October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This is a somber month recognizing violence that plagues more than 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men in our society. At Huck House, we also spend October honoring survivors of Domestic Violence living in our Transitional Living Program. In this month’s blog, I thought it would be most fitting to hear directly from a survivor, one of our Transitional Living Program graduates, and a strong, hard-working, kind and funny woman, mom, daughter and friend, who will remain anonymous here. Listen to her words below that she delivered in a courtroom after her children’s father violated a court protective order:
To be honest, I do not want to be here. I would rather be in school than standing in front of a courtroom opening up old wounds. Unfortunately, standing in front of you is my best shot at a normal life. I met Joe* when I was 17. I was a loving, optimistic girl starting her senior year without a care in the world. Unfortunately, I am no longer anything like that girl. Over the past three years, I have experienced enough trauma to alter my perspective on life. Domestic Violence is something that I never understood until I was the girl behind the fist. The first fight was the scariest. Joe beat me up and down his apartment complex. Being choked against a brick wall with a 240-pound man screaming in my face than later getting dragged through the mud was the cause of the first part of the old me dying. The next few weeks were crucial for the cycle to begin. I was manipulated to believe the famous line “it will never happen again” but of course it did. The abuse continued and every attempt to break away from him was instantly crushed. I block him, he calls private. I change my number, he shows up unannounced. Joe has threatened anyone who tried to come between us. One night he walked around my house and refused to leave. Another, he waited at my car early in the morning to catch me before I left for school. Joe attacked me in front of my entire university, leaving me to be carried and locked in the admission building until the police were able to detain him. I was later taken to the hospital with a concussion that took me out of school for the rest of the semester. Months later, Joe threatened me as I was in the delivery room about the name of my son. He insisted that if I didn’t name him Joe the 3rd “not even god’s going to know what I’m going to do to you.”
I had to find the strength to leave that toxic relationship for the sake of my children. I refuse for my son to treat a female that way or for my daughter to think it’s ok to be abused in any way. Since the birth of my kids, I have gotten a restraining order, and even went as far as switching cars and moved into a secured place for Domestic Violence survivors. I have decreased interactions with mutual friends. I have been working with a counselor and Domestic Violence advocate in attempts to recover from my trauma. I have struggled greatly with depression and anxiety. The stress of being a full-time parent, student and athlete is enough for one person. It is not fair for me to have to continue to deal with his unstable behavior that forces me in and out of a courtroom.
*Names changed for anonymity
This amazing young woman has advocated for herself and her children and is excelling as a mother, a student, and a collegiate athlete. The Domestic Violence Program team at Huckleberry House was honored to stand by her side as she read this statement in the courtroom and as she walked through the day-to-day life of surviving and healing.
At Huckleberry House, we believe survivors, we advocate for them, and we support them in working towards their goals. While in the Transitional Living Program, they are surrounded by support. In addition to all of the professional supports, we encourage a sense of community among these young people who have survived violence. Twice a month, we have a dinner for the entire Domestic Violence Program, homemade by staff or by our gracious volunteers. These dinners are about more than just food. We discuss topics like developing healthy relationships, healing from abuse, and growing self-esteem, among other topics. The most amazing part is watching these young people understand and support each other.
We are honored to stand with survivors during Domestic Violence Awareness Month and throughout every day of the year.
Domestic Violence Program Supervisor, Transitional Living Program