By Mavis Creagh
What is love? One scripture passage explains, “Love is patient. Love is kind.” Another verse references laying down one’s life for a friend. Nowhere is it said that love should tear you down or torture your soul. However, domestic violence can do that and much more.
In the book compilation, “My Walk Past Hell,” my chapter is titled “Hailraizer: Pain to Praise.” I compare domestic violence to bottling up Satan, and then the bottle explodes in flames. That’s how my life felt. My soul endured agony and despair daily. I felt trapped, isolated and alone. I had other people to turn to, but after being broken, embarrassed and ashamed, how could I be a great mother, career woman and community advocate while allowing someone to berate and belittle my spirit daily?
My desire for affection caused me to forsake myself for an attempt at true love. I wish I would have listened to wise friends who asked, “Are you sure?” and been led by prayer when things didn’t seem right. But like many, I didn’t, and I landed in one of the most horrible mistakes of my life.
Yes, I learned from this and other hellish situations, and I want to protect others from the mental, emotional and physical horror. I pray that those who abused me get help and don’t harm again. I have forgiven them. I used to think I was only involved in one toxic relationship until I learned that verbal, emotional and sexual assault were considered domestic violence. I became aware of the horrible cycle of allowing others to take from me what did not belong to them. Now I speak up boldly to be a voice for the voiceless and others experiencing what I have been through.
I don’t cower when others try to make me feel ashamed or stupid for allowing myself to stay in situations. In my previous relationship, I believed we would be together forever and almost lost everything seeking love. For anyone who is reading this and believe you cannot make it without someone else in your life, that is a lie. You can survive and thrive without someone negating your worth and value. Some things are nonnegotiable, such as self-respect, self-love and dignity. You never should allow anyone to have that much power and control over you.
Abuse can even be financial, such as withholding finances from the house and taking money to make you dependent. If you feel you are in imminent danger, physical or otherwise, please leave. I believe if I would have continued in my last abusive relationship, I would be dead, either by suicide or from my life being taken. That’s a sobering, but real, account of what domestic violence can do.
Economic or marital status, education, gender and sexual orientation do not preclude someone from being in an abusive relationship; anyone can be affected. After leaving my abuser, I didn’t sever all ties because I was used to being connected. This caused me to experience more trauma even after leaving. I survived these experiences, but others have not after giving their abusers access to them and their homes after separation.
It may be hard at first, but don’t look back. It’s been over three years for me, and I am grateful for everything the Most High has allowed me to witness on the other side of abuse. I’m a new homebuyer, business owner, author and grad student with fresh happiness, joy and peace. This did not happen overnight, and I still have my personal struggles. I would highly recommend therapy or counseling for anyone who has experienced abuse. It helped me tremendously and supports ongoing recovery.
My peace, joy and happiness are worth more than a promise of love and marriage that was a lie. Love does not kick you at your lowest, beat you down and make you feel less-than. If anything I said sounds familiar to you or anyone you know, I encourage you to get out and get help. Your life could depend on it, and you deserve the love you have been desperately giving to everyone else.
Mavis A. Creagh is an executive director, six-time best-selling author, speaker, consultant, mental health proponent, community champion, women’s advocate, entrepreneurial strategist, columnist and online show host. A prolific writer, she will release her first solo project later this year. Connect and learn more at www.mavisacreagh.com.