The following is from a health care professional who is also a survivor. This is her story, in her words.
I was married for fifteen years. I have two wonderful kids. I moved to California in 1995. That was the year I met my ex-husband.
We met through friends. We started hanging out more and like any typical young adult, we fell in love. We dated for about a year and then moved in with each other. Life was great; we would go out a lot. We would do many things together. I then became pregnant with my son. We were living in an apartment. Things started to change between us. We did not do as much together. We were barely making it financially.
He started going out alone with friends, drinking more, becoming somewhat verbally abusive. I did not think much of it at first. I just thought he was going through a phase and it would pass.
Through my years of marriage the verbal abuse became worse. The taunting was worse. He would make fun of my weight. He would make me feel I was worth nothing. He would constantly tell me I was not wanted, nor would I ever be wanted by anyone.
Towards the last three years of my marriage he became physical and more verbally abusive. I did not leave because I felt I had no place to go, I had no money and I felt helpless. But, it took one night for me to realize that I needed to get out. Unfortunately, that one night the abuse almost took my life. He was arrested. I took my kids and I started a new life. To this day, I have no regret in leaving.
A new chapter started. I had to go to court and find assistance for myself and kids. Per court orders I was referred to Next Door Solutions. Next Door Solutions provided me with information on housing, support groups, community support and kids club. I met with an advocate during my time of need. She was very helpful. She explained everything that was provided by the agency. I felt grateful for all of this help, resources and knowing I was not alone.
I am now on my own with my kids and I have a wonderful job. No one should go through what I did. I put up with and stuck around the abuse because I thought it was the normal thing to do. No one deserves to be mistreated. Help is really around the corner. There are many resources that are very useful. The resources are provided to you at your time of need or when you feel you are ready to get out of the situation you are in.
I now work in a medical clinic and I see how important it is that medical facilities and domestic violence agencies collaborate together. This would be beneficial to our patients/community. A patient’s health is very important. They could not be taking care of themselves due to the abuse. It is our job to provide the helpful resources to our patients. At our clinic we hand out questionnaires/DV cards to our patients to identify if they are going through anything at home. I feel the questionnaires/cards are a way that patients become aware of the resources we as a clinic provide. Also, our clinicians provide a brief consult to all our patients regarding our resources even if they are not going through abuse. We would like for the patients to speak up and not feel alone or ashamed. “We want them to know they are not alone.”