Category: BF NEWS

Becky’s Fund Welcomes Natalie

My name is Natalie Smith and I am originally from Denver, Colorado. I am in the final year of my bachelor’s degree in Gender & Diversity studies, which I have been working to complete abroad in Germany.

At my university, I previously held workshops to educate others about the prevalence of sexual and domestic violence as well as discuss preventative measures. Due to this, I became very interested in the work Becky’s Fund does to specifically address IPV before it takes place and to support survivors.

My course of study has further increased my interest in and knowledge of violence prevention. My interests include modern masculinity culture and the sexualization and objectification of women in the media, which I believe contribute to the prevalence of IPV. I have also developed an interest in the area of economic abuse, specifically coerced credit. The advancement of technology coupled with the increased use of credit cards has made it easier to perpetrate violence that affects victims financially. This violence has long-lasting consequences that the justice system does not yet have adequate solutions to address. In addition, I am very interested in the intersectionality of domestic violence and disability, age, race, etc.

I hope to develop my skills in the areas of research, fundraising, and grant writing, as well as further my knowledge in my areas of interest regarding domestic violence and its prevention. It is my hope that the intricate understanding of domestic violence I gain will be beneficial to me in my future career.

Forget Me Not: This is not the end of me, this is the beginning

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If you have read my story, you know that I have been on a journey for the past several years. This journey took me far away from the person I was. So far away, in fact, that I didn’t recognize the person in the mirror. She looked the same on the outside, but if I really looked into her eyes, I didn’t know the person staring back. She was empty. She had little interest in anything. She found no joy in the happiest of occasions. She was a shell. Today, all of that has changed.

Had you asked me six or seven years ago how I was feeling, about my life and path, the answer would be much different than my answer today. It was difficult for me to learn how to be patient with myself and allow myself the time I needed to heal. It took a lot of work for me to learn to live with, and for, me. I expect that it will take many years to complete my healing, but that is ok. I believe that all my experiences have created, in me, an individual who can relate to the pain of domestic violence and help others find hope. One of my favorite singers, Christina Perri, used these words in her song I Believe:

I believe in the lost possibilities you can’t see.
And I believe that the darkness reminds us where light can be.
I known that your heart is still beating, beating, darling.
I believe that you fell so you would land next to me.
Cause I have been where you are before.
And I have felt the pain of losing who you are.
And I have died so many times, but I am still alive.

So many quotes from this song have rung true in my journey to healing. The beauty of being able to look back and know that I survived still leads to overwhelming emotion. Just hearing this song brings tears of joy to my eyes. I have joy for my freedom, my strength, and for those who stand as survivors of domestic violence with me.

If you are still a victim of domestic violence, please know that you can have that same joy! That is the good news in all of this. You must, however, be aware of the situation you are in. The day will come when you know that you must leave. While in the midst of my marriage, and throughout my separation, I thought that I would never be happy again. I struggled with guilt, sadness, and shame, while hoping he would return to the man I wanted him to be. Eventually, however, the bad times substantially outweighed the good.

I have yet to meet a person who does not wish to be happy and enjoy the life they are living. No one wants to be depressed, anxious, frightened, or lonely. Sadly, victims of abuse often make excuses for the people who take away their joy. It took walking out the door, threats and all, for me to be able to start down the road to recovery. I had to be removed from the daily abuse in order to see the possibility of happiness and peace in my life.

It will not be perfect. You will still hurt, struggle with certain feelings, and have insecurities. But with every day that passes, life will get better and you will find yourself being reacquainted with joy. Remember, leaving a life of domestic violence is not the end of you. It is only the very beginning.

— Forget Me Not


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

forget me not: My Journey

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Over the course of several years I have been on a bit of a journey, if you would like to call it that. This journey took me far away from the person I am. So far away, in fact, that I didn’t recognize the person in the mirror. She looked the same on the outside, but if I really looked into her eyes, I didn’t know the person staring back. She was empty. She had little interest in anything. She found no joy in the happiest of occasions. She was a shell.

This was very distressing for all of the obvious reasons, of course. But what was far worse was that I couldn’t comprehend how I had let it come to this. I was a strong, independent, ambitious woman. I had a plan for my life…and this was not it.

They say it takes half the time you were in a relationship to get over it. For me, that would be eight years. I was over him within months, but being over the relationship is a whole other story. The damage that I incurred over those sixteen years has created a number of obstacles that I’ve had to overcome.

It all began as a blissful, high school romance. But, within months, there were signs I refused to see. It seemed that everything he did involved trying to control me. With every good thing that came of our relationship, his behavior and anger escalated. It started with guilting me for wanting to spend time to family and friends, to putting me down and calling me names, to manipulating circumstances to hurt me and raise himself up. Soon, everything he didn’t like about his life was my fault, and I paid for my “wrongdoing” with emotional and physical attacks.

I didn’t look right, cook right, clean right, make enough money, work enough, exercise enough, eat right, or lose enough weight. His temper would flare over the simplest of things, resulting in broken keepsakes, slaps, arm bars, wrist locks, chokes, being slammed against walls, being kicked and punched, being pinned down, emotional abuse, and my broken spirit. Through all of it, I lied to friends and family, covered for his actions and absences, and protected him with all I had. I learned that nothing would change someone who does not wish to change.

It took me sixteen years to decide I could take no more, and several months to walk out. It was something as simple as being accused of cheating that was the catalyst that propelled me out the door. I had done nothing but been faithful, in every way, while he treated me like the dirt beneath his feet. I could take no more. I didn’t realize the damage that had been done and what I had waiting for me. I had to work through health issues and psychological issues. I had to learn to interact with others again and start picking up the pieces of my life.

As I write today, I can say with confidence that I am no longer looking at that same reflection, but I am still learning to live with me. It has been exactly seven years since I faced my fears and walked out the door. Seven entire years since I said I was done and made the heart wrenching, terrifying decision to leave my marriage. It has been a journey like no other, bringing me to places I never comprehended, lows I don’t wish on my worst enemy, and love I never knew existed.

Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. It takes some of us longer than others to realize that. But, no matter how long you have stayed and endured, there is a beautiful life that can be had. Believe in yourself and find it.


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

Becky’s Fund Welcomes Yesenia

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My name is Yesenia Arizmendi; I am a senior at the University of California, Riverside majoring in Sociology. I have ventured into D.C. through the UCDC program, where I get to study in the nation’s capitol and intern for Becky’s Fund. Coming from a predominantly Hispanic community, I gained an early interest in women’s rights, their voices and fair treatment. My interest and curiosity for women’s equal treatment has grown during college. My focus is on gender studies, criminology and family studies. I hope for a better understanding and methods to make changes for the many women whose voices go unheard.
I realized through my previous work with a local police department in Huntington Park, CA how many women are unaware of the help they’re surrounded by. The Hispanic community has a very stereotypical view of law enforcement and is afraid to reach out to other organizations because of fear, shame and embarrassment. Women are raised to honor their families and remain by their husbands’ sides. As my term came to an end with the Detective Bureau of Huntington Park, I realized I wanted to make a change and bring awareness to the Hispanic community about domestic violence.
Becky’s Fund presents an opportunity where I believe I can learn about nonprofit organizations and how they work together to make an impact in their communities. My goal as intern with Becky’s Fund is to learn efficient ways to bring awareness to domestic violence, assist victims and learn how a community can put a stop to such crimes.

2015 WTW Press

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