Domestic Violence :: A Local Mom’s Story and How to Help Those in a Similar Situation

0

Revelations of domestic violence appeared in my Facebook feed one weekend. Two days in a row. Two different women. I was shocked. I was sad. I was speechless. I was also proud. Proud of these women for facing their truth and doing something about it.

I wanted to do something to help them and to help others in the same situation. But what?

Often, people still in, or just exiting, such situations don’t know what they need either. But there are always people who are a little further down that road. I decided to reach out to another Facebook friend who had shared part of her story.

If you are experiencing domestic violence or know someone who is, perhaps this interview with Brittani Lane-White will help you.

Brittani, can you share your story with us?

Two years ago, my husband, now ex-husband, attempted to kill me. Our relationship began beautifully. We met in church and seemed to be on the same path spiritually and in business. We had open, honest conversation, tons of fun, and brilliant plans. I had a clear vision of us in our front porch rocking chairs having lived full lives, retired, and playing with our grandchildren. Everything was perfect.

After our wedding, I noticed small changes that led to breakdowns and eventually the collapse of the foundation of our friendship. Communication became increasingly harsh, simple conversations ended in disagreements, and we could not seem to find common ground most of the time.

The climate of our relationship became a cycle of extreme highs and intense lows. Things were either perfect or a disaster. We could never achieve the normalcy of our courtship, and I found myself constantly working to manage the temperature of the relationship. I lost my ability to relax and became consumed with worry. I tried to become his everything from the business and marketing manager to his maid and therapist. I willingly lost myself because the abuse began well before the first punch. 

The night of my escape, my husband had been angry with me and sleeping on the couch for almost a week. The silence had become deafening and his anger suffocating. In one last desperate attempt, I pleaded with him to talk to me and tell me what I had done wrong. I vividly remember feeling defeated and that my marriage was over as I was being accused of infidelity. I could feel the conversation escalating to an argument. Exhausted, I just resigned to attempting to deescalate the conversation with apologies and promises to be what he needed.

As I prepared to go to bed, my ex-husband, in a fit of rage, choked me against the wall. After punching me in the face, he violently slung my body across our living room. I escaped his grip but was pulled back down our stairs where he sat on my back choking me. I remember feeling consciousness slip away. Eyes closed, it was becoming clear that the man who promised to love me forever was screaming his intention to kill me. My final thoughts were of my sleeping six-month-old. I begged God to keep her safe for me as I was sure I would die. 

I regained consciousness on the floor of my foyer. I immediately ran upstairs to my daughter’s crib. As my ex-husband was pacing back and forth on our patio, I grabbed my keys and, in a bathrobe with my toddler in a onesie, we escaped.

What and who helped you “get out?”

My escape was impromptu. I had no plan. I never expected physical abuse, so I intended to be married for better or worse until death parted us. I give full credit for my escape to God, several angels, my best friends, and my parents. At some point during the assault, my cellphone dialed my mother from my robe pocket. She heard my screams, pleading, and woke my father. They jumped in their car and began the four-hour travel from SC to my home in NC.  

When we escaped and drove away in the car, my broken phone connected with my car’s Bluetooth. Siri called Chrystal Grimes, my best friend in SC. At this time, it was almost midnight, but Chrystal answered. I was franticly driving with my daughter in my lap.

Chrystal talked with me until I was sure I was no longer being followed. Chrystal connected my second best friend Azaviea to our call. Azaviea lived in NC, and since my eyes had begun to swell shut, she located us and got us to her house safely. My parents arrived hours later and took me home to SC.

What encouragement do you have for other women/moms who are in a similar situation?

To moms who are just like me, 

Hey girl! It is OK. It is OK to be wrong. It is OK to be scared. It is OK to be confused. It is OK to be angry. It is OK to feel ashamed, alone, stuck, weak, stupid, ugly, useless, undesirable, and even responsible.

The truth is you are strong, deserving of love, and courageous. You are not alone. In fact, there are millions of women who are just like us! We are women with big hearts overflowing with unconditional love. A great friend told me that being able to love unconditionally is not a bad thing, but it can make us magnets for bad people. 

Regardless of our histories, mistakes, or current situations, we do not deserve abuse. No one deserves abuse. We deserve happiness, freedom, and to live without fear. We deserve to relax and bask in love and light. Our children deserve to see us be truly happy. It is our job to raise them in loving homes bursting with support, happiness, laughter, fun, games, family, and values. 

I know the fear associated with the unknown. How can you raise a baby alone? How is my life so off track? Who wants to be a single mom? Where will the money come from? How will family respond? How will friends react? Where will we go? Oh, the embarrassment! I know the how’s, where’s, and why’s. My response to those questions is do it afraid! You will seemingly be full of fear, full of anger, full of worry, full of anxiety, depressed, sad, and uncertain, but do it afraid. You must make this leap because lives depend on this move, momma.

I encourage you to be brave and run full force into the unknown. I ran, and I am in what was the unknown. There are people and organizations waiting with open arms here in the unknown. There is freedom, joy, happiness, love, and stability waiting for you. It is hard work, but it is so doable.

Take the first steps:

  1. Trust yourself and your intuition.
  2. Let people in. You are not alone.
  3. Leave.

You’ve got this and I’ve got you! Come over to the unknown with me. We can kick abuse’s butt together.

How can friends and family help a mom who is in danger?

My first piece of advice to friends and family of a woman in danger is manage your expectations. 

Abusive relationships rarely begin with physical abuse. Mental abuse is more painful and has deeper roots than physical abuse. While married, I did not notice the mental and verbal abuse. I was consumed with developing a plan to better my marriage. I wanted a successful relationship and became consumed with being better for my husband. I was not looking for his faults because I focused on all I could control which was myself.

I had also been conditioned to thinking that his damage was an excuse for his actions. I was “the strong one” between the two of us. Conversations about abuse would have challenged my reality and I would have separated myself from those who attempted to convince me I was being abused. 

However, a life is in danger. Do not shy away from the conversation. Lovingly ask your friend or family member if she feels safe. Directly ask your friend or family member if she is being verbally or physically abused. Steer clear of sarcasm, shaming, yelling, and name-calling. You cannot make a woman choose. It has to be her own choice. Your goal in these conversations must be to give as much love and hope as possible.

For help, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is always available at 1-800-799-7233. I can also be reached through my Facebook Community group Moms 22:6 or through my website moms22and6.com.

Second, be present – physically and emotionally.

Another sign of abuse is seclusion. Although I was in only one physical altercation with my ex-husband, in retrospect, I knew my best friends and family suspected abuse or recognized the extreme dysfunction at least. My best friend would sometimes answer the phone, “What’s wrong?” instead of “Hello.” Yes, my ex-husband created events, issues, and arguments to keep me at home, but I realized that I also allowed shame and frustration to further separate me from my friends.

Despite our separation, I always knew that my friends were there for me. They answered my phone calls. They endured the missed celebrations, unanswered calls, and sporadic text messages. My girls intentionally let me know that they were always within reach, and I knew that on some level if I ever needed anything, they had my back. 

My mother made her appearances. She lovingly inserted herself into our affairs and respectfully shared her heart. She never let go of me. Enduring abuse created grave instability, having family and friends made escape an option. I knew I had somewhere to go. My only job was to get there. Be the safe place. 

Finally, realize that separation is not the end, but it is the beginning of an uphill battle. 

I am an educated woman. I hold a master’s degree in education. In all my education, I was still broken. So broken that after a week at home with my parents in safety and peace, I wanted to go back to my abusive ex-husband.

The uprooting of the deep roots of mental abuse and physical abuse takes time, many conversations, therapy, tons of love, and patience. It is hard work. It is hard not only for you but also for your friend. New surroundings don’t erase the past. There is still grieving, emotional upheavals, battles with fear, and even depression that have to be fought. Healing has to occur. Be supportive. Listen. Be understanding. Be encouraging. Be present. Be loving.

Have you or someone you know experienced domestic violence? What advice would you add?

Previous articleHow My Children Learned to Read
Next articleNew Season, New Goals
Melanie McGehee never knew she wanted to be a mom. Even marriage caught her somewhat by surprise, in spite of the fact that she met husband Andy through a matchmaking service. She thanked eharmony by writing about that experience for an anthology, A Cup of Comfort for Women in Love. Almost two years to the day after marrying him, she stared at two pink lines and wonder aloud, “Is this okay?” His response, “Kind of late to be asking that now.” It was a bit late – in life. But at the advanced maternal age of 35, she delivered by surprise at 35 weeks and an emergency C-section, a healthy bay boy. Ian, an only child like herself, is ten years old and unlike any of the children Melanie has tutored, substitute taught, or led in a variety of church activities. Together with him, Melanie has discovered Thomas, SpongeBob, youtube tech channels, Lemony Snicket, Kate DiCamillo, shirts with no tags, and tooth powder. You can follow Melanie’s personal adventures and her love of children and teaching at beingmissmelanie.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here