When I was 19 years old, I got involved with a man who, on the surface, was every mom’s dream for her little girl. He was tall, dark and handsome. He was intelligent. He came from a great family. From the outside looking in, he was perfect.
When I was 20 years old, I felt the blow of his punch to my face. By 21, I had become adept at applying makeup to cover bruises. I had become isolated from all friends and family for fear that he would hurt them, as he had me. The dreams I’d written about in my diary since grade school were burned. He wanted no reminders of my life before him.
I moved out of my childhood home and found an apartment, hoping he wouldn’t find me. But he did. He always did. He ripped my clothes and the hair from my head. He spat on me, threw me down stairwells, pushed me into cabinet draws, and held a knife to my throat, telling me the world would be better if I was dead…and I believed him.
By 22, I was a shell of my former self. I was broken. I was slowly dying inside, and knew it was just a matter of time before he took it too far, and killed me. I saw my reflection in the mirror, bruised and bloodied. I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want to end up a statistic. So I fought back.
After college graduation, I started speaking at domestic violence benefits, fundraisers and lectured at various campuses in New England. I wrote about him. I wrote every detail of his abuse. And when my book was published, I sent a copy to his parents.
In 2014, I was honored to speak on the steps of the Massachusetts State House. I shared my story of abuse; my story of survival. And after the interviewers and camera crew departed, I remember looking around at the women who came out to support me and hear my story. I felt incredibly blessed to have survived.
I’m now a wife. I’m now a mother of three children. I’m a boutique owner and published author.
I’m not living in fear. I’m not afraid for my life.
I’m not that girl.