A Survivor's Perspective: The Criminal Justice System

Image result for court hearing[February 16, 2021]  I spent two years with someone who frequently abused me, both physically and emotionally. Each time I would try to leave, my abuser would physically restrain me within the apartment in which we lived. When I reported the abuse to police, he would be arrested but was typically bailed out on the same day, returning back and continuing his abuse. At the time, I had nowhere else to try and flee to.

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The One Who Witnessed

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.

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Long road to the horizon free image[November 23, 2020] When I met the person who abused me, I was learning how to be my own person and overcoming traumatic experiences I had during my adolescent years. During this time, I fought through many bouts of severe depression, suicide attempts and eating disorders. He knew about the previous traumas I had been through, and was the first person who was ever really there for me. At the same time, he wanted me to just move on from what I experienced, and put all of my focus on him. He tried to control almost everything I did, yet when confronted about his behavior, acted as though I had the utmost freedom in the relationship.

While dating, I got my first full-time job, enrolled in school and bought my first car. However, the more independence I had, the worse his abuse became.

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What Protection?

wooden-judges-gavel - The Academy at Penguin Hall[September 16, 2020] Most people think that when a woman leaves her abusive husband with their children, the abuse stops and family court protects them. Prior to my involvement with family court during my abusive marriage, I thought the same thing. The truth almost killed me. 

In reality, by voicing my concerns about my child’s safety in their father’s care, unbeknownst to me, I gave away my right to protect my child. While I can only speak for my case, there are many, many women whom I have met who have experienced similar family court trauma. By refusing to negotiate on visitation time, despite my very real concerns and proven abuse, our child was placed into the custody of their father for 80% of the week. Even though we were awarded joint custody and placement, my abuser got the majority of the visitation time. 

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SOAR's Our Voice is Our Power Series

[September 8, 2020] Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (SOAR) is excited to announce the launch of the Our Voice is Our Power series, a training and event series for survivors by survivors. 

This event series will be sharing valuable knowledge, resources, and information that SOAR members have collectively worked to bring to the community with the purposes of empowering survivors with tools and resources they need to access safety and healing, and creating a community where domestic violence no longer exists. 

We will be offering the following trainings this Fall: 

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