Imagine this, growing up with both parents still together, rarely you hear fighting or yelling. I got really good at imagining a “normal life.” But in all of my dreams and all of my hopes the harsh reality that stabs me like a knife in the gut was that I’ll never ever be able to have that. My mother was and is an amazing woman, who never ceases to amaze me, but her biggest down fall was letting a man physical and mental abuse her.

Not only her but her children as well. The abuse started before the marriage was even decided on but my mother “loved” him. As I grew up my perception of love was you could say a little jumbled. I would see my step father hit my mother and watch blood dripping down her mouth. I’d hear her crying in the middle of the night, when she thought we couldn’t hear. I have never been a person to ever keep my feelings inside.

That being said I would put myself in between my mother and my stepfather. I would take the hits and the nasty words if it meant she didn’t have to. But then, when I hit my teens everything got worse. I was a problem child. I was the one acting out and I deserved to be hit. I deserved to feel like I was nothing. And my mom, she didn’t stand up for me, she couldn’t even stand up for herself so what did I expect. I have been punched, choked, body slammed and much more all because a man was too insecure with his self. My guidance counselor was my only safe place.

He knew all my hurt and all my pain and never looked at me differently. At 16 I decided I couldn’t do it anymore and I left. I left my home to my grandmother I barely knew, hoping she would give me a chance. My mom didn’t speak to me for over a year. Not one word. I graduated high school and went to college and that’s where I learned my own worth and what I deserve.

No one would know I was a person effected by domestic abuse, because I wear a smile everywhere I go. But inside I was screaming for an out for help. My mother to this day is still with my step father, and I have nothing to do with him. I forgive him. I have no hate left in my heart. But I will never forget the pain I still feel. I am 19 years old and feel like I’ve been through a tornado over and over that just never stops spinning. But I just want everyone to know, that no matter what is going on don’t lose hope.

Hope is what kept and keeps me going every single day. Life can be beautiful when you get through the rough spots. And if you need help, tell someone you need help. You deserve to be safe and happy. Never ever forget that.