Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80 Page 81 Page 82 Page 83 Page 84GoodLifeFamilyMag.com SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2016 13 goodTO KNOW another man, I thought everything was finally going to be okay. And it was… for a short time. But once the arguments and beatings started, I knew my place was behind a closed door. I repeated the same routine of covering my ears and later watching my Mother cover up her bruises and busted nose with makeup, yelling at me if I tried to talk to her about the abuse. Telling my Father was never an option—she assured me this was not something to share with him. (My Father experienced child abuse from his drunken dad, and I felt the need to protect him from further heartbreak. I never wanted to make him feel like he was a bad father to me, so I never told him what was really going on.) As I reached my teenage years, my Mother stopped coming around almost completely, and her second husband was sentenced to ten years in prison for dealing cocaine and meth. Unfortunately, my suffering had not yet ended. I developed a severe panic disorder and emetophobia (an intense phobia causing anxiety over vomiting) as the result of my experiences and would hide in the bathroom for hours, sometimes sleeping on the floor until I could crawl into bed. For me, being behind a closed door meant safety, a security blanket. Although my Father never really understood the root of my symptoms, he did attempt to seek medical help for me. During my college years, I lost a significant amount of weight and was practically living on the bathroom floor of my apartment, rarely eating or leaving except for classes. I hit rock bottom where I knew living like this was not really living. I finally made the decision to see a campus psychologist who specialized in anxiety disorders. Even after graduation, I have continued to see my therapist for over a year and a half now, and she has helped me tremendously, changing my life in ways I never thought possible. For so many years, I felt ashamed to talk about my experiences because of the guilt from keeping the secret and the fear of how people would look at me if they knew. Even as an adult, I have yet to discuss the details of the abuse with my Father. On some level, I still want to protect him, but I also want to focus on moving forward and away from what used to control me. I have learned that bottling everything up and trying to keep my experiences a secret only caused me more pain, which is why I am sharing my story now. (I am still protecting others—for better or worse I don’t know—which is why I have chosen to do so anonymously). I know that therapy does not work for everyone, and we must each cope in our own way, but for me, finding the right therapist made a huge difference in my life. Because of therapy, I was able to make the ultimate and difficult decision to cut off my Mother entirely. I knew that allowing her to continue the same behavior she did when I was a child, wreaking havoc by coming and going into my life at her personal whims, was only causing further pain by continuing the heartbreaking cycle. Setting a firm boundary to steer clear of her (and not feel responsible for her) helped me get closure and look forward to the future instead of reliving the past. Although a part of me will always love her and wish that things could have been different, I know that keeping her in my life would only hurt me. It has been five years since I have seen her, and I no longer feel the need to condone her behavior if she attempts to reach out to me. My decision wasn’t a cure-all. I have good days and bad days, but I no longer feel like I am walking around with this toxicity in my life. I wake up and take each day one at a time and handle my panic attacks as they come. I no longer live weighed down by the choices of my Mother or what she exposed me to. I am not cured, but I am free. I am a survivor of domestic violence.” "I developed a severe panic disorder and emetophobia as the result of my experiences and would hide in the bathroom for hours, sometimes sleeping on the floor until I could crawl into bed." “Although a part of me will always love my mother and wish that things could have been different, I know that keeping her in my life would only hurt me."