Sometimes I am given an opportunity to share my story. This past week, the KC Star ran an article about domestic violence and I was asked to talk about my history and life as a survivor. I don’t spend a lot of time in that realm anymore. It is part of my past and I have been fortunate enough to find ways to move on and live an incredible life.
However, I know that an opportunity like this might impact others who are living in that situation and I swore if I was given the opportunity, I would do what I can to make an impact every single time. I would never want another woman to have to live through the things that I lived or potentially die because she didn’t realize the danger of her situation.
So I agreed, not knowing that the article would be published in multiple cities across the state, including my hometown of Springfield, MO. However, I didn’t use his name and asked that they not put any identifying information in the article. I have police reports and hospital records, but preferred they not show anything that had his last name on it, for my children’s sake.
In the seven years since that fateful night, I have made it my mission not to badmouth their father, and only answer questions directly and at an age-appropriate level. I have alluded to the fact that people make bad choices and we were very young. I have informed them that when people say mean things, it is never a reflection on the person they are being said about, but rather a testament to the pain and insecurity of the person who says the mean things. I have been very careful to try to stay out of their relationship with him, giving him the ability to contact them at any time when they were at my house, even though he did not return that favor. I have tried my best to allow my children to love their father, even as I worked through the trauma of knowing he tried to kill me.
But when the reporter informed me that they were bringing it to Springfield, I knew that meant I was putting myself on the chopping block. Every time I say yes to telling my story of what happened, someone feels it necessary to speak for my ex. I am well aware of the things he says about me, to both my children and the people in his life. I am close friends with one of the women he dated after me and another friend works closely with his former boss. I have obviously heard the stories. My daughter asked me what a slut was when she was six years old because “that’s what daddy said you are”. Both of my children have repeatedly asked why their dad calls me a liar. I had no doubt that if this article was published locally, there would be some sort of nastiness. And I was prepared for the woman who chose to stick her neck out for him.
I always feel bad for them, these women. He is charming and handsome and funny and talented. He is also extremely manipulative. See, what this young lady didn’t realize is that I have grown a rather thick skin and an ability to see right through things over the years. By using the exact phrases I have heard him say about our children and my parenting, she only confirmed that she is caught in his web of lies. And I feel bad for her, as another abuse survivor, who has obviously not spent the time learning to read between the lines.
She doesn’t have any idea of what my history with him is or isn’t. She is solely basing her opinions on someone else’s opinions rather than proven fact. She doesn’t know about the screaming fights I have overheard with his current wife on numerous occasions. She hasn’t seen how the light has left his wife’s face over the years. She doesn’t know that two of his wife’s family members are concerned for her wellbeing. She has no idea his oldest daughter has been told by DFS that she never has to go back there because of the way she is treated. She is clueless and being fed lies by a master manipulator. And that isn’t necessarily her fault.
But that is exactly why I share my story. Because whether it is his wife or someone else’s girlfriend, I want them to know there is a safe space and there is hope. I want them to know that life doesn’t have to be this way. I want them to know that they are worthwhile and valuable and loveable. And I would much rather they know it before it is too late.
So, if you are struggling, please reach out. To me, to a friend, to someone. Because you deserve to be living life alive and well.