“I am not my domestic violence”

How did I end up here? Sitting in a cold, dark jail cell swapping stories with arsonists, addicts and thieves.

What was my story? Months of making excuses, hiding bruises and smiling on the outside, while I was slowly dying within. His voice echoed in my ears asking me if I wanted to die as his grip tightened around my throat. I had called the police. Yet here I was, caged like an animal, while he sat free. Was it my fault? A dog that is beaten will eventually bite back.

I took the bait without even realizing I had been baited. He was 10 years older than me. I was young and insecure and looking for validation outside of myself, when I should have been looking within. He fit the profile of a classic abuser and I was easy prey. But this isn’t about him. This is about me.

The question played in my mind like a song on repeat. How did I end up here? Shattered and demoralized, staring blankly at a stale bologna sandwich I had been handed through steel bars.

Posting bail got me out, but it didn’t set me free. It took being “on the inside” to see what was really on the inside. Self-doubt, self-pity, anger, shame, and fear.

Self-love loosened my shackles. Breaking my silence broke my bonds.

How did I end up here? Yoga. Meditation. Writing. Art Therapy at an organization called A Window Between Worlds.

No longer a victim. More than a survivor. What am I now? Today, I am a thriver.