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Domestic Violence: It Can Happen to Anyone

*If you are reading this and think you might be in a domestic violence situation, know that it can be dangerous if your abuser finds you on this page. Be prepared to close this page quickly and erase your history for your own safety. For more information on keeping yourself safe online, visit https://www.techsafety.org/resources *

We are so fortunate to have a guest blog for a second week in a row. This week’s guest blogger is Dawn Smith. Dawn is currently the Victim Services Advocate for Open Arms Rape Crisis $ LGBT+ Services. She has a Master’s degree in Psychology from Angelo State University and is very passionate about social justice issues and providing advocacy for victims of sexual assault. She was gracious enough and brave enough to share her own story with us.

Most people believe domestic violence only happens to poor uneducated women. Women who come from dysfunctional families, women that saw violence in their own homes when they were young and consider it the norm. I’m here to tell you that you’ve got it all wrong.

My Background

I was born and raised in a very small town in South Texas. I had wonderful and loving parents, grandparents, and a close extended family. I am an only child. My family was upper middle class. There was no drinking, no drug use and no violence of any kind in my home. My parents were married until my father’s death. My grandparents were married 50+ years. I met my ex-husband, Rat Bastard (not his real name) in high school. There were definitely signs but I was naive and at that time I thought jealously equaled love. Ignoring those signs is the biggest mistake of my life. The decision that I will forever regret.

The beginning

We moved San Angelo, got married, and had a child. I gained a lot of weight during my pregnancy which he was quick to point out. When someone tells you every day that you are worthless and stupid, eventually you start to believe it. I don’t think I even realized it. I just accepted that I was a poor excuse for a human being.

Change

At some point, a very faint lightbulb clicked on in head. I began to think for myself again. It wasn’t a complete 180 but it was a start. If I wasn’t worthless or stupid before I met him, why was I believing all of his bullshit now??!!

About a year before my 10 year high school reunion I decided to lose weight. I began walking and eating heathier. I also decided to go back to college. By the time I started my first semester at Angelo State University, I had lost 80 lbs.

That’s when things got worse.

I had to have a pager on me at all times. If he paged, I had to leave class and call him. This needed to occur within a timely manner. (He was the keeper of the definition of “timely manner”) If I needed to go to the computer lab, he’d show up 10 minutes after I got there to make sure I was where I said I’d be. He would put something behind my car tires on the days I didn’t have class so he’d know if I left the house. (He also kept track of the mileage) He went through my purse, my car, my backpack. He constantly interrupted me while I tried to work on homework.

If there was a missed call on the caller id, he’d call them back to make sure it wasn’t a man. If a classmate called to ask questions about an assignment, I’d spend the next few hours being interrogated. Who was it? Age? Address? Marital status? Vehicle make and model? Spending my life walking on egg shells in my own home was incredibly draining. I was always in a state of Fight or Flight.

The Decision

In the middle of the night I woke to the sound of a clip slamming into a handgun and my first and only thought was “OH FUCK, he’s going to kill me”! He said he heard a noise and was going to check it out. I’ve never been convinced that was the truth. I do know that was the night that I made the decision to get out. I have no doubt that if we had remained married he would have eventually killed me.

It took a while but not too long after that I had reached my limit. I found the strong and mouthy woman that I had lost and told him to leave. It wasn’t pretty.

It wasn’t easy. I was a Psychology major at ASU. I knew that this was the time I would be in the most danger. I was lucky enough to have incredible professors and friends that helped me through it. I would like to thank Dr. June Smith, Sandy Love, Dr. Paul F Love, Dr. William Montgomery and Katharine LaChance. These individuals may not realize it but they all played a distinct role in saving my life.

Help

If you or someone you know are in an abusive relationship, whether it is physical, emotional or psychological, there is help!

It is NOT YOUR fault. Ask for help. Make a plan. GET OUT. You may reach me at Open Arms Rape Crisis & LGBT+ Services 325-655-2000. I will help you find the appropriate resources to fit your situation.

How do you know?

1. If he/she/they keeps track of your every move…GET OUT.

2. If he/she/they makes fun of your appearance…GET OUT.

3. If he/she/they doesn’t allow…GET OUT! This isn’t a parent/child

relationship.

4. If he/she/they is jealous of your friends and/or family…GET OUT.

5. If you are dating and you are having second thoughts...GET OUT.

6. If he/she/they doesn’t want you to better yourself…GET OUT.