I had been in an abusive relationship for over two years. We did awful things to each other, but I always blamed my behavior on his actions. I believed he deserved what he got for being so unimaginably cruel to me.
One night, we had a horrible fight. My boyfriend had hit me in the face and broke my nose and my thumb. I had had enough and I returned the punches, destroyed his house, and let all of my anger come pouring out in violent screaming and hateful words. Then I went out to the driveway and called the police.
When the police arrived, my boyfriend came out and shared a video on his phone of my behavior. I had no idea that he had recorded what I did. He told the police my nose had gotten broken after I attacked him, that it happened on accident and in self-defense. I was arrested and spent 17 hours in jail, a place I’d never been and never thought I’d be.
I had never felt so hopeless, ashamed or afraid in my life. How could I have possibly ended up here??? I was a good mom, with a good job, and a wonderful family.
Two weeks later I started going to ARMS as a condition of my probation. In all honesty, I chose ARMS because it was the least expensive program. The thought of a faith-based group wasn’t really appealing to me. I hadn’t had a relationship with God in years and in many ways I felt as if he had turned his back on me.
However, what I was about to find out was that He was there all along and it was His plan that I ended up at ARMS. ARMS taught me that believing that I could return those punches that night because he somehow deserved it was just as abusive as the abuse I was suffering.
ARMS opened my eyes to what abuse is and, more importantly, what abuse isn’t. I had no sense of self-worth. I didn’t feel deserving of love. I have learned to say no without feeling guilty, to stand up for myself instead of always feeling like I had to talk people into seeing my worth.
I’m now ok knowing that I can’t please everyone and that my opinion of myself matters above anyone else’s. There have been so many times I have sat in group and heard the lesson and felt as if God was speaking directly to me at the most perfect moment of need, and it was because I had learned to listen to Him.
I now know what a healthy relationship looks like, and I have gained the patience to wait for those healthy relationships and the knowledge to let go of the ones that aren’t. It’s helped my family, too. One night driving home, my son wanted to know what I was learning about. I told him that it was helping me learn to be a better mom and how to handle tough situations better. He and my daughter spent the next hour of the drive peppering me with questions which turned into a great conversation about how they could use what I was learning in their lives too. Now every morning on our way to school we choose something to talk about that centers around the lesson I learned in class. Our 15 minutes in the car have become the most important part of our day.
My relationship as a parent, a daughter and a friend have all improved immensely. I have been able to surround myself with supportive people It has been an extremely difficult road and I’m still walking it…but one I would travel down a thousand times again to be able to stand where I am today. My hard work has paid off, but I could have never done it without the help of ARMS, my facilitator and the amazing women in my group.