It's a nightmare that I keep on reliving.....He made me think I deserved it. He made me think I was crazy. He destroyed every bit of self-worth that I had. For 3 1/2 years I was physically, mentally and financially abused by the person who was supposed to love me aka the father of my two beautiful baby girls. It didn't start out abusive (they never do); he was charming and knew the right things to say to suck me in.

He made me feel special, like he would love me forever. And then we found out I was pregnant with our oldest. That's when things got physical. He started putting his hands around my throat, telling me he was going to kill me. He punched me (not slapped) square in the forehead over a small argument. There was one time he pushed me on our bed and got on top of me and threatened to kill me and my unborn child. He then stood up and took a knife and cut into his throat, just enough to bleed a little. He would do crazy things like that regularly.

He'd cut up his arms and say he was doing it to show me how much he loved me. He was crazy. Absolutely crazy. And I was even crazier for believing him when he said "I'm going to get help. I’m going to change. I'll never put my hands on you again." But he did. He choked me out more times than I can count. He threatened my life regularly over absolutely nothing. He punched me in the forehead one day because I went to church (the first time I'd been in years) with his mom and little brother and I actually enjoyed myself, but I did it without him.

That's the thing about his abuse. It didn't matter what I did or didn't do. It didn't matter how much I stood up for him, took care of him, did for him, loved him, I was always his punching bag. And beyond just the physical, he was verbally and mentally abusive. He would call me "b****" just because he knew how much I hated it and how much it hurt me. He would call me a bad mom because he knew that's what would get to me. He would call me lazy when I was the one working and taking care of our kids and cleaning up his filth. He would try to tell me what I could and couldn't spend my hard earned money on. He would turn his family against me randomly out of boredom I guess. He would make up the most ridiculous lies about something I said about someone just so I would be isolated.

And for the people who would ask, "Well why you didn’t leave?" I tried to once. And here's what happened: My mother was going to help me get away from him. She got me a folder and put a list of things I needed to do like get social security cards, birth certificates, etc. and put applications for apartments in the folder. I hid that folder and he ended up finding it one day. Well he took it straight to his mother which of course started a fight between the 3 of us-that was another thing about our fights...his mother was always involved-so I told him I was leaving. Well him and his mother wouldn't give me my then 6 month old so I told them that was fine, I would just have the cops come and they’d be forced to give her to me (we weren't married so I had every right to her at the time). So I walked down the road and called the police so I could get my baby away from these crazy people and since they knew the cops were coming, his mother smacked him on the side of his face as hard as she could leaving a hand print, and when the cop showed up, she told him that I had hit him leaving a handprint on his face.

She told him she was scared for my baby's safety because I'm crazy and violent (ha! What a joke!) And the cop believed her because he had a handprint on his face! So I wasn't allowed to take my baby. So I ended up just going back to the apartment where we lived together and bawling my eyes out. And later that night, he laughed in my face and told me directly that his mom smacked him (well duh, cuz I didn't). So ever since that day, I was too afraid to try to leave because they got away with that then what else could they get away with? Nobody believed me when I needed someone the most. So I rode it out. I entered his punches and harsh words and lies. I woke up every morning terrified of what mood he'd wake up in that day.

The past month I was with him, I felt-and probably looked like-a zombie. I was numb. I was tired of being scared. Tired of hurting emotionally. I never could have imagined I'd get away with him but I did. And I am the happiest I have been in years! I have my days. It's been almost 6 months since I left and it still hurts knowing I had to put up with that for so long and feeling guilty because of what my kids had to see. But I'm ultimately happy. I've found a man who understands me and knows what I've been through. He's there to hold my hand and ask me if I'm ok when I wake up from having nightmares. He's there to wipe away my tears when call I can do is cry. He's there to kiss my forehead and make me feel like I deserve everything. He makes me feel beautiful. He doesn't say a bad word about me or my kids. He loves me...the messed up, emotional, untrusting person that I am.

It is possible. There's a better life out there for you. You don't deserve to be hit or belittled or choked. You don't deserve to be crushed by someone who claims to love you. Love shouldn't hurt. LOVE SHOULD NOT HURT! I'm no longer a victim, I'm a survivor.....<3 8/31/2017

D. Smith