Survivors' Voices

Uploaded by cmcarney75 on 18.09.2012

On February 18th, 2012,
four women came together at Vera House,
a non-profit agency in Syracuse, New York,
that works to end domestic and sexual violence.
They spent the day working on collages
that reflected their experiences of domestic violence.
At first tentative, they quickly warmed up to each other
and began to share their stories.
Together they wept,
and not just for their own pain
but for each other as well.
Together they laughed,
finding joy in the moments shared.
Together, they questioned,
seeking to understand what has come before
and what is ahead.
Together, they explored, looking for a new way forward,
a path that offers healing, renewal, and change.
Together, they discovered
even though each of them had a unique experience,
they realized they are not alone.
Together, they found their voices,
and together they are breaking the silence.
Hello, my name's Julie and I've written something
which I'd like to share with you.
"From the very first blow,
which is the proverbial seal on the hold he has over you,
there is fear.
It confirms the gut feeling of his control,
which is already kind of obvious from the sneering, insulting remarks,
and you thought he loved you.
But what do you do with this new knowledge
with no previous experience or reference points
for what's happening?
You just try to comply.
There is so much to say that I don't really know where to begin,
and I don't want to leave anything out, either.
I want to validate those feelings of uncertainty,
terror, fear, panic, anxiety, and pain as real.
Those feelings of craziness and low self-worth
as being things that an intimate partner has done to me.
And each further assault, large or small,
adds to that process of wearing you down
until you find yourself crushed and crumbled by it all;
a vacant empty shell that still somehow manages to survive each day
even with a bright though brittle smile and shining eyes
as your inner glory does have a gorgeous way of still shining through.
Even as the fear builds up over the years of what will come next,
what will he do to compromise me again,
I built in coping mechanisms to continue.
Even when he damaged my knee, compromising my ability to run,
I came back and I ran further.
Constantly trying to discern between the lies and what's true
and plan accordingly.
Sometimes too embarrassed to talk to family and friends;
then when you do, they ignore the real issue with platitudes or silence.
Reflecting on the punches, slaps, bites, kicks,
and other physical injuries,
I am amazed at the strength to survive that occurs.
It's as if, as the body heals,
another layer of resilience and stoicism develops.
Then, once the education process starts--
Vera House support and guidance,
the books to read, the professional studies with statistics
which validates all that's gone before--
then starts the long process to get out,
taking each slow necessary step along that path of escape to freedom.
Propelled by that craving for a peaceful existence is so strong,
and that desire to help others, too,
and stop this awful travesty against women.
It's very powerful and it drives the survival process.
Many, many, many tears along the way
and so much sadness.
Regret and guilt figure strongly, too,
particularly as I watch my son struggling personally
in early adolescence as he straddles these two so different parts of his life
between me and his father.
I see the struggle he faces going forward
so as not to become the next generation of abuser."
In terms of being a survivor,
I'm still in that process of survival,
because you do live in fear, constant fear, actually,
of what may happen, might happen, could happen.
Going through the legal process, going through everything.
Because I'm recognizing I'm just not there,
I'm just coping at the moment
and still papering it all over.
Surviving as a process.
Um, yeah, papering it all over.
Trying to stay calm,
trying to go through a day-to-day existence.
Knowing that I'll get there.
I mean, I have-- I have great moments...
and dreams.
Surviving to survivor, a process.
I think that's it.
And I'll get there.
I realized I had lost my voice in this process
because you don't feel as if you've got anything valid to say
because you've been minimized...
sneered at, you've had that taken away from you,
and you just don't quite trust that you've got anything to say
that anybody will listen to,
so your voice kind of cuts off.
But I've gone through a process of trying to find my voice.
I'm finding it still.
It's better than it was, and now I have to be,
I feel I have to be a voice for the next generation,
for all time, to stop what's happening,
the abuse against women from intimate partners.
And I'd like to see a process where...
young women, and I mean young women,
pre-adolescent women, start to get education and--
education and advice on this...
to follow their gut feeling, to say no,
to know what to do if something doesn't feel right.
To have everything in place so...
so women don't have to go through this,
and the children, too.
That's what voice means to me,
that I can take my experiences and help others through education,
because that's been key to me finding my voice
and getting through this.
My name is Angela.
I'm 35 years old.
I'm a survivor or childhood sexual and physical abuse,
and I ended up gettin' raped as a teenager,
and ended up in a marriage that was violent.
I didn't know it was.
I wanted to leave, but he insisted on doin' marriage counseling.
So I gave it a chance.
So we went to marriage counseling and...
as I told her stuff, she-- you know,
she suggested that I go to the Vera House.
I didn't even know what the Vera House was,
let alone--I had no clue.
And, um, so I called the Vera House number.
So I went to the shelter.
I was nervous, scared.
I didn't...
It's like I was not even...
in the world, it's just like I was somewhere else.
I really don't know how--
You know, it's like I was just there.
Like, you're movin', but you're not.
So I went to the shelter and I read some books
and one book, I was readin' it and it gave like, the, you know,
signs of domestic violence.
And I was like, "Wow, I went through this,
he did this to me."
I experienced about everything on there.
It was kind of scary 'cause I, I mean,
I was like--I was leaving everything,
I didn't know what was gonna happen next, you know, we had a house.
I didn't know what to do.
And they wanted to send me to another shelter
where there was staff all the time,
and I was stuck in the system,
so to me, it was like I was going into a group home.
So that was just my response.
So I just went back home.
And he was nice at first,
and then the abuse started again but it was worse,
and I went to my grandma's house 'cause I had went to court, too,
and got custody of the kids.
So I felt okay going there 'cause I knew he couldn't just come take them.
And then we went to court and the judge gave him visits
every weekend.
And I went back because I had to go back to protect my kids,
at times when I was there, I went back the second time,
there was times that I would-- I just felt it.
I would draw him away from them
and I would take the abuse
'cause I didn't want them to get anymore.
And then he just got really bad,
I mean, it just got-- it went from--
it was horrible.
You know, he was threatenin' me, threatenin' the kids,
I tried leavin', I tried workin' it out with him,
he just wouldn't cooperate.
He alienated my family and my friends, my church,
so I had nowhere to lean,
and he got all these people against me,
all these people believin' him, you know,
he came across as this innocent, you know, victim
when he was the one that was doing it to me and our kids.
He had me arrested
because I defended myself because he attacked me.
And my son was underneath me and I was tryin' to get him off of me,
and meantime, my nail scratched his face
and of course he lied,
and I...
didn't even know it until the following day.
I had no idea why I was going to jail.
I was just like, numb and when I left that courthouse,
I walked all the way home, like, it was like 10 or 11 miles.
It was cold, rainy, and I was just shaken and terrified
and it's like...
at that point in time, I didn't know how I was gonna get away
because he had that leeway over me.
You know, if I did the wrong thing, boom,
he's gonna put me back in jail again.
He had gotten an order of protection.
So he was, you know, doing it-- turning it against me.
So then I didn't know how I was gonna get out,
I had no clue.
I tried doing it nicely, you know, didn't work.
He got very violent again.
He cut my phone line and he just got really bad.
The day after Thanksgiving,
we were gone.
I left, it was a Friday, I was gone,
and I wasn't goin' back.
So sometimes it takes a long time.
You have to go leave once or twice, sometimes it's three, sometimes more,
to get away finally, but I wasn't goin' back.
So I went to the shelter and he manipulated the system,
manipulated the family court.
I had to leave the Vera House shelter.
Then for that Christmas, me and my kids stayed in a motel.
My lawyer put a petition in so me and my kids could go back to our house
and his--my ex-husband's lawyer denied it,
and this judge didn't do nothin'.
So me and my kids were in a motel for Christmas.
But--and it was hard, you know, I mean, I wouldn't have cared
if it was just me, but my kids.
But all that mattered to me is I had my kids,
and that's all I cared about.
And then it got to that point that I had no money,
I had no clean clothes for my kids,
and my one son kept wettin' the bed
and we almost got kicked out of there
and I didn't know where I was gonna go
'cause I couldn't go to my family.
So he gave me money and we went to Denny's for Christmas
'cause they were open.
So at least they got to eat once that day.
And I had all the law guardians criticizing me, saying,
"Oh, well, you should get together for the holidays for the kids' sake,"
and it's like, why would you say something like that?
It's like they pressured me into it, and then when he'd come over,
I was tryin' to get him to leave, but he...
he would say things to me, he would play the mind games
and the mental abuse and mess with my head.
I didn't--I didn't know what to do,
and I didn't want to lose my kids.
He's like, "Oh well," he would threaten me with things,
he would say, "Oh well, you know, this will happen and that will happen,"
and I'll lose my kids, and he knew that the only thing
that mattered to me was my kids.
I mean, I've left everything.
Long as I had my kids, I was fine.
And he knew that.
And he came over one night
and I wanted him to leave,
and he started to wanna have sex
and I didn't wanna do it.
But he wanted to rape me again in front of my kids so I had to do it.
I finally got the cops to come over and get him to leave.
And then I went to another shelter.
He kept abusing me through my kids.
No one would help me.
It was horrible, I felt...
I felt hor--I felt horrible.
I just wanted him out of my life.
He had weekend visits every other weekend,
and my kids told me they didn't wanna go home.
When I sat there and I watched my son cry
and say he didn't wanna go home,
my kids weren't gonna go home,
'cause they told me everything that kept happening.
He was trying to find out where I was at,
he was trying to stalk me.
I tried gettin' help, they wouldn't do nothin'.
And he just kept...
beatin' me down even when I wasn't with him.
He just kept gettin' at me
through my family, through the law guardians,
through the social worker 'cause he would say things to them
and then they would say it to me and I knew it was comin' from him
because there's no way that they would have known things that he said.
And it just--I got so darn weak I just couldn't take it anymore.
And I just got frustrated, so I said,
"If CPS isn't gonna protect my kids, then I'm gonna do it."
And I took my kids and I left.
I didn't send my kids to school.
And then I got a call saying that they were filing a petition
for me to lose my kids,
and I didn't believe 'em.
I didn't understand why, but it was true.
They took my kids,
because they believed all of his lies.
I just wanted to die, so they put me in a hospital.
And I was just kind of numb.
It's like I--I was just living life but I had no connection to anyone
'cause if I didn't do that, I wouldn't have been able to make it
'cause of how much my kids meant to me.
I cried so much I could hardly open my eyes.
Then when I went to court, I got a petition.
That CPS filed against me.
All these allegations and I didn't even do 'em.
And I got angry and I said stuff
that didn't help.
I thought--I thought when I was goin' to that court,
I was gonna get my kids back.
I didn't see 'em for like three months.
I didn't see 'em at all.
I didn't see 'em at all.
Then I started gettin' visits.
And the kids would show up with bruises, black eyes,
and no one would do nothin'.
It kept goin' on and on for two and a half years.
At times I--I just wanted to end my life.
I loved my kids, and that's why I couldn't do it,
'cause I love 'em so much.
But I really wanted to.
But I...
I leaned on God.
I went to church, I read the Bible,
I read certain scriptures and the scriptures,
like, when I'd read 'em, it's like it was alive to me,
and I believed it.
I mean, I couldn't see God, but I just knew in my heart,
I believed in something that I couldn't see.
When I would get weak, I would ask Him for strength
and He'd give it to me.
But it was hard, my--my--
There was times my heart would hurt so bad
it was like someone took a knife and just stabbed my heart
and ripped it out.
But I kept goin', I kept believin' in my heart
that I knew that God would turn it around
and the truth would come out,
'cause I knew I wasn't lyin'.
Then I started gettin' overnight visits,
and then they'd tell me stuff.
Oh, it was so bad.
But you gotta keep holdin' on, waitin' for court, waitin' for court.
But the stories they would tell me, it was so hard to hear.
There was times that the pain was so bad that it was in my heart and soul
and it was so bad I couldn't walk.
I would just fall to my knees, and cry and cry.
I was tryin' to hold on for my kids.
And I kept holdin' on.
And it finally worked out.
The truth came out and I got my kids back, two of 'em.
My one is still in a foster home, but he's not there because of me,
he's there because the abuse that he endured
had taken a big toll on him,
and he needed to get help.
I see him every weekend, though.
I still go to court.
But I experience a lot of judgments from the courts.
People would say things about me
and it really hurt because I knew in my heart
that's not at all what I was thinkin'.
I mean, I never once lost my cool until my kids didn't wanna go home.
And all of a sudden they said I had an anger problem.
All that time...
I made it through it, though.
It was a long two and a half years.
But I kept my eye on the goal,
and that was gettin' my kids out of there.
See, I was abused as a kid.
My mom didn't do anything for me.
And they say--people say when you're abused that
you'll do it to your kids.
I don't understand that.
I know what it's like to be abused,
why would I want my kids to feel what I felt?
So I didn't wanna be like my mother.
And I got the victory and I got 'em back.
I mean, it's been a struggle.
They have a lot of...
negative impact from the abuse,
which hurts, and...
my kids have disclosed
some pretty horrific things.
I hope that...
my story would help change the way family court does stuff,
because sometimes people are telling the truth.
And if they would have listened to me,
my kids wouldn't have went through two and a half more years of abuse.
Those kids are pretty traumatized.
You know, I know that at times you may wanna, you know, give up,
but hold on.
If you have kids involved, think about your kids.
That is how I was able to go.
If I didn't have my kids, I couldn't...
I would have ended my life...
with no doubt.
But my love for my kids, I love 'em too much.
I love 'em with all my heart.
There's nothin' I wouldn't do for 'em.
And there was nothin' I didn't do for 'em.
So if it's hard, you think you wanna give up,
think about my story.
May be worse, may not be as bad,
it doesn't matter.
Everybody experiences things different.
Everybody's story's different.
Everybody responds to it different.
We're not all made the same.
But you can do it.
I never thought I could do it, but I did.
God gave me the strength and the grace to keep goin',
and now I got my kids back.
Eventually, when I'm done goin' through therapy
and when I'm at a healing point,
then I'll get the joy of helpin' my kids heal
and doing what my mother didn't do for me.
Hi, my name is Tisha and I'm here to tell my story
of what it is to be a survivor and my voice.
When I was a little girl raised by my mom and dad,
they've always raised me to have respect for myself,
treat others the way that I want to be treated.
You never allow a man to put his hands on you.
And the one thing that my parents ingrained and etched in my brain
were the very same things, such as, you know,
treating people with respect
and not allowing anybody to speak to you any kind of way.
Some of those things were the very things
that I allowed to happen for whatever reason,
whether it be known or unknown.
I, as a mother, I wanted to be the best mother possible,
to make sure that I always made sure that my kids were taken care of
and definitely wanted to be the best wife.
The best wife, I guess you could almost say the Stepford wife.
Just picture perfect,
wanted to make sure that my husband was always taken care of,
knew that regardless of whatever it was that he did,
that he always had my support and that I had his back
in whatever it was,
and I expected the same,
but unfortunately, I didn't get the same support
and the unconditional love that I gave him.
And I, at some point, kind of accepted that,
and in accepting those things,
those are how I guess I allowed the domestic violence
to seep into the relationship unbeknownst to me,
because I do feel like I gave so much of me
and my power, my control over to him
to make my marriage work because I wanted it to be
picture perfect.
I think that's where I gave and turned over all my power to him.
Domestic violence began for me, for example,
with the little instances where we would have
exchange of words and
he may not speak to me for a couple of weeks
or I may not speak to him for a couple of weeks.
I know once instance where I was pregnant,
expecting a baby,
and because we had an exchange of words,
I asked my best friend to go to Lamaze class with me
because I really-- I wanted him to go,
but because we had the exchange of words,
he said to me that he wasn't needed,
and the Lamaze class was designated to show me
basically how to push out a baby.
So given the fact of that being said,
of course my feelings were hurt, crushed,
like, "Well, I don't want him there if he doesn't wanna be there."
So I asked my girlfriend,
but because I actually asked my girlfriend,
I think it infuriated him more because he said
that I made him look bad
and, you know, we're not really supposed to tell the business
that's here within the household, and, um--
because he was very much interested in upholding himself
or having it appear to be that he's the perfect husband,
perfect father, the perfect man.
Those were just some of the instances.
Or one instance that happened where it started out very small.
It progressed into the manipulation of your words where...
they would ask you, "Where are you?
Who are you with?
What are you doing?"
And you ask--and I would answer the questions to say,
"I'm at work, I'm at church,
I just need to take a breather,
I'm not doing anything."
And I always found it to be very funny
how I could get interrogated about what I was doing
when of course I was always at work, at church,
or I always had the kids,
but it was okay for them to stay out all times of night,
come home the next morning and act as if he was home
for six o'clock dinner.
Those are the type of things that happened,
and when I would answer the questions,
when he would answer-- you know, ask me,
he would kind of manipulate me-- I know that now,
but at the time, I didn't really realize that he was manipulating me--
because those were the instances where I would leave wherever it was
to go home to show him like, "I'm not doing anything, I'm here."
There were times where unfortunately it progressed
to physical confrontation.
I know one instance I was with my three-year-old daughter,
we're in the house, he's studying 'cause he's going to school,
me and the baby were playing games, laughin' and jokin' and playing,
and because I think he was stressed out,
he thought that I was actually laughing at him,
and in the blink of an eye in me laughing with the baby
and him stressed out thinking that I'm laughing at him,
we end up into this big physical confrontation within the house.
We're fighting, tussling, back and forth.
The baby's cryin', next thing I know,
I'm bein' pushed out of the door
and I land onto the concrete.
Immediately, the things that I thought of were the moments
that my mom and dad said,
"You will never allow anyone to put their hands on you."
That immediately kicked in.
At that moment, I said, you know,
"I don't have to take this.
I don't deserve this."
You know, but at the same time of me thinkin' all of those things,
I'm thinkin' of the man that I love,
that he really didn't mean to do this,
this was an accident, he was upset,
oh, he's stressed out.
These are also the instances where, as a woman,
you can actually allow that domestic violence
to further prolong and progress
because we're looking at the one person that has hurt us
but we love them so we give them chances
time and time and time after again.
And it basically creates a monster because...
sometimes they don't even realize that they're committing domestic violence
and it grows, and it's just like you give a person an inch,
it grows a mile.
I told him if it ever happened again that I would leave, divorce,
no questions asked, period, point blank.
He was terrified, sorry, it would never happen again,
but unfortunately, there was another instance.
Another situation that I encountered is when I had hand surgery,
I asked him if he could do our daughter's hair,
and he basically told me no, that he was not going to do her hair
and I should have thought about that before I had my surgery.
So, as the mother, you forsake yourself,
you do what has to be done.
I did her hair, although crooked, with the stitches and drugged up,
and then he made me feel bad by saying,
"Are you really gonna let her go out of the house lookin' like that?
I can't believe you're gonna allow her to go out of the house
lookin' like she hasn't had her hair done or Buckwheat's twin sister."
So of course I'm upset because I'm saying to myself,
and I even said to him,
"At least I made an attempt to do her hair,
and you're saying to me it's not your place for you to do her hair,
but you know that I need your help."
I was never really one to ask for help, and if I did ask for help,
I was in dire need because I felt like I was gonna get beat over the head
all the time for the help that I did ask for.
Those are just some of my stories as to how the domestic violence
progressed from the little, you know, silent treatments
up into actually physical confrontations.
For myself, me being a survivor,
it was actually me having the courage to speak up,
to say that I was no longer interested in being in the marriage
because it had gotten to the point that it just wasn't good.
You know, whether it-- although I loved him
and I'm sure that he loved me,
it just was not working,
so I had to have the courage to put that foot forward
to say that I was no longer gonna accept what I was getting
because I knew that I deserved better as well as he deserved better,
because my mom did say you don't want anybody
that doesn't want you.
Being a survivor, you're gonna have your good days,
your bad days, the days that you feel like you're stuck,
um, where you feel like...
someone can say to you that you're makin' headway
but you still feel like you're stuck in the quicksand.
You know that you're doing somethin',
but sometimes it feels like you're not doing anything.
to be able to communicate with people what actually took place.
Don't dress it up, don't make it pretty and frilly
for those that ask you.
Sometime you have to have that rawness to say
this is actually what happened, you know.
In some situations, some women may have had the black eyes,
you know?
You have to say, "I had a black eye,"
or "This is what happened to me."
I think sometimes we as women, I know, even I do it myself, is that...
sometimes you don't wanna take the ownership
because it's really difficult to deal with.
I myself, I'm the person that became the jokester
to deal with things.
It became a coping mechanism as well as a defense mechanism
to kind of--you address it on the surface,
but you really don't go deep down.
Oh gosh.
And there are times when you actually cry.
There are the days that you have the good days
and when you have your kids,
you have to explain to them that it's just a bad day and, um...
that it's okay to have a bad day because we all go through
our different emotions, and, um...
you have to take it one day at a time.
My voice is basically that you have to speak loud.
You can't forget what happened.
You learn from what happened,
and you ensure that the cycle doesn't continue,
because if you have children,
there may be things that they've seen
and you don't want your kids to think that that is normal.
So you have to do whatever's necessary,
whether it be get your children help,
appointments to speak to people,
and you just have to, um,
shape your kids to let them know that this is something that has occurred
and make it a learning experience for your kids
and ensure that it doesn't happen to them,
to say that this is not acceptable.
I think for me sometimes it is where I feel like I...
learned so well to suppress everything.
"Okay, yes, this happened, you move on,"
because I think me being a mother,
I still have to ensure that my kids are okay,
so sometimes I don't address what I feel.
You know, it's like, "Yep, it happened, I'm good, I'm okay."
I tell my joke, I move on,
and I think I just a lot of times skim over the surface of things,
but there are the moments where you have the, you know,
where you have the knot in your throat
when you hear someone else's story,
but when you look at your story,
your story is just as intense as theirs, you know?
It might not be the same story,
but it's just as intense,
and I think those are the moments
where you have the tears
and you feel like you're getting constricted
and when you release those tears, it's--you know,
I guess crying is cleansing, so.
And it's good for the soul.
So, to that.
All right, I'm good.
Hi, I'm Katie.
I was a victim of domestic violence.
I'm now a survivor of domestic violence.
Let's start with, um...
what it took to leave.
I left an abusive relationship after being married for 24 years.
I was with him for a total of 33 years.
It took everything I had to say, "I'm done,"
and I was done.
You know, there's questions.
I question myself, you know, was this the right thing to do,
but I knew it was.
And I started living again.
And then he wouldn't let go,
so, you know, it was kind of a battle of still being the victim at that time.
And then he decided that if he couldn't have me,
no one would have me,
and one night he attacked me and, um--
while I was sleeping in my own apartment
and stabbed me repeatedly all over
and just left me for dead.
But I survived that, too,
and you know, the courage to...
There's no particular one day of courage.
It feels to me like every-- everything,
now that I look at different things,
it was the courage to leave,
the courage to stay gone,
the courage to get out of the hospital bed,
the courage to pick up and keep going
and, you know, make a life for myself
and my daughters and my grandson
and the courage to be there for them.
I know that that was a hard thing for them
and it still is.
You know, we're still...
coming to terms with everything, I guess,
or trying to figure out things.
I don't question why anymore.
I did question why for a long time.
I don't question why he did it,
I don't care to know why he did it.
I just know that I'm okay now
and that I'm gonna do what I have to do
to keep surviving and keep living
and be the person that I wanna be or become
living that new chapter of my life.
And I talk about that all the time,
like the chapters of my life,
and this is the new chapter
and this is the surviving chapter.
I, um, I feel happy.
It makes me enjoy things more
knowing that I don't have to be afraid anymore.
Now it's all about me and who I am
and where I'm going and what I'm doing.
And I don't have the answers, I'm kinda looking for the answers.
In different ways I look for answers.
We spoke about religion.
I looked for myself in church
and I looked to myself-- for myself in different areas
of what I thought might be normal.
I wasn't getting the answers there.
You know, I thought I would get answers to who I am
or where I should be going,
and there are no answers
except for inside you,
and then you find the answers slowly.
Kind of too slowly for me sometimes.
You know, I get a little aggravated.
But, um, I think that, you know, I'm doing okay.
I explore every day who I am, what I'm doing,
if this is right, if it's wrong, if it's, you know...
Different things in my life, trusting.
I have to learn to trust myself, too.
Trust myself that things are right and, you know,
not only trusting in other people that they're not gonna hurt me again
or, you know, trust that things will be okay.
But I do, you know, some days I don't want to get out of bed.
Some days I think, "I'll just stay here,"
and then I think, "If I stay here, then what's ever happening
in the day, or whatever I'm gonna find in the day
isn't gonna find me in bed."
You know, so.
I just think that, uh, you know, it's learning.
I'm learning every day who I am,
and I question myself still.
What am I gonna do?
Where am I gonna go?
But it's all learning about me and, you know,
at first I kind of, um...
was, you know, I was the mom and I was the wife, and, uh,
I thought I knew me.
I guess, um, the lonely feeling you feel
is because you don't know who you are.
But I'm getting there slowly.
You know, I get help when I need help.
I, um, I cry when I gotta cry,
I do the things I have to do to get by.
And not get by as in, you know, oh, that day's over, you know?
Because I do try to live every day new and, you know, a new experience
and try to learn to be more compassionate and more...
lost for a word.
Uh, you know, just try to look at other people differently, I guess,
because everyone around me is part of me.
My children, my grandson.
You know, I--and at first, I was doing it for them.
You know, I was getting by every day and being brave every day for them,
but, um, I did have to think, you know,
"You have to do this for you,"
and, um, "or it's not gonna work for them."
You know, it's not gonna help them if I don't, um,
wake up and start going on and doing what I wanna do
and experiencing new things and, um...
Like I traveled.
I took an airplane for the first time last year.
When I turned 45, I flew from Florida home,
or I flew to Florida and then I drove home.
So the experience of being on an airplane
was just exciting like I was ten, you know?
And, um, and just being somewhere different
was a, you know, finding me kind of thing.
I kind of just hung around Florida for a week and did nothing
and kind of, you know, was able to question myself
and think about things that happened in my life
and where I was going.
I didn't want to be the victim.
I didn't want to be the person that everyone looked at, um,
and said, "Oh, poor Katie."
You know, I wanted to show them that I'm still me,
or, you know, a person and not a victim.
And I want them to know that as a survivor,
you know, it's new, uh, a new thing,
a new idea, a new--everything is new,
and, um, it makes you happy,
you know, just to be that person.
I think that you have to get to the bottom to come back up,
and I hit the bottom,
so there was no more going down.
I, uh, I definitely...
I know that I wanna be here, and I'm glad I'm here
and I'm glad that I can tell other people what happened
and, you know, explain to them that it...
you know, there's always the other side,
and I found the other side,
and that side is me,
and, you know, I will definitely keep looking inside of me
and around me and things I do
and, you know, places I go, it's all like a whole new life.
Talking about voice,
inner voice or my voice.
To voice an opinion before
wasn't a good idea.
I learned to keep my opinions and my voice to me
or not at all.
To voice an opinion just to be...
belittled for that opinion,
you learn kind of how to live with not saying things
or not voicing anything that would get you in trouble.
But I've learned that that's not the way things are
and that it's okay to voice what you have to say.
And my voice now is loud
and, um, I am--I really want to voice everything to everyone.
I want them to know things, I want them to know it's not okay
to be in an abusive relationship.
I didn't tell anyone what was going on.
I didn't, um,
I didn't look for help.
I, uh, I just let it happen
and hid it.
And I know a lot of people hide it.
You know, it's, um...
But I hid it so well that I-- people thought I was happy.
And I learned after everything--
you know, the attack and everything that happened,
when people knew and they listened to what I said,
that, you know, 20/20, you wanna say,
"I should have did that before, I should have used my voice,
I should have told people my--" you know, what was going on at home
or, you know, um...
And--but I do now.
I tell anybody that wants to listen to me
or any chance I get, you know, because I think...
it's not gonna stop if we're quiet,
if we don't use our voices and tell our stories,
I think that we're not helping others,
and I truly, um,
I have felt for a long time now, um...
At first I was kind of not wanting to tell my story,
I didn't want people to think, you know,
"How could she do that?"
But I figured they're gonna think that anyway,
they're gonna ask a hundred questions anyway,
and I can give them a hundred answers.
But unless you're there, you don't know.
But if you are there and no one' s there to listen,
I think that your voice just goes away.
I got done with trying to pretend that I was happy all the time.
I was happy to be free, I was happy to be alive,
but the days are...
you know, few and far between now that I have bad days,
but the...
I'm okay.
But the bad days do come.
The good ones are outweighing the bad ones,
and I'm getting used to it,
and I can talk about things more.
Oh God, I'm sorry.
I guess I just worry sometimes that, um,
people don't get it.
And sometimes you think if you talk too much, they don't listen.
I know that everything I do or I say,
something's heard,
whether it be my children
or someone I work with
or myself.
You know, um,
sometimes I just...
wanna scream it, you know, and get it out,
but sometimes I think that...
to myself that, um,
other people learn on their own,
but maybe if they hear others and we voice what's going on
and make it more public or more awareness,
that someone will be helped.
I'd like people to hear my voice.
I'd like that one person,
whether she or he knows it,
to, um, to listen and to know that it's not okay and it hurts
and it not just hurts your body, it's not just a physical hurt,
it's a mental hurt.
Your heart hurts, your soul hurts.
You know, you need...
you need to be okay there,
and if it's not okay, then you need to go
and use your voice to get other people to help you,
'cause if you don't voice it, they're not gonna know.
You just gotta believe in yourself
and know that you are worth it
and, you know, I'm worth it,
and it--and it took me a while to get there.
You know, I'm worth me.
I'm worth Kate.
For instance, this morning,
I opened my window and the sun was there,
and it felt--and the wind,
and I opened my window completely open
and just let the wind hit me and it felt so good.
And all I could think of was, "Wow."
You know, that was all that came to my mind is,
"Wow, this is-- like, it's beautiful,
and it's just beautiful to be me." �