A Year in Domestic Violence Awareness
Yesterday (Halloween) marked one year since our worlds flipped upside down.
One year ago, I was married, with two kids living at home in our oversized house in Tramonto. I was stressed out of mind, unhappy and trapped. My kids were my only source of happiness which I can now see in hindsight, what incredible pressure (all of the above) must have put on them.
We sat down to watch a movie before Trick or Treaters arrived on Halloween 2021, and what started as our traditional Sunday movie day, turned into a horrific act of violence that put my son in the hospital and stopped his Cross Country season dead in its’ tracks. Being ranked in the Top 5 in AZ, my son never got the chance to realize his potential at State his senior year.
What followed were many blurred days. One of my dogs had been attacked by the other during the violence and spent months healing. My daughter was traumatized by witnessing the beating and had her own path of pain. And I? Well, I tried to keep it together the best I could. I filed an order of protection. I filed for divorce. I listed the house. I did my best to keep things as normal as possible for the kids, while continuing to work and trying to manage emotions of my own. Looking back, it was like a death. It was like being hit by a train. It was like being burglarized. It was like the world just stopped, but we somehow had to keep going.
Why do I chose to share the details of such a horrific experience? Because as soon as my son could form a sentence, he said to me, “Mom, we cannot keep this a secret. We need to use our story to help others.” I promised we would and so I will forever continue my mission to raise awareness about domestic violence.
Domestic violence does not just occur in seemingly broken homes. It is not exclusive to age, race, gender or economic status. Domestic violence is actually a common phenomenon that is extremely difficult to talk about. One in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence in the home. Furthermore, domestic violence is not just defined by physical abuse. Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to maintain power and control over a domestic family member.
Under this definition, we had all been experiencing domestic violence for years. I imagine many out there have too, they just aren’t talking about it. It took a severe physical act of violence for me to open my eyes to the abuse our family was experiencing. My hope is that others can be spared the pain and not only recognize the signs of domestic violence sooner, but do something about it.
I thought the most important thing was to keep my family together, as a unit. I had been previously divorced and so part of my ego was at play as well. I simply could not imagine being a twice divorcee. What would people think? What would that say about me? These are the thoughts I battled over for years.
I am 49 years old and the only thing that matters to me now, is happiness….true, happiness. And if I want my kids to even have a shot at happiness, I have to authentically live a happy life. I tried for years to make them happy by “sacrificing” anything and everything. In the long run, it didn’t work. We all have to find our own path to happiness.
The family has all experienced PTSD over the past year and so the days leading up to Halloween 2022 had all of us on edge.
It turns out that Halloween 2022 was fun but it was also heartbreaking. I was a nervous wreck all day but I was also productive. I had a near panic attack in yoga, but then got lost in work and felt fine. I started feeling incredibly uncomfortable, but then met up with a friend and had a great time.
I was fortunate to spend the evening with my son, his girlfriend, my beau and his daughter all at my new home. We had a great time, but when they left, I cried. I felt all the feels of what has transpired over the last year, both good and bad. I missed my daughter like crazy as she is finding her own way at a school up north. I woke up this morning and felt once again, like I had been hit by a train.
But the reality is….our lives are REALLY good today. I have a beautiful home, the job of my dreams, two wonderful dogs and an incredible connection with my son and my daughter. I am in a healthy relationship with a man who shows unconditional love and support and is truly the most selfless human being I’ve ever met.
I have an incredibly strong support system and a wonderful community. My son is running at the collegiate level and enjoying his first year of college.
My daughter is at a school that every human being on the planet would benefit from as she is learning the meaning to happiness.
Life has never been better and it’s only been one year since it felt as though life was falling apart.
The N2 Company (my employer) honors tomorrow (Nov 2) as N2 Gives Day. We are all encouraged to take time to support the charitable cause of our choice. I have chosen to support Domestic Violence Awareness by continuing to share my experience in the hopes that my transparency will encourage those who are suffering to make change.
We are all responsible for our own happiness and sometimes we have to make big changes to achieve it. I was unhappy for years, but didn’t do anything about it. I am grateful the universe stepped in and forced my hand. As much as I dislike that my children were hurt by this forcing of the hand, I can also recognize that suffering is a stop along the way to happiness for each and every one of us.
Yesterday was difficult. Today is still difficult, but I can also see it for what it is. It is all part of the human experience. No-one goes through life unscathed, we all know that to be true. My story is no harder or worse than anyone else’s and I refuse to let it define me in a negative way. My experience with domestic violence has definitely become part of me, but I see now, just one year later, how it can be used to catapult a happy ending. I can honestly say, I am ready for and finally accepting my happy ending.
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