There are so many things and phrases that people tell you daily. Most days, it feels as though the control you think you have in your life is non-existent. The power or ability to make choices can be taken away in many ways, including your social and economic situation, work, family-life balances, etc. When I feel that control has been taken away, I picture it like a rolling ball going down a vast mountain. The ball is met with many treacherous obstacles that keep it bouncing from side to side.
Nonetheless, the ball continues rolling downhill. You know that ball will eventually reach the ravine where calm waters usually lie. Still, as we know, there is no way to go except right back up when you are stuck in a valley, and doing this is a struggle.
I want to tell you that there are ways to navigate this life and take control of your rolling balls. You’ve heard the saying, “Everything happens for a reason,” and “Everything you have been through makes you the person you are today.” I hate when people tell me this. It is an acceptance of the loss of control. These words offer me no comfort, especially amidst the chaos. I want to know how to regain my focus and how I can regain control of my life. Okay, so you think I’m a control freak? That’s okay. I’ll take it. It wasn’t always like this. One of my treacherous experiences was when all control was taken from me. I fell in love at the age of eighteen. Who falls in love and gets married at 18? Me? Everything before that marriage was terrific.
On my wedding day, I knew I had made a mistake and that my life would change forever. Little by little, control was taken from me until I had nothing left. My spouse was an individual with mental health issues and was very religious. Our church was tiny and cult-like and supported ritualistic ideals. We were to attend church three-to-four times per week. Women needed to cover up and be subservient to their spouses. We weren’t allowed to speak out of place, and our husbands had the last word. I still believe that individuals have to play a role in marriages, even if religious or not, except I had no identity and no choice.
I was a free-spirited eighteen-year-old girl, but he took everything from me. I was not allowed to have a bank account or my own car. I also was convinced that I could not talk with my family because they were not of the same religion. I had to be escorted and driven everywhere that I went. If I visited my friends, he would wait for me in the parking lot for my allotted time. I was allowed to work, but he had to work at my place of employment. I was allowed to take a college class, but he had to be enrolled in the same one too. My Saturdays consisted of cleaning rice grains and searching for impurities in rice. My body was not my own, and I was subjected to sexual abuse multiple times daily. He didn’t care if I was tired or if I was menstruating. I did not know that a husband could rape a wife back then. How could a husband rape his wife when they are married, and my body is his? How could I let this happen to me? My mom raised me to be a strong independent woman. Consensual sex is still protected in a marriage and should always be respected by both parties.
I want to let you know that, ladies, very loud and clear domestic violence is real. It takes shapes and forms that are unreal. It creeps upon you, and you realize it has been happening for years when you least expect it. Domestic violence doesn’t just mean that you get beat up. The signs of having a bruised eye or rib are just one of the types of domestic violence.
There are four types of Domestic Violence:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Economic abuse
- Emotional abuse.
None is worse than the other. Little by little, my ex-husband convinced me that I had the responsibility as his wife to serve him and all of his needs. That was my purpose in life, and God would reward me for being obedient. On the days I had enough, I would leave. But where would I go? I had no money or car. I had isolated my family and kept my friends at a distance. What would my life be like without him? He reminded me I was nothing and no one without him and that leaving him meant I would go to hell for being an adulterous wife. He never bruised my body with his fists, but he left deep scars within my soul that I have had to overcome. One of my dearest friends commented to me a phrase that changed my life forever. She said, “Lissette, I am not telling you to leave your husband, but some of the things that are happening do not seem right. Just open your eyes and look”. I remember thinking; he doesn’t hit me, so it’s not that bad.
I was clueless…..
I was speechless…..
I almost felt as though I was mute. I stayed in this marriage for five years. My friend’s words resonated with me, and one day, I felt that suddenly a blindfold was lifted from my eyes. I instantly saw everything that everyone else saw, and only then did the treacherous journey uphill start. I fought for my life, and I am here now.
My story is not unique. There are certainly more horrifying stories and experiences that others face. My life is beautiful now because I have learned how to overcome the loss of myself. I’ve made it through my life with hardship, love, wins, and failures. So here are some of the things that steady me and allow me to face my journey and how I can control the chaos.
7 Steps to Moving Through Domestic Violence
Step 1: Open Your Eyes
Look around you, and don’t walk around with blinders. You need to be aware of your surroundings and listen to your own heart. Is this really what you want?
Step 2: Keep the positivity
Be secure and positive in yourself. If you can build that, you can do anything! Even if it is a centimeter’s worth of positivity, no matter your situation, I can think of 5 million ways that the problem can be much worse.
Step 3: Don’t give in to despair
When we let ourselves drown in despair, we can’t think. We need to have a clear mind to figure out the next step.
Step 4: Set a limit or a boundary for hurt
Learn to forgive people and move on. We all make mistakes and will encounter others who do so. However, set a limit for how much is too much. When is it enough?
Step 5: Set goals for yourself and do not quit
This one is hard because of all the obstacles we face in life. But setting goals gives you focus and a reason for being you. It keeps your identity and sense of self.
Step 6: Have a realistic escape plan and be brave.
No matter your situation, you need to get out if you have lost yourself or are in danger. No matter how isolated you feel, there is always a way out, and things will get better. I remember asking myself how I could live without my husband when I was nothing and had nothing. Well, I indeed proved him wrong.
Step 7: Affirmations
Say the following out loud, “I am strong. I am smart. I am brave. I am sufficient. I will not give into despair. I deserve to be treated with respect and love. I can do this life no matter what situation is thrown at me. I will persevere”.
Please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline if you or a loved one is suffering from Domestic Violence of any kind, including sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, or economic abuse. The Phone number is 1800.799. SAFE (7233), or you can visit their site at https://www.thehotline.org/