I wasn’t raised around violence and lived a pretty sheltered life in a small town in rural Virginia. For the most part, my parents were loving and giving, rarely fought and rarely had to discipline me or my two siblings. We didn’t experience violence in school or in the streets. There were the occasional bad kids and a murder every now and again, but those were not the norms. Life was pretty easy sailing for me growing up.
I didn’t experience true violence until I was in my late 20s. I’d hooked up with a carnie who, unbeknownst to me at the time, had been in prison. He was a bit of a rough and tumbled kind of guy, but he had an air of mystery about him and he fit my type: tall, dark and handsome. His name was Damian and that alone should have clued me in, right? We had a good start of things for the first few months, but over time, he began cheating on me. I found out in a not too pleasant way – I found a condom package under my bed that was not our usual brand. When I confronted him about it, he denied it. So I had a friend keep an eye on him while I worked and went to classes. He was followed. I soon learned who he was cheating with and how often. Every evening when I left for work, she would show up at our apartment. Every evening! Finally, I had enough and we had a huge blow-up. When I told him he had to leave, he tried to strangle me. That was the first time anyone had brought me that close to death. I kicked him and clawed at his chest until he finally turned me loose and left. I found out later through my attorney that he had been in prison for rape and assault. That was the scariest time of my life.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t my last. My first and second ex-husbands both had violent streaks. The first liked to kick me and my step-son with his steel-toed boots. That marriage only lasted 7 months. The second liked to shove me into things, bruising me and damaging my back. That marriage lasted 13 years. Both were also mentally and emotionally cruel.
While all of these were horribly violent, the worst violence was what I did to myself. Seven years into that second marriage, I became extremely depressed. I became a cutter, a burner and attempted suicide 7 times, resulting in 8 hospitalizations. Thankfully, I found a cocktail of drugs, a great therapist, and Mindfulness training. I am no longer a cutter or a burner and haven’t attempted suicide since 2013.
I guess the take-away to all of this is that you don’t have to find violence OUT THERE, nor by some other person’s hand. Sometimes the worst violence is within yourself.