Let me start at the beginning. In 1991, an insecure and lost 17 year old girl met a dangerous bad boy. And he was dangerous in all the right ways. Dangerous looks, dangerous compliments and dangerous love. The three ingredients for a passionate and wild love affair. And that is exactly what would happen. The compliments were plenty, the love was consuming and the excitement was contagious. Unfortunately, the attitude and temper would be violent. This relationship would last for seven years. And during those seven years, a lot would transpire. A marriage, a child, cheating, intimidation, name calling, sexual assault, a handful of beatings with a belt, more than a few 911 calls and two trips to the battered women shelter. Why did I stay so long? Why didn’t I just leave? Because I was his victim. Poor me, why is he doing this to me? Why, Why, Why? I spent more time wondering why I couldn’t make him happy and therefore make him not want to abuse me then wondering what was wrong with me for allowing myself to stay in this barbaric relationship. And until I was no longer his victim, I would stay.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines a victim as a person who has been attacked, injured, robbed, or killed by someone else. Well, that was me. I was the textbook definition of a victim.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines victim mentality as the belief that one is always a victim and bad things will happen to them. Hmmm…Now, I was confused. Was I a victim or did I have a victim’s mentality?
Had I gotten to a point where I actually believed that the abuse would just happen anyways, no matter what I did, so I would just stay even though I knew that nothing would ever get better because it was easier? Wait. What? Was I truly his victim or was I actually a victim of my own warped way of thinking? Did I honestly believe that I had no control over my life or situation? Was I his prisoner? Or was I a prisoner of my own mind? I believe therefore I am?
Unfortunately, I never got the chance to really figure it out.
In July of 1996, he committed suicide in front of his pregnant girlfriend.
I was devastated. Beyond devastated actually. Was I mourning his loss of life? Yes, because our four year old daughter would grow up without her father. Was I mourning him? A little. He was my first love, no matter how dysfunctional it was. Was I mourning my loss of dignity? My right to fight back? My right to figure out why I had allowed myself to be in this situation for so long and confront him about it? Without a doubt. Was I relieved? Yes. Because my nightmare was finally over. But one more low blow would happen before it was all said and done.
At his funeral, his grieving mother would introduce me as his wife and his girlfriend as his companion. I thought I would die from shame and complete public humiliation. But I wasn’t embarrassed because it was false. I was ashamed because what she was saying was the truth. And that was when I snapped out of it. That was when I knew for sure that I had been living with a victim’s mentality and had allowed him to do what he had done to me for seven years. At that moment, I took responsibility for my life, like I never had before. And I went from being a victim to a survivor. And never again would I give away my power. Because, I determine my path. I decide my future. And I love myself the way I’m suppose to. Whole heartedly and unconditionally.