parent says that but he really is and the fact that he feels like he is missing something at three years old makes me really want to punch R right in the mouth. Beau shouldn’t have to suffer because of the piece of garbage his “father” is.

Going back to work full time I know that I am going to miss out on a lot of stuff in Beau’s life. Maybe its me feeling the “working mom guilt” but I hate it. I have an amazing family that I know will fill in the gaps when I can’t be there for Beau, but it just drives me nuts that R gets to live his life god knows where, never getting any jail time, not having ever paid a dime for Beau. Let me tell you, I will be the mom that puts on fake facial hair, wearing a baggy t shirt and backwards baseball cap when it comes time for Beau to have his breakfast with dad at school so that he doesn’t feel any different.

As woman we need to realize that it is okay to have a day. Being a single mom I have to worry about my child’s future. While my friends are traveling and getting married, I am having to accept the fact that my life plan is different. I have to worry about preschool, hitting developmental milestones, and saving for college. As moms we compare ourselves to each other all the time,even if we don’t realize it. There are moms whose bodies snap right back after having their child, there are working moms, organic moms, helicopter moms, a million kinds of moms and we all think the other mom is better. We need to stop comparing ourselves to other moms because in our children’s eyes we are the biggest rock stars.

Today was a rough day for me, but its okay to have a day.

Loving A Domestic Violence Survivor

We all know the fabulous world of dating comes with a lot of uncertainty. You get a little apprehensive, nervous, maybe even insecure when it comes to getting to know your new partner. Figuring out how to read them, what they like and don’t like. Things that may irritate them or things that make them extremely happy. It can be exciting and also confusing.

Now imagine you are a domestic violence survivor trying to navigate a brand new type of relationship-a healthy one. Sadly the likely hood that you are dating a domestic violence survivor is so high. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men. As a domestic violence survivor I can tell you it makes the world of dating a very scary place. The relationship with my abuser is over. The physical acts of violence are gone, but the psychological effects are long lasting.

We are sometimes weary of kind gestures. From my experience, my abuser was prince charming at first. Taking my family out to eat. Always getting me flowers. Taking me out to nice dinners, fun vacations, sporting events-a total gentlemen. He would always tell me how pretty I was. How great I was. Showered me with compliments. He totally sucked me in, as well as some of my family. Because of this I will always deep down question as to why a new man is being nice to me. Does he really think I am as great as he is saying or is this a way for me to let him in and get abused again? It is nothing against you, its my way of protecting myself. Its not that I am ungrateful for the compliments either, I do appreciate them, it will just take time for me to get used to it.

We can have a low self esteem. Any abuse survivor will tell you that we at some point in time felt worthless. The people who abused us were so critical and demeaning that we tend to be so critical of ourselves even after the abuse ends. I will be getting ready and look in the mirror and immediately point out the flaws I see. I am not thin enough, I hate my lips, I hate my legs, my arms aren’t toned enough, I am not pretty enough. I won’t feel smart enough to accomplish goals the that I have set.  I beat my self up because these flaws were pointed out to me on a daily basis. I don’t always feel bad, but I do have my bad days. I don’t need to be fed compliments to feel better, just understood through the days where I feel less than pretty.

We can have PTSD. I am not saying I am going to jump up and hurt you if I have a flash back, but I handle things differently. If an argument happens and voices are raised I will immediately shut down. Its not that I am afraid of you, I just don’t have it in me to argue with you. I would rather take a breather and then calmly discuss what issue is going on. I will always be looking at my surroundings. Its not that I don’t feel safe or protected with you, I just need to be able to protect myself also. Certain smells, restaurants and surroundings will trigger horrible memories for me. I can’t help how nervous I get, or the rash I break out in, its my body remembering what happened and making me aware.

We might sabotage the relationship. I am a professional red flag spotter. This also makes me question  a lot. When are you a domestic violence survivor you are so used to being lied to and completely brainwashed.  We knew these things weren’t okay, but we believed that we deserved it. I will never let myself be put in a position to be a victim again. I may ask you a question different ways, to see if you are lying. I may be more critical of how you handle your anger, or how you treat your loved ones. The scariest time for me is when I am actually letting my walls down and letting you in. Give us time and please be patient.

We may move way too fast. We can get attached way too fast. Sometimes people who have survived abuse jump quickly into relationships to try and replace the abuse. They can be so hungry for love and respect that we didn’t have with our abuser. It can be from spending all your time together to even pushing to move in together, wanting to meet your family and go on vacations together. You have to understand that some abuse survivors have never had a healthy relationship, because of that we don’t know healthy boundaries. Just communicate how you are feeling. Tell us to take things slower.

We might feel unworthy of a healthy, loving relationship. This is HUGE. When you are abused we are left feeling completely broken. We feel unworthy, disgusting, stupid, that we do not DESERVE to be loved or respected. It takes some time to override those negative thoughts. We are working very hard to overcome all of the negative things our abuser has done. Just like everyone else we want love, happiness, respect, intimacy-it just might take us longer to get there. It takes a lot of courage to leave an abusive relationship, and a lot of trust in you for us to share what we went through( if you don’t have a public blog of course).  Please understand that we are constantly working on ourselves. Trying to rewire our brains to know that we are worthy of love, respect, and are still desirable. Sometimes I almost feel like I am branded with a scarlet letter for being a domestic violence survivor. I have all this emotional baggage that can be a lot for someone to take on. I have this blog that is read all over the world, while I absolutely love that it helps other survivors, it also airs everything that I went through.

No matter what we will still carry scars from our abusive relationship, whether those scars are actual physical markings of our survival or emotional. However we have a hell of a lot to offer someone. We have compassion, courage, and strength. We will never put you down because we know what its like to be beat down to nothing. We will love harder than anyone you’ve ever been with before. We just need someone with compassion and patience to see us for the blessings we really are.

WHY?

Why didn’t you leave? Why won’t you go outside in the dark by ourself? Why didn’t you ask anyone for help? Why didn’t you tell me? I thought only veterans get PTSD, are you sure you have it? Why aren’t you in a relationship? Are you going to blame the next guy for what your abuser did? Why do you think he will come back, don’t you think he’s over it by now? You really think his family doesn’t believe you? Why didn’t you call the cops? Why are you so angry? Why are you depressed? Why didn’t you fight back? What are you going to tell your son? You STILL have nightmares? You still feel scared to go out in public? Why don’t you just get over it? Why do you keep talking about it?

I can not tell you how many times I have been asked these questions, or other domestic violence survivors have heard these questions. So I will give you some answers from my perspective.

Imagine the person you loved completely shattered you. It doesn’t happen all at once. Maybe you didn’t do a task you were asked to do properly-you must be stupid. You got hit on at a bar-you’re a slut. You got home late-you were cheating. You asked him to not stay out so late maybe only drink 3 beers instead of the whole box-you are controlling. You got into an argument-its all your fault and you’re a bitch. If you are hearing that everything bad that happens in your relationship is your fault, over time you believe him. And these exchanges of words aren’t calm, they are violent. Someone in your face, screaming,yelling, punching walls. They are so close to your face that you feel the heat from their breath and you feel their spit on your face. You feel scared, helpless, and the worst part is, you feel like everything IS your fault. Maybe if I left work earlier, maybe if I didn’t tell him how much to drink, maybe if I didn’t dress a certain way he wouldn’t be so mad.

The verbal arguments slowly turn into physical attacks. Alyssa, why didn’t you just call the cops for help? Because you are crippled with fear. You believe his words. You believe you deserve the hits, your things being broken, and the worst part-YOU deserve to be broken. You see, unless you have been a victim of any sort of domestic violence you will NEVER understand. I think that is one of the hardest parts  of being a survivor. You try to explain what it feels like but you cant. Nobody will ever know what its like to be afraid of your own shadow, the wind blowing a tree branch against your window, and the strangest part you are afraid of yourself.

PTSD- is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It does not just effect combat veterans. It can come from getting into a car accident, from sexual assault, physical and verbal violence, from anything traumatic that has happened to you. After I got out of my relationship I wouldn’t even walk in my driveway in the dark by myself. I wouldn’t sit with my back to a door at a restaurant, I wouldn’t sleep for more than 4 hours a night,  I would drive around laps in the parking lot at the food store to make sure anyone he knew wasn’t there. You sit there and replay the events in your head like a never ending movie reel. You are so anxious you are crawling out of your own skin. You don’t go places that attacks happened and you definitley don’t want to talk about it. You can get physical symptoms-stomach cramps, nausea/vomiting, body aches. Many survivors turn to substance abuse to escape and numb the pain. You fear the world. Just imagine that for a second. You are afraid every second of everyday. You think he will be on every corner you turn, he will be in every restaurant, he will be in your room at night. You’re like a child fearing a monster except the monster is real. You wake up drenched in sweat and your heart pounding out of your chest because you had a nightmare. You get depressed, pushing away family and friends, blaming yourself and you are embarrassed that you even got into that situation.

You are so afraid that you are  going to date someone else who will hurt you again, so you stay single. The littlest red flags in a relationship come up- you end it. Once you give pieces of your heart to someone and they completely ruin it, you don’t want to give any pieces of yourself to anyone again. Will I ever blame the next guy I date for what R did to me? NO, but I can tell you that I analyze their behaviors. I look at how they act when they are angry, how they treat strangers, how they treat their families. If they drink, if they do drugs, what goals they have set.

Domestic violence is a huge epidemic that doesn’t get very much attention. SO many people victim shame without even knowing it. Your friends and family will not understand why you didn’t tell them so they get frustrated. Sure they are proud of you for leaving him, but they will always say “But why didn’t you tell me, I am frustrated you didn’t tell me, or if you hid something that big from me what else are you hiding ” Let me tell you some statics.

  1. Every 20 minutes someone is abused by an intimate partner. That means around 10 million victims a year.
  2. 1 in 7 women are stalked by their abusers.
  3. Domestic victimization is corolated with a higher risk of depression and suicide.
  4. 72% of all murder suicides were domestic violence situations
  5. Number of troops killed in Iraq-6,614. During that same time period 11,766 women died from DV, that isn’t even including men.
  6. 1 in 4 women will be abused in their lifetime, that is just who reports the violence. God knows how many go unaccounted for.

The important thing to realize is that when we stay with our abuser , it is because we are promised change. We don’t want the relationship to end, we want the abuse to stop. When you’re too weak to leave you believe the broken promises and lies your abuser tells you. As a family or friend of an abuse victim you CAN NOT tell them to just leave. Don’t put them down for staying, they are not mentally capable of getting out. What also needs to be understood is the most dangerous time in a domestic violence relationship is when you leave. That is when the most murders happen. Abusers don’t just threaten to kill you, they threaten to kill your family, friends, anyone you care about.

All of these reasons are why I keep on talking.

I have a voice. I am going to educate and preach about domestic violence every single day, because I got out and the biggest reason…

I survived. 

Some Random Thoughts…

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately. So I figured since I try and keep this blog real and raw I would just share it with all of you.

I have been feeling all kinds of different emotions. Getting back into the medical field I had to realize that I am going to miss out on a lot with my child. He will be in school soon so it won’t be as bad, but it makes me angry. I had to give up so much and R doesn’t care. I would never want him involved in my sons life anyway, but when you are pregnant you picture the typical “family”. I never set out to be a single parent, but now that I am, it just makes me a little resentful. I am going to have to miss out on sports, school stuff, bringing him lunch if he forgets it-little things. At the same time I do have an amazing supportive family who replaces his “father”. I would never want Beau to endure any kind of abuse from R, or witness anything happening to me.

I also have noticed that when I take Beau to the park (which I do at least 3 days a week) that I feel out of place around other married couples. I feel like I am almost damaged or not as good of a parent because I am a single mother. You always get asked the uncomfortable question- “Is his dad at work?” or any other questions that center around his sperm donor. I always just say “oh no, its just me” and then i feel like I get looked at like a bad parent, or pity, like I was some girl who slept around and got pregnant, not that I was a victim of domestic violence and was engaged to his sperm donor. How do I tell some random person that his so called “father” poisoned me with drano while I was pregnant, or that I almost died and Beau was born almost 8 weeks early from blunt force trauma. That isn’t exactly the best small talk at a family park.

Beau is also starting to notice what a dad is. He has called family friends and random men in stores Dad, not understanding what the meaning of the word is. He even told the man at the drive thru “Okay Dad! Coming now!” when I was told the total cost of his happy meal and to pull around to the first window. I try to explain to him that the random man isn’t his father, that not all families have daddy’s and that its okay because I love him, MiMi loves him, KiKi, GiGi, and Papi all love him. I knew I was going to have to cross this bridge, I just didn’t think it would be so soon. How do I explain to a 3 year old that his father was such a sick and twisted piece of crap? Say his dad was sick? I don’t want him to idolize that monster in the slightest bit. I can’t help but have it break my heart a little bit every time.

All of these things are realities that I am going to have to face. I am a single parent and its my job to make sure Beau is the happiest little boy ever and is given all the best opportunities in life. He will succeed, he will not be like his paternal grandfather, or his father. He will NOT be another statistic in the system like they are.

There is a saying “When you can tell your story and not cry, you know you’ve healed.” Well I tell my story all the time, I did it publicly in the video I made here https://www.facebook.com/alyssa.divincent/videos/vb.1382713971/10207405038069140/?type=3&theater , I share more with you guys every week and I truly feel like through this blog, counseling, and all the support I have-that I am healed.

That is why I want to share other survivors stories. I want to give the gift of healing to anyone who needs it. Whether the abuse is verbal, physical, emotional, sexual, whatever it is-your voice deserves to be heard. I would keep the stories completely anonymous for safety reasons. If you contact me we can arrange a meeting, or it can be done over Skype. For more detailed information PLEASE contact me on A Survivors Mission Facebook/Instagram page. It emails me directly.

Thanks for reading my rambling,

-Alyssa

An open letter to my granddaughter…

Alyssa,

I decided after reading your blog to answer the questions that you asked of your friends. I was curious to see what my response would be. I know that the questions sparked anger and also sorrow for not seeing what was happening to you. When I learned of the abuse he put you through I was shocked. How could this have been done to you and no one knew? I am sorry for not seeing, for not supporting you or being there to comfort you, until we almost lost you. R caused a lot of trouble and sadness for your family. We were angry because the man we trusted and supported turned our to be this monster. He let us all down, especially you. He has lost much more than he will ever know. His son will grow strong, happy, and succeed in life because of this loving, caring family. He lost, you won!

  1. How did my experience effect how you approach relationships? If at all?

    Since your abuse came to light I find that I now view the relationships between couples differently. I watch to see how they respond to each other-Are they happy? Do they talk? Are they listening to each other? I am now aware.

  2. Did you have any idea I was being abused?

    No I did not. I did see signs of trouble when R was drinking too much. He would become nasty and get angry with you, especially when you tried to get him to stop drinking.

  3. If you had any idea, what signs of abuse did I show?

    The abuse that I saw was his verbal abuse of you. He would pick on you, make fun of you, and he would then try to get you to change your mind about going home. This behavior was very obvious when you were pregnant, tired and asking to go home. His response was to get nasty,drink more,and get very loud.

  4. What you tell me old me?

    There are times when I saw that you were not happy. I should have tried harder to reach you,to talk to you, but I did not want to intrude on your privacy. Knowing what I know today, I would have insisted on talking to you.

  5. Has my experience changed your life? Good or bad?

    The old you was sweet, trusting, and happy. The relationship with R changed you. You became defensive and quiet, you seemed to be running away from us and the family. Knowing what I know now, I should have talked to you. I have experienced the changes in you in a positive way. You are stronger, no longer sad and withdrawn. You are more open about what you want in your life and about what you want for your little boy. I see the relationship with family being more open and loving. You have become positive about life and you are determined to help others who are being abused.

  6. What would you tell a family member/friend of a person currently being abused?

    If I saw someone that I knew in the same situation I would try and get them to call you and I know you would help them.

  7. If you could say anything to my abuser what would you say?

    I don’t know if I could talk to R at this time. I am still very angry about what he put you through. I still remember the fear that we were going to lose you and your little boy. I remember his lack of compassion seeing you after the delivery. I still see abuse of your family the night your son was born. I see how little he cared about anything except himself. The only thing he was concerned about was the car he happened to be working on. No, I can’t talk to him now, or ever. He crossed the line because of his abuse.