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With the start of October comes a month of awareness for something that is very personal to me. Domestic Violence. I want to dedicate this month to all the survivors and the victims of this horrible crime. I want to start by sharing my story. If you read my post about my tattoos you might of caught a glimpse of my story but not the whole thing. I have struggled for a few years to be able to tell the whole story and to be honest I am going to leave a few parts out because I have blocked a lot out and chose not to relive it.

Back in 2015 I was 20 years old and I met someone who was quite a bit older than me. He intrigued me and I wanted to get to know him more. We started hanging out quite often and started dating a few weeks later. Everything was great in the beginning. I felt so good about this guy and I started thinking about introducing him to my family. A few weeks passed and he started pushing me to introduce him to them which I didn't think much of it at the time, just thought he was genuine. I remember bringing him home for the first time and my mom and dad talking with him, later that day my mom pulled me aside and said she saw some red flags. Of course me being 20 I ignored it and told her she didn't know my relationship. Looking back in hindsight I wish I would've listened and opened my eyes.

None of my friends liked him and they all would ask why I was with him. I started losing friendships and pushing my family away. I thought this was it and this was where I was meant to be. I spent every free minute I had with him and would blow off plans with anyone else because he would tell me he needed me. A few months into the relationship I started noticing some weird behaviors with him. He would disappear for hours on end and would spend hours in the bathroom. I had no clue where he was or what he was doing. One incident that sticks in my mind was the night he left the house and I saw him pack a gun in his backpack. I asked him what he was doing and he told me if he wasn't back in 20 min to call the cops. There were also countless times that I would be in bed sleeping and someone would knock on the door or start yelling and I would be told to stay in the room and not come out. When I would question him about all the weird behavior it would turn into a fight which would in turn be all my fault. I would be told I was stupid and I was worthless.

The fights were endless and it was becoming an every day occurrence. I would go to work and would be getting text messages throughout the day of how I was a horrible person, I would never amount to anything and If it wasn't for him I would have nobody. I kept so much of this a secret from my family and friends and thought if I tried a little harder it would be okay. I was so afraid of making him angry that I just did what he wanted . I would call out of work so often because when I was away that's when things were terrible. I thought If I stayed home with him I wouldn't make him mad and we would get along. We stopped going on dates and stopped doing anything fun, our relationship consisted of me walking on eggshells and spending time by myself in a dark house while he disappeared.

The truth is with abusers nothing will make them happy. It doesn't matter how hard you try, it will never work. They abuse because they are unhappy with themselves and like to deflect that anger onto something or someone else. Often times we get so caught up in trying to be the best we can be for them that we start to believe that we will never be good enough. It truly is a viscous cycle.

I was afraid to leave because I was threatened too many times about things that would happen if I even tried. I stuck around and just prayed for the best. My mom's birthday came around and she was having a picnic at the beach, I invited him and told my family we would be there. The day of the picnic came up and he "didn't feel well" so I went by myself. That was one of the worst nights for me , I couldn't even enjoy my mom's birthday because I was getting phone call after phone call and multiple texts degrading me and telling me how horrible of a person I was to leave him. I left the birthday party and brought him food and cake which wasn't good enough. That night he decided to stay in his bathroom and not even acknowledge my presence but instead texted me from the room saying it was a mistake I was there and needed to leave. He wanted nothing more to do with me. I left as he said and went home. That was the wrong thing to do because the multiple texts and phone calls started. That lasted all night into the next morning when I picked up the phone call to him screaming and belittling me. My mom was in the room and started to get in the middle of it. That was when my relationship with my mom because very strained, after that I was isolated from my family. I didn't talk to them much and when I was at home they all walked with caution around me. I was a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off.

The thing was after every fight we had he would profusely apologize to me and say he was going to change. How he didn't mean anything he would say and would promise me the world. That was all too good to be true because it would only last a day or two.

The last straw for my family was the day we went to Disney. My boyfriend stayed home and I went with my family. I remember talking about him the entire way up and spilling everything to my parents. While at Disney my phone wouldn't stop going off and we ended up getting into a pretty nasty fight. That was the first time I had ever had a full blown panic attack in a public place. My mom has to sit with me for a long time while I cried and couldn't breathe. That was the night my family decided that was enough.

The next couple of days after that were horrible and physically and emotionally. I found out about a very serious problem he had and it lead to me having a broken hand. If it wasn't for my parents intervening and getting me out of the horrible situation I was in I don't know if I would be here today. I owe it all to my family and I am so thankful that they saw the signs even before I said anything. I went from being a happy, positive girl who had such big dreams to this unhappy, miserable person who thought I was worthless. If you can imagine being at your lowest point and then imagine being lower than your lowest point that is where I was. It took me a very long time to feel better and to this day I still struggle with trust in relationships. I have huge walls up that are nearly impossible to break through and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

I left out some very deep parts of this story that are still very traumatizing for me to talk about or to relive. I wanted to share my story because I am a survivor and I want the world to know that there are happy endings. If I can help just one woman going through a similar situation then I am doing something good. My tattoo that says " i am enough" comes from this situation and I look at it everyday thankful that I am still here and that I am enough for me and anyone else in this world.

Domestic Violence is such a serious thing that everyone needs to be aware of. It doesn't matter if it is emotional or physical each victim is a survivor. If you have went through something like this just know that you are worth so much and are capable of everything you dream to do. Don't ever give up and don't ever feel like you have to stay. You deserve so much more and the second you get away I promise you life is so much sweeter.

If you or anyone you know is a victim of Domestic Violence please use the hotline 1-800-500-1119 or check out the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence website.

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