The Ashland Beacon
I am going to share a story with you, that only my close friends and family members know about me. For many years, I have kept it hidden because I was so ashamed that I was ever in that situation in the first place. Domestic violence is a silent killer of spirit, even for the survivors. So, I am writing this for those we have lost to domestic violence and for those still fighting.
Many years ago, I sang locally in the tri-state. I had a middle-aged man take a special interest in me and he began attending my shows. I was quite humbled that he was so impressed with me. Little did I know, he had targeted me as an easy mark.
My life began to change drastically overnight, I dropped out of high school and I stopped singing locally. Despite my parents ' adamant objections, I left home and later married my abuser.
The sweet man that befriended me soon changed into a narcissistic nightmare. I soon learned he had certain expectations of me and if those expectations were not met, there were consequences. My passive and kind demeanor made it incredibly easy to abuse me. He alienated me from my friends and family; so if he was upset with me, I ended up feeling all alone and eager to please him.
I befriended an elderly neighbor, whose husband had been placed in a nursing home. I began to fill my days spending time with her, when my husband was away at work. After I completed all of my chores for the day, I often would spend time at her kitchen table drinking tea and talking. She told me that my company had brought her so much joy since her husband was in the nursing home. In a way, we both needed each other.
One night, I packed everything I could into one box and I left the rest. I had attempted to leave before, but this time it felt different. I went to my neighbor, she let me in and I spent the night. The next day she made me breakfast and took me to see my family. Whenever any doubts would creep in, she would quickly redirect me. She was my saving grace.
Looking back now, I see so many red flags. But when you're standing in the middle of a storm, it's hard to see how big that storm truly is or the danger that you're truly in.
There are still things that haunt me to this day. My food portions were restricted by him because I tended to gain weight. Now I struggle with being overweight. It took me about ten years to cut my hair, which went all the way down my back. But now I go to the salon every month, I love my hairdresser. Sometimes when I hear keys jingle, it makes me think it's him and it sends a chill through me. But luckily, I haven't come in contact with him for over 18 years now.
Many people ask, " Why didn't you just leave?" But I'm telling you, it just isn't that simple. No one can do it for you and you have to find the confidence to escape yourself. I escaped before and I wasn't ready, so I went back to him. He still had a hold over me. My friendship with my neighbor saved me, she gave me the confidence I needed to leave. She was over 50 years older than me and she was my best friend when I dearly needed one.
What did I take away from the marriage, you might ask? I learned to cook from scratch, I learned to garden, I learned construction, I learned how to find a friend amid chaos and I learned how to love myself again.
If I can offer any advice at all, find someone to talk to about what you're experiencing. Find someone who is patient and does not judge you, it's important they listen to you. When you are ready and only when you are ready, they will assist you in escaping your abuser.
The old Morgan is dead, she's merely a ghost of who I used to be. I am a different person now, but I bear scars. I'm living proof that you can escape your abuser. You can be happy and be loved entirely. If you do not have a support system in place, Safe Harbor is a great local resource for seeking help. Find someone to talk to, it may save your life.
National Domestic Violence Hotline