Eleven years ago, I was a senior in high school. Brimming with promise, potential, and dreams, I had been accepted to what seemed like a billion colleges, having the opportunity to pursue academic achievement beyond what I imagined. Excitement flowed, but I was also devastated. I was leaving behind a boy that I thought was the love of my life. Moving from a town that was all I knew. Leaving my mama, who had done her best to support me in all my endeavors.
When I started to plan for my future, role models advised me to dump the boy, go to the college that offered a scholarship, and remember that I was capable of anything. Despite their advice, I picked a college close to home and held on to hope for a scholarship after my first year. Because as they said, I could do anything.
My freshman year at Texas Tech held so many possibilities. I was excited to build new relationships, join all the clubs and attend all the parties. I did most of those things. What I didn’t expect was the drama that would come along with the newness of being away. Remember that boy I mentioned?
Well, I did not dump him as everyone had suggested. Instead, I drove home every weekend to see him and hoped that our relationship could survive long distances. He had other plans. October 2010 is when the emotional abuse started. My friends tried their best to warn me. They even supported me the fifteen times he “broke up with me” for not texting him back immediately. At this time in my life, I had never really been taught what love was. So, since this was my idea, I fought hard for him.
In August of 2011, I made a life-changing decision. Against advice, I moved my emotionally and verbally abusive partner in with me. At first, it was great. I thought I had someone to talk to, someone to love on me, someone who I thought would support me through college as I pursued my dreams. A month into this honeymoon phase of sorts, the walls came crashing down. I cannot even pinpoint the argument or what I may have said. What I can tell you is that it happened so many times, they all ran together. This boy, that was supposed to love me unconditionally, or so he said, started to lay his hands on me.
The physical abuse started, and I was so broken, torn down, and insecure I did not stop it.
While I could dive deep and tell you story after story of how he hit me, how I lost friends, how my family started to lose hope in me, and how I felt so insecure in who I was, I refused to leave. Instead, I’m going to fast forward to the end. The straw that broke the camel’s back.
In 2012, I had a phone call from my mama. I was crying, which at this point wasn’t unusual, and she posed the question to me one more time. “When is it going to be enough?” That day, I dried my tears, and I said, “today, today is enough.” I had decided that if he came home that day and started an argument or laid his hands on me, I was going to tell him not to come back.
After a few hours, he arrived home from work. Within ten minutes, the argument began. What was it about? I wish I could tell you. I know that I kept my word to myself this time, and I told him that if he walked about that door, he couldn’t come back. I had devised a plan to lock the padlock behind him because that didn’t have a key. He laughed and walked out the door.
Within seconds, I ran to the door to lock the padlock, only to have the door kicked back into my chest. With the wind knocked out of me, he stormed into the apartment, yelling, and headed straight to our bedroom. We had a bulletin board with pictures hanging on the wall. In his anger, he began to rip the photos off the board and set them on fire.
In a frantic panic, I ran to him and did my best to stop him from burning the apartment down. As you can expect, this did not go well. My efforts were in vain as he threw me on the ground and placed his hands around my neck as his weight pressed my body into the carpet. With hate in his eyes, tears in mine, he made a straightforward statement that I will never forget. “I could kill you right now.” In a moment, all of the physical abuse, verbal aggression, and emotional turmoil he had caused me came flashing back, and at that moment, I mustered up all of the strength I had and fought him off of me.
After I freed myself from his grasp, I ran out of the apartment and started to walk. To where I didn’t know, but I knew it wouldn’t be where he was. In true abuser fashion, he followed me. Yelling at me from the car window, he apologized, begged me to come home, and said he would never do it again. This time, I didn’t believe him.
As I walked that street, broken, crying out to God, and scared for what was to come, I stumbled upon two police officers. These officers made my partner leave and immediately tended to my bruised neck. They were kind, encouraging, and, most importantly, honest. One of the officers told me that I didn’t deserve my treatment and did his best to encourage me to press charges. So I did. After photos, statements, and a phone call, my sister came to pick me up.
After this perspective-changing day, what most expected me to do was leave immediately. Which, with the finances and support, I would have loved to do. Instead, I had to wait. Three excruciating days until my apartment complex could transfer my lease. During this time, I pretended that everything was fine. I pretended that I forgave him. I pretended that I was staying. Behind the scenes, with the help of a few friends, a fantastic boss, my mama, and two police officers, I conducted a plan to leave while he was working.
December 1, 2012.
I will never forget the day I made the best decision of my life, and I left.
The journey from that day on was not easy. There was unhealed trauma, relationships lost, and a scarred self-esteem that had to be rebuilt. I can tell you stories of my trials during this time, the ways the devil tried to pull me back in, and the tears I cried. Instead, I’ll give you hope. I’m free from the shame and guilt of that relationship. I have found an amazing husband and have a beautiful baby girl. A daughter that I will show what it means to stand up for herself, not to let anyone try and define who she is, and to walk in the purposes and will that God has for her life.
I cannot end this story without encouraging you. Encouragement to the little girl inside you who is scared to leave someone mistreating you, motivation to the woman who thinks she is alone, and encouragement to the person who knows someone experiencing abuse. YOU ARE WORTH SO MUCH MORE! Say it to yourself until you believe it, leave him, and tell her that she can be more without him. I am not the only one to escape. We deserve more than someone who cannot see our value. Be strong, beautiful. God sees you.