Invisible Wounds: The Story of a Domestic Violence Survivor

It happened one night when we were arguing. Dan picked me up and slammed me onto the bed – breaking the wooden part of the box spring. I let out a cry but he jumped on me and gripped my throat tightly with one hand. Tears were streaming down my face and I was crying but no sound came out of my mouth. He was pressing down really hard on my throat and I was hitting his hand repeatedly with both of my hands. I felt my head going light, my head and throat felt like it was swelling. I couldn’t breathe and it felt like things around me were getting more distant. I really thought he was going to kill me. I was screaming at the top of my lungs but no sound escaped my lips. I grabbed his hands and arms and pinched and scratched as hard as I could. He moved his hands off my throat and then gripped my face, covering my mouth. It felt like he was going to dislocate my jaw. I continued struggling with him and tried to scratch his hand off my mouth. When I got his hand off my mouth enough to catch my breath, I looked him in the eye and said “You choked me.” And he said “No I didn’t. If I choked you, you would have no air.” His expression was cold. I felt a shaking fear within me and thought that this was really the face of someone who could kill me.

A couple of days after that we got into another argument. Dan restrained me on the sofa. I begged him to let me go. I said I would leave and never come back and never tell anyone what happened but he would not let me go. Time passed and he relaxed his grip on me and I took that chance to run to the door. I got the chain half way off the door when he grabbed my arm and pulled me back. I was screaming: “Someone help me! I’m in 1314! Help me! I’m in 1314!” All I could think of was my neighbor in that military uniform I saw the other day. I was hoping for a hero or at least knock on the door but no one ever came. Dan tried to force me back to the sofa but eventually just dragged me onto the floor and pinned me down. A couple of hours passed and I decided to pretend everything was okay and even apologized to him. Then he said we had to have make-up sex. I said no. He said that if I did not have sex with him I was still mad at him and that make-up sex would make me feel better. Then Dan tried to take my clothes off. I was trying to hold onto my pants but he pulled them off me. I kept saying: “No. Stop. I don’t want to have sex. PLEASE STOP! Dan…No…” But Dan didn’t listen, he yanked me by the arm into a standing position and then pushed me onto the bed and forced me to have make-up sex with him.

I stayed with him for about another month. I did not leave because things were not bad 100% of the time. We would have our happy moments, and I would forgive him for what he did. He made me believe that everything that happened to me was my fault. I was isolated – I lost touch with my friends and I was even scared to call or text my family members. I had no car, no key, no money, no freedom. I felt helpless, ashamed, scared, sad, and regretful. I thought I was being punished for lying to my family. I would suffer more abuse from Dan before I finally made the decision to let someone know and leave. Dan would grab, pinch, bite, and back hand me. He ended up slamming me on the bed a second time. Another time he tried to break my hand because I refused to change my Facebook profile picture to a picture of us. The last straw was when he asked me to have sex with him. When I refused, he bit me on the face. That night as I laid on the sofa crying myself to sleep I promised myself that that was the last time I would let him treat me that way.

In the morning after Dan left for work, I let my sisters know what was happening to me for the past two months. One of my sisters and her boyfriend drove three hours to pick me up the very next day. A month later I obtained a restraining order. The first and last time I saw Dan after I left him was in court. There were a lot of mixed feelings. He was someone I loved and trusted. He was a friend and boyfriend but he was also my abuser. I don’t think I would have been able to be where I am now without the love and support of my family, friends, and all of the services that NC State provided me.

I’m glad I got out of that situation. So many women stay with their abusers for life because they believe they have no way out. Many women in abusive relationships are killed by their partners. I didn’t want to be just a dead body that served as a lesson to others. I didn’t want people to say “She was kind. She was smart. She had so much potential. She was strong.” But rather, I want to be able to say that I am kind, I am smart, I have so much potential, and that I am strong. So next time you’re on campus, stop and take a look around and remember that one of every four women will experience domestic violence in their life time. We may not have scars or bruises, but we have wounds that you cannot see. We have invisible wounds. They are the emotional anguish, the paranoia, the fear, and the remains of abuse.

If you are in an abusive relationship please let someone know. Domestic violence is not your fault. You did not choose to be abused. Don’t stay with someone who treats you that way, you deserve much better. Take your heart and run. Live, struggle, and survive. Don’t be a lesson, be a teacher.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the people in the story.
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For Emergencies please dial 911.
NC State Women’s Center: 919-515-2012
• Relationship and Sexual Violence 24/7 hotline: 919-618-RAPE
NC State Counseling Center: 919-515-2423
NC State Campus Police: 919-515-3000
InterAct: 919-828-7740
Legal Aid: 919-828-4647

References:
1. http://domesticviolencestatistics.org/domestic-violence-statistics/
2. www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet(National).pdf
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