Shattering Silence: A Stand Against Domestic Violence


My name is Sam and this is just a part of my story. There may be others similar but this one is mine, please try not to criticize if you know me or the people whose names I've changed specifically for this post. This was my past year's experience....unless you were here with me to counter it then keep the hate to yourself.  Each year for my birthday I try to give back to others by taking something I've learned and sharing it. My 24th year was a big one! This isn't my favorite share nor do I enjoy writing about it.....but it's relevant and I know there's more of you out there. Let's start simple with a definition....

Domestic violence....
and emotional abuse are behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the other. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating.

Examples of abuse include:
name-calling or put downs
keeping a partner from contacting their family or friends
withholding money
stopping a partner from getting or keeping a job
actual or threatened physical harm
sexual assault
Violence can be criminal and includes physical assault (hitting, pushing, shoving, etc.), sexual abuse (unwanted or forced sexual activity), and stalking. Although emotional, psychological and financial abuse are not criminal behaviors, they are forms of abuse and can lead to criminal violence.

 The Backdrop: 
       I was still a teenager when my family started talking about marriage. Surprisingly, not a topic I'd ever really looked forward to. I valued myself and relished the feeling of freedom. Most little girls became giddy at the thought of a ball gown paired with princess heels and a prince on a valiant white steed carrying them off to be domesticated (gag).  I was personally more entertained by the thought of being the first female war lord (imagine Mulan minus the love junk), slashing all adversaries down with a sword larger than myself to maintain leadership over my set kingdom. Apparently my ambitions were slightly off from the usual expectation. With 3 kids at the age of 18 I was badgered daily over my relationship status and how the proper thing to do would be to marry to make my situation more appeasing to the general public. 

The Reasoning:
        When I was young I had always loved kids, but never thought I would have my own. An accidental pregnancy at 16 while I was class president proved otherwise. There were options but none seemed more viable than loving the life I created. After starting my family young I decided I wanted to finish it young as well having 4 beautiful girls by the time I was 20. My plans of having no offspring of my own had changed drastically and I couldn't be more thankful. To this day I wouldn't change a single part of who my children are. 

The Mistake: 
    I never expected a story book romance, the world can be a cruel place and most people set themselves up for disappointment right from the start with their unrealistic expectations. The sick part was the fact that I knew X wasn't right for me and I chose to step farther into the relationship instead of getting out like I should have. Why? Because, it was easier....leaving takes so much work and energy and involves so much change. This is where I blame myself. Hindsight is 20/20 and some times we can't see things clearly until they're behind us. That change was not something I put at the top of my list with all the young children and work to keep up with. It should have been a priority, it effected me daily and I underestimated how much damage it could actually do. I had beautiful kids and most smiled upon my family with praise at a job well done. I could deal with this. It wasn't actually that bad....was it?? 

The Outcome: 
      Let's fast forward through 3 years of marriage. Each year things got continually worse. Out of shame and fear of judgement by others I tried to deal the best I could. Only letting the secrets out when the wounds were to deep and the tears fell to hard. I wasn't a crier. I wasn't weak. My best friend of 10 years (Mercedes), knew this so each time she got a break-down call about how badly it was going she'd beg me to get out. I'd realize how stupid I felt crying over a man and become defensive, telling her it was going to be okay and that I could handle it. I had to suck it up for the kids. Fast forward another year....I can't handle it. X had managed to gain control that I never realized I lost. Not only was I losing the control, I was losing myself.  Instead of a weekly blowout, fights started to become daily. Here's a sample list of common occurrence:

* Any time you go out with a friend or speak to someone you will automatically become a whore, slut, skank, c^%t. 

*Whenever you go out with a skirt, dress or a shirt with the V-cut neck you will also be called the above names and be accused of sexual adventures you could never imagine.

* When you try to argue for your respect you will be assumed to be mentally ill/crazy and be told that you are sick and need serious professional help.

*They will threaten to tell your boss whatever may be necessary for you to lose your job so that you are financially isolated and unable to leave because they have cut off all resources.  

*When you threaten to leave, you will be told how worthless you are and how no-one could ever deal with you, let alone want you. You will also be threatened with loss of your children. If you go, they will make sure you lose everything you've ever loved. If you go they will make good on promises they made you years ago about what would happen if you leave them. If they can't have you then no-one will have you.  

* When you say you're going to tell family they will counter with saying you are mentally unstable again and that if you tell you'll also get a one way ride to the insane asylum. You will be reminded of how lucky you are to have that person and that you should be on your knees in praise instead of being so disobedient. My family had very little knowledge of these incidents because to me it felt like admitting failure. I was failing as a woman, I was failing as a mother. X's family however knew of a few because they happened in a back room of their house or he'd go there after a big blow out. With respect to them I never remember them saying it was deserved or completely my fault. I remember them saying that it had to stop. Not just for me or X but for the kids. They knew it was getting worse and it wasn't healthy. They knew the tempers involved.  

* You will need to keep the spice alum on hand for any given fight that can turn physical. Not wanting to seek medical attention at a doctor's office for a swollen lip that wasn't healing I discovered that this pickling spice will painfully suck out pooled fluids causing the swollen area to minimize. I used this method five times in one year.

*You will need to keep windows open in the house when possible. Some times X would escalate from the usual fist throw to the choke hold. Believe it or not this can actually be more powerful than any shiner you've had. When the person with their hands around your throat weighs at least 100lbs more than you and your eyes feel like they're about to burst from the pressure you will try to scream for help with whatever oxygen you have left.....make sure that window is open so your neighbors can hear.  

* You will need to blame the bruised eye or facial marks on the rowdy kids you have at home and their toy throwing. Be ready to have people second guess this never goes over too smoothly with suspicious friends or family. 

*You will need long sleeve (non V neck shirts) for the matching arm bruises for the times when you try to walk out the door and they find it necessary to stop you by holding you forcefully in place where you stand. 

The Escape: 

        People will tell you to be strong enough to get through the rough times....that's crap. The real strength is needed to leave, not to stay. On a clear summer night the girl I was, before this relationship, came through to me. She pleaded for change. Everything in me felt like it was dying, I begged the stars for the strength to make it happen. I told X for months that it needed to change, I received the usual backlash for such suggestions. The victim in me became furious, I started making my changes. When I started to show control I was met with the utmost force. 

 My bank accounts started to clear out....finances were drained. 

My cell phone chargers would be cut.....

Any interaction would lead to police response, on this specific day he argued that he needed his guns before I could destroy them....they made him leave....and he took the guns with him.... 

The front door was smashed which meant it was necessary to go buy a new door...with new was wintertime, so it couldn't wait.  

He attempted to forcefully remove the kids from the house until I "smartened up" and had time to think about how stupid I had been...this lead to my mother showing up because of my hang up call yelling for help. When she got to my house I was being dragged....she told him to let go and for the kids to get in her car. After she showed up X called to have family send the cops, I was told to be fully responsible of course.....I assure you I wouldn't free bleed for nothing. The patrol insisted they couldn't arrest just one, they were told I was the attacker. So for me to walk....X got to walk too. It was after this altercation that I started filing court papers. He was now living with his new girlfriend and I had hoped that would keep him occupied. 

After pink domestic dispute reports piled up to a level that couldn't be ignored I filed for a protective order for myself and the kids (times when he'd say he was taking them for a visit he decided to not tell me where they were or bring them home, those were rough nights). Alarms to detect unwanted presence and cameras to record any interactions were also installed.  

When it seemed like I was finally making some progress I started receiving court papers backed by his newly discovered soul-mate. The first accusing me of being an unfit parent and that the courts needed to remove the children immediately from me before harm came to them......the charges were dismissed and the kids never had to leave home, The second accused me and the people around me of extensive drug use....tests were conducted and results taken to court.....negative for all drugs and substances.  Now that I had all of my family court issues in order I thought there'd be breathing room with less tension involved....again I was wrong. When I paid in full and I filed my divorce papers X contested it. 

The Conclusion:

I don't have all of the answers and I don't know exactly how it will all play out but I know this battle has made me a much stronger version of myself, for that I am grateful. It's worth every lawyer fee and every trip to court. I finally stood up and did the things I needed to.  Never was I more disappointed then when I finally woke up to see how wrong I was living. Letting someone else have that control over my life just wasn't me. I didn't even know how bad it had gotten until I got out. I couldn't be happier now. No-one should feel that much despair. I know there are things I could've done differently and I know I don't make the best victim. My family seemed so shocked that I concealed so much. But that's where the silence comes in, and we're silent out of embarrassment. Most who talk to me or seek advice do it because I seem strong to them. To those who thought my situation was ideal, I am sorry. To all that I hid the truth from and told much more pleasant lies to, I am sorry.    
         I can tell you that if you're still reading this than it probably resonates with you or a past situation you were in or friends, parents or grandparents were in. You are not alone. It's not "just" you, you are not wrong or crazy and there are many ways to get out of a place you never should have been. The first part of solving this problem is realizing that there's a problem and not being ashamed to admit it. Shame for such things is not yours to carry, it is their actions that wronged you. There needs to be less silence and more action. Shame has no place here. It can happen to anyone and does not care whether you are a weak or strong person. Control is not love and love does not mean ultimate control. The important part is to have the ears and support you need to stop whatever violence issue you may be in and understand that there is nothing wrong with you. We can only decide our own actions. Accept nothing less than what you'd want your daughters or sons to have. If you wouldn't find it acceptable for them then you definitely shouldn't deem it acceptable for you. It's really never to late to write yourself a better ending. 

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Addiction: When the Bottles are all Empty


    I heard a bottle pop today, when you set it down, I wasn't very tasty.
Halloween night, both of us ready. No candy for couldn't walk steady.

I heard a bottle pop today, unfortunately for us, you were too sick to come out and play.
We giggled and laughed the evening away, but not you, the arguing lasted most the night and half of that day.

I saw the bottle pop today, I'm no longer four. It's weird how now I realize, you're actually passed out on the floor.

The years pass by and your method has been tried and tested, not much to show for how much you've invested. They hide in the cabinets, they hide behind the fridge, I guess this is proper behavior for one that may need a binge.

I found a bottle stash today. Cops bring me back, apparently it's me who's character lacks. When a teenager leaves home it doesn't matter how much you've easily that enormous fact was ignored. 
      I take the blame and I feel the guilt, meanwhile your cries should be for your own help.

We struggle and battle. I can't keep up, with the amount of self pity, your hiding in that cup.

You popped too many bottles this day. The ambulance came and took you away. Off to the hospital to make you feel better, they couldn't figure out why you were so under the weather. In loyalty I shook my head and turned away. I said I had no idea what was causing your pain.

They let you come home, they said you were all better. To my relief I finally thought maybe we had it together. Two months in, I saw that damn bottle pop open again.

I no longer hear those bottles pop, instead I wait for the phone calls you don't remember you dropped. You've called all the family, you've called all the neighbors, awkward for me comes pretty standard. I've attempted before to bring drunk you back down, to realize that maybe it really is safer on sober ground. The help came and left when you declined their advances. They look at me crazy, like I'm the one doing drunk dances.

I've  begged for your health, for sanity, for real laughter. So that maybe our relationship wouldn't be such a disaster. I'd do anything to make all your bad days feel better... but it's not me in control, by now you should know better.

I know the bottles will continue to pop, until you figure out it's time to stop. Let me tell you a secret. I'll sit and I'll wait while you continue to pour. Later these bottles will be empty but tomorrow you can buy more. I am only one person, I'm not sure what to expect, but each day it feels a little more like regret. 
I'll give you what I've got, so please take my help while you still can. The bottles will be to full to fall over and I'll be to empty to stand. I'll be powerless while alcohol wins this battle over man.
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The Art of Divorce


               It was bright. The sun shot through the living room with urgency I couldn't ignore. Summer isn't one to wait, it's days are over before you're able to remember when they began. I loved these mornings.  With feet dragging but eyes shining, I got the four littles ready for the day. The previous night I spent hours with the stars, hoping they'd whisper some universal truth into my ears to help ease me through another week. Something wasn't right, I'd felt it deep into my bones for months now. The kids were enjoying breakfast while I hurried around the house with a bowl of cereal, packing the last few necessities to get out the door and go fishing. 
        Maybe it really was me or maybe it was him. Maybe it was the sun's fault for shining light into rooms, that for every night cradled only darkness. It happened. A sentence broke into a conversation and a conversation birthed into an argument. Tongues were razors and the room reeked of disgust. I really wanted to eat my whole grain cereal. I know how tired I'll be later on when the hustle doesn't slow and my mind is too overcome with the joys of the day to stop and waste time on making a sandwich.
                 A Corelle bowl was in the air, my precious plans inside. It shattered, into a million little shards. It shattered. He picked up a piece like an Olympian would a medal. He laughed, he had won. The mess was beautiful. Milk peppered with opaque chunks, circled by wheat flakes. The hardwood floor took the role as canvas and I was the creator. It was art and it spoke to me.  I was glued in thought....the first one being that I just lost my breakfast. The second thought was "Who in the hell makes this Corelle guarantee? It says right on the damn box that if one chips you get a replacement without question! If that's the case then how do I get a replacement for 850 chips in my bowl?!? -shit). Kids were still eating. Unaware of the life changing game that just took place in the living room. My faith in relationships and kitchenware had failed that morning. Pre-marriage Sam didn't know you would actually need to use your warranty on your expensive dishes. 
              If you're reading this and your searching for some understanding let me share with you what I learned. You're allowed to try and fail many times but when the chips turn into an all out shatter, let it shatter. Let it smash to the ground and explode where it lands. We won't always get the clean breaks we hope for, but if the torque and tension build into a force large enough you will be able to sweep the pieces into a dust pan and toss them away all at once. I don't think he knew it then but that minuscule bowl of cereal showed me more than 5 years of marriage could. After he left the room I cleaned up my mess with the summer sun witness through the windows. I heaved the grain sized pieces into the trash. I signed my divorce papers last month. This month I plan to get new dishes. I want to see a complete set shining in my cupboards again. 
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My Name is Sam and I'm "At Risk"


        Let me start you with the basics. My name is Sam. I'm in my mid 20's. I originally started blogging 6 years ago during maternity leaves doing parenting reviews. My blogging interests have tweaked with the passing years. I am working on updates. I have four beautiful kids, all under the age of 10. I work for the USPS as a "mailman/lady". There's not a down moment in most of my days and I wouldn't change it for anything. 
     For ten years I've lived with the knowledge that there's a potential monster lurking in my body. I don't know when it would appear.... or if it's even there. At 14 I witnessed my grandmother's slow cancerous decline into her passing. At the time I believed it to be the cancer that took her away. I didn't know the deadlier culprit was already in her blood and that it had been coursing through her veins her entire life. The genetic testing revealed Huntington's Chorea. Other family members knew what it meant. I did not. There's a stigma attached to family secrets. They aren't suppose to be told. Why something medical fell into this category I never understood. Ironically the genetics that bond us all together are the same ones that could kill us. While overhearing conversations it was always referred to as "the family disease". We were all affected, whether we admitted it at the time or not. 
My Aunt who inspires me daily. She spends much of her free time with my Uncle.
He has confirmed HD 
            My grandparents had 5 children. (I inserted a diagram below to help show how the gene is passed over time). In the past decade one has been diagnosed and placed in nursing home care. He is one of the most beautiful people I know and with the care he receives he's improved greatly but his diagnosis will never change, there is no cure. He has no children so there's no-one else at risk. Two others went through the mentally grueling process of genetic testing and to the relief of many, both tested negative. This cleared not only them but a total of 6 kids (my first cousins) and 2 grandchildren. Two others have not been tested, this is a personal choice and what they are comfortable with. It is their right. Without the test results for those branches of family there are 3 kids at risk, counting myself. If the gene was passed to my parent I have a 50/50 chance of being positive as well. 
           In the beginning it was always taught to keep quiet. I believe there needs to be acceptance and admission. Shame has no place here. There is power in knowledge, power that can help wipe out the fear associated with all Huntington's Disease brings. If everyone hides away that which scares them so deeply, how will we ever find each other and get the help and treatment that's needed? I don't want answers in 20 years. It will be to late. I need them now. My family needed them generations ago. My name is Sam and I'm "at risk" for Huntington's Disease. Regardless of how my testing ends HD will always be a part of my life because it's a big part of my family's history.  

           Until further testing is done I try to live like I would if I'd received a positive result. That way there can be no regret. There is so much I have to do and so much left to feel. The lingering chance that I may not know who I am in 25 years drives me. Very few people knew the risk. I try to leave little bits of myself all over so that if I'm unable to, my children and grandchildren can find me. I leave my marks randomly on paper, in pictures, up mountains and down streams. In everyone I meet and everywhere I go it's my hope that I left something worthy of remembrance. I will share my story with you in the hopes that it can be shared with someone else in my situation. To make a difference in one person's life would be enough. There are days with moments of sheer silence, only open eyes. I need to take it all in. To watch my kids play, to hear their laughs and know someday those sounds could be taken. That silly song they sing constantly in the car, I won't even remember it. Being told I'm loved won't sound the same. Childhood memories will be just theirs to share. I won't be able to reminisce on how each story goes.
       How unfair it would be of me to keep the risks to myself and not share the negative possibilities with the ones that care about me.... I told him. He didn't run. Most days it isn't even a topic worth conversing. We have lots to do. We want to do those things together. He makes my heart race. It just works. While mid adventure I will often stop to look at the surroundings and the man in front of me. I love him immensely, I don't want to forget a thing. Nothing should be allowed to touch feelings placed safely in the heart. I know each soft spot on his hands. I won't let them go.  
              I'm a physical person with an athlete's mind. I love the challenges I can give my body to make it stronger. Nonetheless these muscles I work for now could be the same ones that run me into walls and drop me off staircases later. I talk......constantly. With HD it's possible to choke to death on saliva while conversing or eating.....daily. You spend your life building everything into the person you want to be. A rare terminal genetic disease could take all of mine away, I will build anyways. 
     I have included some facts on the disease and given you many facts about my own journey. If you're in my situation or you've been down this path I hope you reach out. I'm open to any contacts. It's my hope to continually share and update my journey with you. It's a process where I'm not even sure how it ends. People assume terminal illness has a specific look or that it could never be them. I'm only one living in the at risk category of thousands, but this is what it looks like. To me, this is normal. Living every day knowing something in my DNA could eventually appear and wreak havoc on everything I know. So when you catch up with me and you think I'm living to fast or pushing to hard try to remember where I'm coming from and then feel free to join me. 

Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative genetic disorder that affects muscle coordination and leads to mental decline and behavioral symptoms. Symptoms of the disease can vary between individuals and affected members of the same family, but usually progress predictably. The earliest symptoms are often subtle problems with cognition. A general lack of coordination and an unsteady gait often follows. As the disease advances, uncoordinated, jerky body movements become more apparent, along with a decline in mental abilities and behavioral symptoms . After the onset of Huntington's disease, a person's functional abilities gradually worsen over time. The rate of disease progression and duration varies. The time from disease onset to death is often about 10 to 20 years.
The clinical depression associated with Huntington's disease may increase the risk of suicide. Some research suggests that the greater risk of suicide occurs before a diagnosis is made and in middle stages of the disease when a person has begun to lose independence.
Eventually, a person with Huntington's disease requires help with all activities of daily living and care. Late in the disease, he or she will likely be confined to a bed and unable to speak. However, he or she is generally able to understand language and has an awareness of family and friends.
Common causes of death include: Pneumonia or other infections, Injuries related to falls, Complications related to the inability to swallow. Physical abilities gradually worsen until coordinated movement becomes difficult. Mental abilities generally decline into dementia. Complications such as pneumonia, heart disease, and physical injury from falls reduce life expectancy to around twenty years from the point at which symptoms begin. Physical symptoms can begin at any age from infancy to old age, but usually begin between 35 and 44 years of age. The disease may develop earlier in life in each successive generation. 
HD is the most common genetic cause of abnormal involuntary writhing movements called chorea, which is why the disease used to be called Huntington's chorea. The disease is caused by an autosomal dominant mutation in either of an individual's two copies of a gene called Huntingtin. This means a child of an affected person typically has a 50% chance of inheriting the disease. The Huntingtin gene provides the genetic information for a protein that is also called "huntingtin". Expansion of a CAG (cytosine-adenine-guanine) triplet repeat stretch within the Huntingtin gene results in a different form of the protein, which gradually damages cells in the brain, through mechanisms that are not fully understood. 
Diagram showing a father carrying the gene and an unaffected mother leading to some of their offspring being affected; those affected are also shown with some affected offspring; those unaffected have no affected offspring

There is no cure for HD, and full-time care is required in the later stages of the disease. 

     Existing pharmaceutical and non-drug treatments can relieve many of its symptoms.
The genetic basis of HD was discovered in 1993 by an international collaborative effort spearheaded by the Hereditary Disease Foundation. Research and support organizations, first founded in the 1960s and increasing in number, work to increase public awareness, to provide support for individuals and their families, and to promote and facilitate research. Current research directions include determining the exact mechanism of the disease, improving animal models to expedite research, clinical trials of pharmaceuticals to treat symptoms or slow the progression of the disease, and studying procedures such as stem cell therapy with the goal of repairing damage caused by the disease. (Excerpt From The HDSA) 
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