I was technically married for 26 years, to a very abusive man, but escaped after 24 and a half years. I feel that this had tainted my perception of men — I know NOW that he was the exception, not the rule, but your perception is your immediate reality, ultimately.

My Ex claimed to love animals SO much, but would beat my dogs when he was upset with me. He got so mad at one of my dogs, who had previously been abused, that he called animal control and told them that he found a “strange” dog in his home who must have come in through the dog door with his other dogs. Her crime? I was out of town and when he came home, she was SO happy to see him that she turned her normal 20 circles and then pooped on his shoe; actually, she flung it on him, because she pooped while turning her happy circles. I personally would have perceived that as the highest doggie complement…not him. He was already enraged that I was out of town for business and I would hang up when he called and started yelling.

My poor, sweet Honey dog! I did not find this out until I came home from my trip three days after that. My kids were too scared of him to tell me and too afraid of how sad I’d be. As soon I found out, I called a personal friend at the shelter. Someone had adopted her that morning and they were an only dog home. I explained what happened and she advised me to call the police. Sadly, I didn’t…I was just so grateful that Honey found a good home and was safe. I took my kids and stayed elsewhere for three days after that, only going home to make sure my dogs were fed and loved on while he was at work. He would beat me in front of my children later that month and that would be the last time we were in the same proximity, except in court.

Jump to Present Day…a few weeks ago, we lost some feral kittens that a stray cat had in my boyfriend’s garage. Of seven kittens, only one survived (and I assure you, he is “livin’ large”). When there were only three remaining, my boyfriend wrapped the sick kittens up. We fed formula, we fed Pedialyte. The second to the last one got so ill, it was gasping for air. I watched as he started giving it mouth-to-mouth and doing chest compressions. “C’mon, little buddy, we can’t lose you.” My heart broke for the dying kitten, but swelled as I watched him desperately try to save it. Sadly, the kitten took its last breath. He gently held it and stroked its head for a few minutes, then went out and buried him while teary-eyed. I had NO idea men could be this way!?! Tender and gentle with animals??? I promptly thanked the Lord for putting this man in my life, his gentleness for all is so refreshing and inspiring…

Kindness and being magnanimous is such an act with an abuser. To all my survivor sisters and brothers, don’t settle for less! Animals can tell between the perception and reality of a person. If abusers will abuse an animal, they are surely practicing for what’s next — or should I say, whom.