In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. My blog will feature several guest contributors sharing their domestic violence experiences and how they healed. Today my guest blogger is Carmen Perez a budding advocate from Austin, TX who is writing about her experience for the first time.
I was raised by my single mother along with 3 siblings. I am the oldest, so I had to learn to cook and care for them at a young age. I grew up seeing my parents argue and him beating her up. It became normal to me because in the Hispanic culture that is what you are taught. The male figure is always respected, and the mother has no say but to do as he says. I grew up thinking that was what I was supposed to accept because my mother accepted it. She divorced when I was 7 years old. But the memory of how he used to hit us always was fresh.
I ran away at the age of 16 with my boyfriend at the time. I thought my life was going to be better and happier. It was for the first year, but then I got pregnant right away and had a baby. He became mean, disrespectful and I was emotionally abused.
I was young, so I thought this was normal! Again, because this is how I was raised that you respect the man. You do as he says and that is that. My life always revolved around him what he wanted to eat, where he wanted to go. And because I didn’t want my kids to grow without their father like I did. I accepted many forms of abuse. Emotional, verbal, physical and mental. I didn’t realize it because I had no friends outside of his family and they all were raised with the same thoughts and values.
We lived in Tulsa and he got transferred to Austin from work. When we moved here things changed. He became more abusive. The reason for that was because I was going to a Christian non-denominational church and him and his family where catholic.
Every Sunday was a fight to leave the house. My kids loved going to church for once. And I was finding some peace! Peace that I needed. But as the time passed then my kids started treating me the same way he was. Now not only there was no respect from my spouse, but from my children as well. Many times, that I would cry myself to sleep and I prayed God to take me out of this situation as I could not handle it anymore.
I never told my kids what was going on because he had them brain-washed and I never showed the bruises or marks. At the church there was speeches for woman who had survived abuse. The symptoms and signs. I remember hearing this and thinking to myself… I can’t believe I’m letting this happen to me. I left many times because of the abuse. I would go get a room and stay there for the weekend. That was my peace. But every time my daughter would call me crying to come back because her dad was threatening to kill himself if i didn’t return. This went on for 2 1/2 years. I was trying to change him. But it got worse! In his head I was cheating on him now. And he started being more mentally abusive in front of my kids and they thought it was normal. The disrespect from everyone hot worse. I left with the help of my sister and went to Michigan for a month. I had to lie and say that my sister needed me. That was my haven! Then he started to call me every hour to check on me and what I was doing. One day again my daughter called me crying her dad didn’t want to live if I was not back. And again, I returned for the last time! I say the last, because one night I woke up and he was drunk sitting there next to the bed starting at me while cleaning his gun.
That was the most horrible night ever! I remember the next morning trying to pack and leave. But I couldn’t as once again he convinced me to stay.
That night, I remember it was 2:00 AM and he came home drunk and pulled me by the hair and pushed me down the stairs. My son was there so he got up to help me. We called the police and I finally had the guts to file a report and a obtain a protective order.
But that didn’t stop there as one night when I was away from home, he broke into the house. One of my daughters called me crying to please not come to the house as their dad has gone crazy and was looking for me. I called the police and let them know and that was the last time he attempted anything against me.
Because of that I know now, and I continue to believe that I am God’s child and I am protected and loved by him. And I and all women are to be treated with respect! At my job I always talk to woman about their values and what not to tolerate and what is unacceptable. I believe this is my mission and I do it with pleasure. My message to all women is if I can come out of a culture to allows men the freedom to do whatever, then any woman reading this can escape it too. You are a beautiful jewel under God’s eyes. He wants you to be loved and to love! To be happy and respected. I teach my daughters that they need to be self-sufficient and to learn to love themselves first before anyone and anything. You are first! You are a valuable!