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.

Law Enforcement & Domestic Violence

I am a part of a lot of different Domestic Violence support groups on Facebook and I have been noticing a constant trend-lack of a relationship/trust with police.

Now, let it be clear that I am a major supporter of law enforcement, I am in no way bashing them, but I think there needs to be some changes in our laws.

My personal experience with a Sheriff after my attack wasn’t the best. The sheriff  was parked on my street when I returned home from my first post op. This sheriff came up to me and was very rude. He wouldn’t look me in the eye. He made me feel as though I was waisting his time. Huffing and puffing. When I was asked to show him my arms I complied, he said the bruising was gone-of course it was, it had been at least 14 days since the attack. He went through my phone. I felt judged, looked down upon, and ashamed. I was re-victimized. When asked if I wanted to press charges I said yes. He informed me that its up to the DA if the charges stick or not, and that he would go and talk to R and get his side of the story. He had me sign a medical release form and handed me this pamphlet with domestic violence information. There was no compassion, he never asked me if I felt safe, or if I was okay. I called the officer repeatedly trying to see if he had ever received my medical records, that was where the abuse was noted the most and it wouldn’t be a case of “he said/she said”. That officer never returned my phone calls and never received my medical records resulting in R getting a misdemeanor charge and a probation violation. Thats a slap on the wrist for causing my child and I to almost die in my opinion.

I see in the support groups how these woman are already so fragile, we have had our world rocked, we are beaten down emotionally and physically so bad that we don’t know what to do, who to trust, what the next step should be. We call 911 in fear for our lives knowing the risk it puts us in if the abuser hears us doing so. 1/3 of female homicides are because of their partner.

Now on the law enforcement side of things, their hands are tied. I can only imagine the weight their jobs carry weigh on them. Seeing such horrible things. They are trained to not have an emotional reaction to the situations they are called to respond to, so at some point the compassion has to leave them. When we call for help its when we are frantic, in fear for our lives, its their job to stay calm and diffuse the situation at hand. We as DV survivors know how horrible DV situations are. These calls are one of the most dangerous calls police officers respond to-22% of in line of duty deaths were from DV calls.

In order for the police to do anything there needs to be signs of abuse (bruising, broken objects, fear for your life) or written/recorded threats. The officers will make an arrest if there are signs of physical abuse, however you can make a citizens arrest if the bruising is gone (this needs to be said more). There is a new law to remove all firearms from the home. They must make an arrest if there is any violation of  a protective order. They must offer an emergency protective order which lasts for 5 days, the victim receives it right then and there, it is then the victims responsibility to move forward and get a long term protective order in place. In the case of there being marks on both parties the police officer must identify the aggressor and arrest that person. They must carry out a full investigation (medical records, witness statements, 911 phone call, pictures of injuries/scene of crime).

Statistics show that a domestic violence victim goes back to the abuser on average 8 times. That breaks my heart. If you are abused on a daily basis, imagine how many punches will be thrown, how many more broken bones to be had, and how much more the abuser will beat down the victim emotionally. Completely crippling them. Not to mention the risk of retaliation resulting in the murder of the victim, because they called the police for help.

What needs to change is what steps are taken when the abuse starts-verbally. Most domestic violence survivors will tell you about the verbal abuse first. How the perfect man turned into a monster. These abuser tell us how amazing we are, start buying us things, being prince charming. Then slowly they beat us down, tell us how ugly we are, worthless, Bitches/Sluts, controlling us, taking our friends away, then our family until the only person we have left is them. Verbal abuse is a huge form of domestic violence. I can tell you the words and way R destroyed my self esteem was way worse than any physical abuse he did to me. Bruises heal, words stick with you forever.

Domestic Violence restraining orders/protective orders need to protect more than just physical abuse victims. The judges need to approve the cases of verbal abuse too.  If we can prevent the verbal abuse from continuing maybe we can prevent the future physical abuse from happening.

Peace.

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Peace is defined as freedom from disturbance, quiet or tranquility

It is something I never realized was taken from me.

When I was with R every day I walked on egg shells. Afraid to mess up. Afraid to of what I was walking into after work. I was terrified to mess up or upset him. When you are with an abusive man for a long period of time you start to get used to it. The knots in your stomach and weight on your chest becomes a part of you.

I will never forget my first birthday after leaving R. It was almost 7 months after Beau was born and ending of our relationship. For the first time in years I didn’t have to worry about him getting drunk. I didn’t have to worry about a fight breaking out and getting pushed around or told how worthless I was. I felt like I could finally breathe. Of course I always am in fear. I am in Hawaii with my family on vacation and I was still afraid to sleep with my window open. Over a thousand miles away from home and I still am afraid he will find me, or happen to be here on vacation. BUT as I sit here and watch that gorgeous sunset I feel at peace. I can be free to be who I am. I can laugh and relax.  Have fun with my son and make amazing memories. See my child with my grandmother and sisters. See him make memories with my mom and dad. He might not have a father of his own, but he sure as hell is surrounded by the most amazing family who loves him. He will never have to feel the stress or anxiety of being around his sperm donor. Beau will only know peace. And that is a trade off I’m more than willing to make.

Love from Hawaii,

Alyssa