By Latasha McGill
Editor’s Note: This article contains a personal recounting of experiences related to intimate partner violence, and this sensitive content may elicit a psychological or emotional response from the reader. If you or someone you know would like resources related to domestic violence, please visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline at http://www.thehotline.org as well as resources listed at the end of the article..
My first encounter with domestic violence was during my first marriage in 2001. It was a horrible marriage by all accounts. I experienced emotional and physical violence during this time. There were days when I felt so low until I didn’t want to live anymore. I had always dreamed of my wedding day. I had a fantasy in my head of being married to a handsome, wonderful guy who would treat me like a princess and make me feel like a queen. Instead, I was standing at the courthouse, marrying someone for all the wrong reasons. We had no money and nowhere to live. We quickly moved in with his grandmother and other relatives. That situation was a living hell. The slaps here, the punches there, coupled with the verbal low blows quickly became regular occurrences. My constant tears, fears, and emotional turmoil were none of his concern. What’s worse was that his family knew and witnessed some of the incidents and did nothing. I had never experienced anyone spitting in my face and had absolutely no remorse for doing so. As if this behavior and treatment of one’s wife were normal and somehow warranted. One Sunday morning, as I was preparing my children and me for church, trying to ensure we were ready before the church van arrived, my then-husband was making all sorts of false accusations at me and started an argument in the back of the house where we were living with his relatives. The argument ended when he did some sort of combo move on me. He punched me twice; I spun around and fell to the ground. I went to church that morning with a huge knot on my forehead. The embarrassment, shame, and humiliation were overwhelming, and it was at that moment I realized I had to get out of that house. After a conversation with some of the church members, I decided my children and I would leave because I was convinced if we stayed, he was going to kill me, and his family would help him cover up my death or assist him in escaping justice. I feared for my children if I was no longer around. Who would take care of them? Would they be split up? I couldn’t leave my children without their mother. So, the next day we moved into a homeless shelter. Not long after the children and I left the shelter, my husband and I split up and ended our marriage. I felt liberated for a plethora of reasons.
Here I am now 26 years old, divorced with four children. I was trying my best to raise the girls on my own while trying to make a life for us. I wasn’t sure most days what I was doing with my life or how I would make life right for them, but I was giving it all I had mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It was about a year later that I met what would become one of the darkest times in my life in the form of blonde hair and blue/green eyes. I married my second husband a year after Hurricane Katrina. His fits of rage were often accompanied by physical violence and the worst name-calling I had ever experienced. I was often disrespected and called out of my name in the presence of my children. I was often stalked by him at work and was embarrassed because he did not care when and where he showed out. I was extremely fearful for me and my children in this marriage. I felt trapped and alone with no way out. I couldn’t believe I escaped hell once only to go through it again. This time it felt as if the furnace was turned up seven times hotter.
On January 1, 2009, I told my second husband that I could not put up with any more of his abuse, lies, infidelity, inconsistency with working, and his other issues. I told him if he did not seek help immediately that our marriage was over. What he didn’t know was that I had been planning my exit. I wasn’t sure how I was going to execute my plan. He did not take what I said seriously, and a few weeks later, I began my exit strategy. I asked him to leave. He was not happy about this, and I knew he wouldn’t be. I’ve always heard when you have your hand in the lion’s mouth, you must pull it out slowly. I was so afraid for me and my children. But them nor I could no longer go on living the way we were. There were incidents of him breaking into the house after the separation, making threats, stealing from me, and verbally terrorizing me. But God’s grace, mercy, and protection are good. He kept me. He kept us, and in May 2010, our divorce was final, and I walked out of the courthouse with my maiden name back and a fresh start. That was the last time I had seen my ex-husband.
You would think after two failed, abusive marriages, I was done being abused. In 2017 I dated someone who would become my final abusive relationship. I had never dated a narcissist before. And he was one in every sense of the word and a master manipulator. I had heard the term narcissism before, but I had no personal experience with it. The red flags were there immediately. But I looked past them because he was sweeping me off my feet with his love bombs. He was so good at putting me on a pedestal and knocking me from it simultaneously. His assaults would come in the form of tearing me down, making me feel like I hadn’t done anything with my life and physical violence. Honestly, after a while, I had started believing I hadn’t done anything with my life. Although I was a single mother with three degrees, his manipulation had me questioning myself in various ways. He often threatened to take my life and his. He would say he cared nothing about taking our lives. I thought for sure I would be the victim of a murder/suicide. He was good at manipulating others into thinking I was the problem. One evening we had a meeting with my church clergy to discuss our relationship. I remember leaving that meeting wondering what the hell happened? It was a discussion about me and what I was doing, had done, and not doing. I was absolutely floored. It was after that conversation when I realized how good he was at manipulating people. However, the love I felt for him and the empath in me wanted it to work. I wanted to help him overcome his darkness by being good to him no matter what. That notion was costing me everything. He had managed to separate me from friends, family and was trying to drive a wedge between my daughters and me. It was the most alone I had ever felt in my life. He had become my daily routine. And his routine was constantly checking my phone all day and night, monitoring my every move on social media, and starting wars with me over nothing. I felt suffocated. I could not breathe. Finally, he did the final thing a narc (short for a narcissist) does; he left me. He walked away from our relationship and began to move on the same day as if he never knew me, and I never mattered. As hard as I had fought for our relationship, I was truly devastated that he walked away and didn’t look back.
As I began to heal from the devastation of the breakup, a breakthrough occurred in my life. My journey of healing led me to look at me in a way in which I had never looked at myself before. I was 41 years old and had been through hell and back with relationships/marriages. Why was I drawn to toxicity? Why did I allow myself to be abused multiple times? Why didn’t I walk away? These were some of the questions I asked myself. Believe me; they were painful to address. But they were necessary and detrimental to my healing and future. I realized I had been transferring years of trauma and brokenness from one relationship to the other. I had been in a cycle of brokenness, trauma, pain, shame, and guilt for many years. A part of the reason why I was drawn to toxicity was I felt inadequate because I had my children so young in life. My self-esteem and self-worth had been chipped away at for years. I had never learned to love myself totally and holistically. Therefore, I was settling and accepted less when all I had to do was accept myself and knew I deserved God’s best.
Domestic abuse is a cowardice act derived from a person’s insecurities, fears, need for control, and devaluation of themselves. Instead of dealing with their own traumas and seeking help and healing, they abuse people who try and love them. I know men and women both are victims of domestic violence. No one deserves abuse in any way from anyone. You are not anyone’s savior. You cannot save a person because you are a good person. It does not work that way. You cannot be a repository for broken people. Love does not beat you or berate you. Love builds, lifts, encourages support, and values you. You cannot be a punching bag and an emotional dumping ground for broken people. I realized later that my narcissistic ex had so many insecurities. And his control and manipulation of me was his way of masking them. I have known women to lose their lives from domestic violence. It’s hard to admit that you are in this type of relationship. It’s even harder to admit it when it’s not your first time dealing with it. I understand it can be shameful, but no one should deal with an abusive partner. I hope and pray; my transparency encourages someone who may be reading this and see themselves to get out and seek help.
#WholePersonHealthy #DomesticViolence #Narcissism #Abuse
If you or anyone you know is in an abusive relationship, reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. Let’s stop just being aware of domestic violence. Let’s put an end to this vicious cycle of abuse by choosing yourself, your health, and your future.
In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month Tasha will be partnering with When Love Works for their early detection virtual workshop on Thursday October 29 at 8:30PM EST. You can learn more about the workshop here.
Latasha “Tasha Mac” McGill is a Contributing Writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Tasha Mac is a mom of four adult daughters, a vegan, and a workout junkie who lives by the mantra Whole Person Healthy. It is her journey of total wellness in all areas of life. She enjoys encouraging, uplifting, and inspiring people to discover their own journey of total wellness and seek wholeness and freedom every day. Her favorite guilty pleasure is veggie chips with hummus or guacamole.