Trigger warning: in-depth detail about physical, emotional & mental abuse, childhood trauma and recovery
This Free to Spiel guest feature by Trauma Abuse Coach & NLP Practitioner Kellie Ann Terrones (@silentscarshealing) is definitely one to read. In the feature, Kellie Ann sheds light on the truth about physical, emotional and mental abuse, sharing her story in order to help others. A bit she wrote that really struck a chord with me is: “It’s not love, please see the difference and make a plan, be smart and be safe.” – it’s truly heartbreaking how so many people experience abuse in their lifetime, and so I’d like to give my thanks to Kellie Ann for sharing her story on Free to Spiel today:
“He would say that I needed him, which I believed“
Growing up, I was always told that I did not have an opinion. This turned me into a very shy girl, letting people walk all over me and just going with whatever anyone else wanted to do, afraid to speak my mind.
Despite this, I thought I was strong for the most part. When I saw other women in abusive relationships, I didn’t understand what was so hard – why didn’t they just leave?
That is, until I was the one in an abusive relationship.
During our marriage, I didn’t speak up, I did what I was asked and told to do, and I became complacent. It was all about him. Daily instances of gas-lighting always left me questioning my own sanity instead of his honesty. He would create scenarios where I was spinning out of control with the details and then swoop in to save the day. He would say that I needed him, which I believed. Not only that, but he went in and out of jail multiple times throughout our marriage.
One time he convinced me to pay for a vacation, saying that he would get a job and that it would be so nice to get away together. We went on this vacation after I paid, and then he left me by myself for 3 days – the reason he gave was that he went to visit his son, who he hadn’t seen in years.
“I was willing to give up on myself and my family in order to save him“
Why did I stay? I honestly can’t say, I just knew that all of the manipulation, lies and love bombs meant that I had nothing. I was reduced to nothing with nowhere to go. I felt ashamed and fearful for my both kids and I. In abusive relationships, you make excuses and prepare yourself to let everything else go. I was willing to give up on myself and my family in order to save him.
Things went from bad to worse and the days became terrifying. I remember asking myself what I had done to deserve it. Being thrown around like a rag doll just sort of became my normal. I’d hide bruises from my co-workers and kids. I would smile even though I was so lost. No-one ever knew by looking at me that I was being violated and abused behind closed doors.
One day I told him to leave and go live with his parents, which he agreed to. I changed all the locks on the little studio I managed to get, with his help again. A restraining order was issued, but that was all the police could do. I stayed in a scared state for years because he continued to stalk me. He knew I wouldn’t leave him, as I was not strong enough at that time – even though I always thought I was.
There was one night that changed it all, when it was finally more frightening to stay than to leave.
“I begged for my life that night. I wondered if I were to die and who would take care of my children if I did”
I drove home to my studio one evening, to find that my door was open. As I went in, I found everything in a mess, with little pieces of duct tape on the walls and furniture. I saw that under my bed were two feet sticking out – Lord, I was so scared. I looked under the bed and there he was!
I screamed and ran down the stairs with him on my heels. He screamed at me to get off the phone as he only wanted to talk. My first instinct was to call my friend and let him believe I was calling the police, which is what I did. After calling her, I tried to walk away but he grabbed me by my waist and threw me to the ground. It all happened so fast, he was on top of me and just hitting me in the face, stomach and chest so hard with his closed fists.
I remember looking at the house to the left of me and seeing that the neighbors were watching, but they never came out to help me. I don’t know how long this went on for, but I begged for my life that night. I wondered if I were to die and who would take care of my children if I did.
My friend then showed up and yelled at him to get off me. All of a sudden he stopped hitting me and walked away calmly as if he hadn’t done anything wrong.
I ended up in ER – my head was bloody, and my face was bruised and twice the size because of swelling. The police took pictures of the cuts and bruises on my head, face, chest and down my body, asking a lot of questions and telling me that they couldn’t find him anywhere. They did, however, find a small alleyway at the side of my place where he had been sleeping and stalking my every move.
I thank God that my kids were not there that night.
“…my own inner strength came through – a strength I didn’t know I had“
I had learned to disassociate from a lot of trauma during this relationship, but that night was the turning point…I was DONE! I couldn’t take this anymore: losing friends and jobs, not seeing my kids, being beaten up. His mother said I deserved it because I didn’t obey him and do what he asked, which made me laugh and more determined to get away.
I look back on that night and think that if I had not run out of the house into the night for potential witnesses or not called my friend, then he would have killed me.
As bad as it sounds, that night saved my kids and me.
The events of that night traumatized my son so much that he is still in therapy; he thought it was his job to help me but he couldn’t. All this time I had been blind to what my kids were witnessing, but my eyes finally opened, and I realized that I NEEDED to be strong for them.
So, I got out and decided to be that strong person, showing my boys that you can overcome anything. That is not the end of the story, but it is the end of he and I for the most part. He did stalk the kids and I for a few months during his trial and our divorce, and still broke into my new house, but I was stronger by this point. He was still trying to manipulate me into getting his own way, but my own inner strength came through – a strength I didn’t know I had.
“…feeling utterly lost and alone during my recovery […] was also the feeling that had set me free”
Recovery after abuse is finding yourself again and trying to understand what the fractures are in your foundation that made you so easily manipulated. From the very start of my recovery journey, I was determined that no matter how hard it was or how long it took, I would survive it.
Still, despite the kindness of friends and even strangers I could not help feeling utterly lost and alone during my recovery – but this was also the feeling that had set me free. I found my strength with the hope that it would lead me to a place of peace. I was no longer afraid to look into myself deeply and face whatever it was that I needed to heal.
I discovered that my fractures had stemmed from early childhood – I always hated it when people blamed their childhood, but it’s true and we need to break the cycle for the sake of ourselves, our kids and our kids’ kids. I had always been told that I was not good enough, that my opinion didn’t matter, not to speak, that no-one would love me. I had to work really hard to build myself back up and believe my worth. You can too – YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Somewhere along the way, I let go. I released all of the painful memories, the names he had called me, the shards of him buried deep in my brain. I stopped believing the things he had made me think about myself and started to see how extraordinarily and breathtakingly beautiful life is.
“There is love beyond what “you think” or what you have been made to think is love“
It’s taken me 10 years to finally feel safe again, but I have found (and continue to find) peace. Each day I am closer to it than I was yesterday. I am a work in progress, but I am full to the brim with gratitude and joy. I want to peacefully part with the contents of the last chapter. The end of this relationship was the catalyst for a wealth of positive changes in my life; it was a symbol.
Most importantly, it was an act of self-love.
It was a realization that abuse does not help you grow. I have found love and friendship beyond measure since and know that I am worthy of it all.
To all of you who are or know someone in this type of situation, then maybe this can help: there is love beyond what “you think” or what you have been made to think is love. It’s incredible! I am a survivor of domestic violence. My prior abuse does not define me but has reshaped me.
I no longer let negative vibes into my life, I find the positive in every situation and I reach out to others who need help. I no longer put up with bullsh*t and can see right through it. Some men in particular still think they can walk all over me as I’m still sweet and want to trust, but I know the warning signs and red flags. Whilst I still feel the fear and shame of domestic violence isolating, I am more open and vocal.
Although it sounds cliché, loving yourself and who you are is the first step. Self-love is hard to do but necessary. Also, speak your truth even if your voice shakes and you lose people – find your inner strength. Knowing that you are worth every good thing in your life is a process that doesn’t happen overnight, and unfortunately sometimes it takes a tragedy to wake us up.
I choose to share my story so that people know that I’ve been there, I know what the devil looks like, I know the words, the looks and the manipulation. I do all of this because I want women to understand how beautiful and worthy they are.
Thank you Kellie Ann, for sharing your story! Readers can connect with the author via Instagram (@silentscarshealing).
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