Contributor: Misty Chaviers, Podcast Host of I’m a Survivor

Here’s my story…

In this picture, I was living in a “pretend” world. Not long before this, I had been through a three year abusive marriage with the father of my daughter. I was suffering from an eating disorder and I was on drugs. Let me give you a visual picture of what that looked like the abuse I was enduring was: throat slicing, punching me in my head, holding me down, head butting me until I saw stars, beating me so hard I lost my vision, calling me fat and ugly, forcing me to do things I didn’t want to do, pulling my hair out, mocking me, throwing rocks at my head, putting cigarettes out on my arms, pinching chunks out of the skin on my arms, kicking me in my spine with steel-toe boots, using a high powered water hose to take the skin off of my arm…the list goes on and on. Some may judge me for that and, hey, it’s your business, not mine, but I can tell you I really didn’t know what I should do because I was suffering from severe postpartum depression. I was seventeen years old when I got pregnant and only eighteen when this all started (right after having a baby). He once took me by the hair of my head and drug me down cement steps and tore my legs up — I could feel my skin ripping apart! The trauma that I was going through was slowly killing me. I didn’t know what domestic violence was, as I had never heard that term before. You see, although someone is smiling that doesn’t mean there happy or okay, don’t be so quick to judge someone for how they look on the outside. Rather, be kind and give them hope and let them know they’re no alone. Abuse and trauma changes people: it sucks the life out of people so be kind and easy on those who have went through trauma, because life changes daily and never say never and it can’t or it won’t happen to me or in my life. I was living in silence; I wasn’t allowed to speak about the abuse because no one wanted to hear about what I went through, mainly because it hurt them. I also felt ashamed of what I felt like was mostly my fault at the time because I would get told ‘you should have just left.’ Leaving isn’t always so easy when your frozen in fear! When you have someone telling you go ahead and leave and when you do you and your whole family will die. Threats are sometimes real for survivors and victims of abuse and I was a young girl, suffering.

I’m using this post and my own life experience as an example to others. Give women and young girls information on how they can get help because there is help available. They may not be able to reach out at that time because of fear or shame or other reasons. But, if they at least understand that there is someone who understands and someone who can get them the help they need, they may get some type of comfort from that and then they may reach out to that organization and to a person who can lead them in the right direction. Domestic violence is complicated and it’s not easy to understand sometimes but rather than asking a survivor or victim why she stays, ask her if there is something you can do…if it’s slipping her a number or giving a safe/kind gesture. If she is afraid and in fear, just one slight thing you do may change things for her in time. I want to say this I didn’t post this for attention on me or my life. I posted this post for others to know that this happens in our small communities, as it was happening to me in my small community. I was considered the girl next door to some people. I came straight out of high school into abuse and this happens daily. Now as I look in the mirror I see my forty-four year old self looking back, I am not only just a survivor I am a successful victims advocate and case manager for one of the largest non-profit organizations in the state of Alabama. I am a speaker and podcaster among other accomplishments. Those things I just wrote to you at the end are just things God has put in my life and I will serve the same community and county where I once was a victim of domestic violence. I do it not just for my own personal reasons, but for the women who need me and the wonderful services that are available for them.

God bless you all and thank you for reading this post!

***Received on August 12, 2022 and published with permission of Misty Chaviers!***