Tonight I will be guest speaking, sharing my story and experience at the Bridges to Hope event at the Crown plaza in Nashua. Since the majority of my friends and family are understandably unable to make it I have decided to share my speech here with you on good ol wordpress. MUCH LOVE and GRATTITUDE to those attending and to the many, many others who have shown their support.
I was proudly raised in Mason NH and lived in the state up until I moved to MD to be with my fiance in 2006. We quickly married. I soon after became disabled with arthritis and isolated in my new home. With no family or friends. With an emotionally detached husband that was verbally and financially abusive. A husband who thrived on belittling and degrading me. I leaned hard on the bottle and became addicted to prescription pain medication. I slipped into a deep depression and became suicidal. After 7 years of marriage I decided divorce was the only option out of what still feels like a nightmare. Two years ago I moved back home just as quickly as I had left and settled into life living with my parents.
My father was ill and passing. My mother was trying to cope with it all, and for a newly divorced alcoholic like myself the pressure to stay sober had became unbearable.
Looking back on it now it’s easier for me to say that I was vulnerable and ripe for the picking for another abuser. And the feelings of loneliness and despair lead me straight into the arms of a man I had been friends with from back in MD.
I found myself accepting his offers to come up and visit me and check on my welfare. He said he was concerned and I was happy to have some positive attention from a man.
He followed through with his plans to visit for one week. We stayed at a local hotel and spent some time in Boston being tourists.
The visit was pleasant. Although by the end of the week his plans to leave did not go as accordingly. He had become agitated by the end of the visit when I refused to pose in sexually explicit pictures with him he wanted to take on his cell phone. It was a constant request and my repeated refusals infuriated him to the point of violence,dominance and eventual rape.
My new boyfriend had not allowed me to leave his side.
I was kidnapped and made to feel afraid for my life and the lives of the ones I loved if I were to stray too far from his side or “misbehave”.
After three long, confusing and pain filled weeks I was brought to my wits end and could think of no other option but to run away from him.
I tried with little success and was chased on a lonely dirt backroad of a small town, and repeatedly beaten in the face until I could no longer stand and was laying on the ground at his mercy.
Dizzy, confused and terrified I was able to convince him that I was sorry I had tried to run away. He stopped long enough to hear me apologize from my broken face. Again I told him I was sorry and that I loved him. I begged him to help me. I could sense that he was calming down and asked him to help me tend to my wounds and walk me into town so he could get cigarettes and then take me away wherever he wanted.
I managed to keep him convinced of this “plan” while walking the long dirt road to the nearest downtown.
I was alone with him in an unpopulated woods. I could no longer see. The glasses I wore were broken off my face during the attack. My face was starting to swell my eyes shut. The hood he forced me to wear also hindered my hearing. I felt dependent on this man to get me into town.
He made several attempts to take me back into the woods and hide me. After about two hours of walking we entered the small town of Greenville and after a failed attempt at escaping from his side in the local market store I began to panic and wonder if I would ever have the courage to get away from him safely.
I would eventually convince him that I could be trusted to be let into a local dinner alone to refill my water bottle as he was on the phone with one of his contacts.
Once in the dinner I turned and locked the deadbolt I had felt on the door, took down my hood exposing my swollen face, and asked the nearest person I could see for help.
I was brought into the back kitchen as the police were being called. I heard them tell me he was in custody after putting up a fight. I then went into a state of shock and much after this point is a blur. They asked me what month it was, who was the president, and if I was sexually assaulted.
I answered these questions to the best of my ability. I answered no when asked if I was sexually assaulted and instantly told them that I wanted to go home to my family. I told them my father was deathly ill with cancer. I was desperate to be with him. After they asked I tried my best to keep the bruises and bite marks on my body hidden.
I was brought to Monadnock hospital then transported to Mass general hospital in Boston where I spent the night.
I was released from the hospital with a broken nose, fractured eye socket, and concussion that lasted several weeks. Before going straight home I walked through the scene of the attack and lead the investigating officer to where we had made camp the night before.
I then went home to my mother and father and within six days my father passed away at home with my family and I.
After my father’s passing I struggled with what really happened to me and how to explain it to my family. As far as they knew, I had just been beaten up on the side of the road by a really nasty boyfriend that I had “run away” with. Telling them the truth so close to my father’s death didn’t seem fair. I felt no need to overwhelm them further and found a comfort in the distraction.
I did eventually report rape just days after my father’s funeral service.
My attacker was charged and plead guilty to second degree assault. Picking up the pieces after such horrible events has been difficult and sometimes overwhelming to the point of giving up.
This is why places such as Bridges plays such a vital role in a women’s recovery from abuse. Within days of my release from the hospital I was directed to Bridges and was met with kindness and understanding. When I was so desperate for someone to understand how my life unraveled so quickly, Bridges was there to be a guiding light and an understanding support system.
I was aided in the simple tasks I needed to get my life started. I was helped with simple tasks such as finding an eye doctor sympathetic to my story. I was offered free legal assistance and representation for my upcoming trials. I was also carefully assisted in my application to the victims compensation fund. I was even offered a comfy place to sleep and rest my head when all the decision making became too much. Just recently advocates from Bridges noticed my struggle with many remaining dental health issues I had because of incomplete procedures that were interrupted due to my divorce and attack. The smile you now see on my face is the result of visits that I made to the Nashua dentistry. Because of Bridges awareness, support and the kindness of Dr. Judith Whitcomb I have received all the needed dental attention free of charge. Bridges is still in constant contact and quick to action. And to this day they continue to be a support and answer any questions that can be thrown at them.
I am a stronger women today and fully recognize Bridges part in my ongoing recovery.
Today I am full of gratitude and I am now surrounded by people who truly love, support and care about me.
I am now living a life free from my alcohol addiction and have healthier ways of coping with my issues through writing, performance, art and playing music.
Oprah winfrey once said,
“I have come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint- and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and allowing the energy of the universe to lead you. “
During my recent recovery I have experienced the massive power of musical healing. I have seen amazing things take place and witnessed community challenges conquered at many attended music venues. I hope to perform, attend and socially support more causes in the future.
I am also excited to say that plans to write my story are well on there way to being fulfilled. I have hopes to someday publish and share it with others. I look forward to spreading awareness about domestic violence.
Bridges provides women the environment and support that is crucial to our recovery and helps us flourish. I can only hope that those who hear my story also hear about the underlying support that Bridges offers and have peace of mind knowing that even when you feel you have lost all hope, there is one collective group of women who will have your back, and help empower you to do what you thought never was possible.