It was right before school started. The leaves left a thin layer on the ground. For the first time since I had escaped my 7 years of hell, life was beginning to feel normal (minus the frequent flashbacks and panic attacks I endured on a regular basis). I can remember that it was right before school began because a friend and I had just returned from a shopping trip up north with my kiddos where I had (for the first time in many years) enjoyed the freedom of the simple task of purchasing back to school clothes. Making decisions by myself without being undermined felt fantastic. And my kids were elated about the brand new clothes.
I had just pulled into the driveway and had no more than put my old, bronze SUV in ‘park’ when my phone rang. Of course, I answered it, glad to talk to the family member on the other side of the line. But as soon as I hit the green “accept” button, my ribs felt as though they were caving in. The sweet taste of metal formed in my mouth and I could feel my palms begin to sweat just as quickly as my entire body shook.
“How dare you? How dare you come out here and talk about your ‘problems’ and what you ‘endured’ with your ex and upset everybody like that? You should be absolutely ashamed. The entire family is upset about this and you need to realize that all of the “abuse” was a result of your own life choices. No one else is to blame but yourself–” the voice blared over the phone loud enough for my friend to also hear while I sat in horror over the hurtful accusations. At some point during the tirade, I felt a light tug on my cell phone. My friend had pulled it out of my hand and simply hung up.
Earlier that summer, I had visited my hometown along with my children. Though many people had questions about the separation from my husband, I declined any answers as I had resolved at the beginning to keep the information limited to my amazing attorney, the local sheriff’s department, my counselors and therapists, and a few close friends who had reached out and offered me assistance that I will never be able to repay. Despite the criticism I received, (it became apparent that while I stayed silent, he had no qualms with talking), I remained steadfast in my quietness. Even now, I don’t talk about specific instances that occurred as that is why I completed years of therapy and many of the situations remain a cloud of fog hidden behind trauma.
Did my life choices truly set me up to become a victim of domestic violence? I posit that they absolutely did not. Nobody, I am not concerned at where a person is at in his or her life, deserves to be manipulated, control, and abused and the mindset that a person makes a choice to be a victim is the same type of thinking that perpetuates and allows to cycle of domestic violence to continue.
So, here is my plea to those who are enduring violent situations and those who are survivors of domestic violence: When you receive a call from a person seeking to re-victimize you by telling you that the hell you went through was your fault and that it was exactly what your deserved, and if that person is willing to perpetuate lies and misleading information that places you right back into an abusive setting– Here is EXACTLY what your do: Hang Up That Phone! Know that YOU are better than that and there is NOTHING that you did wrong. Because this time, you have a choice! Do not allow someone else to re-victimize you.