In Their Own Words
Mother. Sister. Provider. Warrior. Survivor. Those are all the things I am. Meeting my abuser was like a breath of fresh air to me. He made me feel important and beautiful. But after a few months his true colors started to show. Before I knew what exactly I got myself into, I was pregnant, trapped and dealing with his alcoholic rages and extreme mood swings. I couldn’t go anywhere without him.
After I gave birth to our daughter, I spent the summer covering up bruises, making excuses, and distancing myself from the very people that supported and loved me. He constantly accused me of cheating, told me I was fat and disgusting, terrorized me, and put in my mind that without him, I would fail. I have been kicked, slapped, punched, choked, cheated on, spat at, bruised, threatened with knives, and constantly lied to. After many bloody noses, bruises, and broken promises, I decided I couldn’t live this way anymore. I knew if I stayed that my life would be over.
The day I decided to leave the relationship I packed whatever I could and left to live with a relative. I lived from couch to couch and even a DV shelter. I endured a year of court battles and having to see my abuser hand cuffed in the same room with me monthly. Eventually I attained full custody of our daughter, jail time for what he did, and a sense of justice.
My support system helped and encouraged me through the many steps it took in court and out of court to change my life around. Those days when I feel sad; I cry. Those days when I feel great; I rejoice. I allow myself to feel the happiness along with the deep pain. Watch the company you keep around you for they are the ones holding your precious hand through this. Stay humble and when things seem unbearable and you feel like giving up, don’t. Complain but remain. I am a beautiful, smart, courageous, feisty, resourceful and loving survivor today. If you think that you can’t possibly make it alone and are scared to make that first move, you can, and the Domestic Violence Project at the Urban Justice Center can help. Their caring, understanding social work team helped me by providing case management. The DVP team members helping my case made me feel confident and safe in my choices.
I was married to my abuser for over thirteen years. Everything I did was wrong to him. I was blamed for everything, including the color of my skin, and not being good enough to be his wife, that I robbed him of his life. Our children were not spared the torment that I endured. They grew up watching their father curse at and attack their mom, always feeling like it was their fault. One night, he tried to burn me with hot oil while I was cooking in front our kids. For ten years he threatened to kill me, shoot me, put me in a body bag, saying he would gladly go to jail for it. Me and my kids would push a dresser in front of the bedroom door to feel safe when we slept.
One day everything changed. This was the day I thought he was going to kill me. The Family Justice Center of Queens was where I turned. I found so many agencies there that were so helpful, in particular the Domestic Violence Project at the Urban Justice Center, where I found my attorney who represented. They treated me with dignity and respect. Not only did my DVP attorneys secure for me a two year full stay away order of protection, but they also helped me to gain full custody of both my children. It was hard for me to tell my story but DVP made sure I had the right counselor, even though it took switching a time or three. It is still hard to cope and adjust, but without the help, support and services we received, I can’t be sure that I would even be here today.
My story did not end tragically, thanks to the Domestic Violence Project at the Urban Justice Center. My life has been full of pain and fear. I was abused by my husband of thirteen years, physically, emotionally and verbally. During my marriage, I was thrown out of a moving car, had a gun to my head, strangled while pregnant and head butted. I’ve also been told I wasn’t a good wife, mother or human being. I can’t tell you why I stayed so long but I can tell you why I left.
My husband threatened to burn me, but not just set me on fire, he said he wanted to smell my burning flesh. From the look in his eyes, I knew he meant it. That morning, I met my attorney from DVP who agreed to take on my case. Without the assistance of my lawyer and social worker, I wouldn’t have had the strength or the courage to find my voice and tell this story. A huge part of breaking away from an abuser is facing him in court, having faith in the system and trust that the truth will prevail. I thought my abuser was above the law, I was terrified of him.
My attorney in this case was knowledgeable, tough, and extremely sensitive, the amount of compassion that she showed and expressed was amazing, she helped me find the words to tell this story, she helped me believe that the system would work.