Trigger warning: This post discusses domestic violence
Long after my husband fell asleep, I lay in bed crying as quietly as possible, choking back as many tears as I could so he won’t hear me. A warm wet puddle forms under my head until I feel suffocated and must get up. In the bathroom, I blow my nose and clear all the emotions that have overcome me.
This wasn’t the first time I cried because I was having a girl and it wouldn’t be the last.
I have never had gender preference with any of my pregnancies, so the crying wasn’t fueled by bias. Fear is what caused my tears to flow. Fear that my daughters would experience some of the things that I have. I am the 1 in 4 women who have experienced domestic violence. (1 in 7 men also experience some form of domestic violence.) I still wear the physical and emotional damage of abuse that happened long before they were born.
Recently, I stood in front of the mirror with my hand flat, palm facing me, and slowly ran my hand from the top of my head down to my feet. In that moment, I realized I couldn’t make it one full hand without going over a place on my body that has been abused. I have been choked to the point of unconsciousness more times than I can count, slapped, punched, and thrown against so many walls.
I plan to be open and honest with my daughters about my experiences, but I know all too well that unfortunately, that isn’t enough. My mom divorced my dad due to domestic violence when I was a toddler. She fled her situation with three children because she wanted better and safer for herself and for us. Only recently did I share with her some of my past abuse. Honestly, I feel that maybe I was ashamed that she was strong enough to leave a marriage with three children, no money, and only her faith in God and I struggled to leave boyfriends I had no substantial ties to.
A few years ago I gave my testimony, and for the first time included my past abuse.
It was so freeing to release the shame and guilt that was never mine to bear. To shine a light into the dark corners of my life that I once thought defined me. I selected men who used the strength God gave them to hurt instead of protect and weaponized the parts of my past I shared with them to cause me greater harm.
I know there is no way I can protect my daughters (or sons) from abuse once I send them out into the world, and it keeps me in prayer. I pray over their safety, their emotions, and that if they are ever in the situations I experienced that they will run to me knowing my arms will be ready to receive them. I have faith that they will break the generational impact of domestic violence on my family.
I wish this wasn’t a part of my story, but it is. I hate that I carry these scars, but scars only happen after healing occurs.
If you are struggling know that there is a better, safer, and blessed life waiting for you.