Surviving Domestic Violence: 4 months later
Four months ago my ex boyfriend, Eric, came to my home with a gun. It was the evening of September 14, 2016. Only hours before the shooting I went to the police to report Eric for stalking. Eric was not happy when he got the phone call from law enforcement telling him to leave me and my family alone. Soon, I was about to learn the extent of his wrath and everything I feared about him was to become validated with a single gunshot.
Today I want to talk about my journey with recovery and finding myself again after years of being controlled by a mad man. I hope that sharing my journey with recovery helps you or someone you know who has been affected by domestic violence. Recovering is different for everyone and I am here to share my struggles and successes with moving forward.
I went through around 3 years of being controlled by Eric. Well, I knew Eric for about 3 years but he did not start controlling me immediately. I would say I went between 2 and 3 years of being stalked and controlled by him because I am not exactly sure when in fact he started to look at me as a possession.
Anyway, it does not matter when Eric became violent or when he started acting like I was his property. The fact of the matter is that it happened. Eric saw me as his and only his. He did whatever he could to isolate me, to steal my dreams and to keep me in the home and away from society. Eric did not want me around people because he wanted full and complete control over every single aspect of my life.
For years Eric had complete control over me. He struck immense fear in my life and my family's life. He was aggressive, controlling, not God like, violent, possessive, angry and an alcoholic. He was actually a raging alcoholic, which often made him impulsive. Eric was a nightmare and a parents worst fear.
Everything I wanted for my life Eric would question. He never wanted me to better myself because he feared that he would lose control over me. Nothing I wanted for my life was what he wanted. He wanted me to be his puppet and slave and I wanted freedom.
Finally enough was enough and I went to the police. Hours later Eric would show up on my doorstep with a gun. He had the mindset that if he could not have me, no one could. I literally dodged the bullet. He took the gun to his head and that was it. In a split second my worst nightmare was over. I had my life back.
Below I am going to write a timeline of events and how I coped. I want to share this because I feel that someone could be helped with their recovery or you could help someone through regaining their independence after being controlled for so long.
September 14, 2016
I go to the police to report Eric for stalking.
Eric comes to my home and shoots himself in the head on my doorstep.
The police inform me of his death.
I cried and I was shocked. I cried most of the night.
I got no sleep that night.
September 15, 2016
The entire day is a blur. I tell my mother and family what happened. Everyone is shocked and crying. People are also relieved because Eric is no longer a danger or a threat.
The days start to merge together and I lose track of time.
September 17, 2016 (ball park)
I still have a time lapse. The days are merging together and I am still not sleeping.
This was the first day that I had something to eat. When Eric was alive I was unable to go anywhere without him following me. He kept track of me and followed me literally everywhere, including the spa, massages, the mountains, hiking, shopping and much more. There was no escaping him. Everywhere I went he went. I just could not get away.
Today was the first day I went out by myself. Well, I walked by myself and met up with a few people later on that afternoon. It was a very strange feeling but also a relief to be going somewhere, some place I wanted to go all by myself.
I looked over my shoulder a few times and had to keep telling myself that I was safe and he was not going to be around.
September 18, 2016
I decided to go out again by myself. I chose to go all alone and relax and read my book at lunch. I really enjoyed it but still had the creeps.
The rest of the week
I started going to places alone during the day. I went to get my nails done and I went out to lunch. I also started seeing a counselor to talk about Eric's suicide.
I was becoming brave and started to realize that I could go wherever I wanted and be safe.
End of the second week
I started to realize that I could literally go anywhere now. I become comfortable around my neighborhood and my local restaurants. Now I was planning on going hiking with friends and skiing again and actually go out with people without having to think about Eric.
I was still on edge and nervous but I made a huge step in realizing that I could drive to my friends places and I even met up with one of my childhood friends in her neighborhood! I was able to visit her knowing that Eric would not be stalking me. I feared that Eric would also stalk my friends so I tended to stay away from them because of him.
Slowly, I was getting my life back.
One month later
I started to think about my dreams, my career and my life. I was becoming selfish and thinking about what I want in life. I started to dream again and slowly started focusing on my dream career.
With Eric I was not allowed to have a career. He was so possessive and controlling that I could not really do much with my life. One month later I realized that I could dream once more.
I probably went through every single career I wanted to do and I kept picturing myself doing whatever it was my mind came up with.
Two months later
I lost my dreams. I stopped dreaming.
I am so use to being controlled that I started to try to put myself back into what was familiar. It wasn't that I wanted to be controlled again. I was just scared because my freedom came literally overnight. I didn't know how to exactly handle it so I stopped dreaming.
I got my fears all back again. I do not know why my fears came back but they did.
Three months later
I am still trying to figure things out. I do not know what I want to do with my career or my life and I am unable to let go of the control Eric put into my life.
It is difficult to explain but when you are controlled for that many years it can be difficult to break those chains, even after you are free from the abuse and control and fear. I really struggled with it this month too.
I started dreaming again and studying nutrition. I started to read books on nutrition and watch videos on nutrition and I got real into why people are overweight and how to help people become healthy.
I still did not have a career picked out.
I started applying for careers but the fear held me back and I missed interviews.
It has been four months now and I have picked a career! I know what I want to be but I still hold myself back because I struggle with no longer being controlled.
I do not have anyone telling me what to do and when to do it. There is no one following me, dropping off hate letters to my home or my parents home. No one is hurting me or threatening me. There are no guns, no weapons and no violence.
I still fear the violence and my fear is holding me back. I am slowing working on letting go of my past but it is a work in progress.
It is not easy for me to realize that the only person controlling my future is me. Eric is not telling me that I cannot live my life but in a way he still has control through his death. He is controlling me through the grave because I am allowing him and all he did to stay with me. I am still on guard and have not let it go.
I do feel that I have made some big strides but I have a long ways to go. I feel more confident that I have a career path and when I think about nutrition and helping people become healthier I feel confident and happy, something I have not felt in a long time.
To be successful I need to let go completely of Eric. I need to fully understand that he is no longer holding me back. He is not here to hold me back. His threats went with him that night he took the gun to his head.
Everything Eric said to me, all the lies, threats, control, abuse, is gone. I have a future and my goal is to live for God and do what God has called me to do.
You and Domestic Violence
If you have experienced domestic violence then you have a pretty good idea of what I am talking about. Having someone control your entire life and future is not fun. You feel like you are a prisoner and chained to your abuser. This feeling can be extremely difficult to escape, even after the threat is long gone.
Recovering takes time. There is no right or wrong way to get through your grief. Take your time and think about what you want. You are free and alive. You still have this life to live so live it.
You might be like me, afraid to move on because all you have known is control but try to let it go. I know I have to let go of the fear of living a happy, meaningful, successful life and so do you. It is not so much the fear of living that keeps us from succeeding. It is the words, threats and lies that are burned in our memories that hinder us.
I learned that all those horrible, negative things are worthless. They are powerful but not as powerful as our loving God who has a plan for us. We would not have survived if God's plan for us was over. We are still here and we have every right to live our lives to the fullest. Take time for yourself but at the same time start taking steps forward. You might fall back but keep trying. Try not to give one more second to the person who hurt you. Keep your seconds and minutes for yourself.