One out of every three women will be a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault in her lifetime. No one believes it can happen to them, yet it happens across all spectrums of our society. No economic group, social class, race or religion is exempt from the trauma caused by these acts. Below is one woman’s story of how her life was impacted by the abuse she both witnessed and experienced.

“My father was emotionally, mentally, and physically abusive to his wife. I am ashamed to say that I blamed her. I blamed her for making him angry. I blamed her for not leaving. I blamed her for coming back when she finally had the courage to leave him. I had a particular opinion of what an abused woman was, of what abuse looked like, and of course I swore that would never be me. So imagine my shock on one very bad night when a friend asked me if I was afraid for my safety and the answer was yes.

I lived with a dreamy, love-child, straight out of the Age of Aquarius until he started drinking. Then he became a nightmare. He drank heavily every night. He drank until he blacked out. He would wake with no memory of the terror he had caused the night before. But there would be evidence. Broken dishes smashed into walls. Overturned furniture. Broken windows where he put his fist through. Blood from cutting his hands. He would cry and apologize. Tell me he loved me. Tell me that he would never hurt me.

But of course he did. He grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go or shove me into furniture and walls. Call me names. Pull my hair.  I would hide from him, knowing he would pass out eventually. But he never hit me.

The very bad night when I was asked the question that would change how I thought of myself forever, he was laying on the hood of my car, pounding it with his fists and feet and shouting ugly names at me until the neighbors called the police. I called his friends. Three of them came. One talked to the police officer. One took him inside and calmed him down. The third asked me if I was afraid for my safety.

I’d like to say the next morning I left. The truth is it took me two years to leave. It’s still hard for me to see myself in my step-mother. My abuser didn’t hit me. Her abuser did. But we are both survivors of domestic violence.  Our common denominator is fear. And shame.”

If you are experiencing domestic abuse and need help, please contact InterAct of Wake County. They are the only provider of domestic violence and sexual assault services in Wake County, North Carolina and are actively working to save and rebuild lives and secure safer futures for individuals and families in our community.