I am a domestic abuse survivor.
Many years ago, I found myself in an abusive relationship. I didn’t and still don’t understand how I ever got into this kind of relationship. There was no abuse within my family.
The abuse didn’t just happen, it was a gradual process. I had been with him for three years before he ever became violent.
When he drank or was hung over, that’s when the abuse started. I was hit, punched, kicked, choked and had things thrown at me. I had broken bones and he once hit my hand while I was putting on mascara, cutting my eyeball, resulting in me having to wear a patch over my eye for weeks. I even had a hammer held to my head while being threatened to get my head bashed in.
When I was eight months pregnant, I was kicked in the stomach—that resulted in complications. The placenta began to deteriorate and I almost lost my baby.
I didn’t know who to talk to or where to turn. I didn’t know anyone else who had gone through this. The area shelter would only let women stay for two weeks maximum, after that you had to figure it out.
I never knew what was going to set him off.
I turned to yoga and meditation, through this I found the strength to leave him. Not long after, I found myself in a totally different kind of an abusive relationship. This abuse I did not recognize as quickly. He was verbally, emotionally, spiritually and mentally abusive. He made me feel alone, he instilled fear in me, he was dominating, threatening and possessive. He was abusive with his words. He alienated me from my family and friends.
I didn’t know there were other types of abuse. I was mentally, emotionally and spiritually beaten down. I felt alone, confused and scared. I didn’t know what to do. When I tried to get help, I was told if he hadn’t hit me there was nothing they could do. The police and courts did not consider it abuse at that time.
When I left him, I had to deal with threats from not only him, but also from his family.
Getting physically abused is just as painful as being mentally, emotionally, verbally and spiritually abused.
I knew I could sit and feel sorry for myself or I could stand up, brush myself off and move forward. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t recognize myself. I knew yoga could heal physical problems, so I thought I’d try it to help heal my broken, bruised and beaten down body, mind, spirit and soul. I’d found strength through yoga before.
I turned to yoga and meditation completely. I began practicing yoga and meditation when I was 12 or 13. I wanted to heal myself and then help others. There were so few resources available. I decided I needed to help change things, I had to become a voice for the victims.
I practiced every day. I knew I had to make myself whole again for my kids and for myself. I had to give them back their mother.
Through yoga and meditation I found a strength I didn’t know I possessed.
I found courage to go on. I found peace. I meditated for direction.
I sold my house, bought an RV and traveled across the United States several times with my kids. When I needed money, I taught yoga or art classes. I also traded work for the RV space at some campgrounds.
I home-schooled all of my children. During this time, I started writing a book about domestic abuse. While in California, I found out my book was going to be published. I began to give motivational speeches at domestic abuse shelters. I wanted them to be able to see that I had been in the same place they were and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I wanted to give them encouragement and hope.
I sat down and designed a program based on what had worked for me. I began to teach it to domestic abuse victims. I have since written two more books about domestic violence. I wanted to bring awareness. I also wanted to help other victims of abuse. I wanted to share my story, listen to others and help all that I could.
After months of teaching to abuse victims, I found that my program worked for other victims. I started to offer free yoga and meditation classes to abuse victims. I wanted to give back and reach out to as many women as I could. I saw positive effects and changes among the women. The withdrawn women began to smile, ask questions and talk about themselves.
After each class, we casually sit and talk. The women started to open up and talk about ideas and dreams they had.
I want others to know that there is help out there. You are not and never were alone. So many others have been in the same situation. I felt alone and didn’t see any way out, but there is. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reaching out doesn’t make you weaker, it makes you stronger.
We need to help each other and reach out to each other, isn’t that what yoga is all about?
I am a domestic abuse survivor. I have written three books about domestic abuse. I am an ERYT 500. I designed a program that worked for me, and I had seen work for others; I then thought, if I could teach others to teach this to abuse victims, they could help and understand how to teach, reach and deal with the victims of abuse. My hope is to not only bring further awareness to domestic violence, but to help people become more accepting and empathetic. If we can understand abuse, maybe we can put an end to abuse. My dream is to teach my workshop to as many people as possible. By doing that, I am in effect helping more and more abuse victims. I have also designed other workshops which I teach in person and online. I have done lectures in many places. I was teaching these workshops locally, but I would very much like to teach these workshops on a much larger scale. I can be reached via email at [email protected] and through my website.
Editor: Maja Despot
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