Being abused completely changes you. My first encounter with domestic violence was with my ex, E.W. There were several red flags in the beginning that I only realized were red flags once the relationship ended and I spoke with someone from the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
I still remember the first time he hit me. It’s something I’ll never be able to erase from my memory. I didn’t tell anyone because I knew I was going to stay with him. I spent months being physically, emotionally, and verbally abused. I spent months being cheated on and treated like I was worthless. I hid my pain and my bruises.
The last time I caught him cheating and he jumped on me, I was so fed up that I defended myself. Sometimes I can feel his fists slamming into my jaw still. Even after we ended things for good, there was a period when I wanted him back.
That was until I met D.C. My relationship with him was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I told him about everything E.W. did to me and never did I think he would do the same. I considered him the love of my life and gave him my all. He was my safe haven. My confidant. We worked tirelessly to build our home and on March 16, 2020, everything came crashing down and the home we built was burned to the ground.
What started as a heated argument escalated to him pushing me down, me standing and hitting him in an attempt to defend myself, and him pinning me against the wall and choking me. There are moments when I close my eyes and I can still see that cold, careless look in his eyes as he choked the life out of me. I feel his hands wrapped around my throat as I struggled to breathe. You would think after over 2 years, the memories would have faded.
Experiencing domestic violence changes you. No matter how much time passes, the flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and unwanted memories of what both of my abusers did to me are still there.
PTSD is terrifying.
Some nights I can’t close my eyes without seeing myself being punched, hit, or choked. I don’t talk to anyone about it because I want desperately to forget. I blame myself still, no matter how many times I’m told it isn’t my fault.
I go over every single detail from each experience countless times.
Abuse, regardless of which form it is, changes you. I don’t feel safe with men. I don’t feel safe in my own body. I feel like I can’t trust myself because how could I allow this to happen to me, twice.
I used to drink copious amounts of alcohol to try and cope with the pain but I realized how damaging that was. I used sex to numb myself for nearly a year. To forget. But I’ve reached a point where I don’t want to share my body with anyone.
Being abused makes you put your guard up with everyone. It makes you hypervigilant and anxious. I made the conscious decision to heal but what do I do when it all comes back to me? What do I do when I can’t breathe because the memories are too much?
I don’t think time heals all wounds.
It has been 5 years since things ended with E.W. and 2 since D.C. and I broke up, and I’m still dealing with the effects of being abused.
Will I ever completely heal from the trauma or am I stuck in this dark hole indefinitely?
Domestic Violence Resources
National Domestic Violence Hotline – Call 1-800-799-7233, text 88788, or visit the website to chat with someone
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline – 988
Crisis Text Line – US: Text 741741, CA: Text 741741, UK: Text 85258, Ireland: 50808