Deborah – Here is my story…

I was 19 when I met a really cute, nice guy at a party and soon after that we started dating. Everything was great and we quickly began to really care for one another. He treated me well and I felt very comfortable with him.

About 6 months into our relationship things started to change, but I never really saw the signs… depression… isolation from friends… sudden jealousy and drastic mood swings.

Why didn’t I see the signs? …Because I really wanted this relationship to work.

One night when we were together everything seemed fine – the next thing I knew we were starting to argue and before I even saw it coming, he punched me.

I remember the look in his eyes about what he had just done – he was in shock. He spent the rest of the day and night apologizing and telling me how much he cared about me and it would never happen again. The next day he bought me flowers.

I was so naïve. I forgave him and believed he would never do this again. In his apologies he promised it would never happen again – he cared about me too much to lose me.

I didn’t stay in the relationship because I liked being bullied. I wanted to improve my relationship rather than end it. The following day a friend at work noticed the blackness under my eye (my make-up didn’t quite cover the bruise). I was honest and told her what had happened and I assured her that it would never happen again. She suggested that I speak to someone at the shelter to get some counselling. I didn’t take her advice – he said he would never hit me again.

This became a pattern. His moods were always changing – I was crushed that my perfect guy wasn’t who I thought he was. So the following morning, I sat him down to talk about taking a break. His mood immediately changed and he looked at me and said “If I can’t have you, no one else was going to”. This day has flashed through my mind for years.

He immediately grabbed me and pulled out a large pocket knife. I was shocked and too small to put up much of a fight. During the struggle he slashed my face, neck and arms multiple times. He stabbed me through my stomach piercing through my liver for a total of eight times before he choked me into unconsciousness. All of this in front of the mirror because he wanted me to watch and remember.

I remember falling on the bed, thinking “this is it… I am going to die”. I lost 6 ½ pints of blood before the rescue team arrived. I consider myself lucky to have survived such a horrific act of violence, but I didn’t know how to deal with what had happened to me, so I never talked about it. I didn’t seek counselling and eventually started blaming myself for what happened to me. I think about what happened to me everyday – the scars don’t let me forget. Today, I am able to speak about that day with strength, knowing that I might help someone else by sharing my story.

No one deserves to be hit or subject to any form of abuse. Whether or not someone is ‘provoked’ violence is always wrong.

I eventually fell in love again and got married and we were blessed with two little boys. Different relationship, different man but this time I was being victimized mentally, not physically.

I realized that I was in another unhealthy relationship. Although I was terrified, I eventually got the courage to end my marriage and went to Women’s Place. I was very nervous and not sure what to expect when I arrived. When I got there I was welcomed into a home and given a room for me and my sons.

Throughout my stay, the staff provided me with great support, counselling and guidance that would help me be successful, both personally and professionally and rebuild my self-esteem.

I am sharing my story with you because I believe that awareness is how we can end abuse. By supporting CEVAW as donors and volunteers you are making a difference in the lives of women and children who are reaching out for support.