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Letters to My Daughters - Letter 1

Photography: Brittany Paiyarat Boudoir Studio Hair & Makeup: Amanda H. Bravender

 

Disclaimer: These are the personal stories of survivors of domestic violence. It is intended to help and give hope to those in similar situations. We are not licensed therapists or Doctors.  It is in no way an absolute fix or a solution for every situation.  These are the things the writer has personally dealt with and the lessons learned from their experience.   If you need immediate help, please call 9-1-1.  Please seek professional help if you are suffering from the ramifications of domestic abuse. 

 

My darling girls,

I’m going to tell you a story that will likely shock you and leave you speechless. The sheer look of disbelief on your face will be the fulfillment of a prayer your Mommy prayed long ago.

 

Long before you both graced us with your presence, long before Mommy met your Daddy, there was a guy.

When I met this guy, I saw so many things in him I thought was amazing, inspiring even. I was drawn to him. We hung out a lot and eventually started dating. I’ll be honest, there was something deep inside that said, ‘NO! He’s not the one!’

Honestly, it made no sense. I pushed it aside because he was really nice, respectful and met all the standards of my ‘perfect guy’ check list. He’d broken up with a girl not too long before we were officially dating.  She kept showing up places emotional and he would say she was a little crazy.  Once, he told me, he had to literally push her off of him. He said she would get a little violent. She was so sweet and nice. She never struck me as that type of person. 

As we began dating there were many times he would give me advice on things.  Your Mommy was pretty sheltered. At least that is how he explained it. Typically, my shirt was too low or my personality was too friendly. 

I’m a friendly person, I’d explain. Apparently, my friendliness was mistaken as flirtatious. It was really better if I avoided eye contact and unnecessary smiles. “Ok”, I thought. He’s only trying to help me.  Maybe things are different outside of my Christian ‘Saved by the Bell-meets-The Cosby Show’ world. 

He wasn’t my first boyfriend.  I’d liked other guys and had been in a long-term relationship before.  None of them said any of these things, but maybe they didn’t care about me like he did.  Well, that is the way he explained it. 

 

We hung out a lot. Most of the time it was just us going places. I was pretty attached to my family, my friends too.  I was a grown adult now.

Who spends that much time with their family and friends? 

Plus, it’s not normal to have such close guy friends. Even if I’d grown up with them my whole life, they were still guys. Guys all think the same. They didn’t just want to be my friend. That was his loving, caring explanation in efforts of helping me.  I stopped talking to them. A mistake I regret so deeply now having recently lost one of them.  

 

Things weren’t all bad. The first 18 months were actually quite nice.  I could see a possible forever with him.  My family liked him. Stephanie didn’t. I think she noticed a change in me.  Steph and I met at 2 years old. We’re thirty-whatever now and she’s still my person. Very few people know me better.  I didn’t talk to her as much then and he had begun saying something new. 

The closeness of my family wasn’t normal. How many other people were that close to their family? It wasn’t healthy.  Well, that is the way he explained it. 

I slowly but surely pulled away from my family to spend more time with him. 

Somewhere near the 2-year mark things got bad. The first fight was quickly followed up with teary-eyed apologies.  My naive ways just angered him so much. He didn’t mean to grab me like that. It’s not who he was. It was me drawing out that reaction. 

 

At this point, I’d cut off all relationship with any males outside of my family.  Even the men at church, father-like figures, I avoided them to avoid triggering a reaction. Still, the fights escalated.  At this point I had isolated myself so much from everyone I felt like I needed him because, in my mind, he was all I had. 

I think your T.T. Erin started questioning things around this time.  She didn’t know it was abuse, I hid that really well.  She knew something wasn’t ok. Her sister wasn’t her sister. 

 

One night he cooked for me and I went over to his place.  A fight started. I remember laying on the bed with him on top of me. His hands around my neck.  I could barely breathe. My leg was in between his and my first instinct was to knee him where I knew it would hurt. 

What? 

That was the first time I realized I was losing sense.  I got away and out the door and he grabbed me and drug me down the hall back to his room. I didn’t dare scream. People would come outside and see what was going on. He said we needed to work it out. 

 

Another year or so had passed. These violent encounters slowed down. It wasn’t happening all the time so clearly things are a lot better. That is what I told myself. 

 

He denied it. He said he was just being nice the way I am so nice. I saw them together at a public place.  In an instant, I became that crazy chick.  I was acting the same way his ex had when we first starting dating.

What is happening to me? I’m not this girl. 

“We’re over!”, I said to him. (Family-friendly version of what I said. I doubt you're 18 yet.)

Those words really set him off.

 

He showed up at Poppy and Mimi’s house (my parents). I was there alone.  Naturally, another fight started. Something was different in his eyes.  He pushed me and I fell into the wall, crying hysterically.  He went into the kitchen. When he came out he had a huge knife in his hand. One of those massive ones that only Bobby Flay uses.

All I could think of was my sweet parents. Are they going to come home and find their baby girl in a pool of blood? What is this going to do to my siblings, who I adore? My favorite little brother will see this! Why did I let this get this far? How on earth did it get this far?

WHO AM I RIGHT NOW???

I know how a woman is to be treated. You two are semi-professional Daddy's girls but next to your Momma, you're amateurs. Just sayin'! I'm a gold-star Daddy's girl.  Olympic level. I know better. How could I accept this from some man? Now I'm going to destroy my entire family. 

All of this going through my head in those few moments. 

He came closer to me and I think he realized what he was doing because it was as though he just snapped out of the crazy as quickly as he snapped in it. He put the knife down and immediately started apologizing for scaring me.  He was teary-eyed again. He couldn’t believe what he’d done. Neither could I. I was so ashamed of myself for being in this position. 

 

Obviously, I ended it, right? Nope. I was even more scared to get away. Sounds crazy, I know. Now that I'd seen what he was capable of, fear upgraded to terror. What would he do to me if I really left? What would he do to my family?  They still have no clue of all of this. 

It would be another 6-8 months before it was finally over.  

 

One Sunday morning as I was leaving church, I walked out with family friends. They were talking about needing to find their son a good wife. They winked at me and I laughed.  He was a nice guy but I was already tied down.  Or was I? Something sparked in me. Hope. 

I’m NOT tied down. I could walk away and have a real happily ever after.  It was a thought I hadn’t considered in nearly 3 years since the abuse began. 

It wasn’t all the terrible things that happened that made me get the courage to finally walk away.  It was a simple conversation and a wink. It was a flicker of hope.  

The thought that even after this disaster, maybe, just maybe, someone would take a chance on me.  I could be Megan again. The real, happy, over-the-top-with-everything, Megan. I don't have a clue how to get her back, but I want to try.

I was finally ready to walk away.  I didn’t know how to safely get out but in my heart, I was ready.  It took some time and help, but it finally ended. 

 

<cont'd in letter 2 next week>

 

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If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.

For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or  1-800-787-3224 (TTY).

If you are being abused by your partner, know there is nothing you have done or are doing to cause the abuse. It is solely the choice of the abuser to abuse. It may seem impossible to escape your abuser, change your circumstances, or find the help you need, but it is possible. However, you know your abuser best, so think carefully through your situation and circumstances and do what is the best for you.

www.ncadv.org

 

Baton Rouge Area

IRIS HOUSE

http://www.stopdv.org

(225) 389-3001 or statewide toll free at 1-800-541-9706.

Their phones are 24hrs/day

The Butterfly Society (Local non-profit - Zachary)

225-347-7725

Battered Women's Shelter (Ascension parish)

1068 E Worthey St, 

Gonzales, LA 70737

(225) 644-4916

EBRDA Domestic Violence Division

(225) 389-7714

(225) 389-8889

(225) 389-5355

 

24/hr National Number(s): 1-800-799-7233 and 1-800-787-3224

Website: thehotline.org

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