Hands of a Domestic Violence survivor. She wrote:
“My children saw them first. "How did you get those bruises, Mom?" I looked in the mirror and saw the ring of dark splotches around my upper arms, fingerprints from where he'd grabbed and shaken me the night before. But, he didn't hit me.
My head was often tender from being banged against a wall.
My hip sported a large bruise and it hurt to walk after he shoved me hard to the ground.
My back bled from a cut I received during a struggle. But, I told myself, it was just a small cut.
During sex, he choked me and made me do things I was ashamed of. I was scared; I fought him; it did not matter; he did not stop.
But he wasn't violent, right? He didn't hit me.
My husband's rages occurred multiple times a week, sometimes during the day, usually at night, and lasted for hours. His nose would touch mine as he screamed profanities in my face. He threw things, punched walls, and spit on me. These were his favorite things to say: I was worthless garbage, a whore, a waste, a piece of trash, so terrible in bed that no man would ever want to touch me, a c-nt. My husband told me that I was such a nightmare he'd have to kill himself to get away from me. Then, as I began to grow depressed, he worked on convincing me I needed to kill my own self. I will never forget the first time he looked me straight in the eye and very calmly and matter-of-factly stated, "Why are you still breathing? You're nothing but trash. You should be dead. You need to go kill yourself." As this went on, I began to believe him until it became absolute truth in my mind. I should be dead.
In a 2-3 year period, I went from being happy and healthy to suicidal and extremely ill. I rarely slept, vomited up most of my meals, lost weight, and had no strength. I was forced into a medical leave from work, and my doctor banned me from any form of exercise as my body needed every bit of energy to keep alive. I had been a runner, a dancer, an outdoor enthusiast. I was now a shell, someone God never intended me to be.
I don't know that I ever would have left him on my own. I did not recognize the violence for what it was, and I was too ashamed to tell anyone what was going on. It took a gun-related incident to finally end it. I had no idea how physically and emotionally sick I had gotten until he was out of my life. The suicidal thoughts vanished. I am now sleeping, eating, and not throwing up. I've gained weight. My health is slowly coming back. Recently I was able to lace up my shoes and go running again. My kids and I have peace. I laugh, and I laugh, and I laugh. I am filled with the joy of the Lord, for I am now free!”
Before I left she told me that she spent many nights sleeping or hiding in the bushes next to the entrance of her middle class neighborhood. Other nights, she would sleep in her car while parked in a well-lit parking lot.