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I Took Back My Life

Hope Shepard

I was in a 22-year marriage with my high school sweetheart but with emotional, financial, spiritual, sexual, and verbal abuse. During those years I didn’t realize or know any difference. It became what I would call my “norm” because I didn’t know otherwise. With the boys, I did whatever I could to keep the family together. In October 2016, I couldn’t take it anymore and ended my marriage. I was scared not knowing if I would be strong enough and brave enough to be a single mother to three boys and one that has special medical needs, but I had the courage and faith to move forward. Yes, it took me some time to get myself together, but I kept moving forward because I had my boys that depended on me. 

Last year I went through another bad relationship after another because I didn’t know at the time my self-worth. Last year on Memorial Day weekend, I met a guy. Things were on and off for 7 months and through our relationship he would rage and start screaming at me to the point where he was about to hit me, but I was able to leave before anything happened. A relationship that was consumed with verbal, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse. 

However, on November 30, 2018, my life changed in an instant. It was around noon, and I was at my boyfriend’s place when he came home intoxicated and high. He started accusing me of stealing money from him and then proceeded to scream and yell at me in a rage. I was trying to calm him, but my words just went past him. We were in the kitchen, and he proceeded to tell me that he would kill me and my three boys for stealing from him.  He was in my face screaming at me and threatening me.  He grabbed me by the arm, pushed me into the dining room as he continued to scream at me and yell at me.  At this time, I told him since he was fucked up, I should leave.  He told me I was not going anywhere and locked the doors.  

He was continually telling me that he owns me.  I had my phone on me and he told me that if I called the police, by the time they got there I would be dead.  He told me he would stab my throat 14 times and I would be dead by the time they came.  As he kept telling me that if I called the police, I would be dead, I was sitting on the bench that was in front of the entry door. He put his hands around my throat and did this four times continually. Each time holding the strangle for at least 10 seconds. He told me that I had two options: either I go for a ride with him in the car or my other option was for him to put duct tape on my mouth and take me to the attic where he was going to stab me with the kitchen knife 14 times and then he was going to take my van to a bar with no cameras making it look like someone else took me or I that I had left there with another guy.  

This went on for an hour then he said let’s be civil and sit down and talk at the table.  I got myself up from the bench and then sat with him at the table. He took a Xanax and that is when he fell asleep at the table. Then I got up and quickly ran out of the house. I was beside myself sitting in the car around the corner of his house crying and called a friend who said you must go to the police. So, after I got myself together drove to the police station where I made a report and pictures were taken of my neck. The pictures showing redness from when he put his hands around my throat. For that weekend I was so scared and feeling ashamed of what happened. I felt dirty and like a piece of trash. He attempted to call me all weekend to get his belongings back and I had no contact with him ignoring his messages and threats. Then 5 days after he kept me prisoner in his home and had plans of killing me, I made contact with him in which he assured me that he would not hurt me, and he loved me. I took him back into my life. 

The incident that happened we never spoke about until the day he was notified that there was a warrant out for his arrest. Then the guilt set in place that it was my fault I messed up his life and future. I went over to his place as he yelled and threatened me for three hours that if he went to prison he was going to kill me and he wanted me to call the police and take back my story of what he had done. Finally, I was able to leave where he followed me from his place to my place. I didn’t go home right away. In that time, I called the police to go to my house and have him leave. The two officers were so nice. Well instead of leaving he was arrested for DUI in my driveway. As he pulled away, I remember feeling so bad, as the officer told me I had one hour to go to the courthouse and get a temporary restraining order. 

From that day, I have had no contact with him. Then the guilt set in place and I was missing him. I quickly found out there were no resources or support groups to reach out to. Thankfully social media is where I found support groups on Facebook. I’m not sure where I would be if it wasn’t for the support on Facebook. I was feeling so guilty and missing him. I realized from other people’s experiences that this was “normal”, and it comes from trauma bonding. 

The way I describe trauma bonding is just like a drug addiction. You have good days when I didn’t think about him and other days, I wanted so badly to call him. I was driven by the fact that I had three angels that needed their mom. The year following the physical abuse was one of my toughest years, testing my strength and faith. I was given another chance at life and I’m grateful every day.

I was learning very fast how your body and mind deal with the trauma. I have high anxiety, PTSD, and depression. I have come from a place of darkness to a place of peace within myself. Healing is a process with no timeline, which sucks some days and amazing other days.

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