Can a Survivor of Domestic Violence have it all?
I am a survivor of Domestic Violence. For the longest time, it was hard to even admit that I was a victim. Now that I’m a survivor, I want to tell the world. I may not have everything a mom could want, but I have my son, the means to support him, and my life.
I married my teenage summer romance. We were married almost 5 years, together almost 11 and have known each other for almost 20 years, having met when I was 15 and he was 16. I missed all the red flags and warning signs I should have seen since I was blinded by the very idea of summer love (Grease is still one of my favorite movies). There were so many good times, but the bad times outweighed them.
I was raised as a strong independent woman by a self-proclaimed feminist. I went to my first women’s march on Washington, DC around the age of 12. I don’t remember the exact cause, but my mother thinks it might have been for the National Organization of Women. I remember getting up early in the morning and taking a bus from New Jersey to Washington, DC — the crowds of women, the energy, the time with my mom. I am a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts. I went to an all-girls private school that prides itself on helping women become leaders. I joined the only local sorority at my college, a 100+ year old group of female engineers, nurses, businesswomen and more. These women are not just my friends but my family. I’m in sales and make enough money to live a nice life. I had everything I could possibly need to become a strong independent woman — yet I still became a victim.
My ex-mother-in-law told me that having a child was no way to save a marriage about three weeks after my son was born. She told me that her son and I were toxic for each other two days after my emergency Domestic Violence Injunction was granted.
I ask myself, what did I do to deserve the life I had? I know now that I did absolutely nothing wrong. I did what so many other women did and hid from embarrassment and shame. I covered the bruises and went about my life as if there was nothing wrong. A friend told me that my life looked so perfect on Facebook, she would never have guessed I was a victim. It turns out she was, and still is, a victim too.
I don’t have it all because I don’t have the perfect relationship...job...son...life. But I have an amazing support system for myself and my son. I have a son who loves pink and purple, trucks and dolls, nail polish and flowers. I live in a county that has services to help survivors, and in turn we can help others become survivors. My friends rally around me, and as one often says, it takes a village, so if I need help, all I need to do is ask and people will be there. My family has been beyond supportive. It hurts that my ex’s family has essentially disappeared from my son’s life beyond what they have to do and that he has no contact with his grandfather and aunts and uncles on that side, but I know my family and friends, my network, will help fill those missing pieces.
I may not have it all — or at least what the world typically defines as “having it all,” but I have all I need to be an amazing mom and a strong woman.
I am a SURVIVOR!