I was married, total for 26 years, before my divorce…married nearly 24 years when the final incident happened that finally freed me. It was liberating, freeing me from oppression; however, I was scared whitless!

Let me paint a picture for you. I come from a large, Roman-Catholic family. Marriage is FOR LIFE, which I totally agree with. My parents wanted me to save myself for marriage, but a former boyfriend took that gift away from me via rape, so he tainted my view of men and sex, forming the self-notion that I was “damaged goods.” This, coupled with my Mom telling me that there were two types of women in the world, Laura Ellen…the type men “play with” and the type that they “marry.” She instilled in me that I was the marrying type and I needed to be serious about my commitment, when the time came. Failure, in marriage, is not an option, as long as you keep working on it and working on each other. My parents were a great example. I knew what I had to do.

To be honest, I didn’t want to marry. I wanted to go to college. I wanted to see the world and photograph it. I wanted to write and see and do. However, toward the end of my senior year in high school, I met the man who would hold my heart hostage (in more ways than one) and I was forever changed.

He asked me to marry him a month into dating, which should’ve been a red flag, but I was charmed by it. I snuck out to his house and avoided my parents, so I got into trouble, so they immediately took a disliking to him. I felt responsible for that, but my Mom told me later that it was his smug demeanor. We snuck around and still continued to date and I found myself pregnant. He’d asked me to marry him a few more times, so I finally accepted, mostly due to the fact that I was having his baby, so we got married and had a baby a few months after marriage. BOOM!Instant family!

I couldn’t wait to prove that I was THE END-ALL wife and mother. I tried so hard that it was too much. He expected me to be Martha Stewart and Betty Page and June Cleaver, all rolled into one…you know, the designer/business woman, the sexpot, and the homemaker…that was SO much pressure, not to mention our baby turned out to have an issue that needed correction via surgery! I had to stop working to have the baby and take care of him and he started a commission job that paid barely anything at all. All joking aside, I came from a well-to-do family, so I have very little of the survival skills that I now possess. I feared I was about to lose my little family because of my naivety.

We ended up moving two states away and living with his mother. While this helped us financially, I felt isolated. We would eventually get our own place and add two more children to our family. As I was overwhelmed, he grew bolder and more entitled. I had to become resilient and forge ahead, despite my fears. I attended church. I finished college. I got a GREAT job! I had to forego friends because he got intimidated, but who cared? Right? As long as my husband was happy! But, but…I wasn’t happy, so I just concentrated on my children.

After years of marriage and issues and blow-outs, I would initiate therapy, I was the arranger of all things and handler of the family agenda. I had to arrange dates. I had to coordinate schedules. I had to schedule therapy sessions, so I could hear how crazy and selfish and non-communicative I was. Truth be told, I was all in. I was the one having to catch or re-direct his attention to us. When I got fed-up, then I was accused of the one who was giving up. When I concentrated on my health and appearance, because he didn’t want me to do anything constructive, then I was cheating on him and ruining our family. When I was keeping it low-key, then I was trying to disinterest him by being frumpy and uncouth. What!?! I was all-in! Whom do you want???

I nearly died trying to keep my family together. I nearly lost myself and my own identity in the process of trying to please a narcissist— whom I didn’t realize was a narcissist…I just thought I must have been a larger “problem” than I originally thought. I thought I brought on or even deserved the punishments that I got, because it was coupled with the occasional passionate and/or romantic moments. I had absolutely NO idea that I was being groomed.

Once I became VERY aware that I was being mistreated, he then made me feel trapped and powerless. He threatened me and my children, so I wouldn’t leave. He threatened to harm my children, my pets, and even my parents, if I left him. He threatened to take the children away from me and have me jailed for being a horrible mother.

After I was freed, although that freedom nearly cost me my life, I was then shamed by the community that was supposed to be helping me. Teachers threatened to report our children for outbursts or any missed school; shamed by DCS and threatened by them about them taking away my youngest child if I went back to my abuser; and treated as an annoyance by the police, every time I reported a violation. And the church? My priest told me to pray harder and go back to my husband — why? So he could finish the job? God did NOT mandate that I be a punching back. I was then confused — people always acted so annoyed when I stayed with him and now they’re making me feel worthless for trying to get away from him and get ahead??? WHAAAAAAT!?!???

It was then and there when I realized that I was completely done with ALL of it. That is, done with my Abuser and his drama, done with fear, done with those who wanted to pose as a friend and report back to him, and done with being a victim and blaming the universe. I would never go back. I was learning from my mistakes and moving forward, no matter how slowly! God did NOT forsake me and He led me to safety! It was now up to me to use the brain He gave me!

I had a tough day today personally, but scolded myself after I met a DV survivor who survived being shot by her abuser in the back of the head, with her having to re-learn to walk and eat and write. She humbled me and made me remember how blessed I was. I was shot at, but he missed. I told her it was an honor to meet her and be in her presence. She is a walking and talking miracle and so am I! I appreciate her so much for reminding me why I walk the path. I will continue to fight the fight, even though I get weary and tired sometimes. I am DONE with DV and I want to help the world fight it and banish it!

Love and light! <3