Rachel's Story: This Tribe Is Heaven Sent
I am crying as I’m writing this. This has been and is the most difficult thing I have ever had to do.
It has been very hard for me to gather up the courage, strength, humility, and resolve to draft and present this Verbal Statement of my account. The trauma that I, my son, family and friends have had to endure since my domestic violence assault on 4/2/21, (Good Friday of all days) has taken a tremendous toll on all of us. Since that incident, I have realized for the first time in my life how I’ve experienced domestic abuse of every type imaginable and endured it for years. This compounded with a premeditated violent assault has negatively impacted me. I’ve unfairly faced character assassination, unfounded gossip, violated protective orders, being made to feel what I’m doing is unacceptable and that I’m trying to get my estranged husband in trouble. I’ve been told that I need to “explain myself” and thus forfeit my privacy. It is almost as disturbing is finding out time and time again how many in your circle can relate to DV personally. Quite frankly, it is shocking and unacceptable.
Simply put, I wanted to personally relate my account and put a face with my name. It is so awkward revealing to someone that you are victim, especially as college-educated and accomplished woman. It is nothing short of humiliating to label oneself in such a matter. In fact, it took me days to even have the courage to refer to myself as a victim and even longer to reclassify myself as a survivor. And YES thank God I am still here to tell my tale, because if that assault would not have happened in front of many witnesses who had to physically intervene during my attack, (a social circle of friends) I doubt I would be here today to explain what I’ve endured.
I will never forget the rage that was in my husband’s eyes on the night he attacked me. Nor can I forget the terror of being asked to surrender his personal firearm to the local Police Department the same night he attacked me. It was reported to me that he murmured something about his gun as he was being transported to jail that night. I’m concerned about his mental state and the fact that a judge has ordered a psychological evaluation on him.
My abuser used to be the closest person in my life for 17 years. That includes 12 years of marriage. This was completely obliterated in a violent assault of a drunken rage. How was I supposed to reconcile that the person I had been with for so long was able to completely and overtly turn against me? This has been the hardest thing for me to come to terms with.
The time and space my restraining orders have granted me apart from him has led to deep reflection. I question so many things. He was unrecognizable and vacant to me. Enraged to a degree I’ve never seen in any person before. A black color in his angry eyes. It was premeditated because he disappeared for at least 30 minutes, before reappearing at the social gathering and walking straight up to attack me. The look of rage in his eyes when he raced up to me out of nowhere, grabbed me be the hair and with a death grip and violently shook my head by my hair like a rag doll. He then proceeded to slap and hit my face before other witnesses physically intervened and I hunched over was at the mercy of this mob trying to pull him off of me. The attack and struggle lasted about 30 seconds before I noticed my face was being pulled by him into a hedge. That is when I screamed which only intensified the struggle of people mobbed above me trying to save me. At first when I tried to pull away I quickly felt the pain and realized didn’t want to be scalped. I was at the mercy of this mob of people. It felt like I was drowning inside a giant wave, trying desperately to escape all the bodies pulling me in various directions. I simply had to get to my feet, which I did after falling to my ass, and then springing to my feet to flee to safety. Divine intervention, guardian angels, and great friends saved my life that holy day.
I found out later that he continued to lash out at those who saved my life that night even after I had luckily broken free, escaped and fled for my life.
Since my assault on 4/2/21, my world has been completely turned upside down. I have never been physically assaulted before, let alone as intense as this was. Now I am alone facing the world I see in through a cautious lens. I continue to process the pain of my assault in unseen ways. Physical wounds can heal but other wounds may never. I’m left feeling shattered and broken. I find it hard to trust people or at times be in close to people out of fear they might hurt me. My situational awareness is heightened. The health and safety of me and my son is paramount as is our general welfare which I safeguard every day. My plea and expectation is that the safety, security and privacy of me and my son will continue to be protected as set forth in my DV Restraining Order and Criminal Protective Order.
I’ve found that people think they understand what domestic violence is. And regardless of intention, others can behave in ways that do not honor, support, comfort, reassure, nor include victims and their rights. Many misunderstand the ramifications of abuse and neglect to admit DV is real, they question the credibility of a victim, isolate the victim, and disrespect the victim’s privacy and space. In reality, DV is secretive, taboo, shameful and is cast into the shadows of society. Despite the alarming frequency of domestic violence, (especially during the COVID pandemic) the sad reality is that very few want to face it or help others face it. It is misunderstood. However, once certain lines have been crossed there is no going back. Forgiveness yes, forgetting no.
On a surface level, the domestic violence cycle can be clinically and scholastically explained. However, it is only when one crosses the threshold as a victim you begin to see the new world you’ve been unfairly cast into and it is not a comfortable place at all. The building tension can go on for years because of the hope for healing and reconciliation. It seemingly could be made to seem it could work only to shorten and worsen each repeating cycle. It can worsen to death.
My healing efforts have validated me by knowing I am not alone in my experience or feelings. I have since learned that the secret struggle I faced was not my own isolated personal hell. Other DV sisters have shared their similar stories of trying to cope with abuse. For me this included: walking on eggshells, never being able to completely relax, watching my words, stepping out of the way because of intimidation, intentional sleep disruption and work disruption. I endured gaslighting, manipulation, misdirected projection and deflection. Feeling controlled was my regular reality. Body shaming, ridiculing, dismissive remarks, sarcastic sympathy, confusion leading to paralysis resulted in me losing my healthy identity, positive self-image and positive self-esteem.
I have been told terrible things which have slowly and systematically broken me down to a pale comparison of the woman I once was. My ex was verbally and emotionally abusive to me on a regular basis. He used to criticize my appearance, threaten to cheat on me, ask me if I wanted to be a single mom, tell me I could never flee for safety with our son again, that he’d disable my car if I tried. He used to rudely ask if I was going to call the cops again when we would get into an argument. He always used to ask me to apologize for calling the police on him in the past when I was scared by him on multiple occasions. He threatened that if I ever called the police on him again that it wasn’t going to end well.
I’ve had to advocate for and represent myself, I’m taking classes to understand basic legal rights, represent myself, access resources which were not immediate and obtain assistance on very basic levels. I’ve had to research, apply and wait for public assistance services. I’m still waiting for child support to go into effect.
In reflection and recounting past experiences, flashbacks of traumatic events and painful memories pop up unexpectedly. Utilizing services with Interface and Coalition for Family Harmony I realize I have been burying the regular pain and abuse just to try to save my toxic marriage. I now am free, independent, and kicking ass. I know the abuse was not my fault and has always been my abuser’s own personal struggle that I can no longer hold on to.
Renaissance is rebirth
Deliverance in a Good Friday assault
I am a Domestic Violence Survivor
I am a New Woman
I am remembering who I am
Unearthing what was lost along the way
Learning new things,
Becoming an advocate
Sharing my story
Pursuing a law degree
advocating for change
My tribe is solid
United in Beautiful Disaster
I am more than
My Victim Impact statement
Or court case number
My dewy eyes
My subtle smile
I am part of a sisterhood of survivors
Digging in the dirt
Rising from the ashes
Healing in harmony
Rocking threads that boost our spirits
We overcome stereotypes
We break sound barriers
in our stories
We break the silence
Wrestling with the miracle of chances
Embracing the majesty of each day
Believing in new things,
Pursuing what we were denied
One beautiful baby step at a time
Embracing blue space
This tribe is heaven sent.
Beautiful Disaster Rocks!