EDITOR’S NOTE: Today’s post is from one of our facebook friends, whose name has been withheld to protect her identity. We are honored that she would share her story with us in the hopes of offering encouragement to someone who may be going through an abusive situation right now. The power of our community is greater than any one of us alone. Through partnering with other organizations and individuals, we hope to provide the support network to help women liberate themselves from a life of poverty. Stories like this are central to providing a safe place to grow. Thank you, as always, for supporting our mission.
I feel so lucky to be alive. We all say that from time to time, but I really mean it.
You see, I married a man who wanted to kill me. He wanted to marry me, but he wanted to kill me. I know it is probably tough to understand his mind set, and mine as well. But it is true.
He thought he wanted me so badly that he chased me halfway across the country. And when he found me, he threatened me, my family and my friends. He told me if I didn’t marry him, if I ran again, he would kill me. Or he would kill everyone I loved. And I believed him.
He kept me separated from my family – we lived far away from our home town. Every day he told me I was unattractive, unintelligent and useless. I began to believe him. He monitored my every move. He limited what I was allowed to wear, where I could go, and who could be my friends.
For a while, I worked outside the home, but he didn’t like that I made friends with people at my jobs. At one point, he got an underage coworker of mine drunk to try to get information that wasn’t there. But he wasn’t just worried about male friends – he didn’t like that I talked to other women either. In hindsight, I’m sure that was because he was afraid I would become stronger through my friendships, or that someone might see what was really going on.
Weekends he would drink to excess. I often went to bed before he did on those nights, but knew I’d be awakened in the middle of the night. He would shake me awake, angry.
Often there was no reason, not even an imagined slight. He was just angry and needed to fight with someone. And because he was drinking at home, I was the only adult someone within range. The good news was he never went after my children, and he never hit me. No marks, no bruises to have to explain away. But sometimes he would become so angry he would put his hands around my throat in frustration.
One such night, he didn’t let go, and I felt myself passing out. I thought ‘this was it’ – if I didn’t do something I was going to die, and this man would be raising my children. It took all the strength I could muster to knock him off me. He’d had enough to drink that it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. But I was so afraid – he became so angry, I thought I had gone too far. Instead, he passed out. I cried until I was exhausted, then I slept.
Not long after that incident, he left me. He just walked away. After six years of being told I couldn’t survive without him, I was lost… for about two weeks. One morning I woke up and realized I had a wonderful opportunity to start over – and my children would grow up happy and normal.
But it wasn’t as easy as it sounded.
After only knowing oppression for years, it takes a long time for the human mind to heal. We can talk about having a sense of self, about our self-esteem, but really, those biting words are always lurking at the back of our minds.
Unattractive, unintelligent… useless.
Every time we fail at something, those words sneak up on us. And we start over, yet again. But that’s what survivors do. We battle back against the odds, against those words. We remind ourselves every day we are NOT that person.
I know now that his frustration wasn’t with me, and it wasn’t because I was stupid (as he often told me). It was his own inability to communicate that frustrated him. I’ve proven to myself time and time again that I’m smart. Smart as a whip! But occasionally I need to be reminded.
I know I’m not useless. I raised two very capable children to adulthood. I bought my first house less than a year after he left. With the help and support of my family and close friends, I’ve made a difference. And I strive to make a difference in the lives of others.
I’ve decided that attractiveness is a relative term. Everyone has their idea about what is or is not attractive. I know I’m beautiful on the inside. And my friends assure me the outside is just as beautiful. That’s good enough for me.
I still have my moments of self-doubt. But even people who haven’t walked my path have those. I don’t put all my eggs in one basket, and I don’t lean on any one person for support. I want to be in charge of my own destiny – if anyone else wants to come along for the ride, that’s ok. They just have to be aware that they are not in charge of my destiny and I am not in charge of theirs.
If you want help to leave an abuser, please visit the National Domestic Abuse Hotline. SAFETY ALERT: Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid your internet and/or computer usage might be monitored, please use a safer computer, and/or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224.
Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation) or “Like” us on facebook.