Before I met my second husband, I never used to understand why women in domestic violence situations didn’t just leave. When my husband began to control me, I didn’t see it right away. I didn’t know at the time that he was isolating me. He controlled the money, everything. He was jealous. It took me a long time to realize that everything he accused me of doing, he was doing. Then, the abuse became physical. After the first time he hit me, he held me. It was unbelievable. Your inner being believes your husband when he says he will never do that again. I believed him because I loved him. I believed I could be enough. But the abuse didn’t stop. It only escalated. He broke my teeth, head butted me, pulled out my hair, punched me in the face. Once he put me out of our home and I had to sleep out in the bitter cold with my dog.
For years, the abuse continued. Then one night he started to choke me. He asked me if I wanted to die. Yes, I wanted to die. And I finally understood why women did not leave. Once you are isolated and controlled like that, you don’t realize anything ordinary or possible.
I had no one to talk to. My friends had fallen away long ago, all of them unable to understand why I stayed in my marriage for so long. And my family, who does not live close by, was not aware of my husband’s behavior.
One day, I stopped in at TPN’s Newport Office to talk and because I was so hungry. I had no food. They gave me donated food and a food card, and connected me with the local food pantry. They offered me the safety of their shelter but I didn’t go right away. Every ounce of me felt humiliated and ashamed.
After a few more visits to the office, I felt ready to go into the shelter but one thing held me back. I was afraid I would have to give up my dog. He was my constant companion, who had been with me through everything. My dog is my best friend and a lifesaver—literally. But TPN found a safe home for my dog where I could go see him while I was in the shelter.
Being at the shelter changed everything. I started to feel stronger, to accept people’s help. I finally felt safe and could let my guard down a little. The number of programs I was exposed to in the shelter was phenomenal. It was in the shelter that I first met Laura, a volunteer who was teaching other guests to quilt. Laura has the ability to make you feel safe. We would sit in the sewing room at the shelter and talk. And she didn’t judge me. I was so used to being judged. Laura is a talented quilter, but she made me do my own work on my quilt. She pushed me to do better and to believe I could do it.” My quilt is made entirely from scrap material. It was important to me that none of the pieces were bought. This quilt represents the pieces and parts of my life and my putting my life back together with only the parts that are good for me, healthy for me.
Being grateful is at the top of my list. I am grateful for my time with Laura and with TPN. Without TPN, none of this would be possible. They gave me kindness, time, structure, hope and made me believe in myself.
I’ll never change for anyone again. I am putting my life back together. I found a home where I can have my dog and I got a job. I live day to day. I get up every day, hoping.