Saturday, October 11, 2014

#101 - Domestic Violence Survior.....3+ years later

Being it is Domestic Violence Awareness month, being that I am a survivor, and to have a good post or helpful reason to post why I have been absent from the blog; I decided to write a little about what one DV survivor’s life looks like 3 years later:

The Good:

Myself and my kiddo have been in our own place for over a year now.  The same place and it will continue to be that way in the upcoming months.

I have a job (I did before too) as a health care professional and have grown in skill with the same facility – going on 5 years now. 

I am in a very happy AND healthy relationship with a not only respectable but respectful man both as you look on the outside and as you look on the inside behind home doors. He is also a faith-filled man. His faith is one my main attractions to him. (note: not the reason I haven't posted in awhile, keep reading ;))

My faith has grown in leaps and bounds – I have my domestic violence experience, survival, and recovery processes to thank for that. There will never be enough words to describe my appreciation for the greatest thing that has come from that whole experience.

The Ugly:

I couldn’t make it in the first apartment past 8 months due to finances/pay cuts. I spent way too much money on a deposit for our current place because I wanted to “get out” of my parents’ house and be on my own. “Being responsible” took all of a 3 minute poor financial decision, with no consultation because I was an “adult,” and cost well over 1K in one day. We all know that you are lucky to get any deposits back on apartments. 

I love what I do and who I truly serve in my work. For the kiddo, I had to go part time, which was a good decision for my family. It is tough on the finances. My job and its owners are a different story. It is a struggle to go in most days because of the aforementioned. I know I am called to serve but have no idea where I am meant to be lead inside this career right now.  Though we have shelter, food, and clothing – we do so paycheck to paycheck as I beg for more daytime hours. It was still the right family decision however. 

I went through two fast, very unhealthy relationships when I thought I was ready that first year and a half. It took a lot of heartache, self-blame, and recovering again. I then took a year only to myself, God, and my faith. I studied relationships without being in one and made a set of healthy rules to follow in the future. Only then did I stumble upon someone who is becoming, if not already, my best friend. 

Finding my faith took first finding the most extreme pain I have ever imagined, scream, yell, and cry silently and out loud even at God. It took a total of 2-3 years to get to a solid place and it is thankfully still growing every day.  Lately, I have had to try extra hard to keep my faith solid in the everyday, amidst all the trials of the modern world. I am keeping the faith but it is not without God given grace some days. 

More Good -What I Hope Domestic Violence Awareness and Recovery can be going forward for survivors:

Explaining that just getting out of your situation is great, you survived it! However, being a recovered survivor means learning a new way of life, respect for life, and new skills to really live as a thriver and not just a survivor. 

When you think/feel you are ready to graduate from any therapy or domestic violence therapy/education programs – go to at least two more sessions. I quit while I was behind, thinking I was ahead. I do truly believe that I would have learned more great tools and ways to deal with my new life if I would have gone to just a couple more sessions. It could have given me a little more wisdom to avoid some of that “ugly” mentioned above.

Don’t be ashamed to go back to your family, church, friends, etc. even if you have been away for awhile. Abusers often try and separate you from things and these good people so that they don’t see what is really happening or what kind of shape you are in. Going back will help you and it’s ok to go back to lean on that support and grow your new life.

Life Skills: This is a big one and an area I think Domestic Violence organizations can grow in is teaching some life skills classes. They do a great job at helping people dress and prepare for job interviews, however, some survivors never got the basic education on budgets, finances, new relationships, healthy eating and exercise for overall wellness. I know I would (could still) have benefited from classes or sessions on those topics. Make overall wise decisions.

Shampoo: That’s right – I mean rinse, lather, repeat shampoo. I mentioned on how I was struggling paycheck to paycheck and though I have hot water and a place to shower, toiletries are a living expense. I would like to see some places have some donations (even travel size) of basic household needs/goods/pantry food available….heck even toilet paper people for those of us who may have a job but nothing in the bank account to pay for “luxuries” such as conditioner. I recently went to a mega store hoping for a sale and used $3.02 of my last $5 (after rent and bills were paid) so I could use more than a dime on my hair and body – it was one of the best showers I have had in my life!

So that’s my story for now to help maybe one person, one survivor do it a little bit better than me – so they are not making that desperately calculated mega-store run.  We are doing great and we are past the bad, but we can always thrive!