I had the honor of being chosen for the Grants of Hope program through BTSADV this year. There are many programs and resources that help victims of domestic violence leave. But none like BTSADV that truly understand how hard it is to pick up the pieces long after you're out. For 13 years I endured physical, and devastating mental and financial abuse. I left the relationship with three children by my abuser, in debt and with nothing to my name. For 7 more years after that I continued to struggle. This year I turned 40 years old and became deeply depressed about my financial situation. I have a job. I survived domestic violence. I got out. Why am I so stagnant? My mindset, my confidence, my decision-making skills had all been damaged. I was still living like I was a victim. I was just surviving to get to the next month or week or day. When I applied to the Grants of Hope program I knew I needed help, and not just financial help. I needed to change the way I thought about myself, and my children's and my future. The program made me face my financial situation head on, week after week. I am so grateful for the grant and all of the tools and support this program gave me, and most of all the wonderful people that run and support this organization.
Here's my story:
On the night of November 15, 2011, my children and I were standing on the doorstep of my parents’ home with a few garbage bags and laundry baskets containing everything I was able to grab from our home. I almost turned around and went back. I was so ashamed of my situation. I had been quiet about my abuse with my family, friends, coworkers, and had tried my best to hide it from my children until the night I left.
My ex-husband was excessively jealous throughout our marriage. He was envious of the relationships I had with friends and family, and over time worked to sever every one of them. He downplayed anyone close to me, was quick to point out their faults and flaws, constantly made me feel like people were against me, and ultimately succeeded in making me feel as if no one else really cared about me at all. He outright lied about friends and family to discredit them in my eyes. I met him when I was 19. By the time I was 23 my entire circle of family and friends was broken.
In the beginning, we argued constantly about his controlling and jealous behavior, behavior I did not recognize was not love. I had never been exposed to any type of abuse growing up, and I had no idea how to deal with it. I felt it was something that could be fixed. When the physical abuse started, I fought back. I never thought of myself as a domestic violence victim. In my mind it was a fight, not abuse. He was 6’5” and over 200 hundred pounds. I lost every time.
During these fights, there were days I succeeded in making him leave, only to wake up that night to him at my bedroom window, or sitting outside of my apartment for hours waiting for me to come out the next morning. He would pop up randomly where I lived, at my job, anywhere he knew I would be. I slowly began to realize that this was not going to be a relationship that I was just going to simply walk away from, even if I wanted to. Instead of reaching out for help, I withdrew further into myself, and closer to him. I was spending all of my time with him, not going to class, and even failing school. In my head, I became an island.
My abuser didn’t physically assault me every day. In fact, there were long periods, sometimes months at a time, with no physical abuse. He did not physically assault me regularly because he did not need to. He had numerous ways to control me and physical abuse was just one of his many tools. I was financially and emotionally manipulated early on, and it didn’t take long for me to stop challenging him in any way I thought would lead to physical violence. I had objects thrown at me, my hair pulled out, and was often held behind closed doors with my mouth covered until I couldn’t breathe or call for help. Violence was always followed by dramatic, seemingly sincere apologies and honeymoon periods that made me feel the relationship was getting better. Although I forgave him many times over, none of his apologies took away the permanent fear that was planted in me from these episodes.
I am sorry to say this lasted for 13 years. I had three children with my abuser. During that time span we moved 10 times. The most devastating move was when I followed him to another state hundreds of miles from my family. Every day with him was unpredictable. Sometimes I would come home to notices on the door for utilities and rent that had not been paid that he said he had taken care of. Other times he would disappear for days with no contact, using the only car we had and leaving me without transportation. His return from these hiatuses again resulted in arguments and physical altercations.
It took a long time for me to accept my marriage was not salvageable. When I did, I had no idea how I was going to leave. Where would I go? Would I be safe? If I stayed with family, would they be safe? What about my kids? I didn’t have answers to all of these questions, but I knew I had to go.
The first few months after I left for good were some of the scariest months of my life. I received nonstop threatening text messages and phone calls at work. Even after securing a protection order my apartment and my parent’s home were broken into and burglarized several times. Things were stolen off of my front porch. I woke up to flat tires. I made police reports but I could never prove it was him. When a warrant was issued for his arrest for harassing communications, he left the state, and I was finally able to breathe and stop looking over my shoulder. It has been a long road to recovery from those years with him, but I have been able to slowly work toward a much happier, healthier and more stable life. Most importantly, I am safe, and living free from domestic violence.
I seen the ad for grants of hope on Facebook one day, decided hey what do I have to loose. I filled out the application and weeks went by never heard anything. Then all of a sudden I had an amazing conversation with Sheila, we clicked instantly and the process had started. Now I am trying to figure out how I can ever repay you for the amazing knowledge and kindness everyone has shown my family and myself.
Here is my story:
It was late and I woke him up, I knew I should not have done that, but I needed the sixty dollars I loaned him so that I could pay the eclectic bill tomorrow. A huge fight started and we ended up in the hallway with his hands around my throat. That is where it all began and how I wish that is where I let it end. Of course days go by and he acts as if nothing happens, brings me flowers and even bought me a ring a few months later. I was so young and naïve I had no idea this is not what love was supposed to be like.
Weeks go by and we find out we are pregnant! How exciting, we start picking out names together and we both know it is a girl. Just a hunch I guess, we picked the name Zayna, it means Beautiful. This is where things really start to go south. I was so tired during this pregnancy, and any time I would take a nap and did not respond to his text right away I would wake up to horrible nasty ones. Calling me names like “Stupid C*nt” He thought that I was cheating on him or I don’t know what.
Later that month we had gotten into a physical fight and he had tried taken the ring off my finger. I ended up in the Hospital. He was arrested and stupid me, let him come home after he got out of jail. I even called his PO begging for him to be able to come home for the holidays. Sometimes I still think back and wonder if I had stayed away from him if our baby would still be alive.
The end of January it was the worst it had ever been, I replay it in my head all the time. It is like a movie and I cannot find the remote to press stop or the cord to unplug it. I was basically a rag doll that he just tossed around the whole room, lifeless. Once I finally got him locked out of the apartment he sat outside the front door and slit his wrist from his hand all the way up to his elbow. Texting me the whole time saying that he was bleeding for me.
The next few weeks were sort of fuzzy for me at this point, but on Valentine’s Day we had a doctor’s appointment to hear the baby’s heart beat for the first time. The doctor could not find it, Okay no worries we are going to do an ultra sound and see what is going on. The look of DOOM flushes over the technicians face. She did not even have to say anything. They were able to give me an approximant date on when the baby’s heart stopped beating. Guess what? It lined up with the huge fight where I was tossed around like a rag doll.
I let this monster back into my life and now our baby is dead, what have I done?
The doctor wanted to schedule a DNC, but I wanted to go home and allow my body to do what it was meant to do naturally. Finally on February 22nd, I woke up in horrible pains, Labor was starting. I went down starts to wake my abuser thinking maybe he may have even the slightest amount of sympathy in his body and he could help me through such a hard time. Unfortunately, we ended at the same place we began, with his hands around my throat. Then all of a sudden I feel a huge puddle at my feet, my water had broke.
I grabbed my son, who was two at the time, and we locked ourselves in the bathroom. I called my mom and a friend who was going to help me thru the process of delivering my baby. My mom called the cops and they came to deal with Mykel, my abuser. Originally I was supposed to put a trash bag on the toilet to catch everything that came out, but I was bleeding so much I ended up getting in the bathtub. It was like a scene in a horror movie, my horror movie. The cops kept asking me questions and wanting me to come downstairs, at first I was able to do that, but finally I told them if you want to talk to me you can come up here and see what I am dealing with.
Once they all left I had to collect what I had passed and give it over to the coroner, who was also parked outside my door. I never got to bury her, never really got to say goodbye. That was ten years ago and to this day I still wonder what I could have done differently to have my baby in my arms. But that also means she would be able to be in his arms as well. She is safer where she is, as much as it hurts me.
Mykel never really got more than a slap on the wrist for anything that he did to me. Unfortunately, that is the way things worked ten years ago with Domestic Violence. I think that is why I kept quiet about so much of it; nothing was ever taken seriously so why should I keep reporting it. Things seem to be looking up for women who speak out now, and that makes my heart happy. It is why I went to school to be a social worker. My situation made me realize I wanted to help woman in the same situations that I was in.
I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for choosing me for the Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence Scholarship! Having been chosen helps me to remember that God will bring beauty from my ash heap. Plus, it gives me fuel to keep pushing forward to acquire more skills to help prevent women from entering into violent relationships.
Here is my story:
It all happened when I fell in love with a man I met on E-Harmony. We met, dated, and fell in love. Everything seemed perfect until the honeymoon night when I first saw his violent side. From that point on, I was scared for my life. I was beaten, suffocated, kicked and nearly died. I stayed because I blamed myself for his violent outbursts. "I thought to myself, if only I were nicer, or if I kept my mouth shut." These were the thoughts that kept me in bondage. Month after month the abuse grew worse, until one day I looked in the mirror and saw the bruises that covered my arms. Not only was I bruised on the outside, but my soul was destroyed. How could a man that pledged to love and cherish me, beat me? Was I really that bad? After that one morning, I left. We went through counseling, but he grudgingly resisted help. In my heart, I wanted that happily ever after ending, but I knew it was not going to end that way.
Three years later, after more therapy, I felt called to pursue counseling with an emphasis on premarital counseling to help women understand how to avoid violent and unhealthy relationships. Students hold the keys to success in helping fight domestic violence by gaining an education. With the right tools, they will be equipped to combat domestic violence by coaching women before they enter life-threatening situations.
Domestic violence kills the soul and shatters the life of an individual. Through proper counseling and healing can they become whole again. As a student, I am ready to gain the necessary education to help combat domestic violence and recreate the happily ever after that was stolen by the man who promised to love me. I will live happily ever after knowing that I spared young souls from a domestic violence situation.
I knew I was being verbally “abused” but I just thought I deserved the way he talked to me. I didn’t cook supper right, the car broken down again, the cat way dying, I didn’t make enough in pay.
I used to want him to just hit me so I had a reason I feel the hurt I was feeling. That is, until he beat me unconscious twice and had no recollection of it. His family knew he had been cheating on for years with both men and women. They chose to accept the fact that he was abusing me and it was ok.
I was ALWAYS the problem according to them.
Police told me that verbal abuse was considered as bad physical abuse. But I didn’t hear them all I heard was he gets away with everything and is NEVER charged.
He got everything in the divorce because his family paid for his lawyer and I couldn’t afford one.
I got rid of the guns he would threaten me with.
I finally fled when he told me he’s was going to kill me and THIS time I woke up and fled for my life.
6 months later I’m still homeless, jobless (because of my looks) and my car is in need of repair.
With having pets shelters won’t take you which is ok as I wouldn’t do well.
I’m still searching for a way out of this rut, but I’m keeping my faith, or trying to.
There are no simple answers and I’ve found unless victims have cold hard cash, they’re on their own. Sure there are agencies that can help with counseling, temporary housing, etc it’s just not enough.
I went from looking like the first photo to this.
I reached to BTS on Facebook for help with my 20 y/o daughter. She was 14 hours away from me and in a very abusive relationship. She’d want to leave when things were bad but would change her mind when my plans to rescue her became to real. I asked for help and was connected with Cathy, who gave the best adive and it worked! I was able to get my daughter away from her abuser and she is safely 14 hours away from his reach. I’ve since spoke with Cathy and she continues to be a valuable resource in navigating on next steps. This organization is amazing and is doing so many good things. I look forward to being apart of it in the future. Thank you BTS!
I was 18 when I first met my abusive ex husband and stayed married for more than 20 years for the kids sake. At first, he was charming and friendly, a shoulder I could cry on. But it changed quickly especially after I ran off with him and got pregnant. The fist slap was before we got married and I was 3 montns pregnant. I, too, like so many women believed that the kids needed their mother and father together to have a "normal upbringing." My son and daughter are both successful adults and great people I'm very proud of, despite of it all, and are my silver linings through the dark clouds. However, the manipulation, verbal, mental, physical abuse that I went through as a naive, helpless, trapped young woman was too much to bear. Yet, I stayed and took it all in silence for years. I didn't know my rights at the time, did not call the police at all as I was both ashamed and at same time protecting my abuser thus becoming a victim who was complicit to her own abuse and misery by being silent. No one deserves to be abused nor anyone has any right to strike another person. My advice is to leave, report the person to the police, and get the proper help/support as it is not gonna get better by staying and being silent. Such silence just gives more power to the abuser believing that you will never leave nor do anything about it as my ex had taunted me with for years. So it was a shock to him when I did finally leave. He begged and harrassed me for more than a year. He was not just a coward but also a manipulator who was afraid to lose what he thought he can control.
My life has never been more peaceful since I left that dysfunctional marriage and my relationship with my son and daughter is also better. Living the life I want to live drama/abuse free and with zest. So take control and break the silence!
One year ago my abuser dropped dead at my new apt . It was the best thing that could of happened to me . My friends always told me I would never get rid of him unless he dies . I couldn't of asked for a better miracle. This may sound insensitive ,but I suffered 9years of hell verbal abuse to its max . This person had the power to ruin my life ,and my inner spirit as well . Now that he is gone , The after affects are worse . I am on multiple anxiety medications , I have flashbacks, I am paranoid, I can't sleep , and I keep thinking he is coming back . I cannot focus .it's a life I would not wish on any woman . People say leave . Not as easy as yu might think . And if that person states that he is going to kill yu . Believe him , because he will . Get out . Your personal belongings mean nothing compared to your life . Having your life as your own back ,is the greatest gift yu will ever be thankful to get back .
Break the Silence (BTS) changed my life. I attended the sisterhood retreat, and I left feeling empowered, loved, blessed beyond belief, and a lot of my anger was left behind. Now as a volunteer, I can help bring BTS to my community and help other survivors.
I have only interacted with BTSADV online but they have a great support network, providing resources and education as well as a platform for victims and survivors to come together in a safe place and share experiences.
I cannot even begin to express my gratitude!! BTSADV was there for me when no other nonprofit was. I reached out to several and BTS is the only one who responded. They honor my Angel's all year long. Love you all sisters/brothers of BTS!
I recently attended the 1st Angel Family Retreat. I was a little nervous about going because I felt like I would be alone. I was so wrong! I've felt so much love from everyone. I addressed my hurt and pain that I haven't really addressed because I have had the strong one in my family. The 4 days we were there we bonded as a family. I highly recommend anyone who has lost a loved one to domestic violence, attend this retreat. Everyone there understands your pain and is dedicated to helping you heal. I love my BTS family!
Volunteering as the Holidays of Hope Coordinator for Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence (BTS) is fulfilling and an absolute honor! Not only does BTS strive to provide victims and survivors with services and resources, but also families who are affected by domestic violence. Additionally, what makes BTS so special and sets them apart from other organizations is their unconventional services and true dedication to victims, survivors, and families during times when they feel no one in the world could possibly understand or relate.
After the loss of my daughter to domestic violence Break the Silence stepped up and bought Christmas gifts for my grand daughters to ensure that they had a great Christmas!
Losing my daughter to domestic violence has been so very hard for our family. My daughter left behind two young girls ages 10 and 8. They miss their mama so much. This Christmas we received a blessing from Break the Silence by way of gifts for the girls! They were so excited to get what was on their wish list and so much more! Thank you so much Holidays of Hope for helping us make Christmas extra special for our grandaugters.
As a thriving survivor, BTSADV was the first organization that gave me a platform to use my voice to tell my story of verbal and psychological abuse. Since that time, I have become the Director of the Angel Run 5k. The Angel Run allows us to honor those that have lost their lives at the hands of those that commit domestic violence. BTSADV gives a voice to those that no longer have theirs or are isolated from doing so. Thank you, BTSADV.
I became aware of BTSADV the fall of 2015 after the demise of a verbally & psychologically abusive relationship. I was searching online for answers and came across their Facebook page. August of 2016 BTSADV published my survivor story. I first met Kristen and other survivors in the fall of 2016 after I was invited to a meet and greet in Colorado Springs, CO. By January of 2017 I decided to become a volunteer and was tasked with coordinating the Angel Run in Colorado Springs. The support I have received and the connections I have made have allowed me to feel confident sharing my story so that others can feel confident, too. BTSADV and the programs that are provided to various communities are so beneficial to so many. Kristen is a motivational, inspiring leader and I am proud to be associated.
As a survivor, you know the shame and secrets that come with a lifetime of scars that no one can see but that you always feel deeply. All I’ve known is blips of good marred by memories of pain, bruises and sadness. No one should ever endure violence - emotional, sexual or physical - but no one likes to talk about those “dirty things” either. Until I met Kristen, I hadn’t openly talked about the details of my abuse publicly. Kristen and BTSDV have helped me find strength and hope among the wreckage. I’m far from whole but I know now that I have sisters for a lifetime, no matter what anyone else sees or thinks. I found a place where I wasn’t pitied and I wasn’t shunned. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
I am a survivor of domestic violence. The reason I love this organization so much is because the help you get is from ANOTHER SURVIVOR. We all "get" what the other is going through. LOTS OF LOVE FOUND HERE!! All of us volunteers are survivors! We want to support others going through what we have gone through ♡♡♡
Volunteering as a graphic designer for Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence (BTS) has been nothing but a blessing. Their mission is so beautiful and easy to get behind, that supporting and building their brand comes naturally. On top of making an amazing impact on the victims and loved ones of victims that we support, the people I work with never cease to amaze me with their genuine enthusiasm for the cause and their gratitude for the team. We all see the need for the work that we do, and despite how humbling the stories of our Angels and Survivors can be, we do our best to transform it into fuel for our cause. BTS is a vibrant organization overflowing with compassion and creativity, ensuring that all our voices are heard no matter who tries to silence us.
I attended the 2018 Survivor Retreat in Colorado Springs and WOW....it was incredible. Seriously, life changing. It was so well run, and I've never heard of anything like what they put on. There was so much healing and hope and encouragment. I could not recommend Break the Silence enough to anyone - if you need help, turn to them. If you can help, give to them - they are so worth it!
Tonight I share my story while tears roll down my face. I’ve been silent for a while as my children’s father passed away a year and half-ago. The silence was out of respect. But the ashes and memories of abuse don’t disappear. In the past year and a half I’ve had to deal with the following- my abuser getting a brain tumor and finally coming to terms with his abuse and admitting it to me, having full custody of my children after a 12 year court indused- abusive custody battle with him, him dying unexpectedly in a freak boating accident, my son almost dying in front of my eyes the same night we return from his dads funeral in a drug overdose and spending the next 3 days in the hospital staring at my sons face thinking I just watched him jump out of 3 story building and live. I’m tired. I’ve done everything to make my kids life better and keep them safe. I packed up my entire life 2 weeks after this incident and moved us to a different state to better his life. He is doing much better. You are you hang around. Yet, people keep being unkind. I’ve watched my exes insurance money go to his mom. He NEVER paid child support. I’ve watched my family throw me under the bus. I continue to have women in my company gaslighting me. My children have NO IDEA what I’ve been through with their dad or my family... Every other week some made up story to the court- he was sooo angry I left and so abusive- he needed to win- at any cost. He didn’t care about the kids or co-parenting but certainly made the courts believe that. As soon as we left the building it was back to bullying and gaslighting me. It was relentless. The courts never took the records from another state where he had punched me in the face or harrasssed me at night and broke in to my apartment. (I know you’re asking yourself then why did I have kids with him- that’s when you ask about my childhood and why I’m so f*** up). I finally threw my hands in the air and said I can’t be this stressed out and unhappy anymore. I asked the universe to keep my kids safe and took a job back in San Diego. That same year their dad called me and said, “my marriage is failing and Jake is the reason. You can have Jake but Max is staying with me.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing but knew he was finally breaking down. I knew it was my only hope. I said ok. Knowing that I needed to save Jake (he had already ran away 3 times from his dads house and called me) and let Max know he could depend on me. I played the “game” with their dad and got Jake all set up. Rented a u haul, got him enrolled in school and let Max know we would visit every month ( which I made happen). The following months were interesting. A man (their dad) that acted so strong and sure of himself became increasingly disturbing. Their dad called me one night claiming, “Jennifer was a sl**” He went on to say how she had an affair with her sons baseball coach, etc. I just listened. Therapy had helped me how to deal with him. I thought to myself, “weird, you told everyone the same thing when I left you, yet I never cheated on you and you actually threatened to end my life.”
I immediately went to the the courthouse and pulled his divorce records and found a restraining order from his second wife (Jennifer) for similar reasons I had one. I used this and other evidence such as the juvenile attorney that referenced interaction with my children and their father and myself in interviewing. It was enough to make their dad finally after 13 years of fighting admit he was down. He had lost his job, his second marriage and his eldest son. The boys were in my custody after a court Oder, a psychotic breakdown of their dad in front of police when he tried to keep them from me in his apartment, and my sons attorney writing a letter to the judge of the fear my children had with their father. After the years of things I endured- being strangled, slapped, told I was a piece of s***, told no one would ever want me, had the remote flung to my head, was forced to have se*, wasn’t allowed to be gone from the house too long, had my clothes torn, the list goes on....and I was expected to suck it up, get to work and stay silent.
Part of me felt sad when he died because for the first time in 13 years he was nice again. The tumor, loss and his new girlfriend, Anne Marie had changed him. I mean truly changed him. I couldn’t believe it. Then he died that same week we laughed and cried about our kids for the first time in 13 years.
But everyone expects me to act like I experienced nothing. I can’t take it anymore. I’m sorry. I experienced my husband telling the courts I did drugs. I wish I had! I was a total fitness freak and drugs are gross! But because I’m skinny and fit they believed him. I experienced my ex-husband making up stories about me every time I took I breath. He gaslighted me. He took advantage of me knowing I was loving and had a big heart. He knew I wasn’t capable of dealing with a manipulater and knew I would become emotionally distressed. He knew I am an incredible mother. He said when I left him- “you will never have these kids and live in a cardboard box.”
Who says that to their kids mother? I stayed home, breastfed, doted on my kids. They are my WORLD. And he took that from me.
I’m not playing victim. I’m tired of being silent. I’m tired of acting like this never happened.
The retreat help me a lot I have been in group counseling and therapy a year before the retreat but I was still ashamed of the things my ex forced me to do and I had only told my therapist about it but in the retreat I opened up to some ladies there and they were supportive and caring and i never felt judged because it was never my fault