In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. My blog will feature several guest contributors sharing (some for the first time) their domestic violence experiences) . Today, author, speaker and life coach Marci Batiste shares her story .
I heard a minister the other day on TV speaking about how we learn. He said that God gives each of us intuition. That intuition is to teach us. However, most people ignore our intuition. Then he sends pain. We will listen and respond to pain. I whole heartedly believe this to be true. Well it was for me anyway. I had a history of ignoring my intuition. It was almost as if “it” wasn’t real unless the pain came.
That was then……
I’m so excited to be here today, in the space I am. Having learned to use the pain from the past as a preventative tool for the future. No, I think Grateful is the word that I am looking for. Grateful because now when I speak, write or share about domestic violence, it is part of my history, not my now story and thankfully will never be part of my new story.
The first time I ever spoke about domestic violence, I was in the ER. Telling the doctors, the nurses, the counselor and the police…. MY STORY from the night before. It was the pain that brought me there. I had ignored my intuition. I had ignored red flags and thought that it would never happen to me. I thought that the stories he told me about arguments and fights with his exes had nothing to do with me. After all, I was not “like them”. In part that was true, but I ignored that uneasy feeling in my stomach as he would share this story or that experience. My intuition was trying to tell me, “Girlfriend this may not be about you, but it is definitely about him and that will certainly affect you.” I brushed it off, because despite the uneasiness I felt when he would tell me these things, everything else felt so good. He made me think, feel, and believe that I was smart, beautiful, desired, loved and so on and on and on…. Until my ego was filled to the brim. He convinced me I was fabulous, something I never believed before him. Ego will have you doing things you never thought you’d do.
To give you an example, there is a song by Trey Songz called “Can’t be Friends”. That was “our song” he deemed it our song. He said, “You know if anything ever happens and we aren’t together anymore, we will never be able to be friends” That was weird, but I ignored that and decided it just meant there was soooo much love that it would hurt too bad to see each other. That part was right. Once we were no longer together, it did hurt, BAD!
Let me break it all down for you.
April 17, 2012 the pain came. A pain so ferocious and undeniable I was forced to acknowledge all of the things my intuition had been trying to teach me, but I’d refused to learn. It was a pain I thought would never leave me. A pain that I was sure penetrated my soul.
We were on our way out to meet some friends for dinner and drinks and while getting dressed I shared with him that I might have to go out of town on Thursday or Friday for a business conference (This was a Tuesday, I will never forget) When he found out that I may be going to California, he immediately convinced himself that I would also have some clandestine meetup with an ex that also lived in California. Nothing I said could convince him otherwise. His mind was made up. So, I just stopped talking entirely. At this point we are in the car driving to meet our friends. Despite my refusal to argue or otherwise entertain the outrageous story he had conjured up in his head he continued to rant and belabor the subject. Eventually reaching the point of name calling and I could literary see him getting angrier and angrier by the minute. Next thing I know, he is punching the dashboard in the car and yelling, more name calling. That’s when my intuition kicked in. It said, “If you don’t get away from him, he is going to hit you”. Unlike my normal response to intuition, this time it was also being accompanied by an undeniable fear. I turned the car around and headed back to my house.
I get back to my house, his truck is parked in the driveway, so I pull my car into the garage, grab my keys from the ignition, grab my purse and phone and run into the house. Lock and bolt the door behind me. Finally, I think I am safe. Surely now he will get in his truck and leave. Then I hear a loud bang on the door, then another, the third time I hear wood crack and the door breaks loose from its frame. Before I can think or do anything he is inside my house. He is holding onto me by my hair and begins to slap my in my face. Yelling and screaming obscenities at me, all the while gripping my hair with one hand and hitting me with the other. He forces me from the hallway by the garage and into the living room. Once in the open space of the living room he forces me to the floor. At this point he has me face down on the ceramic tile floor, his knee in my back to keep me pinned down and then begins to hit and punch me with hands.
My intuition was telling me “Don’t fight back you’ll just make it worse eventually he will stop”. This continued for several hours, he would stop hitting me for brief moments to tell me how much he loved me and how we would always be together and how he told me I would always be his girl. He reminded me of “our” song. He told me this was all my fault. Then he would hit and punch me some more. When I finally realized that if I didn’t get away from him he would likely kill me, I began to struggle to get away, that made it worse, so I tried reasoning with him. That resulted in more beatings. He then tried to get me to go into the family room and kitchen area. My intuition told me, if he got me in there, where there were knives, I would die there.
I was overcome by fear but knew if I didn’t escape I was going to die. I began to struggle harder and made it to the front door a couple times but could not get out. Each time he would pull me back in beat me some more. Finally, on my third attempt I broke free, and made it out of the house. I had on no shoes but had somehow managed through all of it to hold onto my purse. Standing in the middle of the street I rummaged through my purse and found my phone. I was so shaken up it never dawned on me to call 911. Instead I called my friend who we were supposed to have met for dinner to tell her we wouldn’t be coming and when she asked why all I could say was he just attacked me, and then I began to cry. Right there in the middle of the street, I stood, barefoot, scared, alone, empty, and lost. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where to go or who to tell or how to get help. So, my friend asked if I could drive, I said yes, and I drove to her house.
Life as I knew it, changed forever that night…….
That night as I was standing in her bathroom staring in the mirror I wondered. How did I become “that girl”? I had watched my mother being beaten from the time I was 6 years old until I ran away at the age of 13. I had vowed at 13, that I WOULD NEVER be with a man that was abusive. April 17, 2012 the pain came in the form of acknowledgement that I was the common denominator for my relationship failures. My intuition told me I had to make some changes or the next time, and there would invariably be one, I would die.
Then pain took over and began to teach me the lessons I would need to change my life.
April 18, 2012 the pain came again in the form of shame, embarrassment. ER visit telling my story over and over. Then the courthouse, telling my story in a public courtroom with my face red, swollen. 2 black eyes, two busted puffy lips
April 18th……. my friend told me about this place called Fresh Start Women’s Foundation. She said they do classes there for victims of domestic violence. UGHHHHHH, is that what I was? She said she would come to a meeting with me. She said she had already looked, and the next class is on Tuesday. Reluctantly I agreed, but with the intention of backing out before the day came. I mean after all. This was just one time. I’m not like those other women who let men beat them up. I don’t need a class to tell me to stay away from him.
For some reason between April 18th and April 24th……. my intuition returned. I don’t know if it was fear, obligation or a true desire to change, but this time I listened and on April 24th. My friend and I walked through the doors, signed in, and received direction to our meeting room. My friend did all the talking.
April 24th, 2012 – I was voiceless.
The night I walked into that room and sat at that table. I listened to the rules. I remember my facilitator saying when you introduce yourself you can give us any name. it doesn’t have to be your own.
There were about 12 women in the room that day. As the round robin made its way from one woman to the next. I listened to their stories. I remember thinking why would anyone tell all their business like that? I remember thinking, they have way worse problems than me. I don’t belong here. I should just leave now.
But I couldn’t leave. I couldn’t move. It was as if I was frozen in my seat. Before I knew it. It was my turn. All I had to say was my name, any name, why won’t it come out? Why am I crying? I don’t know these people, I don’t belong here. I am not one of them!!!!!! I’m not. But I couldn’t even say that.
After what seemed like forever I sat in this room full of strangers, crying tears, feeling pain like I had never felt before, from a place so deep inside my being I was afraid it would never stop. I had no voice, just tears and wrenching pain inside.
It took 2 weeks to come alone and 3 weeks before I could say my name and by the 4th week I shared my story. It was then that I found my voice.
8 weeks later, I walked out of class and new that I was a survivor. I knew that my life was within my control and I committed then, to make permanent changes.
I invested the next 18 months of self-love, self-care and self-study. I found my voice, slowly over time it got stronger. The I found something I had never known before, I found my purpose, I found my passion. The I discovered that my story could help someone else. I discovered that my voice could become a voice for the voiceless. I knew that if I could do the work, make changes and create a blueprint for healing, I could help other women do the same thing.
In 2013 I started my company. I was committed to help other women get out of the slump, reclaim their self-esteem and recognize their power to change their circumstances. It has been a work in progress. I published my first book (Journey to Find Your Butterfly Potential) in Feb 2014 and left Corporate America in 2016 to devote myself full time to this mission. I am currently working on my 10th book in four years. Everything I do and every endeavor I embark upon is about changing and saving women’s lives. It’s about putting a name and a face on domestic violence, showing the world that no one is exempt from the pain of domestic violence. Then healing the pain that the survivors bury deep inside. It is about giving the warriors and survivors of domestic violence the tools and confidence to become Champions.
I share the 5 steps to domestic violence recovery in my book “Surviving the R.A.I.N to Find the Rainbow”
Recognition – Learn the various types of abuse. Physical, Mental, Emotional, Psychological, Financial and Stalking. Know what the signs to look for to identify abuse when it is occurring. Understand the cycle of abuse it goes in phases, it’s not volatile all the time. You must be able to recognize abuse when you see, hear or experience it so that you can tell with certainty when a relationship has gone from unhealthy, to toxic and finally crossed the line to abusive.
Acknowledge – Acknowledge where you fall into the cycle. Are you being abused? Are you being Abusive to someone? For one to fully acknowledge where they are they must Admit the truth of the abusive situation, Accept that there have been some choices made that have led to the situation, and then choose to Act on it. Create a plan of action to be free from the danger of abuse
Investment- Learn the various investments we make into relationships. Time, Emotional, Spiritual, Social, Financial and vow to begin investing in a different way. Failure to change the investment will result in a failure to change behaviors and therefore results.
New Normal – They say on average a woman will leave 7 times before she leaves for good. That is because learning to live outside of chaos when chaos and abuse has become your norm can be very difficult. Particularly if you have an extensive or deeply rooted history with your abuser. The new normal is terrifying. This knowledge is key to success in creating the new normal.
Finally, the RAINBOW……. You have broken free, learned the lessons, healed the pain and finally found a space where you feel safe, mentally strong, spiritually grounded and financially stable. That is the best feeling in the world.
I share these 5 steps with warriors and survivors all the time. I want them to know. There is truly a rainbow waiting if they are willing to do the tough healing work to get through the rain.
Today I wake up grateful for all of the tough lessons, the struggles and the stumbling blocks my journey presented me with. They taught me to trust myself and to listen to my intuition. They taught me to be tenacious and self-reliant. They taught me that I was never really voiceless and that I have always been victorious. I just had to Believe it!
The most profound thing I learned from my domestic violence was the painful admission that at the root, I had sold my soul to feed my ego. As a result, it nearly cost me my life. All because I didn’t recognize or believe that I had a voice and that my voice mattered. I didn’t know that I did not need validation to give me value. My life’s work now is dedicated to providing women the tools to define their own value, validate themselves and to have the courage to speak their truth. I want every woman to know her voice and feel confident in using it.
Contact Marci Batiste