Stronger Than Silence
Rebecca survived ongoing physical, verbal and emotional abuse from her daughter's father.
Can you describe who your abuser was and how the abuse began?
My older daughter’s father abused me for years, and was put in jail and deported for it. Then he did it again after I allowed him back in my life. I met him when I was about 15. Got pregnant (by choice) at 16 with our daughter, thinking at the time it could get me emancipated from my mom's house. I was drinking, and so was he, and we ended up losing custody of her to my mom. By God's grace I am 11 years sober presently.
He started hitting me when I was about 18. Could be a little bit earlier, but the verbal and emotional abuse was always present, I just didn't know any better. I was a kid and in love I thought. He was super controlling, didn't let me wear makeup, always made me look down and walk behind him. He is from El Salvador, and in the MS 13, which at the time I had no clue what or how dangerous he really was.
Please share more of your story, as much as you are comfortable.
When I was 19, I went to my friend’s wedding. He was not invited. This is before iphones, and all of that. He found me and followed me there. And tried to make me leave. When I got home, he was waiting for me. My mom didn't want me to go, but I went anyway. That night, he tried to kill me, …I was actually dead, and they brought me back to life. The last thing I remember was him saying was "I'm sorry for what I'm about to do to you, but I'm going to kill you." He put his hands around my throat and choked me, and that's the last thing I remember. I woke up in the hospital and I didn't know what happened. I was bruised from the neck up. April 4, 2004. He was convicted, deported, and started calling me. He came back illegally and I let him back in my life. I thought I loved him. He was just controlling. October 2, 2009, he put a machete to my throat and tried to kill me again after months of abuse. If his friend didn't call the police, I would not be here. He was arrested and put in jail. But I still visited him. It's the cycle of abuse.
Please share more about how you felt during the time of the abuse and what happened or changed to help you start taking steps to get out of the situation?
At the times of everything, I felt afraid. I felt trapped. I felt worthless. I no longer feel like that today.
I got sober in 2011. And that is when my eyes were open. When he was trying to marry me (from jail) so he could stay here in USA. Someone from AA said do you really love him? Like what is so good about someone like that? And that is when I said to myself... Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And when he called me, I had women from the program there to support me so I could end it. They told me he can't hurt you from jail. You are free. I still think about it, even talking about it now brings up all sorts of emotions. But I know it will help someone.
[My local domestic violence organization] helped a lot. I was able to obtain a restraining order with him the first time. But we broke the order several times. Thinking back on it now, I put myself in a lot of danger. Again, I thought I loved him. Love does not hurt. I am a part of an amazing church, my egroup is trauma based which is so helpful, and I got baptized recently.
What is life like now that you have gotten out of the abusive situation? How has it become better?
It is so much better. I am married to such a loving man. I now know what love is supposed to be. We have been together for about 7 years, married since 2019, and he has helped me raise my youngest. He is sober too, so my youngest does not know what it is like to see me or him drink. Our house is mostly quiet and it's a "normal" house. I own my flaws, I love myself every part of me. I have an amazing life coach that I have been on a healing journey with recently. And yes, It will never just "go away". Healing is lifelong. But my life is good today.
What else would you like to say to any women reading your story who are currently experiencing domestic abuse?
There is a way out. Ask for help. I thought there was no other way, that that was love, but love doesn't hurt. You got this!