January 18, 1996: I remember that day as clearly as if it were yesterday. It was the day I left Jason. The day I was to start a new life. I was standing outside the back of the office building where I worked in Buckhead (Atlanta). I was waiting for him to pick me up from work. He had my car; it was our only car left after the other one had been repossessed. I had lost everything, including but not limited to my self-esteem. That had gone long ago. Yes, it was the day I would end a seven year relationship filled with lies, betrayal, deceit, and verbal and physical violence. It was also the day I ended the long cycle of domestic abuse in my family.
As I stood just outside the back of the building, the short ledge from many stories above protected me from the pouring rain. The sun was shining giving me hope for a bright future, and I remember wanting to cry but I had to maintain an even keel and a pleasant disposition to be able to facilitate the plan to get away. Otherwise, my life and my daughter’s life was at risk. The rain somehow comforted me. It was like God had empathy for me; He knew what I needed to do and gave me the strength to finally say, “enough is enough.” The last two nights were hell. After asking for a divorce and blindly assuming it could be agreeable and amicable, Jason kept me from sleep, threatening that if I closed my eyes, he would kill me and my daughter.
More from YourTango: Communication & Integrity Can Make Or Break Any Relationship
As the oldest child of two alcoholic parents who regularly argued and fought and eventually divorced when I was 11, I was accustomed to a turbulent environment and had no idea that relationships existed without some sort of verbal abuse or physical violence. Jason did not have any addiction problems that I was aware of, so I thought he was safe. When we first met on spring break in Ft. Lauderdale, the cute, body-building bouncer at the club was incredibly attentive and I felt comforted by his large stature and his aggressively protective nature. I had no idea that anything and everything he told me was exaggerated or a blatant lie, not limited to his age, his schooling, the details of his upbringing and much, much more. I was extremely trusting and life had not prepared me to identify someone as a fraud. So, when he insisted on moving in with me at college in Georgia shortly after spring break, I considered his infatuation with me ‘true love’ and allowed it. I chose to ignore and excuse the clear warning signs shortly thereafter, like when he locked me in a closet for hours thinking it was funny, and when he put me outside in the cold, and I had to sit naked on the stairs of our apartment while other college students walked by and when a neighbor reported that Jason stole their stereo…