’40 days. 39 nights. That’s how long it took living in a domestic violence women’s shelter to secure a new home.’: Domestic abuse survivor urges ‘don’t let the fear of leaving keep you staying’

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Disclaimer: this story contains details of domestic abuse that may be upsetting to some.

“I keep seeing posts circulating about ‘what abuse looks like’ or, more so, DOESN’T look like. It’s awesome to see that perspective circulating. The fake lives we live on social media are easy to make.

You would never guess before a family photo, where I have all my children coordinated and we’re all smiling, that I was berated for an outfit choice because it wasn’t to someone’s liking. Or pictures of me on vacation on my birthday – I have sunglasses on to hide my face. Posts with flowers, they’re stemming from an argument that escalated.

But the posts I’m reading do not speak on how HARD it is to actually break a cycle. To leave. To escape. To want something better and go about completing it.

40 days. 39 nights. That’s how long it took for me living in a domestic violence women’s shelter to secure a new home for myself and my children. I was forced to vacate a home after utilities were turned off by the man who vowed in front of my family and friends to protect me.

States away from any support, with no place to go, I was devastated. During this time, I was also disowned by my own mother, and lost all support from those who knew of the abuse for years. If I would have been suicidal, I would not have made it.

I had tried to avoid this path at all costs; I did not want to put my son through this. I was unwavering in my strength to stay for my children. To give them a happy family, and have vacations, and tell a really good story on social media. Yet, this is part of our story now.

I’m sharing my story for you. For the woman who thinks leaving is the scariest thing in her life. For the woman who has no hope. For the woman who cries herself to sleep, and wakes with anxiety for the day. For your children. Your children need you alive.

Don’t let the fear of leaving keep you staying. Don’t let the fear of speaking out keep you quiet.

Everything I was threatened with, has happened. I’ve been painted to be unfit, mentally unstable, neglectful, and even abusive. I have had my most intimate confessions exploited on stand, used against me. Even combined with years of being cheating on, I continued to think he would change.

My personal struggles with anxiety and postpartum depression were weaponized. I am continuing to fight for custody of my children, and best believe I will not go down without a fight.

Document EVERYTHING. Pictures don’t matter. Shaky videos and taped conversations you think are going to be ‘evidence’ don’t matter. Stop telling the police he didn’t do anything when a welfare check is made. Stop thinking protecting him is protecting you.

And sure, someone will screenshot this to him. He will tell his own side of the story. I don’t have anything left to lose by being honest. My reputation can go to hell if I care. It’s part of my own recovery, and I will not allow myself to live in fear of his retaliation any longer.”

Mom of 3 escaping domestic abuse takes a photo of hers and her son's shared bunkbed in a domestic violence women's shelter
Courtesy of Cori Cathryn

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Cori Cathryn of New Bern, NC. You can follow her journey on Instagram and Facebook. Submit your own story here. Be sure to  subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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