Tag Archive | survivor

Goals

goals

It has been close to 30 years since I was first struck by the man who would become my husband. After numerous brutal beatings, three children, non-stop threats of murder if I dare leave, in addition to my own prayers for my life to end so I could be free of the abuse…somehow, I survived.

The depth of my fear, fueled by my hate, gave me a pinpointed focus to raise my children and upon the last turning 18… get the hell out! Well, that time is upon me.

I’ve been counting down the days for way longer than I can remember.  Once they became a realistic number, I thought to myself… this is about to get real.  FAST!  Then before I knew it, the days went from 365 to less than half of that number, to within the same calender year and now… mere weeks.  Now, mental preparation.

There is still so much to get done before I go.  Loose ends to tie up.  People I want to explain my inevitable absence to.  And then there is my family.  I allowed my sister and mother to enter into my secret life and read my blog.  When they had a full understanding of my life thus far they seemed genuinely distressed over what I had been through.  My parents had only known about one episode early on but I did a good enough job hiding the life I endured that they had no idea it continued, most especially not for 25+ years.

Since absorbing that I most definitely do intend to go through with my exit plan, my mother and sister seem (to me) to be more concerned about what they need to do to protect themselves than they are about anything I will be going though.  The words, “how can we help” have yet to be spoken.  As these last days are closing in, these words, or lack thereof, have shaken me.  Although I do have friends that have offered their help, I can’t help but feel very much alone.  I’ve been taken back to a mental state where I need to fend for myself, and fear has kicked in.  Worst of all, every specific I had planned for this exit, I now feel unsure about.  I’m second guessing, feeling anxious and deciding whether or not I need to make changes.

On another note, I work from home.  I guess that being helpful or hurtful is up for debate but the point is, I work.  And I do so for many hours a day.  Yet, like many, many others, I live from check to check.  I have been able to put some money to the side for this event.  However, I did not start doing so until the end date was too close for comfort realizing I was broke.  So yeah, my resolution…save something…anything!  I am very much aware that is not nearly enough.  This has added panic on to every other emotion I’m feeling.

How the hell, where the hell, what the hell…am I going to do?  I do not like borrowing.  I’ve had to in the past and it’s just so uneasy for me.  I know I’m not the only one that feels that way.  Unrelated to financial issues, when asking for help – on any level – I’ve been let down more often than not.  So even being here right now, asking, begging, is surreal.  This is so uncomfortable and I apologize for even attempting to have the audacity to think anyone….everyone… doesn’t have a million other things more important to donate money to than me.

I am not even close to a special case.  There are so many of us.  Abuse victims.  And although I haven’t felt like a “victim” for a long time – due to my abuser’s very painful rheumatoid arthritis (lucky me) – Now, I am just a victim of my own poor financial planning.  I don’t even know where to start in asking people to donate, or what an appropriate amount is to ask for.  All I can think of is that if I can afford to pay rent for at least six months, then maybe I can be less stressed about the initial “hiding” period.  My son will be with me and I am not going to be ready for either one of us to be out and about, at least not for the first month or so.  I need to make sure we are completely safe.

This is going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever pulled off.  If there is just one aspect of it that I don’t have to worry over, I would be beyond appreciative.  Once I am fully free, paying it forward will be in using my voice and being as loud as possible for those of us that are still in hiding.  It has been 30 years since I was abused by someone who claimed to love me, and it is clear that this epidemic is far from over.  It’s not even close to ending with me; there are so many others out there.  Every anonymous account needs a voice.  A new fight I look forward to getting into head on.

For those of you who find it in your heart to donate anything to me… I thank you in advance and will be forever grateful.  If you are unable to donate, please share this on your social media.  XOXO

Click here to read my full story.

Inside The Mind Of A Domestic Violence Victim

As usual, Kendra Lynn does what she does best.  She has an amazing talent and shares beautifully worded insight into the world of a Domestic Violence victim.  This was originally posted on VoElla | Inside The Mind Of A Domestic Violence Victim

First and foremost, let me remind everyone that victims are strong, intelligent people. They were chosen by their abuser because of their strength and intelligence.

The insecure abuser worked every charm to pull in the victim and then methodically and meticulously worked on tearing down that strength and intelligence. They feel threatened by it. Their ability to pull the victim in and then down gives them a sense of power and temporarily sustains the beast. I say “temporarily” because the beast will always need to be fed through violence. Always. It is their disease.

It’s our strength and sensitivity in the beginning days of the charming honeymoon that gets us caught up and sucked in; loving, charming phrases. We miss the subtle oddities. The change in tone of voice. The harsh non-verbal actions. The way the abuser speaks of his past relationships. When we do notice it, we think our strength and faith can somehow fix him. He immediately starts picking away at our self-esteem and then injecting words of praise.


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A tug-of-war purposely designed to confuse. A tyrannical brain washing that destroys our self-worth. We are now in the tornadic storm without any real sense of direction. The building up phase becomes less and less; more infrequent until all that’s left is a complete tear down of a human soul.

Now picture that once bright, vibrant, exciting woman crumbled on the floor – crying. Picture her not being able to look at herself. The tearing down phase happens quicker than people realize and the victim is left wondering if she is in a bad dream. She does everything to make the “bad spells” go away, all because he makes her feel like she isn’t doing her part.

He chastises her like an errant child. Yes. That strong, bright, vibrant, exciting woman is now gone, lost in the nightmare, right where her abuser intended her to be from the very beginning.

Now we’re going to delve deeper in the mind of the victim as she dreams of escape. Her metamorphism into a survivor.

Why Does She Stay?

It’s everyone’s favorite question and I’m going to answer that. You need to know, so open your heart fully and swim a little in the abyss. It’s the only way you’ll understand.

It starts out as a dream; the escape. She fights back. Gets her pounding of pain, either through words or fists, but she fights back. The mush in her back starting to become a steely spine. Why the hell do you think her eyes are puffy and bruised? She dared to look the monster in the face and now that she sees him, she repudiates it emphatically.

All with a cost, that alone will surely stall any chance of escape. He sees she’s still alive in her spirit and his punishments ramp up further with more pound for pound pain. He methodically stalks her every move, counting each rise of her chest. He is fully aware she’s dreaming of her escape.


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Her steps, actions, and words are all now metered. He frantically checks her phone, gives more bruises to her face and soul so she’ll be too embarrassed to run to her friends. He’ll even say something asinine to any friend that calls, making them think she no longer wants their friendship. Complete isolation like caged animal. She’s wounded – feral and wild. Still insanely dreaming she can actually escape. So she sets out to meter her own steps and words and actions. That’s when she’s reborn.

A survivor is born in the hurricane long before they actually leave their abuser; in the eye of the storm. In that false calm, she’s planning methodically her escape. It takes time. She learns to become patient. Her impatience has taught her that he will nearly break her completely. When he snidely says he will kill her before he’ll let anyone else have her, she now knows the brevity of that statement. So she patiently studies his movements as she sits huddled in the corner of her rusty cage.

There’ll be that moment when he’ll be away long enough for her to actually leave. She counts the money she has hidden away in a place she knows he would never think to look because he checks to make sure she’s not stealing his money. The beast is smarter than you think. She knows it’s not enough money. Not nearly enough. It might be enough to buy 3 meals for her and her children, if she’s lucky.

She finds the name and number to the nearest Women’s Shelter for Domestic Violence Victims. She packs one bag, just enough stuff for her to carry. She looks at her children, calming them – telling them they’re going somewhere nice. They’re scared and worried. Mommy is not allowed to leave the house without daddy knowing.

Her children could wreck the whole plan if they panic. They know the consequences when mommy steps out of line and she doesn’t have time to sit them down and explain it all. She rushes them out, they’re going to have to walk there is no car. They need to get far enough ahead of the beast to ensure a semblance of safety. If they walk fast, they can actually make it to the Women’s Shelter before nightfall.

They arrive at the shelter in good time but the woman at the desk explains they have no available rooms. Twelve people total in that shelter. That’s it. The secretary arranges for them to go to another shelter in another county. Her and her children are bathed and fed. They’re allowed to sleep in a makeshift room and will leave in the morning for the new shelter. Her children don’t sleep. They cry through the night. A new trauma that she feels she’s caused. They beg to go back home.


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The mind can be a terrible thing. In the dark abyss in a foreign place, it starts questioning everything. She’s been conditioned to pick herself apart until nothing feels right and all choices she makes will always be wrong and stupid. She feels homeless. Not just her but now her children too. She has no money as she was never allowed to work.

The counselor reassured her right away that she would be given a chance. They would give her and her children clothing and food and a place to rest in safety. At that late hour, though, her mind twists the offer into a meaningless hand-out. Plus, her abuser swore he would kill himself if she left. Is he dead right now? Guilt bears down heavily. She stares at the phone in the hallway.

Three hours in the shelter. She calls her abuser and pleads for him to pick her up. She’s crying. Her children are crying. The shelter can’t keep her if she doesn’t want to stay. They offer her a business card with all of the important phone numbers she would need in another emergency. They tell her she’s so brave. She cries harder

Her abuser appears at the shelter – a face of utter calm. One would think he would actually punish her when they get home, but he doesn’t. He rewards her for coming back. He’s full of compliments and offers to help her better. He’s full of apology. Full of the love she once knew when they first met. He even makes her laugh. A strange feeling.

A week later, when she’s least expecting it, the punishment is doled out. Fisted out ten-fold with her children watching and listening. Her abuser actually explains in between punches to the watching children that “This is what happens when mommy thinks she’s smarter than daddy.” Open wounds on her forehead and cheeks – enough for stitches. She slinks to the back bedroom. An emergency room visit would only raise questions. More punishment she didn’t need at that moment.

She’ll do this 3 or 4 more times; leave and then come right back. Each time she leaves, the danger escalates beyond our ability to fully comprehend. I’m sure you see the travesty. I’m asking you to dig deeper and see what is not so plainly written or seen. Her absolute strength and courage. The first escape was a test run; the caged animal testing her limbs as she runs for the very first time. Now she knows she can do it. Running back was actually part of her survival.

She’ll return home. She was born in the middle of a hurricane and now she’s a wolf quietly howling. She’ll scrounge even more money away. She has the card with all of the emergency numbers she never thought of before in her numb haze. She’ll delicately prepare her children better. She’ll quietly and secretly search for a job.

She’ll retrain her thinking of going to a women’s shelter for domestic violence victims. She’ll no longer see it as the end. Instead, she’ll see it as the open door to the life she now knows she deserves. She’ll disassociate; quiet her racing mind while he’s abusing her. Her eyes are even more focused on the prize of escape.

I’ve done my research. I did not have to go to a women’s shelter when I escaped but I forced myself to step inside one. It’s full of inexplicable emotions. Strength. Fear. Bravery. And a deep love that made me fall to my knees – weeping. Now I volunteer there. The most healing decision I have made, thus far.

The resources for abused women are still limited. It’s no wonder she runs back to her abuser. She’s trying to save her life and sometimes the only way to quiet the raging beast is to run right back into hell. We should never ask “Why did you stay?” That puts all the blame on the victim. We should ask the abuser “Whatever made you think your actions are anywhere near acceptable?”

This story was in no way derived from my own personal experience. My heart simply bleeds for the women who feel they have no other choice but to return to their abuser. My life is now dedicated to not merely asking empty questions. I am determined to find answers.

The first hours of a victim’s escape are the most dangerous. She is literally on the edge of hell and it is our duty to help pull her to full safety. We must embrace her and continually remind her how brave she is. Remind her until that becomes her new silent mantra. “I am brave. I am strong.” We owe her that much at the very least.

By Kendra Lynn | Blog | Twitter |

Minime-Camille-Wylde

Breaking My Silence

“Our silence is the abuser’s protection.” — Jodie Ortega

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. #SAAM

When I started down the path of sharing my own personal journey about my relationship with Domestic Violence, I was welcomed into a sisterhood of woman who had been in the same place as me.  Some even, who are still in the same place as me.  The more interaction I had with people regarding this issue, the more I wanted to know about the epidemic itself.  In all honesty, although I knew it was happening to others, I never once looked up any information about the statistical aspect of it.  Not until I started blogging.

Eventually, I landed on Twitter.  There too, I found many more avenues to follow.  Not only more people who were blogging on other sites, but also victim resources, shelters and government agencies, all sharing informative links and articles.  So, I did my homework.  I’m still doing my homework.  What I quickly learned is that the topic of Sexual Assault goes hand in hand with Physical Assault. Abuse is abuse. What I mean by that is that it all falls under one umbrella.

However, I always seem to find myself taking a step back from the topic.  I guess because to me, Sexual Assault just seems so much more graphic than being slapped around.  I always felt like I was tough enough to handle the physical stuff.  I could take it “like a man” so to speak.  It’s because over time I was conditioned to do so, in order to survive.  Although my abuser did attempt to rape me once over the span of all these years, it’s the one thing I don’t think I could’ve (mentally) survived.  And because it’s never happened to me, I feel that I am unable to relate on the same level with women who have survived it – mentally and physically.  That’s not to say I don’t support them because I do.  Because there’s rape and then there is sexual abuse and molestation.  And I fall under the molestation category.

What’s the difference?  Is there a difference?  There may or may not be.  I guess it all depends on how it’s perceived.  It’s all subjective.  I’d think each victim has their own outlook.  Bottom line is, an unwillingness to participate in any type of sexual act means the victim doesn’t ask for any of it to happen, which means it’s all Sexual Assault.

For me, coming out about my physically abusive marriage was already one secret too much.  Little did I realize, I was picking at the wall of the dam and eventually everything would overflow.  When asked to do a guest post on another blog, less than a month after I started blogging, it just came out.  In Aftermath of Abuse, I discussed my relationship with abuse at the hands of my husband, father and grandfather.  The latter was the perpetrator of my childhood molestation occurring at four years old.

“As luck would have it, he never penetrated me.  It was mainly fondling.  I remember several episodes after the first incident that he had me in his bed.  His “manhood” exposed and he guided my hand in stroking him.  In total, from memory, there could not have been more than five times that this had gone on.  And as I got older I actually forgot, blocked it out, suppressed it, whatever the experts say happen after events like this…is what must have happened.  I didn’t really think about it again until he passed away which was about 20 years after the fact.

When the memory came flooding back, I had told my mother and sister.  My mother questioned me as if she didn’t believe me.  She said, “he never watched you and your cousin at the same time.  I don’t think he even ever watched you alone.”  Guess what, apparently…he did.  Our family was very close growing up and so my grandfather was always around.  There was never a strained relationship with him.  More evidence (to my mother) that this could not be a true story.  I quickly dropped it.  I never spoke about it again with her so I don’t know if she ever truly accepted what I had said as true.  I let it go.  At the wake I leaned over his body and said, “I forgive you”.  I don’t know if that helped me in anyway but I felt like it was the right thing to do.

I also never spoke about this with my cousin.  So I don’t know if she recalls the same incident I do or whether or not there were other one on one incidents with her.  I do have my sneaking suspicions though.  After all…if we are a textbook case of the aftermath of sexual abuse then the evidence is clear – she went on to be involved with drugs and I became sexually promiscuous.”

The cousin I reference above is one and the same as discussed in Disconnected Reconnection.

The point of all of this is that we all handle things differently.  There is no cookie cutter abuse worksheet that makes every act the same.  Whether it’s physical, sexual, emotional, psychological., etc.  There are similar aspects to all of it because at the very essence of it all is controlling manipulation.  Our distinct personalities make up the other part of the difference because our reactions and coping mechanisms vary.

This amazing woman, Jodie Ortega, who I have come to know via Twitter  has just completely floored me.  As soon as I watched this video today, I stopped what I was doing to write this post.  The way she handles telling her story in front of an audience is a beautiful thing to watch.  She relates part of her words through rap dialogue which seems to ease you into the reality of what she’s saying.  She then breaks down numbers that are not your every day run of the mill statistics.  When she speaks of her experience with a cab driver, well…get a tissue.

Healing thrives in conversation.  Break your silence.

31 Facts in 31 Days – Day 31

Today is the last day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Thank you for seeing me through each day, with words of support, and by sharing some of these posts.  I’ve definitely learned a lot more than I expected by posting 31 Facts in 31 Days.  I hope you did too.

Empower:
• To give power or ability to.
• To enable or permit.

Power:
• Ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something.
• Great or marked ability to do or act; strength; might; force.

Ability:
• Power or capacity to do or act physically, mentally, legally, morally, financially, etc.
• Competence in an activity or occupation because of one’s skill, training, or other qualification.

Since the beginning, I always knew that one day I’d be leaving. I always believed I had the ability to pull it off. I always strived to survive another day to make sure I saw that – last day. Over this past year, my experience in blogging has been something of a rebirth. With releasing my secrets, I have rendered them powerless. My story of abuse doesn’t hurt me anymore. It’s no longer a burden weighing heavily on my heart, or on my soul. And because of that, there has been somewhat of a regeneration of all that I have already known, except now the reality of – leaving – is close at hand. It’s in my peripheral. And, it’s gorgeous.

Music has had a very large impact on my life, since I was very young. The sound of the melodies, the words and the voice of who is singing the song always has an affect on me. It brings out every emotion. I do appreciate all types of genres – it’s only fair. The people writing and performing music (as with blogging), do so from a part of their souls that needs to tell their story. Every song I listen to, takes me to a certain place in my mind. Whether it be memories of the past or dreams of the future – music stirs me.

One song in particular, since the very first time I heard it (2002), has had a profound effect. No matter my mood, it always gives me focus, clarity and drive. The words and the energy of the song are beyond what I can explain.

Best I can say – this – is my song of empowerment.

See lyrics below:

Fighter (2002, Album: Stripped)

After all you put me through
You’d think I’d despise you
But in the end I wanna thank you
‘Cause you made that much stronger

Well I thought I knew you
Thinking that you were true
Guess I, I couldn’t trust called your bluff
Time is up, ’cause I’ve had enough

You were there by my side
Always down for the ride
But your joy ride just came down in flames
‘Cause your greed sold me out in shame, mmm hmm

After all of the stealing and cheating
You probably think that
I hold resentment for you
But uh uh, oh no, you’re wrong

‘Cause if it wasn’t for all
That you tried to do
I wouldn’t know just how capable I am to pull through
So I wanna say thank you

‘Cause it
Makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
Makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter

Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

Never saw it coming
All of your backstabbing
Just so, you could cash in on a good thing
Before I’d realized your game

I heard you’re going ’round
Playin’ the victim now
But don’t even begin feelin’ I’m the one to blame
‘Cause you dug your own grave

After all of the fights and the lies
Guess you’re wanting to harm me
But that won’t work anymore
No more, uh uh, it’s over

‘Cause if it wasn’t for all of your torture
I wouldn’t know how to be this way now
And never back down
So I wanna say thank you

‘Cause it
Makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
Makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter

Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

How could this man I thought I knew
Turn out to be unjust so cruel
Could only see the good in you
Pretended not to see the truth

You tried to hide your lies
Disguise yourself through
Living in denial
But in the end you’ll see
You won’t stop me

I am a fighter
(I’m a fighter)
and I
I ain’t gonna stop
(I ain’t gonna stop)
There is no turning back
I’ve had enough

Makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
Makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter

Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

Thought I would forget
But I, I remember
Yes I remember
I remember

Makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
Makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter

Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

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Fact Source:  Dictionary.com

Fact Source:  Metro Lyrics

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To read from the beginning… #MyStory starts here.

31 Facts in 31 Days – Day 29

Before this month is over, I wanted to pinpoint on what to expect when entering a Women’s Shelter, for myself and for other woman who may one day find themselves on that doorstep.

The shelter I had gone to way back when (Third Time is the Charm), was in a big house that had bunk beds in each room for women and children to share. They had given me a quick rundown of what their protocol was, what would be expected of me and how they’d be helping me to get back on my feet. There was a classroom/playroom set up for the children. Upon entering, I had no idea what to expect. I was scared about leaving, scared that I took my daughter, scared he would find me and scared of starting over. It was so overwhelming. Here I was, 21-22 years old, with my 2 year old in tow – in a shelter for battered women. I was so embarrassed. Horrified. So much so, I was not even there for 24 hours.

The information listed below only pertains to this particular shelter.  I assume they’re all similar in nature but I can’t say for sure.  If anyone reading this has spent time at a women’s shelter, please share your experiences below.  Good and bad.  If you’ve already written about it on your blog, feel free to provide a link.  Any information that can be added to this would be great.

What to expect when entering [our] shelter:

Entering into a shelter can be a scary and confusing time in a survivor’s life; it may even be dangerous. Knowing why the shelter is there and what to expect may help reduce the anxiety a victim feels.

While a shelter serves functionally as a temporary, safe place to stay for a victim to work on regaining independence, it also is a place to connect with other survivors of abuse and advocates who can assist in the journey to independence.

There is always an intake meeting for the victim to fill out necessary paperwork and become familiar with the new surroundings. Afterward, the new shelter resident is shown the room which is assigned to her for the duration of the program. There are responsibilities, since shelter is communal living (such as tidying up after oneself and one’s children, observing a nightly curfew, etc.) which will be explained to the victim at this time.

A shelter resident can expect to share these responsibilities with all residents, since everyone lives and works so closely together. The important thing to remember when preparing to enter into shelter is that the shelter is designed for safety and to provide resources and support to enable the victims to become self-sufficient and empowered.

What to take with you when you leave

  • Driver’s License
  • Birth Certificates
  • Social Security Cards
  • Insurance Cards
  • Clinic Cards
  • Money/Credit Cards
  • Bank Card
  • Bank Book
  • Savings Book
  • Checkbook
  • Your Protective Order (carry this with you at all times)
  • Lease Agreement or Deed to House
  • Car Registration
  • Insurance Papers
  • Health/Life Insurance Papers
  • Medical Records
  • School Records
  • Work Permits/Green Card/Visa
  • Passport
  • Divorce Papers
  • House/Car Keys
  • Medications
  • Address Book

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Fact Source: Metropolitan Center for Women & Children

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To read from the beginning… #MyStory starts here.

31 Facts in 31 Days – Day 20

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Domestic Abuse Survivors : 5 Reasons to Embrace Your Future

Suffering from any kind of abuse in life is something that we all experience at some point, but there are many situations that escalate further than that. Some domestic abuse survivors are so scarred by their experiences that they end up shutting themselves up to the idea of having a bright future at all.

5- Stop worrying about the kind of life that you once had

The past is in the past and it will never be the future and this is a very important thing that you need to be careful about. If you want your future to be bright you need to let go of the past. Do not become one of those people who get caught up in being stuck in the past and never let go of the things that hurt you.

4-Remember that nothing about your past has to hold you back

Your past should never hold you from your potential in the future. If you feel like you want to start a whole new life you should just go for it and move away from your current residence. Don’t get stuck in who you used to be and give yourself the chance to grow and evolve.

3-Your future is really all that you can control today

Nothing from the past can be controlled today and this is why you need to be careful not to overthink anything that already happened. You are only going to be able to create a future but never to change the past at all. This is why fighting with what once was is a waste of time and you should only work on your present and future.

2-There are all kinds of people

This means that you should never feel limited to the thought of everyone being the same. There are all kinds of people in the world and many of them will be good and others bad. Do not think that one bad experience means that the entire world is the same and that other relationships will be different. There are people who are raised in healthy environments and others who are raised in bad ones. You can’t shut your mind to the fact that in most cases you can easily tell what kind of person you are dealing with. You can easily find out more about someone and how they are by finding out about their family and their way of life.

1-Learn to be alone too

There is no rush to be with someone else and you need to learn to be in your own company. It’s better to be alone than with someone who will create drama and conflict in your life. You have to learn to be alone in order to be able to live your life happy. You will never find happiness in others until you are able to feel and experience happiness on your own. This is going to be crucial in your life and you should avoid getting into any situation with someone else until you sort your own life out.

Your future is uncertain but your actions can shape a lot of that future. You can expect to be a happier person when you stop feeling so worried about your past and focused on what you will do today to make tomorrow better. There is nothing more important than what is happening now and nothing more irrelevant that what occurred yesterday.

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Fact Source:  Domestic Abuse and Domestic Violence

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To read from the beginning… #MyStory starts here.