Submitted by: Jamie, Survivor
For many victims of intimate partner violence, abuse can begin or escalate once they learn they are pregnant with their abuser’s child. This puts both the mother and unborn child at risk for serious injury. Others may see the onset of abuse once the child is born, with the abuser blaming the mother’s shift of focus from her partner to caring for her newborn baby for their “sudden” change in behavior.
Survivor Jamie shares with us how her abuser pressured her for children, how it escalated, and the dangers she faced in her everyday life. Learn what prompted Jamie to leave her abuser and where she is now.
Today, looking at the new life Jamie has built, no one would imagine the abuse that lies in her past. Many people see her now and think that she has herself together. She has a good job, an amazing daughter, and an understanding and loving husband. On the outside, Jamie looks healthy, happy, and full of life. Her scars are not visible to those who do not know her story, but she is ready to share that with us.
Currently, Jamie has fibromyalgia resulting from the trauma and abuse in her past. She was diagnosed in 2013, six years after she was able to leave her abuser. On top of this, she also has PTSD, severe paranoia and anxiety, and she battles with depression. Despite all of this, Jamie still sees herself as a survivor – even with all her invisible scars. She thanks God every day that she managed to survive.
The initial onset of abuse was more subtle for Jamie, as it was partially masked by her abuser’s worsening abuse of alcohol.
Jamie met the man she thought she wanted to spend the rest of her life with at a young age and become pregnant at 19 after only being with him for a few months. Things went well in the beginning; he was sweet and fun to be around, and she loved him. Sadly, Jamie suffered a miscarriage three months into her pregnancy, and things took a turn for the worse. She cannot say that she was happy that she had a miscarriage because it was a very difficult time for her. However, because she was so young, she also knew that she was not ready to be a mother yet.
She cannot recall precisely when the man she loved began to change, but Jamie does remember that he as he drank more, the situation worsened. He eventually became an alcoholic, but she was not able to recognize it at the time.
Jamie will never be able to fully communicate the extent of the abuse she suffered because there were so many things that happened to her, and some things she no longer remembers. Still, as with all survivors, there are some incidents that she remembers all too well. The first time Jamie noticed the change in him was a night they had friends over. They were all just hanging out, drinking, and having a good time.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, he accused her of looking at another man. He got so irate to the point he instigated a fight with him; he was her sister’s boyfriend. Jamie remembers being so scared. After it was over, everyone left their house, and she was stuck there, completely terrified, with a man she did not even know anymore. He grabbed her by the hair and threw her against the walls. All Jamie could do was keep apologizing to him, because, somehow, she thought it was her fault – that she did something wrong to make him angry at her.
He told her that if she really loved him, she would have a baby with him. She was so afraid, and although she did not know what she should do, she knew that she wanted him to stop hurting her. She thought the abuse would end if she just did what he said. That night, he raped Jamie, and she became pregnant.
Jamie’s pregnancy was dangerous for her and her unborn baby due to the escalating violence.
Things at home continued to deteriorate. Jamie kept hoping and thinking that it was going to get better. She thought that he would change, or she could somehow be a better girlfriend. Each time she went to her ultrasound appointments, Jamie would pray that there was still a heartbeat and that her baby was okay.
The abuse continued for the entire pregnancy, escalating as time went by. Jamie stayed because she genuinely thought it would change, and she was still in love with her boyfriend. Thankfully, she ended up having a very healthy baby girl, but being in the hospital surrounded by medical staff did not protect her from the abuse. After he had been out at the bar drinking, he managed to hurt Jamie while she was in the hospital. Not one nurse, doctor, or staff member noticed that he was threatening her and choked her in her hospital room.
Just one day after being released to go home with her new baby, Jamie ended up back in the hospital after being injured by her boyfriend in an assault. Her ex-boyfriend had left a message congratulating her on her baby girl, and her boyfriend heard it. He came into her room, grabbed her hair, and dragged her into the kitchen. Once there, he began screaming at Jamie, telling her that she was a cheater, that she was worthless, and no one will ever love her – things he always said to her.
When he pushed her, Jamie’s back was injured, and she ended up in the emergency room. Afterward, he apologized to her, telling her that he only acted that way because he loved her so much. Jamie stayed and dealt with years of abuse because she was scared to leave. Also, deep down, she still loved him and was concerned about his well-being.
Jamie cannot explain how or why it is possible to love someone that is abusing you; it is complicated. She never thought that she would be ‘that girl.’ Before she was abused, Jamie always questioned why women stayed with their abusers. It is not something anyone can understand unless they are personally in that situation.
Every day, Jamie’s life was controlled and limited by the abuse. She regularly walked on eggshells at home, because she was afraid that anything she did would set him off. She was not allowed to have friends, she could not talk on the phone unless he was listening, and she could not even go to the store. All the money Jamie made was given to him, and she lost many jobs because he would come in and cause a scene at her workplace. When they went anywhere, she never looked up when walking, only at the ground, because she was afraid that he would accuse her of looking at another man.
Many times, Jamie ran away in the middle of the night, only to return to him the next day apologizing. They cried together, and she always believed that time would be different, and things would change. Unfortunately, they never did. What started as pushing and hair pulling turned into punches, strangulation, and worse.
Jamie realized that her daughter was in danger when she tried to intervene to protect her.
Finally, one day, when her daughter was about two years old, he went to lunge at Jamie. Her daughter stood in front of her and started to cry saying, “Please don’t hurt mommy!” That was when Jamie realized the abuse was affecting her daughter, too, and she decided that she needed to get out. She did not know where to go, and she had no resources. Leaving her abuser would not be an overnight process, and it took months before she was able to leave him and move in with her mom. Even then, he continued to threaten that he would kill Jamie and her family.
He rarely saw his daughter because most of the time, he was drinking. He harassed Jamie on the phone and continued to talk down to her. There were times he made Jamie feel like she could confide in him, only to realize he was still the man that was abusing her.
It took many years to get where she is today. She is now married to a wonderful man who, although unperfect like all of us, is the perfect man for her. He treats Jamie like she matters and loves her unconditionally, and he loves her daughter like she is his own. Her daughter has been in and out of counseling for years and suffers from PTSD, anger issues, and anxiety. She also struggles to trust others and has difficulty making lasting friendships. The abuse not only impacted Jamie’s life but her daughter’s and everyone else around her. Her daughter is now 14, and Jamie is lucky to say that they both survived. Some are not as lucky.
Jamie is also fortunate that her story had a happy ending. Her daughter’s father has been sober now for over seven years and is slowly making his way back in her daughter’s life. Jamie and her ex communicate with each other respectfully, and her daughter is trying to build a relationship with her father. He tells Jamie all the time that he regrets everything he did and wishes he could turn back time. Even though he is sober and has changed, Jamie still gets anxiety when she is around him, and she believes that she will have to struggle with that for the rest of her life.
“My advice to anyone is, do not wait! Leave at the first sign of any kind of abuse, because your story may not have a happy ending like mine. Also, get therapy as soon as you can. I have only gone once due to cost; my daughter’s therapy was my priority. I know I will need to go back, possibly for a very long time.
“We need more advocates who are willing to tell their stories and more awareness and education on relationships and domestic abuse. We also need more education on mental health and affordable treatment facilities.
“If anyone ever asks me how I got through this, my answer is always the help of my amazing support system… my family and friends, and, most of all, God and prayer. You are strong, and you are so worth it! Do not ever let anyone tell you differently. We never know how strong we are until being strong is the only choice we have.”
**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org, chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777, or send a private message through our Facebook page.
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