QUESTION – How do you process the fact that the one you loved – the one you spent more than four years with, and would soon marry, HAD HIS HANDS AROUND YOUR THROAT AND TRIED TO CHOKE YOU TO DEATH?
How does one begin to process this? It did not fit into any of the thought patterns I had developed. It did not make sense! I simply could not process this.
This is where my story begins. . .
I arrived at Cherokee County’s shelter for battered women and children in August 2004. I came straight from the hospital via police escort. The physical and emotional pain was so great that I could barely speak – once I opened my mouth, I feared that I may not be able to stop crying and screaming. I was a total scrambled mess and was constantly looking over my shoulder, believing that he was “all around me.” For several weeks, I moved in what seemed like “slow motion” – and when people spoke, all I heard was a humming noise. For two weeks I heard the “hum” of other’s voices but I was truly “somewhere else.”
To better illustrate, think of my life as one of those 1000-piece puzzles. When I arrived at the shelter, I soon tossed all of the pieces of my life “on the table.” Obviously, there was no clarity or clear vision. But day-by-day through support groups, case management meetings, classes provided by Cherokee Family Violence Center, and through help and support from my fellow Survivors, that “1000-piece” puzzle that I called my broken life, began to take shape and soon revealed a vision.
I am stronger now – much stronger – and I use my voice and my experience to help other survivors and to help raise awareness about this growing epidemic we call domestic violence.
I have developed several projects: “The Inheritance Quilt;” a postage stamp petition; a publication of Survivors’ journal entries; the development of a Public Service Announcement for Cherokee County; a project using artwork from women and children survivors to create a new fabric line that will benefit shelters. A few of the projects are in the “infant” stage – but not for long. My survivor friends have given me such strength – and I love them all!
Before I bring this part of “my story” to an end, I must request at this time that you never ask a survivor “why she stayed.” Each one of us left – more than once and they always found us! They are physically stronger than us – they always caught us! Instead, you need to ask the abuser – the criminal, why he put his hands on us and tried to kill us? Why didn’t he leave? The answer to that question is this: ABUSERS DO NOT STOP – THEY ESCALATE! ONE MORE TIME: ABUSERS DO NOT STOP – THEY ESCALATE.
I owe my thanks to God and to each and every Advocate at Cherokee Family Violence Center. I am alive today because of their hard work and dedication.