I am not who you think I am. If you know that I am a domestic abuse survivor, you most likely think that I am weak and stupid for getting myself into such a situation in the first place and for staying as long as I did. Most likely, you view me as a victim, mostly because of my lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem. This is the sad face given to most people who are domestic abuse survivors and not at all a reality.
I also found that the greatest lesson that I learned is gratitude. The day that I left my abusive situation, even with the threat hanging over my head that he would hunt me down and kill me if I did go, I knew that I would never have a “bad” day again in my life and that is true to this day.
If you didn’t know that I am an abuse survivor, you most likely would think that I am a quiet, non-combative and hard working person who can be pushed around and treated any way that you wish without there being any repercussions. You would also think that I am one of the happiest people that you will ever meet and that there is nothing that hurts me more than to see another person hurting or being abused. And if this is your perception of me, you would be correct. But this reality would have never been reached if it were not for having lived the domestic abuse life that I did for 10 years. Let me explain.
There are many lessons that I have learned from the abusive situation. One of the two most important ones is that nothing is ever accomplished or improved by fighting, arguing or attacking someone else, either verbally and/or physically. I learned that if someone is attacking me, the only thing to do is to become quiet and do not fight back. I may be 100% in the right but it does not matter if I lose myself, my dignity and perhaps even my life as a result. This applies to any situation in my life. However, this does not mean that I can be pushed around by someone for an indefinite period of time. If I am being abused, mistreated or constantly disrespected at home or on the job or in any social situation, fighting back will never solve anything. I learned that I need to wait for the right opportunities to try to discuss the matter peacefully in order to affect any changes. But, I also learned that if the same thing keeps happening over and over and it is adversely affecting me personally, then my only option is to find a way out of the situation.
I also found that the greatest lesson that I learned is gratitude. The day that I left my abusive situation, even with the threat hanging over my head that he would hunt me down and kill me if I did go, I knew that I would never have a “bad” day again in my life and that is true to this day. Each morning that I wake up and am given another day to live, I am grateful. For the job that I have that allows me to pay my debts, I am grateful. For the wonderful people in my life, most especially my husband, Kirk, I am extremely grateful.
Of course, I am human and I have moments when I get upset with others and certain situations, but they are only moments. And if I take all of those negatives and put them together, they will never outweigh all of the positives. It also doesn’t mean that there will never be negative situations in my life for long periods of time. However, I can choose to look at them as only negatives and be upset about how they are affecting me personally or I can try to find the lesson in them to see whether there is something that I can learn which will turn things around. But, most importantly, I know that I always have the power to make changes in my life that will eliminate those negatives if they continue to be detrimental to me. That is the most important thing – to take my power and use it only for one purpose and that is to make things better.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, you can seek help through the National Domestic Violence Hotline – 800-799-SAFE (7233) – 1.800.787.3224 (TTY).
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.