It's Back! Your favorite blog series (and mine.)
Oh my goodness! I have missed this blog series so much! I don't know if it is just that writing about challenging experiences is extremely difficult or it's not the right time to share those experiences or what, but my contributors pile for this series has hit a dry run. But for today, it's back and I couldn't be more excited to share another story of hope, faith, and the power of a human who can do hard things.
My guest blogger for today's post is my good friend, Jennie Allen. Our daughters are joined at the hip and we benefit from their relationship because Jennie and I get to be friends as well. :) I have known little tidbits of Jennie's story that she has shared with me here and there, but last week, she shared a huge portion of her journey on her Facebook page and I knew that it was a story that needed to be shared. Jennie is a survivor of Domestic Violence.
Along with being Breast Cancer Awareness month, October is also National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. So add some purple ribbons to the pink ones that you may be wearing. It's an important issue to be made aware of. For current domestic violence statistics, you can click here.
I Can Do Hard Things- Jennie Allen
This is my story-
(Feeling the importance of this month I wish to share a outline of my story saving much detail but wanting to share just enough so other survivors know they are not alone and justice can be served)
I remember trying to catch myself as my limp body slid down the back of his green T-bird car.
I kept trying to see through this cloud of mist in front of me as I grasped at the air trying to catch myself. It was only after hitting the ground that I realized that the cloud in front of me was my frantic breath painting the cold damp air. As I laid in utter shock on the parking lot asphalt, I recognized that the ringing in my ear and screaming pain pulsing through the left side of my face wasn't from the harsh contact my head had just made with the pavement. No, the stinging and burning was from his angry clenched fist; the fist that was made from the hand of my high school sweet heart. This was the first time he had ever hit me and it would not be the last.
I endured countless apologies and mountains of "I am sorry's". He poured out tears of grief and sorrow and begged me to stay. He said he would die without me and if I ever left him he would have no purpose. Roses, gifts and loving gestures soon turned into threatening words and violent gestures.
"I love you"
Over time when children were in the picture, he also threatened their lives if I ever defied him. I still to this day have a hard time telling anyone about the amount of abuse that was endured.
But even through the darkest days, I believe with all my heart that Heavenly Father was watching over us. I often looked back to the times when I was young singing "Families Can be Together Forever" in Primary. My heart ached because I wanted nothing more then to have a forever family and escape this abuse from my husband. My soul yearned that he would have a change of heart. I thought that maybe if I just tried a little harder to be a little better he would somehow become better and less hurtful.
That is what the trauma of domestic violence can do. Twist things of the heart.
However, no matter how hard I prayed, I knew he wasn't going to change.
After six years of manipulation, control, and physical, emotional and spiritual torment from my ex-husband's hands, God blessed me with the opportunity to escape safely with my four children and start a new life.
The night we escaped I can remember so clearly.
It was one of those "walk on egg shells" kind of night. He was getting worked up and the tension in the air was becoming more and more noticeable. It always seemed like the smallest things could set him off. Tonight was just one of those nights. It escalated to the extreme and his temper exploded.
It happened so quickly. He began to shove, then push, then pull me. This whole time I was holding my youngest daughter in my arms. I knew it wasn't going to end well. I ran and quickly hid the children one by one to their "safe spots" as we called them. Sadly, they always knew what to do when daddy was mad. I ran into my bedroom with my youngest still in my arms, and locked the door. I was praying and pleading for a way out. I knew that we couldn't bear another night; another struggle to survive. I knelt down and prayed as he pounded on the door, shouting to me to let him in or he would hurt me and the baby.
And that's when I saw it. The phone.
He was always very controlling and by this time, he had successfully led us away from even the rarest of contact with family and friends. He had even taken all phone access away and always carried it with him where ever he went. So seeing the phone on the floor was a miracle. I knew that this was entirely the work of angels.
I quickly grabbed the phone and started to dial 9-1-1, but stopped in paralyzing fear of what he would do if I did what I was about to do. Then suddenly over the pounding and yelling I heard a very small but firm voice.
"Call. Call now. Before it's too late."
I squeezed the phone between both of my hands and heard the cracking of wood on the frame of the door that was beginning to give way. He was kicking the door in. I was panicked and stuck in overwhelming fear.
Then I felt a hand in my shoulder and the voice again tell me.
"Call. It is time. You will be safe."
So I called. I gave the 9-1-1 operator our address. A few weeks later, I had the opportunity to listen to that 9-1-1 call on tape and I couldn't even recognize my own voice. What I heard was me screaming the address. Then I heard my screams disappearing. It was at that point that he was dragging me by the hair from the bedroom to the front room with my daughter still clinging to me. He dropped me to the floor and ran back to the room, returning with the phone in his hand. He stood in fear and then smashed the phone yelling at me, "What have you done to this family!?"
I curled up in fear thinking the worst was about to happen, but instead he grabbed the car keys and fled. Moments later the police showed up and after documents were written and pictures were taken, we were escorted off the property in safety.
It had come to my attention sometime later that at some point during that horrific day, he had moved his guns to the bedroom. I feel very strongly that if I had not acted on that prompting to call 9-1-1, my children and I would not be here right now. We would in fact be, just another statistic in domestic violence deaths. I am sorry if this is hard to read. It is hard to write. But that's the reality of it. It's not pretty. Domestic violence is very dark. But yet, there can be light, there can be hope, there can be life after this type of darkness, and there can be love experienced that is truly the kind of love you deserve.
With much love and support from amazing family and friends my children and I were on to a road to heal. Putting my heart and soul into helping my kids heal was my main goal. My children were receiving therapy, making new friends, and being able to be kids again. I was going to college and pursing my nursing degree, working full time, and helping others in my church and community. I felt so blessed every moment of every day to have just that...another day. I cannot tell you how strong my children were and are to have come through such a storm and be the amazing human beings that they are.
It was almost a year after my divorce was final with protective and restraining orders in place, when my ex husband came back and tried to take (in his words) "what was his". He knew I was trying to start anew, and he wanted to destroy what was precious to me (and threatening him)....my spirit.
He came into my home and attacked and raped me.
In 2009, after 3 years of court hearings, tears and endless hours on the stand testifying with him sitting there in front of me, he was finally convicted of 1st degree felony Rape and Domestic Violence. He is currently serving his 7th year in prison at this time.
Sharing my story is not easy. Even 10 years after this horrific darkness in my life, I still struggle with PTSD, depression, social anxiety, panic attacks, triggers and more.
My children have struggled in their own ways and have thankfully had the support system they need to heal and just be kids again.
I want to thank my loving friends and family who saw me and my children through the storms for if it were not for your support and strength we would not be here, thriving.
To my best friend, my husband, Mark, thank you for your unconditional love. Thank you for showing me what a true gentleman looks like. Thank you for showing my boys how to be a good man and for showing my daughters how a woman deserves to be treated.
I have a testimony that God has each and every one of our names written on the palms of His hands and that He loves each of us so much. I knew, even in the darkest times, that we were and are never forgotten.
Will there be more dark times ahead? Yes. More trials to face more mountains to climb? Yes. But they aren't there to punish us or to hurt us, but to help us. And hopefully because of our experiences we can help others. Each of us was sent here for a purpose. .
I wish to shine a light on Domestic Violence awareness. A light to give you hope that you can heal even though it may take some time. You can see justice being served but you have to fight. You can find yourself after the storm, just love yourself.
You can get out!
I am loving my second chance at life.
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Copyright Desirae Ogden, www.desiraeogden.com, 2015.
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