Overcoming Domestic Violence: My Story


Overcoming Domestic Abuse-My Story
by Angel Shadow™

Where do I begin?

I grew up in an environment of alcoholism. This environment was filled with
physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, anxiety and most
importantly….denial. We weren’t allowed to discuss what went on in our
home. It was to be swept under the rug, like the dirty little secret it was.
I can’t count how many times we had to silently put the house back together
while my dad slept it off on the couch. I guess it was simply easier to
pretend it didn’t happen. I guess not acknowledging it, meant we didn’t have
to deal with it. But we did have to deal with it and not discussing it
didn’t make it go away…it allowed it to continue.

I could start with the emotional issues domestic violence causes. Or the
anxiety and panic attacks. The issues of trust and constantly being guarded.
Always looking over your shoulder, waiting for the next bomb to drop. The
effort to accept and forgive…at least enough to move on and live a normal
daily life. I could start with the importance of breaking the cycle, so this
doesn’t move on to the next generation. Or the importance of releasing the
anger and becoming a productive human being. These are all important topics that need to be addressed and I will try to include them all.

I could start with some of my own personal experiences. The constant
physical fights. The yelling and screaming. The broken “things.” Being
picked up by the throat, while my mom stood by and did nothing. Watching my mom get shoved through a kitchen window by the hair, pulled back through, and pushed out the door onto the porch. Then being told by my dad that if we tried to let her in, he’d shoot us.

I could talk about the small travel trailer that was pulled from place to place, sometimes with no running water and illegally wired electricity. Relocating was a constant. There was no need to feel secure, because in no time at all, we’d be on the move again.

I could discuss the countless times my parents left us with people we didn’t
even know; sneaking out when they thought we weren’t aware. And there were times those people made it very clear that we were not wanted there. I could never understand how I could be placed somewhere I wasn’t truly wanted. But it happened time and time again. I remember my brother and I spending some time on the porch because we weren’t allowed to enter the house while the other kids got to have their bowl of ice cream.

I remember wearing the same clothes everyday and let me tell you…other kids aren’t afraid to remind you of it. I could also talk about the sexual abuse I endured from one of my dad’s drunk friends when I was five years old. I could dwell on my mom’s attitude of, “If I can’t beat him, I’ll join him.” And how she spent her share of time on the bar stool beside him, while we were left at home alone, probably because no one would take us for the night. And of course, there’s my mom’s denial and how, “Her kids always came first.”

I started taking care of my sister when she was a baby. I was ten years old,
and had no idea how to care for an infant. I recall the first time I was
left alone with her. I stood out at the end of the driveway, looking up the
street, begging them to come back. That was the day something shifted in me.

I became hard as survival issues kicked in. When my parents would
conveniently find a different sitter for the night, I always seemed to run
them off. I literally had babysitters walk out on me, because I made their
experience with us a living hell. Who did they think they were, coming into
my home and telling me what to do? Thinking they could take care of my baby sister better than I could. I’ve been handling things just fine, thank you
very much. I certainly didn’t need them. Over time, my mom told me since I
kept running them off, I would just do it on my own. Like I hadn’t been
doing that already. My sister wouldn’t respond to anyone but me anyway.

I was never shown how to change a diaper or make a bottle. I guess it was
assumed I would figure it out. After all, they would only be gone “a couple
of hours.” What could possibly go wrong? But those couple hours always
turned into a day long event, usually extending into the early morning
hours, which would end with them coming home in a fight. Do you realize how scary it is to a ten year old child to be left at home alone, with an
infant, especially when it gets dark? We rarely had a phone, so I never had
any way of checking in to see when they’d be home. I was forced to learn to
deal with it.

These few examples I’ve shared are only the tip of the iceberg.

The emotional issues from domestic abuse could fill a book and there is no
way I can cover them all in this article. The programming that comes from
living in an abusive household is devastating to the human mind. In order to survive, the mind has to adapt and it becomes programmed to work in a
certain way. It remembers everything and protects against danger in ways we still don’t understand. The human mind literally has the ability to protect
itself and it does this by altering what we think, which effects the way we
see things. When our programming changes the way we think, it also effects
the way we feel because the mind and body are tightly connected. What
effects one, effects the other.

Emotional abuse is one of the hardest to overcome because of the programming done to the mind. You can reprogram the mind to think and operate in a different manner, but it takes time and a lot of hard, heavy and deep soul searching, which is hardly a walk in the park.

Anxiety and panic attacks are also experiences that come from abuse. In most cases, the attacks are chronic because the mind/body are used to working in fight or flight mode. When the mind is trained to live this way, it will continue to do so, even when there is no reason for it. It simply doesn’t
know any different. I’ve been experiencing anxiety since I was five years
old and it wasn’t until a few years ago, I finally figured it out. I still
get anxious from time to time, but I’ve learned to deal with attacks.

Growing up in an abusive environment made me hard, guarded and non-trusting. You’ll never see me cry. It doesn’t mean I don’t…it just means you won’t see it. I view life differently and I respond to it differently.

I don’t drink. How could I? Drinking is what caused my childhood to be the way it was. The thought of putting alcohol in my system makes me physically ill and brings on anxiety instantly.

I’ve had to overcome serious trust issues. How could I possible believe what
you tell me? You’re not really going to be there for me, so I simply won’t
count on it. I’ve learned to survive and I can take care of myself. I’ve
learned to accept certain things and I’ve learned to forgive. I’ve done this
for ME. Not for my parents, not for the bullies I encountered, not for the
other adults who treated me less than the trash in their garbage…but for
ME. For my own sanity and well-being. For my own piece of mind. I’m happy with the person I’ve become and I’ve become that person on my own.

I decided a long time ago, I would not remain a victim and I would not
become a product of my environment. I decided I would forgive as much as I could. Does that mean the circumstances I encountered were justified? Not for a second! But where do I place blame? With my father, who didn’t know how to stop?  With my mother, who allowed it to happen? I feel they both should be held responsible. But I’m no longer a victim of their circumstance. Their life is their’s to live as they choose. I simply choose to move in a difference direction.

I decided the cycle stops with me. It will not be passed on to
the next generation that I brought into this world. Which means my kids
won’t pass it on to their’s and nothing makes me happier! At least I can
sleep at night knowing that.

*****
Confessions of the Wounded Inner Child
by Angel Shadow™

I have always been there
But you chose not to see
The pain and bitter heartache
That you enforced on me.

I could not escape you
Trapped inside your hell
A child of your making
Bars upon the cell.

You taught me oh so much
Not to trust and not to care
My world became so shattered
My eyes a cold, blank stare.

I soon became so silent
And found a place to hide
To young to understand
I was only along for the ride.

Overtime, as I grew
These issues that you dealt
Became so overwhelming
The bitterness was felt.

It took me a long time
To emerge from the dark
To learn to heal and forgive
Was not a walk in the park.

I did learn how to heal
And I did this just for me
A new world was created
For my eyes to see.

I will not pass this on
The heartache and the tears
The children of tomorrow
Shall enjoy their wonder years.

I will learn to be stronger
And stand up on my own
For the next generation
Will not be my clone.

My life is in your hands
Even if you think unfair
Be careful what you teach
And treat me with more care.

For I will never forget
The weary ways of past
Overcoming this takes time
A large stone for me to cast.

My mind is like a thirsty sponge
Absorbing and so free
So please don’t damage and harm it
For you’re creating me.

© Copyright 2006 Angel Shadow™ (Poem)
© Copyright 2007 Angel Shadow™ (Article)
All rights reserved.
 
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5 Responses to “Overcoming Domestic Violence: My Story”

  1. Thank you for joining me here Angel Shadow, it takes alot of courage for us to share that which we would rather keep secret. The secrets have been hidden way to long. Time to bring them out of the closet and teach others that it is not a dirty little secret. It is real and we do survive and become stronger and better for it.
    You are a blessing.
    Hugs and strength
    Yvonne

    • Shawna (Angel Shadow) Says:

      Thank you, Yvonne! It’s my pleasure to be here. Keep up the good work. You make a difference!

  2. I cannot thank you enough for sharing this story of personal transformation. I’m finishing up a graduate degree in non-profit leadership and have to submit a “capstone project.” Imagine my dismay to read the director’s admonition to “remove all first-person references.” For a long while, I’ve believed it’s the first-person narrative that has the most compelling impact — especially when sharing such vital information as you have shared. My undergraduate degree was in Women Studies (the late 70s) and it was the first time, for me anyway, I learned that it was “okay” to give voice to our her-stories. All these many years later, I value this lesson. So, as I said, it makes working with this individual who shares such a draconian attitude all but impossible. Having grown up in an environment where domestic violence permeated the air, I know all too well how important it is to speak freely and openly. Thank you for your courage and sharing your story with us. Stephanie

  3. Thank you, Stephanie! It is important for survivors to share their stories, but it’s not always easy to put your name out there for others to see. It makes it all very “real” instead of being brushed under the rug, which for most us, is where it stayed for so long.

    Love and hugs,
    Shawna

  4. stories of child abuse…

    […]Overcoming Domestic Violence: My Story « Stopping The Abuse[…]…

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