I sat there as the modem was supposed to be resetting glancing through the pictures of the first few months of my daughters life that are in the album that hasn’t been put away. I could look at the pictures of myself even then and see the exhaustion and depression hidden on my face, the abuse by the smiling and oh so young man standing next to me making it appear as though I was nothing more than tired after delivering a child.
What the pictures miss though is that I was ecstatic to be a mom, even though I was only 17 years old. I was beyond proud of this little accomplishment that had just escaped my body and been placed on my chest, that doesn’t show in the pictures and it makes me sad to think that she will look back one day at the abusive one and see the pain and sorrow in my eyes.
What’s missing are the bruises and the pain, because no one hurts a woman who is over due thinking it won’t be noticed. No one realizes that those frozen moments in time are fraction of a second glimpses into a world that digs deeper than most anyone, including abuse victims, can fathom.
I use the term domestic abuse because people understand that. They don’t understand when I say I was beaten and brainwashed through the teachings of the Bible, raped for “the glory of god” because of my insolence, denied friends and family without supervision, or that when I speak of the phantom shackles that I still feel holding me that I literally mean, I was held tied up, handcuffed, restrained while being used as a “sex slave” and then beaten for refusing.
Yeah, that’s all missed in those pictures, and in the hundreds of others. In fact, the only pictures of any of this have firmly been in the hands of the police since 2005, when I escaped with my children in tow on a cold February night after being raped and nearly killed… escaped. I didn’t leave, I fled for my life, our lives. The pictures the hospital took of his hand print bruised onto my infant’s head, photos of my most intimate parts torn, bruised, bleeding with measuring devices and other “tools” to help the police understand all that happened. Restraints that are in the possession of the police sitting away in an evidence box.
You can take away the things and pack it neatly into bags and boxes, but you can’t pack away the scars, especially the scars that live on the inside. The images branded into my brain.
All of that is missing and I go down as a victim of domestic abuse, a survivor, meanwhile, I am bobbing up and down in waters too deep always gasping for my last breath.
So much of my story sits in files hidden away because the world isn’t ready for that, I am not ready for that. There are parts of me that have been missing since I was 15 years old and in the 11 years since my escape I have wondered over and over again if those are parts of the puzzle that will ever be found.