By Guest Blogger Angela Hackett Jenkins
Life can be really hard and we all need to hear that we are not alone in the messy chapters of life. I’m a woman, wife, daughter, sister, mother, and friend to many. I have overcome so much because of other brave women in my life. I want to give more women the opportunity to walk in confidence and dignity, no matter what they are facing today.
In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I choose to be a voice for women who haven’t found theirs yet. I hope to encourage women to get the help they need to heal and become advocates themselves.
It’s true. Everyone loves to hear a tragic story with a happy ending, so I’m here to tell you a true story that does have a wonderful ending. With that said, it isn’t always the case for some women, and I hope if just one person reads this story, who needs to be set free, that they will find the courage today to allow themselves that liberty. You will need to ask for help, friend.
It’s been almost eighteen years since the day I made a decision to take back my life, my identity, and my ability to live in true freedom. It was a decision that took longer than it should have, with all that had taken place for so long. But let’s go back to the beginning.
In 1996, when I married the man I thought would be my soul mate forever, everything seemed picture perfect. At least on the outside. I had a huge wedding and a gorgeous reception with a big band, and everyone smiled for the pictures. To give him some credit, he was a very charming, educated, attractive professional, who played tennis and seemed to have everything a woman would want in a life-long mate. After all, I wouldn’t have fallen for him, had he shown signs of an abuser.
From the outside looking in, it appeared we had it all. Behind closed doors, it was a very different story, and the stress was so intense that I began having migraine headaches, due to the verbal assault on my heart and mind every, single day. The reality was, that I was in an abusive marriage and I didn’t want anyone to know. I was ashamed. How could I marry someone with so many problems? Sure, my husband drank too much, but maybe it was my fault. Maybe I was the reason he needed to drink. If he threw the dinner I made in the trash, and told me I needed to learn to cook, maybe he was right. Of course that wasn’t true, but I was afraid of hurting my whole family, and divorce seemed like a cop out. If I just went along with it all, nobody would ever know, and my husband wanted it that way. I needed to play the cards I was dealt, and not rock the boat.
It soon became difficult to hide, when on a return flight from a trip I had won through work, my husband was denied access to board the plane. People noticed and reported that he was too drunk to board. He began yelling obscenities at me in front of the entire gate, and I was fortunate that the captain saw my husband’s rage. The whole plane of passengers cheered when I boarded the plane without my drunk husband, but I was devastated. My life was falling apart, and even still, it would be two more years of enduring these events, before I would get out.
Finally, after my husband moved me across the country, to Texas, to remove me from any friends and family, or job security, I realized I needed help. This is a classic tendency of the abuser. Isolation and removal of all security. No friends, no family, and no way out. Control, manipulation, and then the roller coaster of, “I promise I will change.”
Clearly, it was getting harder and harder. I realized I could not go on this way, and I knew life could be so much better, and that the abuse I had endured was not normal. It is not normal.
Then finally, weeks later, after finding all those water bottles filled with Vodka under our sinks and in closets that he was actually taking to work, and the next week, a suspicious box of marijuana mailed to our home from Florida, and then there was the gun he brought home, I knew it was time. I finally made the call. I called my parents in the middle of the night, with all the strength I could muster. My dad was on the next flight to Dallas, and I could finally be free. I had turned into a shell of myself, both in drastic weight loss and loss of hair. My own father didn’t recognize me at the airport.
My story of domestic abuse ended well, but I had to ask for help.
This is where the courage to tell someone and to ask for help matters. You must ask for help. You cannot hide anymore, and if you are willing to get out, the help will be there. You have to be willing to get out, and to get out, you have to have a place to heal. I was fortunate to have a loving family, but many women do not.
In the last eighteen years, my life has had the time to heal, and eventually I remarried in 2009. Now I have a beautiful family where I have learned so much about healthy relationships. In addition to getting free, I have been able to thrive in my new marriage and begin to give back to other women in need.
In my pursuit of the life I was meant to live, I am building a company, called Solarte Collections. You can read more at www.solartecollections.com and visit our Triad retail partners who love our product and our mission: Graylyn, OldTown Club, McCalls, Reynolda House, and Lily Rain- Raleigh. Through this company, we are able to give back to safe houses for women who need refuge from abuse. When an order is placed, we send amenities to a safe house in that community, for the women residents. They also receive a card from me with the words:
“You can do this. You made the choice to be free, You ARE free. We want you to be inspired to live your life fearlessly and to live every day with confidence, joy, and well-being. I did, now I have dedicated my company, Solarte Collections, LLC, to inspire you to do the same.”
If you are in need of help today, please get in touch with a local safe house in your area, or call this line for help: 1-800-799-7233.
From a voice that carries,
Angela Hackett Jenkins