Monsters are real.

Monsters are real. I know they’re real because I’ve seen them. No matter how many times your mother told you they don’t exist, they’re real. They’re everywhere. They’re sleeping in your bed, they’re sitting at the dinner table with you. They’re in your family photos. You look at those photos often and remember how you had to force yourself to smile. You remember having to put a little extra makeup to cover the bruiseses.

Domestic violence seems to touch everyone’s lives some how, at some time or another. 1 out of 3 women and 1 out of 4 men are abused in their lifetime by an intimate partner. Every 60 seconds 20 people in the United States are abused.

For some reason women and men who are abused feel this overwhelming need to protect their partners. They make excuses for their behavior. They want to believe these people can change, they want to believe their abuser loves them enough to stop hurting them.

It starts with a nudge out of anger, then they’re grabbing your arm to restrain you. Before you know it you’re in a full on abusive relationship. No one ever dreams about becoming a human punching bag. We have these “happily ever after” fantasies. Everyone wants a happy and heathy relationship. Too many times women have died at the hands of their “prince charming”.

My life has been covered in a blanket of domestic violence. I’ve watched men beat my mother. I’ve watched my father beat women. I watched my father kill a women with a single gunshot to the head. I know how quickly arguments can get out of control. I know how quickly a person will snap.

Domestic violence has followed me as an adult. I was nearly beaten to death with a baseball bat in front of my children. Their own father listened to his children screaming for him to stop. They were 3 and 4 then. I hope and pray they have no memory of that night. They watched their mother being put into an ambulance, bloody and unconscious. I wish I would’ve seen the signs, I wish I would’ve taken his angry threats more seriously. That was certainly not the first time he hit me, I should’ve known. I should have left.

No one deserves to be a victim in their own home. A home is supposed to be safe and full of love. Love isn’t abuse. Love isn’t controlling behavior. Love isn’t a slap in the face or being called names. Love isn’t not knowing who you’re waking up to every morning.

You don’t have to live with a monster. You can get out. You don’t have to walk on eggshells anymore. You can be free. You can live a good life. You can find a person who loves you. There is still time for a happy ending.

You’re worth more than you even know. Your confidence is shattered now but you’ll build it back up, just a little at a time. It’ll hurt for a while. You’ll second guess yourself, you’ll feel guilty. You’ll probably even think about going back.

One day you’ll wake up and realize you haven’t even thought of them. You’ll be able to breathe again. That heavy weight will be lifted and that big black cloud that has been following you around will be gone and the sun will come out. You’ll wonder why you ever put up with it for so long.

You’ll never be the same. You’ll never trust the same. You’ll keep your guard up and have a hard time letting people in. You’ll be scared to love again. You will question yourself and your decisions. Your heart will harden.

One day you’ll meet someone. You’ll meet someone special. Kind, sweet, thoughtful. You’ll probably do whatever you can to push them away. You’ll think you’re not worthy. You’ll think they have alterior motives. You’ll make others pay the price for your abusers actions.

Do you want to know how you can tell if they’re “the one”? They stay. No matter what. They’ll love you when you’re quiet and they’ll love you when you’re loud, if you’re happy or if you’re sad.

I’m so lucky to have found this man. This man has been here with me through every test. There was nothing I could do to chase him away. He has shown me unconditional love. He has given me a beautiful daughter. He has given me Lincoln. I have made him angry, I have made him cry and I have made him laugh. He’s still right here. That’s how you know it’s love.

Everyone deserves to know that they are loved, cherished and honored. That’s a spouses job. Violence has no place in love. There’s just not room for it. Don’t let the cycle continue.

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Here are some resources that will help if you’re ready to leave an abusive relationship.

1 -800-799-7233 (SAFE)

www.ndvh.org

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