In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. My blog will feature several guest contributors sharing their domestic violence experiences and how they healed. Today, author Jane McCullum writes about her harrowing experience and the fight within to move forward.
My name is Jane McCullum and I’m a survivor of domestic violence. My journey started when I fell in love with the son of a pastor, we began to date, year later we were married. I ignored the red flags in the beginning before we got married (we were physically fighting) my deeply held fear of rejection wouldn’t allow me to be at peace, even after becoming a wife. My husband became an ordained minister and things got worse, not better. Six years in, I grew tired of all the fighting and I couldn’t take it any longer and filed for divorce. Even though we were separated, he refused to give me a divorce. He wasn’t willing to let go and soon I realized to what extent he would go to prove it.
That’s when the harassment and the stalking started, and I had to obtain an order of protection. To make things worse, we worked for the same company. On April 20, 1997 I went to work on the night shift, I got off work that morning and he wanted to talk to me and invited me to go to breakfast. I declined the offer and he snapped. He threw me in the car and kidnapped me, beat me and repeatedly raped me for two days. I was beaten beyond recognition. Our story made headline news everywhere. My family came to the police station to pick me and I was beaten so badly my mother didn’t recognize me (I was standing next to her) My family was distraught, but it didn’t end there. Once he was taken into custody, I refused to press charges on him, the state was trying to give him 45 years for what he’d done. The prosecutor did press charges he was found guilty and served 2 years in prison.
While he was incarcerated he began to call me, and I told him I was pregnant. He somehow was able to reel me back in even after all I went through. I continued my marriage to him and we got back together, and I had my 3rd child he came back home. No one explained to me exactly what PTSD was, and I didn’t realize that taking him back would bring on all of that because I never went to counseling for the abuse. He came home and started a ministry and I became a first lady of our church. To me life was getting better, the physical abuse was gone, and we were doing the work of the Lord, so I thought God had fixed everything that was wrong, and everything was going to be ok, boy was I wrong. I started having flashbacks and recurring dreams of the abuse I didn’t understand why I believed I was past it. So finally, by 2009 I couldn’t take it any longer, so I woke up one morning and knew I had to leave but this time I need a plan, so I strategically planned to leave him and file for a divorce once again.
During all of this I began to journal and started to write my first novel Playing’ Church which I’m still amazed that I could even focus enough to finish a book. But I did it and on January 5, 2010 I was finally free from all the hell the hurt and the pain of it all and began to live my life single again until my rejection sprung back up and I took him back and we lived together even after the divorce for about a year. I went through a deep depression because I hated myself every day for being so weak and taking him back. I decided I needed help. I began seeing a psychiatrist and she’d told me that my body had been in shock for all those years and was just now waking up to the trauma that happened years ago because I had suppressed it for so many years. After being put on medication I got a hold of myself and realized he hadn’t changed and wasn’t going to change so June 5, 2013 I finally said goodbye and let go for good. After finishing and publishing my second novel I started to realize my worth. I stopped beating myself up and learned to forgive myself first and live my life one day at a time. Domestic violence is beyond just the physical, my own insecurity compounded the effects abuse and made it more than just a physical ordeal. The combined effects created a mental deficiency that is sometimes hard to conquer. So, I continue to write, to expose the sickness that is domestic violence and inspire women to set themselves free and make themselves whole again as I am on a journey to becoming the best version of myself. I owe it to everyone who has gone through this and most importantly I owe it to myself.