Hi all! This will be the first week of my inspirational series, “The Power of the Human Spirit.” I received SO MANY incredible stories and want to thank everybody who reached out! Stories like these provide so much inspiration to readers. I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know these amazing people and hearing their stories that highlight the power of the human spirit.
I had the chance to get to know a really awesome person who we will call “Stella.” Her story begins in late 2013. She had just gotten married to her high school sweetheart and was in the thralls of “pure marital bliss”, or so she thought.
It was only week 3 into her marriage when her husband did something totally out of character. He had returned from a bar with co-workers far later than he claimed he would be home. Stella confronted him and was shocked when he slapped her in the face. She said this of that moment:
I was shocked. I had only known him to be gentle and comforting. It took me completely by surprise. I looked at him, expecting an immediate apology but got none. He laughed in the most awful way I had ever seen and said, “Now go act like a wife.”
Stella had known her new husband for many years and he had never displayed any abusive behavior. She thought, perhaps, it was a one time thing. She stated that she, “Stupidly decided to blame the alcohol and not him and it was the worst decision I’ve ever made. I should’ve left that night.”
The abusive got worse over the next few months. Isolated and alone, Stella told nobody. She hid the bruises and tried to her best to go on with life as normally as possible. When I asked her when her breaking point was, she said this:
He had been out with friends again, drinking. I knew he was sleeping with a girl he worked with but I didn’t even care. The less he was home, the better for me. That night he came home in a rage, for whatever reason. He decided to hit me the second he saw me reading on the couch. Apparently, the house wasn’t “up to standards.” During the beating, he told me that he was ready to, “put a baby in me.” That was the breaking point. It was one thing for me to be in this domestic horror, walking on eggshells but I knew I would never put a child in that environment. I stayed awake until he went to sleep, grabbed the few things I could without risking waking him and I left that night.
Stella found herself at a hotel close to the home she had shared with her abusive husband. He tried to find her to no avail and she was able to stay with supportive friends while filing for divorce. Many of her friends had no idea what she had been dealing with at home but on one of his drunken nights, she had recorded a video, a video that would speed up the divorce process and show her husband’s true face: an abuser.
She stated the following:
He still harassed me, claiming I was on a mission to tarnish his character. He slashed my tires, sent half naked pictures of me to my boss and threatened those helping me. It was a long 8 months and I can’t thank those who stood by me enough. I still flinch when I smell whiskey but I knew that I was worth more than being a punching bag. It was hard but looking at where I am now – it was more than worth it. If I would’ve stayed, I have no doubt in my mind that he would’ve killed me, accident or otherwise.
Stella is now married to a wonderful man and lives happily with him and their 2 children in Texas. When I asked her what she wants others in a similar situation to know, she said:
Violence is never acceptable and abusers will not change no matter how many times they apologize. I want people in similar situations to know that they do deserve better and that there is better out there. No matter what hardships you have to face, it is worth it because YOU are worth it. If you are with a partner who harms you, LEAVE. Leave everything you own. Anything is better than being hurt by somebody who claims to love you.
After talking with Stella at length, I truly grew to admire her. When it came to domestic abuse, the main question I would always ask is, “Why stay?”
Stella was able to answer that question. She told me that she felt like, “it was what she deserved.” Her husband was all she knew and she really believed, at first, that he would eventually change. She was isolated, alone; vulnerable. She said, “It didn’t feel like there was a clean way out. I was trapped and the worst part was, it was me who trapped myself.”
I felt so ignorant, judging a person based on a situation I had never been in. I learned a lot from speaking with Stella. The most important takeaway for me has been that it is easy to judge from the outside looking in. Human emotions are complex. Still, the power of Stella’s spirit has allowed her to persevere and build a life she truly loves. Stella escaped a cycle of domestic abuse but others aren’t so fortunate.
After hearing Stella’s story and realizing that nobody in her life knew was happening with her, I want to share these thoughts. Here are some warning signs that somebody you care about may be in an abusive relationship:
- Random excuses for injuries
- Constantly skipping social occasions for seemingly no good reason
- Persistent worrying about keeping their partner happy
- Changes in their personality from low self-esteem
- Constantly checking in with their partner
- Never having money
If you have a story that highlights the power of the human spirit, contact me 🙂 The Power of the Human Spirit