A Survivor's Story: Darlene

I was married to my abuser for 20 years.  He used to drug me and then do horrible things to me.  One night, after he had drugged me, I called a neighbor to take me to the hospital.  He found my car parked on the side of the building and was waiting for me when we returned.  Someone called 911 because he became so violent with me and was trying to to hit my neighbor.  He was arrested that night and ordered by the Cobb County court to attend anger management counseling, and I was told to attend a Domestic Violence support group.

After being threatened by him and instructed not to tell the support group anything, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell the group what was really going on.  I felt very overwhelmed.  I was not there because it was my choice, but due to a court order.  I felt as if I couldn’t tell them what was really happening, so I remained quiet.  I wasn’t quite ready at that time to speak out;I still felt the abuse was my fault.  After all, there were times that everything was good.  I know now that it was part of the cycle of abuse, called the honeymoon phase.

After attending the support group and him attending counseling, things were okay for a short while but then became even worse than before.  I tried to leave him several times but I always returned, due to fear and the lack of self-confidence to change my life.  He had control of the finances and I felt I could not make it on my own.  I still hadn’t told anyone about the abuse; I tried and wanted to tell my family, but I just couldn’t.  He always told me that no one would believe me if I said anything to anyone.  I believed everything that he told me and I lived in fear.  He would always threaten me that if I left him he would kill me and then kill himself.  I thought that I could never get away.

Things became even worse when I became committed to God and my church.  I began making friends and seeing that life was different from what I was living.  He had always kept me isolated as much as he could, even from my family.  Now he was losing his control over me and it infuriated him.  When I would go to women’s Bible studies, he would show up and circle the church or walk into the middle of our group.

He used to tell me that he was sorry when he would hurt me, but then began telling me that it was my fault and I had something wrong with me.  I finally decided I had to get out of the home, while trying to work on our marriage.  We tried counseling together and separately, but he only wanted them to fix me and make me come back home.  After one of his individual sessions I received a call from the counseling center telling me that he had found where I was, and that I was in danger.  That was when I realized it was not going to get better.

I moved 3 times after leaving him, but he found me every time.  I decided it was time to file for a divorce and get a TPO.  The day before we went to court to have the TPO extended, I received a call that he had applied for a gun permit and I had to go into hiding.  He violated the TPO several times and the final time he almost killed me and blinded me in one eye.  The 911 team responded very quickly to the call and were very helpful and concerned.  Thanks to the hard work of the Detective at the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office and everyone at the DA’s office, my abuser is now serving 30 years in prison for the attack on my life.

I found out about the Cherokee Family Violence Center from the detective and I spoke with them several times before deciding to attend a support group there.  I have found so much support and help from everyone at CFVC.  It took some time, but I have become strong enough to speak out and tell others about my experience.  I have had a few threats and some phone calls from him while in prison, but I know that he is not getting out anytime soon.  I still have some things that I am working on and still have flashbacks and nightmares, but they are becoming less frequent.  I think I may always have some of that, but I know with each day that I am getting stronger.

Domestic Violence is happening more than we think about or even want to imagine.  Most of the time the victims are too afraid or ashamed to speak out and tell anyone what is happening.  It is something that needs more attention.  We need to SPEAK OUT and let people know that it is not right and that it WON’T BE TOLERATED.  If you or someone you know is being abused, PLEASE BREAK THE SILENCE.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

The Cherokee Family Violence Center has helped me and so many others come up with solutions to whatever problems we may face.  They are ready and willing to help anyone who is willing to reach out.  They have been a real blessing to me.

Please don’t stay thinking that it will get better or that you can change it.  Nothing you do will stop the abuse if you remain in it, it usually just gets worse.  Most times abusers will isolate their victims so they feel as if they have no place to go and no one to turn to for help, BUT THERE IS HELP.  I had so many excuses for staying, until one day I just couldn’t take it anymore and decided I had to get out.  I was fortunate to have gotten away alive, as some people don’t get out in time.

My church family and the Cherokee Family Violence Center have stood beside me every step of the way, even through the court trial.  They continue to help me to this day.  I still attend counseling sessions with a wonderful, caring counselor and she, along with my Advocate at CFVC, are helping me work on my self-esteem and confidence along with other things.

I hope that I can offer help to others the way that I have been helped. I want anyone who is in an abusive situation to know that you have the strength inside you to get away from the abuse.  YOU ARE WORTH A LOT, no matter what anyone else tells you.  YOU DON’T DESERVE TO BE ABUSED, but instead deserve happiness and someone who realizes that LOVE DOES NOT HURT.  You are strong and you can make it through.  It is not easy, just take the first step and don’t let anyone take your security from you.

I am a totally different person today than what I was when I was with him or even when I first left.  It was a very difficult step to take, but not one that I would ever change.  I am no longer being abused, so I am happy, and free!

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