I had always felt I had no recourse but to yell, scream get in faces and fight. I’m French, Greek and Italian! It was practically my birthright to throw dishes and be angry. I had not learned how to communicate respectfully, and I was training my own children in the same pattern. It had to stop.
My past is riddled with abuse of different types. I grew up in a matriarchal household where I was locked in my bedroom most of the time when I wasn’t in school or church or doing chores. There was also a lot of emotional abuse in my family from my mother. My Mom died when I was 13, and my newfound freedom was amazing.
I as I grew up, my relationships became muddled with my need to control and be in charge. I also found I wanted to be sure a conversation or argument was complete before the other person walked away. I would chase after the other person to finish the argument. This became my pattern.
As an adult, I was wary of men now because of the abuse I had gone through. One time when I was scared and distraught, I called 911. While I was on the phone, he looked at me and said, “If I’m going to jail, you’re going to jail!” He proceeded to scratch himself across the chest to make it look like I had scratched him. In the end, I was the one who went to jail.
I learned to fight back. At one point when I couldn’t let an argument go, he hit me, I hit him back, hard enough to give him a black eye and break my pinky finger. Then one day, my boyfriend said, “I’m breaking up with you. I don’t like you and I don’t want to be with you anymore and I want you to move out.” I was in shock. My mind raced. How dare he say he was leaving me after all the abuse I suffered. How dare he say he was leaving me after I gave up my kids to be with him! I grabbed a glass bottle and smashed it over his leg. Immediately I was in horror! I cut him through down to the bone. It was the worst physical abuse I’d done. I was arrested and charged with a felony.
I never completed the requirement to attend a domestic violence program until much later. My husband and I had a heart change and faith became important to us. I was given information about the ARMS Virtue program. I entered the program and my eyes were opened to the range of abuse I was using and had been used against me. I had thought I was completely out of options, without choices. I didn’t know there was healing and retraining for me. Something that could bring me from the hideous shame I felt. The Virtue program showed me where I was wrong and how to retrain myself. I learned there is no excuse for abuse and abuse is about power and control.
My husband and I have both completed the ARMS program, and our relationship has never been better. We communicate successfully, live together peaceably and have healthy relationships not only between us, but with others as well.
I am forever grateful for the Virtue program.