Tag: forget me not

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.

Forget Me Not: What Controls You?


Over the past few weeks, I have been taking ownership of my life. I mean, really sinking deep into the root of what still controls me: security. We all know that domestic violence is all about power and control, but what happens when that power and control is directed towards someone that cannot be completely dominated — say an employee — or when you, as an individual, give up your power and allow yourself to be controlled by something, or someone, else.

I spent quite a few years rebuilding my life after my marriage. I believed that I could control my happiness by finding security, proving my abuser wrong, and keeping busy. But these things do not create happiness. Even more, finding security meant working a job that proved to be less of who I was and more of who I believed myself to be. No matter how much personal growth was taking place, the person I had to be at work remained the same. There were certain expectations, rules that had to be followed, a lot of directives, but no explanations. With each year that passed I found myself being backed further into a corner and less of the free spirit that was finally emerging in every other area of my life.

But my job gave me the security I needed. I had worked hard for it; studied hard, trained hard, and beaten the odds of getting hired in a field that many strived for. And yet I was triggered weekly. Now, I know how strange that might sound. How does one get triggered at work? For some, triggers at work come from a mean boss that yells, talks down to, or demeans their employees. Today, there are a lot of laws on the books that prohibit that type of behavior and give employees backing if their boss is acting out in that kind of negative fashion, which has likely stopped some of that behavior.

But that is not what I’m referring to. In my case, it was all about control and how those laws can be twisted by employers so that they are not breaking the above mentioned rules and, yet, still not giving up their power and control. Some call it passive aggressive behavior; I call it emotional manipulation.

It’s important to point out that there were two equally different things happening in my work life that were allowing me to be controlled by my security issues. First, I found that I did not enjoy my work. As a matter of fact, I truly disliked it and was stressed by it daily. I didn’t dislike it because I was bored; I disliked it because it was not me. I was doing something every day that put me in situations I didn’t want to be in. I didn’t like how I felt when I came home at night, I was surrounded by negativity, and I felt trapped by the numerous laws that were laid out for me to follow in my professional and personal life (trigger).

As someone who is a free spirit (i.e. doesn’t do well being told how to live their life) and someone who was emotionally, verbally, and physically abused by my husband for many years (i.e. doesn’t do well being told how to live their life), being in a work environment that was intent on controlling my actions and behaviors was not the best fit. If you understand triggers, you will understand how uncomfortable my daily life was becoming.
But there was another problem that started to rise up and affect my relationship with my job even more. As I became more and more uncomfortable with the realities of my daily interactions with work, I became defensive. I felt like a fish out of water. It was clear to me that I did not belong there, but try as I might, I was unable to find employment that was comparable. It was a two-edged sword. I could leave a good job to be happy, but then know that I would be right back to where I started seven years ago…broke. I fought hard to get this job. It took years of schooling and work, it gave me self-confidence and financial security when I needed it the most. I had become something. And he had always told me that I would amount to nothing.

Was I just going to throw it all away? That would be insane. So, I trudged forward. But the stronger I became in my personal life, the more out of place I was in my work life. I had true moral issues with what I was involved in. They were not illegal, actually quite the opposite, but they went against everything I said I believed in; everything I had become. And when I started to question what was going on, I was met with the passive aggressiveness that I was all too familiar with. It was the same as what my ex-husband used to use on me daily.

And with every comment that turned my concerns back on me and away from the organization, I saw that it was all about power and control. Anyone who seeks power and control, be it in a relationship or a job, is often willing to spin the story to suit them and question the accuser. It was all too familiar.

With each conversation and email, I saw a trend of putting the blame back on me, questioning my understanding of “simple concepts,” and diminishing my concerns as questionable or due to some form of brokenness on my part (I didn’t understand, this is how it is for everyone, I was too sensitive, I was taking it the wrong way, they were doing everything in their power to resolve the situation that never got resolved, etc.). There was never a time where my concerns were considered legitimate or worth looking at. And if I pushed too hard for answers, I was threatened with misconduct charges and punishment.

And each time I was triggered. Each time, my blood pressure rose, my emotions were frazzled, and I came home angrier than I was the day before. Soon, I felt like an animal backed into a corner. I needed the income and security but it was devouring me very slowly. It was stealing my joy. I found myself fighting with old demons like depression and anxiety all over again. I had left one controlling relationship and replaced it with another.

I was allowing the “need” for security to control me. I was ignoring my passion, for money. And, I was living a lie, daily, out of fear.

When I made the decision to move forward and trust my instincts, all of that faded away. As always, our growth is a process. We can chose to be controlled, live as a victim, or give up on our happiness, or we can choose to create change in our lives.

What controls you? Will you break free?

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

Forget Me Not: Taking on Personal Responsibility


There comes a time in each of our lives where we have to make a choice — the choice to take full ownership of our lives. As I have stated several times over, about so many issues that arise after abuse has ended, this is no simple task. However, it is a very important one. Taking ownership of your life is the difference between staying stuck and living the life you deserve.

As survivors of domestic violence, we often come out the other end a bit lost. Well, a bit lost is likely an understatement. We often come out the other end very, very lost. As is usually the case, I can only speak to my experiences, but I’m sure many will see common themes between my story and theirs.

I started dating my husband at the age of 15. We were both young and, in many ways, grew up together. He wasn’t abusive from day one, although there were signs I didn’t see. All in all, we spent 16 years together. When I finally left, it was bittersweet. I was ready to move on, emotionally and physically exhausted, and needy for love and attention, yet I was leaving the only relationship I knew and heading out on my own. Although I was scared, joy washed over me like a tidal wave of positivity. I was high on freedom. The simplest of things, like going to bed and waking up when I wanted to, were so exciting that I could see no bad in my life.

That lasted for all of about three months. Once the initial rush of being free from him wore off, the realities of life after abuse started to set in. With each negative thing that happened, I fell deeper and deeper into a life of anger and bitterness. While I struggled to pay the bills and finish school, he was working a great job. While I struggled to form solid relationships, he was getting remarried. Soon I found myself in a routine thought pattern being run by my hate and anger towards him. It was his fault I had no money, his fault I lost so much in the divorce, his fault I was in my 30s and back in school, his fault I had no children, and his fault that I was so screwed up.

He had messed me up so bad that I was damaged goods. I was depressed and anxious, struggling to focus at work, and a mess in the dating world. My friends were few and far between and I never believed I was a priority to anyone. They had better things to do than to be with me, and it seemed that everyone around me was better at life than I was. Everything was simply falling apart.

And then I got sick. My body finally succumbed to all the stress and literally started to shut down on itself. I was sleeping over 13 hours a day, could not walk around the block, and gained over 30 pounds in less than a year. My life was falling apart, and it was all his fault.

Or, was it? You see, I wanted it to be all his fault. If it wasn’t his fault, then I was the failure he told me I would be. If I didn’t believe it was his fault, then he was right that no man would want me. If I didn’t believe it was his fault, then that meant that I was one very messed up individual. I needed it to be all his fault.

The problem with this mentality, though, is that making it his fault did not do anything to improve the life I was living. In actuality, it only made things worse. The more angry and bitter I got, the more depressed I became and the less I lived and enjoyed my life. Don’t get me wrong, his actions did cause me a lot of grief and heartache. I struggled for years with thought patterns and beliefs about myself because of my relationship with him. There is fallout. It does hurt and affect your life. But, you can come back from it.

It took me hitting rock bottom and deciding that I could not live this life anymore before I sought help. It was only then that I learned that holding onto the past does not create a better future. I had to let go, make peace with the fact that my past was what it was, and decide to move forward. I had to take ownership of my life and start making it what I wanted it to be.

One can spend their whole life, or many years of it, blaming others (outwardly or inwardly) for their life situations. But it is up to us to own whatever is ailing us. I’m not sure how to say this the right way, so bare with me. It is not your abuser’s fault that you are depressed, an alcoholic, self-destructive, lost your job, or are struggling in life. Unless there are specific actions that lead to a specific low in your life (Abuser lies to boss = you lose your job/Abuser lies to court = negative outcome regarding child custody), then you have to let it go.

The fallout from abuse is real and we will all react to it in different ways, from substance abuse and self-destruction, depression and lack of self-care, to hurtful behavior towards others. It is up to you to take responsibility for your happiness and do what is necessary to let go of the past, place blame aside, and do what you have to do to get moving forward. You are responsible for your happiness, your success, and your wellbeing. Go out there and get it!

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

Forget Me Not: #MaybeSHEdoesnthityou


The hashtag #maybehedoesnthityou is lighting up Twitter and was quite the story last week. What an amazing way to bring attention to the realities of domestic violence. I’ve talked about statistics before. 1 in 4 women have been the victim of severe physical violence against them by an intimate partner in their lifetime. It is important to note that these are the ones who report the abuse. Furthermore, these statistics only account for women who have reported an instance of severe physical violence. What about the ones who do not report their abusers? What about the ones who are emotionally, financially, or otherwise abused by their partner? These individuals are not counted. Which begs the question: exactly how many people out there are being abused by their intimate partner?

As I read the stories posted alongside the #maybehedoesnthityou hashtag, it came to mind that many men also suffer at the hands of an abuser. When it comes to severe physical violence, 1 in 7 men have reported abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetime. But how many of them do not report the violence? How many of them are emotionally and verbally abused? Statistics tell us that men are much more likely to be the perpetrators of physical violence, but we often fall short of mentioning just how many men are verbally and emotionally abused by the women in their life. Their cries for help often go unanswered and their comments on abuse are often brushed aside. But what would happen if we added the hashtag #maybeSHEdoesnthityou? What then? Would men stand up and share their stories? Would more see violence against a man, by an intimate partner, in the same light as we see violence against a woman.

Our society tells men that they have to “man up,” “be tough,” and never admit defeat, which often leads to men feeling ashamed or unwilling to seek out help. No one should have to live a life of emotional and verbal abuse, male or female. Emotional abuse of a man is the same as emotional abuse of a woman. Yelling or screaming at your partner, name calling, treating them like a child, stalking, demeaning them, putting them down, forced control of the household and finances (“wearing the pants in the family”), and speaking poorly of them in front of others are all forms of emotional abuse.

#MaybeSHEdoesnthityou, but that does not mean that you are not being abused. Men, share your story and help educate others on this important topic. It is only by helping others to walk in your shoes that they will have a better understanding of the far reaches of domestic violence.

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

Forget Me Not: Dolphins at Sunset

Dolphins at Sunset

I’ve shared a lot about heartache and pain throughout my posts. I want others to know that I understand where they have been. It is my belief that it is only by experiencing the pain that abuse creates, personally feeling the hole that it leaves in your life, and being able to say yes, I know, I really know that one individual can completely connect to another that is hurting from similar abuses. But once there — once that connection is made — it is imperative that we raise each other up, share stories of peace and happiness, and show those around us that we are above that very pain and suffering that we connected under.

This is the place from which I come to you today. Although I write of past events that have tormented me for years, I am no longer owned by them. Although I share my darkest fears with you, they no longer control my every moment. And although I sometimes slip into a momentary sadness, my life is no longer filled with depression and anxiety.

Very recently, I was reminded yet again of the wonder that fills my life daily. Today, I want to share with you that side of me.

The sun was low in the sky as I helped my boyfriend drag the kayaks through the grass to the bay. We had been promising his family that we would show them how to paddle so that they could experience the joy we did each time we took them out. Tonight was the night. It was beautiful out. Not hot, not cold…simply perfect. We laughed out loud as one cousin tipped the kayak, face planting into the water, then posed for pictures between giggles and jabs. I then watched my boyfriend paddle off down shore with another cousin while I picked my way along the shoreline. Every now and then I would catch his glimpse across the water and he would wave and smile at me.

When he returned, he passed the kayak off to me stating that it was my turn to enjoy the sunset. He waited patiently on shore as I worked my way up to some boats where I had seen dolphins earlier. Bobbing along in the water, peace washed over me. It was so still out. The sun glistened off the clouds in various shades of red and yellow as it dipped further into the horizon. I was mesmerized by the tranquility. The slight sound of small waves washing against the boat, a periodic hum of voices traveling over the water, a cool breeze in my hair, and peace in my heart.

As the sun lowered out of view, I paddled slowly back to the shore where he was waiting with the other kayak. He was ready to go back out. He wanted to experience the beauty of dusk with me.

Back out on the water, I caught myself watching him as he paddled in front of me. I smiled to myself out of sheer happiness and giggled when he caught me. I realized just how lucky I am and how much I love the joy we find in each other’s eyes. Just as the thought crossed my mind, two dolphins passed in front of us, no more than ten feet away. We both yelled out in hushed tones at the same time and grinned from ear to ear. It was amazing!! The colors of the setting sun framed the dolphins as they continued swimming away from us. We were awe struck.

It was exactly as it should have been all along. I was in a beautiful place, sharing a beautiful moment, with an amazing man; something I never believed I would experience. Yet, here I was. Life can be beautiful. It will be beautiful if you allow it. When you find peace in yourself, life will find its way to exactly where it is supposed to be.

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

Forget Me Not: You and Me

You and Me

The other day, as I was driving through town, “You and Me,” by Lighthouse came on the radio. I’ve always liked this song, but this time it created a wave of emotions that I had forgotten about. Perhaps it is because of all the recent writing, the book, or my constant rehashing of my past, but out of nowhere, I remembered things that I had long since forgotten.

I remembered that this song used to mean something to me. And, hearing it the other day reminded me of what it used to mean and created a very deep sadness in me. A sadness for the girl I used to be.

What day is it? And in what month?
This clock never seemed so alive
I can’t keep up and I can’t back down
I’ve been losing so much time

‘Cause it’s you and me and all of the people with nothing
To do, nothing to lose
And it’s you and me and all of the people
And I don’t know why I can’t keep my eyes off of you

All of the things that I want to say just aren’t coming out right
I’m tripping on words
You got my head spinning
I don’t know where to go from here

Although the words are very obviously speaking about a man falling in love, they spoke to my heart as a woman trapped. I vividly remember what these words meant to me when I was finally waking up and realizing how broken my marriage was.

I remember the sadness that would wash over me as I believed I was “losing so much time” and how I didn’t know where to go and how to say the things that I felt in my heart. I was torn. I felt alone and lost, and yet I looked to him for my support.

I believed that it was just him and me. It was him and me, and all of the other people in the world. And I — I was only focused on him. I didn’t believe there was anyone else that could understand my pain, or my life, as he did. He had created it, and yet I clung to him because I loved him. We were broken together.

I was torn between how I felt inside and how guilty those thoughts made me feel. He was my one and only, and nothing he did to me seemed to be enough for me to see beyond him. I literally blocked out everyone else. Those outside people were a threat to my home. I could not keep my eyes off of him.

As I sit here now, free of the horrible pain I experienced trapped in that marriage, I feel so badly for my former self. She really believed these things and didn’t know what to do with those thoughts. I want to reach back in time and heal her, to pull her to safety and security. I remember being there so vividly and it stirs such sadness in me. I can’t go back and free my former self, but I can help those who are currently feeling her pain to move away from it. You are not alone. You can be free, and you have support.

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

Forget Me Not: Guilt and Confusion


Do you ever feel guilty that you left your abuser? Perhaps you question if the abuse was really that bad. Or maybe you wonder if your children would be better off had you stayed. Did you make up the stories in your mind? Maybe it wasn’t really domestic abuse at all? Maybe you made the wrong decision for yourself and your family. Maybe, just maybe, he/she wasn’t the monster you believe them to be.

As victims of domestic violence, I believe we often find ourselves questioning what reality we really live in. Even now, so many years out, I find myself questioning my version of the story. Maybe he didn’t mean to say those things. What if he wasn’t trying to confuse me? He was so young and perhaps he really did not know any better. After all, look at how he grew up; look at who his role model was.

Each time I begin to question my recollection of events, I do my best to look back on how each situation actually took place. I know I’m not making up what happened. Everything I write consists of words he used and actions he inflicted. Even though I know that my words are truth, I also know that my abuser wanted me to believe I was crazy. And, to a certain extent, he was successful. As you can see, even to this day, I sometimes question my own beliefs. I do understand, however, that the reason I sometimes struggle with these skewed beliefs is because of a certain type of emotional abuse. It’s called gaslighting.

Gaslighting is “an extremely effective form of emotional abuse that causes a victim to question their own feelings, instincts, and sanity, which gives the abusive partner a lot of power (and we know that abuse is about power and control). Once an abusive partner has broken down the victim’s ability to trust their own perceptions, the victim is more likely to stay in the abusive relationship.” — The National Domestic Violence Hotline

When you have been subjected to this kind of emotional abuse, you do not just automatically revert to “normal” belief patterns and thinking once you are free of the abuser. Many of these belief patterns remain and you are forced to reevaluate each one, creating a new belief pattern that is not altered by the brainwashing of your abuser.

When you find yourself questioning whether or not the abuse you suffered was real, or to the magnitude you remember, just remind yourself of the facts. What actually happened? Where you manipulated, called names, physically assaulted, or emotionally torn down? What words did your abuser use? Were they kind and loving, or hurtful and demeaning? Think about the facts of what happened and not necessarily the emotions attached to them. If they look like abuse, they are. Don’t question your sanity while your mind plays tricks on you. Remember that you are worth more, then pick yourself up and move forward. Practice being sure of yourself. Life is too short to live in guilt and confusion.

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

Forget Me Not: Today I Am Sad

Today I'm Sad

Today I am sad. Today I am frustrated. Today I feel the weight of that which I don’t understand and I struggle with my own self-doubt. I do not like being in this place, and yet I find myself here again. My own words to support others seem to mock me from the back of my mind. I feel myself confused by my emotions and my thoughts. I find myself questioning my own sanity and struggling to hold onto the positive focus I preach about. I am human after, am I not? Is it okay to slide into a tumultuous thought process and try to sort it out from a perspective I still question?

Why do I fear the unknown so much? Why is it okay for others to follow their dreams, but irresponsible of me to do so? Why do people not care? This is the question I struggle with the most. I want to scream it from the rooftop, and I fear that even by sharing my frustrations here, I am calling out those who are the closest to me. But this is where I am.

I promised to share my feelings, no matter what they are, in an effort to support those who are healing. I promised to be honest in the ups and downs of where I am as a survivor. I share my story so that others can know what it feels like to be a survivor of domestic violence. It is an effort to help those who are trying to make their way through the process of rediscovering their life after abuse, as well as a process to educate “outsiders” on what it is like to be that person.

What I find is that people do not want to hear about it. The people that we need to support us are the very ones who do not want to deal with the realities that are a part of this world. I see a society that will throw money at cancer research to the tune of billions a year, that will create a media uproar when a city bans panhandling, will spend hours arguing over politics and religion, and will look the other way when their neighbor is beaten by her husband. I see thousands of likes and shares on Facebook for sites encouraging the exploitation of women, and then I see those who ask that we not post pictures of victims of domestic violence. What makes one cause more important than another? Are we, those who suffered at the hands of those we loved the most, less important? Do you blame us or do you just not care?

On a personal level, I receive advice from those who refuse to read my story. Those who do not know where I’m coming from or why this cause is so important to me. They want to tell me why my outreach won’t work, why I need to be patient, why I should be happy I have a job I don’t belong in, and why I need to understand how uncomfortable people are with the topic of domestic violence. And, if they do not say as much in words, they do so in actions. When I speak my truth, there are few who want to listen, to show up, or to support. A simple like on a Facebook page, a moment to understand why I do what I do, a familiar face at a speaking engagement, telling others about an event I’m holding…all such powerful shows of support. Yet, this type of support is crazily few and far between.

This is my story. This is my truth. This has molded me into who I am and I am not alone. So many are affected by domestic violence and it is time that society stands up and listen. There are more women whose lives are derailed due to domestic violence than breast cancer. There are over 15 million children a year exposed to horrific experiences in the home. The reach is wide. Look around you, 1 in 3 of the women you know are harboring secrets and silently crying for help. You will not know how to help them if you refuse to acknowledge the problem. And by hiding behind your fear, or lack of empathy, you are not supporting those who need you the most.

There are those who have supported me, backed me, and encouraged me. For them, I am grateful. But this week, I have felt the sting of crying out to an empty room. The loud whisper of those surrounding me saying that my cause does not matter…that it is unimportant. And, with that, I’ve questioned my own realities and was washed back to when I questioned my marriage.

I begin to wonder if it is me who is seeing the world backward, or if I’m just aware because I have lived something that is not fun to think about. I find myself questioning if how I feel is part of who I am or if it is due to the self-doubt brought on by my past. I want to be strong, and I want to carry on, but I struggle with the lack of understanding I seem to be surrounded by. I’m right back on my balcony, looking at the world below and questioning my perception of all that is. At that time, I was trapped by my marriage. Now, I feel that there is something wonderful that I can’t grasp because I am trapped by fear and societal pressure to be that which I am not. And the coldness I feel radiating back at me is growing that insecurity.

Then I question again why I crave the support. Again, this is my story. This is my passion. Support or not, it is mine to take and run with. And that is what I will do.

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

Forget Me Not: A Victim’s Tortured Mind

Victims tourtured mind

Try not to imagine why a victim stays, but rather, try to actually put yourself in their shoes. What happens when your abuser becomes your world? What does it feel like? I’m talking about the day-to-day emotions that wrack your body. What are the thoughts, the expectations, the realities of the world in which a victim lives? If you have not been there, you will be unable to understand. It will not make sense. You will wonder why anyone would tolerate such behavior from another human being. You will question the victim’s reasoning. Some will say the victim must like being treated badly or that they have no self-respect. You may say they must be crazy to stay in a situation where someone beats them down emotionally and/or physically. You may have your opinions, but you must try to put those opinions aside and do your best to live in your mind, what a victim lives in theirs.

Every second is about the abuser’s needs and wants. They have groomed you to be a certain way, to see life through a lens that is clouded by their desires. They claim to love you and drew you into them when you first met. They were wonderful from where you stood. You fell in love with their charm, their smile, and their warmth. And slowly, they eat away at your very being until you find yourself terrified of disappointing them.

They look out for you and protect you. You feel safe with them because they want only the best for you and for your life together. They begin to pull you away from your friends and your family, one person at a time. Slowly they speak lies in your ear and show you why you are better off without these people. They refocus you on the things that will be good for the two of you. Everything is about your life together. Your bond is unbreakable. Your love is secure and for life. They want only to be with you. And then, you are alone with them. Your life has become one that revolves around your abuser.

They begin to erode your confidence, retrain your thoughts, build you up only to tear you down. You start to notice that they are unhappy, so you do your best to make it better…you change. Their happiness becomes your number one priority. Not because that is all you want in life, but because you know that you can bring them back to the individual you believe them to be. But they become further removed from you and you desperately attempt to win that original love back. You have pushed your friends and family away. Your life, as you once knew it, is no longer.

But they pull back. They withhold the love you crave and need. They tell you how worthless and messed up you are. You believe them because you have no one anymore. There is no one to tell you that you are a good partner; this is the person who matters and you are losing them. And then, they give you a chance. They show their kindness and a glimpse of hope. They give you the love that you are craving. They tell you how much you mean to them and they show you attention.

And just as soon as you are feeling positive, they crush you with all that they have. You have screwed up again and your marriage will pay. You will be alone in this world and you deserve it because you are unable to bring joy to anyone. You are a failure in all that you do: a bad wife, lover, mother, and friend. Nobody needs someone like you in his or her life. You will die alone. You do not deserve someone like them. You are lucky to have them.

Soon, you find yourself a mess, a shell of what you once were. Depression and anxiety walk hand in hand with you daily. You are constantly walking on eggshells. Every minute of every day is an attempt to be a better version of yourself, but there is nothing left of you anymore. It is a losing battle because nothing you ever do will be good enough for your abuser. You are alone and afraid. The fear of retribution is a constant. One wrong look or action can lead to more emotional or physical attacks. You fear the pain of a physical attack, but almost dread the emotional more. You cannot bear to hear his words anymore. You know you are worthless and wonder if leaving this world will make it all better.

The idea of leaving crosses your mind, but where would you go. If you told your story, people would laugh at you. They would tell you to leave, but you can’t leave. They wouldn’t understand. You simply must fix your marriage. It is up to you to make it better. He tells you daily how messed up you are through his words and actions. It must be true. He obviously loves you and wants your marriage to better. Otherwise, he would leave, right? But he stays.

You try to be what he wants, and you never will be. You will never make him happy because he does not want to be happy with you. He wants to control you. But you, the victim, do not know this. He has erased who you are and made you into this skeleton of a person. You are his to control and the cycle continues.

This is where I was. Each story is different, and each technique is unique. Try to walk in the shoes of someone you are not. Try to understand their pain. Only then can you get a glimpse of the hell and confusion that is their life.

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

Forget Me Not: Men and Abuse

MEn and IPV

Did you know that nearly half of all men experience psychological aggression from an intimate partner in their lifetime? 1 in 4 men experience rape, physical violence, or stalking, and 1 in 7 experience severe physical violence. 40% of men have reported at least one form of coercive control (isolation, threats, blackmail, etc.) by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

While women are not typically identified as the primary abuser, plenty of men suffer at the hands of their female partner. I mention female partners, because men are in a rough position. Domestic violence is about abuse, power, and control, not about whether you are male or female, gay or straight, or tough or weak.

But societal norms tell men that it is not ok to talk about abuse, to “man up,” or to take control of the situation.

This is a topic we have long ignored, myself included. I started telling my story as a female that suffered at the hands of my husband. I often refer to abusers as men within my story, and outside of it. When you Google Domestic Violence, it is generally pictures of abused women that appear. But it is not just women who suffer. Women also can be the abusers. Men can be the victim, suffering in silence just as I was. But I often fear that their voice is ignored.

I, personally, will be learning more about this topic, and it will be the subject of future blog posts. I encourage you to chime it. And to the male victims out there who have spoken up, thank you! Please continue breaking the silence so we can bring light to this equally important issue.

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