Month: July 2016

Forget Me Not: Taking the Leap


It’s been awhile since I last wrote, during which time I’ve been busy turning my life on its head and shaking out the debris. In my last post, “What Controls You?,” I shared that security was controlling me. In many ways, that post was me journaling where I was at that very moment in time. It was a guided meditation of the reasons I was unhappy in my job and how I had allowed myself to get to that point. Control is a very serious issue for me, as it is for many survivors of domestic violence. Control was such a huge part of my life and something that I have worked very hard to eliminate. And yet, I found myself in a different type of controlling situation brought on by what I allowed in my life.

I heard my own words and they solidified what I had been feeling for months, if not years. And, since I last wrote, there has been a lot of change. First and foremost, I gave notice to my job. This was not any job; it was a career that I had worked very hard for. It gave me security, income, and benefits. There was little to no chance that I would lose my job, be laid off, or have to transfer. Yet, I was so unhappy that it affected every part of my life. I did not like what I was doing or how the lay of the land was. It was not where I belonged. So, I finally got up the courage to walk away. As of the end of this month, I will no longer answer to anyone.

Second, I plunged head-first into Yellow Wood Learning Community, a homeschool resource center. I get to teach and help students become the best individuals they can be. This is not a school where students come to memorize and test. It is a community where they come to grow and become all that they were meant to be as an individual. It is a place where they can blossom and live without fear and judgment. It is a place where they can just be. Being a part of this sort of program creates more joy than I can adequately express.

And, in all of this, I watched Forget Me Not Advocacy Group bloom! We celebrated our non-profit status and held our first fundraiser. Connections are happening left and right, speaking engagements are coming to fruition, and Forget Me Not is coming into it’s own as an organization bringing change to South Florida.

It is important to me that I share what I have learned in all of this. Taking the leap is the difficult part, as the fear of uncertainty often holds us back. My fear that I would lose my security overshadowed my ability to believe in myself and follow my dreams. But, just as when I finally left my marriage, making the leap is when you feel the weight lifted from your shoulders. There is no longer the fear of what you are giving up and what might be. Instead, you have nowhere to go but forward. And moving forward is a wonderful place to be.

No matter if you are considering walking away from an abusive or toxic relationship, or walking away from a toxic job or situation, know that taking the leap is the hardest part. It is only after you jump that you can learn to fly.

Read the Forget Me Not Series here and visit the Forget Me Not Advocacy Group’s website.

Learn More About Natalie’s Experience with Becky’s Fund

During my time at Becky’s Fund, I developed a variety of helpful skills that I believe will benefit me in my future career. Through my research, I expanded my previous knowledge about the gender asymmetry of domestic violence. I also came to a much more in depth understanding of the intersection between race, professional athletics, and violence, when I explored the media’s portrayal of professional athletes who have committed violent acts. In addition, I developed deeper knowledge of the risk factors for domestic violence perpetration and explored various theoretical models that attempt to explain the root causes of violence. This research enabled me to strengthen my comprehension of what topics prevention education programs need to directly address if they would like to adequately prevent violence.

In addition, when I worked on the issues of coerced debt, financial abuse, and joint bank accounts in violent relationships, I was able to improve my teamwork skills as I worked collaboratively with an expert in finance.

My research and evaluation of the Men of Code program has helped me to utilize my quantitative research skills in a real-life setting. Being able to witness the actual prevention education program also helps me to connect what I have read in the literature and what trends I see in the data with actual people. Finally, working directly in workshops with young girls and also with college students as a facilitator has improved my knowledge of the gaps that exist in our culture as far as understanding healthy relationships, conflict resolution, and the dynamics of abuse.

In general, I feel that I have made significant connections between the various theoretical explanations for violence and the actual prevention work that is necessary to end it and I hope to apply this connections in my future work.