Silhouette of mother holding her baby child hand and coming to camera —  Stock Video © Alexeg84 #149163360[November 30, 2020] As a child who witnessed domestic abuse, I believed abuse was only physical.  I saw daddy hitting mommy too many times. I was too young to see the other forms of abuse that took place under the surface. The emotional abuse and manipulation my mother suffered were just part of the family dynamic.

As an adult, I found myself in an abusive relationship. The abuse was subtle in the beginning.  I was a social butterfly, but any time I had a conversation with someone other than him, he would accuse me of cheating. He called me names and humiliated me in front of his family, making me feel guilty for just being me. When he wanted intimacy, instead of caressing me, he’d grab me, making me feel that intimacy was a duty and role I had to play.  He made me feel guilty for going to work, as his interpretation of being a mother was staying at home with the kids and not working.  He believed the only role of a woman or wife was to be submissive. What I believed did not matter.

Gradually, throughout the relationship, those subtle moments became more aggressive. The grabbing became shoving. The shoving became being held down for as long as he wanted. The intimacy started to include an audience against my will. I was mortified. After some time, it wasn’t simply an idea that a woman should stay home, but actual financial abuse, and I eventually wasn’t even allowed to work at all. Because he did not allow me to work, I had no income and nor did I have control over finances; it was his money.  The independence I once had was stripped from me. When my vehicle broke down, he refused to get it fixed. This left me without transportation and isolated me from anyone but him. He would make remarks to his family that would make them believe that I was crazy, which further isolated me. I no longer felt love toward my husband, I felt like I was being controlled like strings on a puppet. Instead of a genuine smile on my face, it was a forced mask I had to paint on to appear happy to others.

To survive, I became someone that was no longer me. I couldn’t recognize myself. It got to a point where I shut down. I froze.

There were many witnesses to the abuse but no one did anything. A friend saw the way he was treating me, took notice and approached me about it. She asked me how I was doing, and said, “I’m not asking you to be nosey, I’m asking you because I care. I love you and I care about your wellbeing as I do the children. But I’ve noticed you’ve changed.” That opened up a conversation, and I didn’t feel judged by her. I knew I could trust her. She made me feel comfortable so I was able to tell her my most uncomfortable experiences.  She helped me because she acknowledged these abusive behaviors that everyone else ignored – I felt validated.

She is the person who helped me to get to safety. She offered me and my children a place to stay, and in the process of being there, guided me to the resources we needed.

During all of this, the only time I felt truly happy was when I realized even though there were many things out of my control, I could still show my children the love I knew I had in me still.  I never wanted my children to witness daddy hitting mommy. I knew I had to do something and for me, the first step was leaving.

You asked me how I was today 

you saw it on my face 

you knew there’d  be a price to pay 

you figured I needed space.


You asked me if I loved you still, my silence told you so 

you know I always will, but truth is I must go.


War scars are not beauty marks 

they are reminders of the pain 

you can color them with rainbow colors 

but the beauty is not the same .


You asked me for a simple kiss 

but for me it’s not that easy 

one thing you fail to miss

 is that your touch no longer eases me


You asked me to forgive you 

if that’s all you want then fine 

only thing for me to do 

is leave the past behind.


War scars are not beauty marks 

they are reminders of the pain

You can cover them with rainbow colors 

but the beauty is not the same .


You told me I was beautiful,   

what happened to that girl?

I wanted to be beautiful 

but my beauty is not the same. 

- Cali, SOAR Member

Cali is a resilient mother, a member of SOAR (Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships), an activist in her community and a survivor of domestic violence. She is an advocate for individuals who have endured many different forms of domestic abuse. She chooses to use her voice to pay it forward, as a tool to encourage, empower, educate and take action.

Click here to view previous posts from Breaking the Silence.