The Trump Administration is #AtWarWithWomen. The #ViolenceAgainstWomenAct ( #VAWA ) has been allowed to expire and they have quietly changed the definition of #DomesticViolence.
The Trump Justice Department declared, only harms that constitute a felony or misdemeanor crime may be called #domesticviolence. The isolation, financial control, emotional attacks, and verbal assaults are no longer considered domestic violence.
I am a survivor of #domesticviolence and long before the horror of the physical abuse that would constitute a “felony or misdemeanor” came the systematic destruction of my ability to be a free and functioning individual.
I was isolated from friends and family, moved to a new city and my every interaction with others was scrutinized, attacked and eventually ended. To keep from angering my abuser and to keep the peace I learned to live in that isolation.
I was verbally abused and systematically told how utterly useless I was as a person. Every decision I made was questioned and condemned. Every thought I had became wrong. My clothes, my hair, my makeup, my thoughts & actions all became tools used against me.
I wanted to leave the abuser behind but my family, my church all forced upon me the idea that when I married, I committed to “in good times and in bad” and insisted I continue to try to do better at “being a pleasing wife”.
As it became clear that I was ready to leave money became the weapon of choice. It was not long before my spending was being questioned and scrutinized down to the last penny. It was also at this point that the physical abuse began.
Long before the “felony or misdemeanor” crimes that the Trump Justice Department recognizes as #DomesticViolence became a reality I could have received help had the #ViolenceAgainstWomenAct existed then.
In 1994 the #VAWA was enacted and with it, there was a renewed hope within me, or perhaps it was defiance. After being enacted it would have to be enforced and it was not.
The local police would come to my home and offer little effective intervention. If my abuser was removed from the home, he returned angrier and more abusive. The physical abuse only escalated after each of their visits.
Eventually, I would arrive at the hospital with one injury after another. After multiple visits, I was asked if “I was safe at home” while my abuser was sitting by my side and I was unable to answer honestly.
The horrific violence continued, #WhyIStayed was quite simply because I was afraid to leave. I believed I would be killed if I did leave. I did try and in the middle of busy four-way stop in front of rush hour traffic I was “caught” by my abuser and beaten beyond recognition…
NO ONE stepped in to help. NO ONE called the police. My abuser put me in the car and returned me to my prison which was once a place that I called “home”.
My neighbor finally stepped in, insisted that I go to the hospital and drove me there the next day. After medical treatment for a broken cheekbone, a broken jaw, six broken ribs, a concussion, a broken wrist, and forty-seven stitches my abuser was arrested for #DomesticAbuse
My abuser was released the next day and allowed to return to our house. I lived in terror, walking on eggshells, praying that I would make not one slip and face his wrath. I began quietly plotting my own escape from the abuse.
#WhyILeft I no longer simply fear being killed for leaving I fully believed I would die if I stayed. If I would die, either way, I would die attempting to free myself from the nightmare that had become my reality.
I did make it out… I survived, with the help of a stranger that offered me a place to live. My abuser would go on to stalk me for two years. The police were called hundreds of times and the stalking would continue.
On the day that my divorce was finalized, and a permanent restraining order was issued I had no faith that I was gaining freedom. It was a huge victory, with paperwork that gave me freedom, but paper does not protect a person from #DomesticAbuse I still lived in constant fear.
The stalking and abuse would continue for another year, before shooting me finally ending with my abuser killing himself in front of me. Ten years of my life spent in a nightmare ended at that moment and a new nightmare began. Recovery.
I currently suffer from #PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, and I am therapy. I #resist because I want to be sure that others are protected. The #ViolenceAgainstWomenAct needs to be reauthorized by Congress and protected in the future.
We need to #ProtectOurCare and offer #HealthCareForAll so that all abuse victims have access to care for their physical injuries and the mental health care and support they will need to move forward into their new beginnings.
We need #GunControl not only to protect us in public places but in our own homes. In the U.S., most fatal domestic violence is committed with firearms; in turn, gun violence against women in America is inextricably linked to domestic violence.
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