From Domestic Violence to Victor: One woman’s road to independence

by Molly Cantrell-Kraig on May 17, 2012

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.

According to the Domestic Violence Resource Center, one in four women in the U.S. suffers from domestic violence at some point in her life.

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.

Always 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.

We survived.

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.

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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.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie May 23, 2012 at 1:16 pm

What a beautifully written article and story. Painful but beautiful. Thank you for sharing and for not staying silent. I do the same via my own website. Much love to you from a fellow Survivor.

Reply

Molly Cantrell-Kraig May 23, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Thanks for taking the time to comment today, Stephanie. When people are willing to speak out, they help other women who may not think that their stories of abuse will be believed. :(

We are grateful for the courage our contributor showed by sharing her story with us. My best, M. :)

Reply

Stephanie Sparkles September 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm

You’re welcome! I just now found my way back to this article! Wow. And reread it. I do so much reading and this one still gives me goose bumps. May I share it , with attribution of course, on my blog sometime? It’s great. And I agree… it helps to change a lot of the ignorant views society still has about DV in general and also help encourage others to come forward and begin the healing process. And for others to know they didn’t suffer and aren’t suffering alone.

I am grateful she was willing to share to, on behalf of my own experiences with DV.

Read some more about your foundation, and what an amazing thing you are doing. I met so many women in DV safe houses that were in need. I’m going to go find you on Twitter now! =)

Reply

Molly Cantrell-Kraig September 15, 2012 at 9:20 am

Thanks for taking the time to comment Stephanie. Lack of access to transportation is a very real tool abusers use to keep a woman dependent upon them. We work with private and public agencies and organizations to identify women who are ready to take the leap of faith to leave an abusive situation. Having a car waiting for her makes the leap less intimidating.

We would be honored if you shared this story on your blog. Thanks for asking about attribution. It helps us when pingbacks or other digital trails connect us to other related blogs about empowering women. Best, M.

Reply

Stephanie Sparkles September 15, 2012 at 12:46 pm

It absolutely is a very very real tool. When living in DV Safe Houses I was the ONLY woman with a car in 1 house, and among the few in 2 others. I gave women rides as often as possible. I saw it first hand. My own car is falling apart and I kept seeing these women having to walk everywhere, with their abusers out there … and I would just say a little prayer daily that my own car wouldn’t break down.

I was lucky to have a car when I left. I can’t imagine if I hadn’t had one how I would have left. Not that it isn’t possible, it is. But a car would make a WORLD of difference to many women stuck in these situations. God bless you! And I have only shared one other article on my blog not written by me… I felt it was very important to share it.. and I of course included the author and orig. website link, date, etc. ;) This is a universal cause so the more the word is spread the better!

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