Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to control, coerce, intimidate, threaten, manipulate, and/or exert power over a current or past partner. Domestic violence may be physical, emotional, sexual, and economic. Domestic abuse and relationship violence crosses all races, cultures, religions, ages, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic groups. It can happen to anyone and to any marriage or relationship.
We were married for 14 years. Early into our marriage, he began to call me names or put me down when he was angry or frustrated. He was jealous of the time I spent with friends, family, or even the kids. Soon, he demanded to know where I was going, who I talked to, and even controlled what I was wearing. A couple of times he shoved me. I told myself it wasn't that bad. At least he never hit me. That would change. The first time he hit me, he promised never to do it again. And he didn't for several months.
Things were good for awhile. He was back to the man I first fell in love with. Then slowly, it started again. The intense jealousy, name calling, accusing me of having affairs when I wasn't, and then eventually he hit me again. The kids heard the fights. They didn't understand.
I wasn't ready to leave my marriage. I felt like I was in the middle of a tug-of-war with myself. I wanted my marriage to work but I knew that my children and I were not safe. My family and friends told me that I needed to stay until I had tried everything to make it work. The problem was that I was running out of things to try and he didn't want to try anything.
I heard about SafeHouse Denver from a friend. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I was scared. I finally called their 24-hour crisis line. They listened. They understood. They didn't judge me. They didn't tell me what to do. They offered support. They told me about resources and options available to me. They helped me put together a safety plan for my children and me.
I met weekly with an advocate at the Counseling Center. It was a safe place for me to go and talk about what was happening at home. The abuse continued. My husband came home after work one day and was furious because I hadn't gone to the post office yet. Later that night, I was putting our 3-year-old son to bed. He pushed me down twice while I had our son in my arms. It was getting worse. Despite how much I loved him, I knew we had to leave. My advocate helped me make a plan. We stayed with my best friend. It wasn't easy. I joined a SafeHouse Denver support group and the kids went to a weekly children's group. I realized I wasn't alone. There were other women going through what I was experiencing, and there was hope.
I have been away from my husband for over a year now. With the support, information, resources, and safety planning I received from SafeHouse, things are getting better. I am getting back the pieces of my life that were taken from me by my abusive husband. My children are getting support and healing from the abuse they witnessed.
We are making it. I am reclaiming our right to a life free of violence.
A successful, well-educated woman, Sarah never imagined she could be involved in an abusive relationship. When she first met Brad, he seemed like the self-assured, committed man that would make her dreams come true. Their relationship moved quickly from the start, and within a few months, the two were engaged. Sarah soon realized that she had lost touch with her friends and no longer had any strong ties outside of their relationship. As Brad became more and more controlling and emotionally abusive, Sarah grew increasingly confused about herself and where the relationship was going. When Sarah tried to explain her unhappiness with the relationship and suggested that the two part ways, Brad became furious.
It took time for Sarah to recognize that she was the victim of an abusive relationship and could benefit from services at SafeHouse Denver. Once Sarah connected with an advocate at the Counseling and Advocacy Center, she immediately pursued everything she could to heal and move forward with her life. Over time, she saw how her relationship with Brad had slowly chipped away at her self-confidence and self-worth. She was able to set clear boundaries with him and eventually was able to safely remove herself from the relationship. Sarah also made some great connections with other women through the SafeHouse Entrepreneurial Program, and even facilitated some sessions. With her keen ability for self-reflection and deep commitment to developing healthy relationships, Sarah is well on her way to a future free from domestic violence.