When a survivor tells their story, they gain control over it. Below are stories of abuse and of healing in the survivors' own words. All stories are submitted by Women's Center of Beaver County clients. To maintain the client's confidentiality, names are either changed or omitted.
From Victim to Victoriously Virtuous
Young and in Love
You will get through this
"Romeo" Most “bad guys” are not rotten all of the time. In fact, many of them are bright enough to be charming and persuasive, particularly when it suits their purposes. Perhaps some of them are sincerely fond of the females upon whom they vent their anger, for they may have had horrible histories. My batterer was severely beaten in foster care after escaping his neglectful, drunken mom. Even though I was a well-educated professional and he a transient laborer, he readily detected at our first meeting that I, too, had grown up in a home without love. Initially, he was very sensitive and respectful regarding my emotional “sore spots.” He offered more approval and affection then I had ever experienced previously. However, when he did not get his way or succeed in having me give him more money than I could afford to share, he would press my buttons with ice-cold fury. When I ran out of friends altogether, he expressed his rage by seeking to poison me. How could the father of my youngest child give the slightest thought to actual murder? Such seemed so much more twisted than my mother’s slaps or his past punches. I finally ran away from his reach as fast and as far as I could. I was no longer able to fool myself into believing that he was my best friend and my fervent Romeo. I did not want to abandon him at his lowest point, but he derived no benefit from dragging me and our children down the drain with him.
"From Victim to Victoriously Virutous"
Why me? Why did you hate me such much? What did I do to you to make you treat me like I was garbage? You took me away from my family and friends. 800 miles to be exact. You had me thinking I was going to move from Detroit to beautiful Mount Joy, PA. Once arriving in Pennsylvania, you stuck your chest out and your neck grew longer. I could see that I was in trouble. You were working. I was pregnant. My son from a previous relationship was going to school. Here comes the verbal abuse.
After having our son, you told me that he looks like an old man – What? Why would you tell me that right after having the son that you wanted so bad? You crushed my way of looking at you. Ever more concerned. You wanted me to breast feed even though I told you over and over again that I was in pain. But that wasn’t enough. You told me that I didn’t know how to be a parent. You called me lazy. You called me fat. I couldn’t take it anymore so I ran with both of my boys. I had nowhere to live once we got back to our hometown of Detroit. With nowhere to go, I begged to return home. You allowed it but there were certain demands I had to abide by.
Every day, my self-esteem was diminishing. You made me think I was who you told me I was. That meant fat, dumb, stupid, unattractive, and less than what you were used to. I packed up with my kids and ran again. I begged to come back, only this time you were in a relationship with someone we both knew. This time, the demands were evening more demanding. But I didn’t care. I wanted to save my marriage. Once returning to Pennsylvania, you let me know that you were going to spending a whole lot of time with your girlfriend and that you and I were not a couple – Wait, What!???
One of your most degrading demands was that you can do with my body whatever you want. You were violating me. I became pregnant again. When I would take too long returning from wherever I was, the arguments got physical. You fought me while I was pregnant with our daughter. After letting go of all of your girlfriends, we ended up back here in Pennsylvania. You took me to your mother’s house where she began to verbally abuse me in front of our child. You told me that once the tax money came, I could go get a home with the kids while you move out of state. You started an argument with me. You called me every name you could think of while our 2-year-old sat on your lap. I noticed everyone started acting really different and quiet. I knew something was about to happen but unsure of what. I would soon find out. I left to get my meds and came back to being locked out with all of my things on the front porch. You told me to find my way back to Detroit. Stuff just got real. Give me my babies. I was in beast mode.
I ended up in the Women’s Center of Beaver County. I used every resource pertaining to my goals. You told my sister to give you my address so that you could allow me to see the kids one last time before you moved out of state. I had to move even faster because I know that when my son doesn’t do right by you, you physically abuse him. I rant to the court house and got a PFA. It bought me some time so that you would NOT take my children outside of PA. Yes, you were mad enough to get in a confrontation with the law. We’re going back and forth to court.
You can call me every name you can think of. You even stole my share of the taxes. You can fight me or do whatever. But my babies… Nope. You didn’t expect me to fight back but I had God on my side and He allowed me to explain to my family everything. That’s when I was grateful to hire a lawyer and win full custody of my children. You were the one to run this time.
Thank you for showing me how to become strong again for my babies.
"Young and in Love" I was young and in love with the man of my dreams, he proposed so of course I said yes. I couldn’t believe this amazing man would soon be my husband. Our wedding was like a fairy tale but my honeymoon soon became a nightmare. My prince suddenly turned into a monster.
I excused his immediate behavior with too much stress and celebration. Fast forward 5 years and we now have two children, I am a stay at home mom while he becomes the breadwinner. He often lets me know how hard he works to provide for our family by calling me names, degrading me and forcing sex.
Fast forward to 18 years, we live in a $300k home, three beautiful children, we make appearances in our church and community and every one is awed by our lasting marriage and happiness. All the while, I am dying inside, simply existing through a loveless, abusive relationship. It took me 21 years to gain the courage to speak up and stand up. Soon I got a job where my coworkers supported me in every way, the Women’s Center guided me, and my family applauded me. I am proud to say that I am a survivor and thriving on my own and modeling for my children that any type of abuse is wrong.
One day, when I was pregnant with our first child, I had heartburn. It was so extreme that I was vomiting. When I finally stopped vomiting, I just laid down on the bathroom floor. It was so cool there and I had no strength to get up. I just wanted to lay there. He came in and while standing over me he started yelling. He told me I was absolutely disgusting. He told me I was lazy. He told me he had never seen such a mess. The yelling lasted until I made myself get up and go to bed. This was not the only time he let me know how worthless I was. That was the first “extreme” instance. After that it got regular. Everyday.
I am educated. I had a great job. I am a smart and decent human being. I am pretty.
I actually started to believe him. Maybe I am not that smart. Maybe I am a completely obscene. Maybe I am fat. Maybe people really do not like me and I should stay away. Maybe he is right.
I would have stayed forever that way. I would have sold my soul to stay together as a family. He had other plans. I replied to a post about a song with a heart. While searching my account he found this. I honestly did not know I did something wrong.
He kicked out me and our children. As the children were crying, he screamed at them and said this is because mommy cheated. He called my parents, my aunts, my uncle, my priest, the kids school, the guy who’s post I responded on social media to, his wife, all of my friends and anyone he could think of to tell them I cheated. It was the most humiliating experience I have ever been through.
The ones closest to me did not believe him. This was almost four years ago. My uncle will still not speak to me. My children were surprised that my father has a brother. My grandmother pasted away thinking that I ruined my marriage and my children’s lives. Here is the thing, I lived. My children lived. I wake up everyday happy now. My church family still loves me. The people who matter still love me. I had to go to counseling. You will get through it. You will find out who your real family and friends are. You will lose friends and family. But you will get stronger. If you keep your kids first, they will thrive outside of that toxic environment. You will not find a quantity of support, but you will find quality support.