My name is Lakin and I am an ambitious 29 year old, as well as a survivor of domestic violence. It has been ten months since I quickly packed up my cat, a few small boxes, and decide to remove myself from an abusive marriage with an explosively violent spouse. My friends and family have offered remarkable support during this time and with their help I have made immense personal strides, slowly rebuilding the confidence to stand on my own two feet. Today, I am proud to say that I am ready to face the next phase of this transition and become fully self-supportive. My goal is to move out of cousin’s guest bedroom and find my own place to call home. The feeling is surreal as I type this…ten months ago, the goal of living alone seemed unachievable.
I consider myself a survivor of domestic violence as opposed to a victim. I don’t want to go into heavy detail about the abuse I endured as I feel it gives power back to the abuser, but I do feel a brief backstory is necessary.
For the purpose of protecting his identity, I will refer to my abusive ex-husband as C. My relationship with C was toxic to my overall wellbeing and my mental health suffered as a result. Physical and verbal abuse were the norm, causing me to live in a deep state of fear that became increasingly worse as time went on. I met C in 2012 and at the time, I was a hard-working 22 year old on my way to finishing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Ferris State University. Life was by no means perfect but good times were abundant, friends were constant, and staying busy came natural. However, shortly after meeting C, my friends became concerned that he was displaying signs of abusive tendencies. I had studied a lot of human psychology at FSU and I can’t say I didn’t recognize their worries, but I told myself I would leave the relationship if it ever became unhealthy. It wasn’t long before my relationship with C became emotionally taxing, experiencing depressive episodes on a regular basis.
By 2013 my depression had taken a toll on my health and I decided to put my college degree on hold until I was in a better mental space. Depression was not new to me but it had never hit as hard as it did this time around. My mother passed away from brain cancer when I was twelve and the entire experience was terribly difficult for myself and my father. I underwent two years of intensive counseling after her death, and continued to do everything in my power to rise above the depressive episodes. It wasn’t until my relationship with C that I truly felt I had lost all control over my mental state once again.
My sense of self slowly disappeared and suddenly I was someone I didn’t recognize. About a year into our relationship, he hit me for the first time resulting in a large welt. I hate admitting this but I gave him a chance to prove it would never happen again, though I knew statistics were against me. One chance became two, two became three, three became four, and before I knew it, I was stuck. I was stuck in every sense of the word. I didn’t have a job, I hadn’t finished my degree that I could’ve fallen back on for financial stability, I was too ashamed to tell my friends and family what had been happening, I didn’t own my own vehicle anymore, was living with C at his parents house, and just felt utterly defeated.
I never understood how or why people chose to stay with abusive partners; I always had the idea that these individuals were naive and lacked intellect for not removing themselves from a bad relationship. Overtime, I realized I had become like the people I had been judging in the past and I needed to figure out how I was going to free myself of the turmoil. The turmoil I describe was constant fear; constant fear of leaving my house if it meant C would be home alone with our pet, constant fear that I would say the wrong thing and end up getting hit in the skull several times, and constant fear that the next time C put his hands on me, he might take it too far. Aside from putting my degree on hold, I had two dental assisting jobs throughout our relationship that I ultimately ended up having to quit because I was too afraid to leave my cat home alone with him (I had great work history with longevity prior to this). I even pushed for us to continue living with his parents after we were married because I was so afraid of sharing a home with no-one else present. C was adamant about buying our own home, which became a reality during the summer of 2017. During the last two years of our relationship, especially after the purchase of our home, I could not leave the house if C were home alone with our cat because it would send me into a full-on panic attack. My brain would be overwhelmed with terrible thoughts and it was just easier for me to not have any sort of life outside of my home. I felt helpless and couldn’t see a future for myself.
In January of 2018, I promised myself I would start forming a legitimate plan to leave and end the marriage permanently. I was sick and tired of living in a fearful shell. Eventually, I filled my immediate family in on what had been going on. I knew that the only way to leave would be if I asked for help and I had to be honest about the abuse with those closest to me in order to do so. My family and friends agreed to help in different ways. Some provided shelter, others provided financial assistance, and they all helped calm my fears when I would second guess my choice to leave. On August 12, 2018, C told me he was going to the mall for a couple hours with his father and not even one minute after he pulled out of the driveway, I called my sister and brother-in-law to help move my belongings of the house as fast as possible.
That was over ten months ago and I have not looked back since. It hasn’t been easy but it’s been worth it with ever step. Within a month of moving out of my marital home, a judge granted a personal protection order against C so he was not legally allowed to contact anymore. This didn’t top him from trying and though I wasn’t surprised, I still filed a police report each time he would leave a voicemail or send a text. There have been so many times I’ve wanted to pick up the phone and scream at him for the pain he caused, but I don’t give in to the urge. I have remained strong and continue looking to the future every time I feel discouraged. Self-discipline and self-love have been two key factors during my recovery and I’m slightly impressed with the progress I have made. I was able to purchase a reliable vehicle a few weeks ago and I gradated with my bachelor’s degree from Ferris State University just last month. I have submitted my resume to prospective employers and am so eager to begin my career in criminal justice.
My goal now is to create a stable and sustainable life for myself and my cat, Kitty Boy. I am ready to venture out of the comfort and love of my cousin’s house and find my own place to call home. I have looked at all my options and have decided renting a home is the best choice at this point in time. Due to bad financial decisions as a young adult, my credit is not pretty and I was generally unable to work towards rebuilding credit during my marriage. I knew this would pose a difficulty finding a landlord that would accept my application and have me as a rental tenant, but thankfully I have found a company willing to work with me and they have offered to rent me a home for $900/month. In order to move in, I will need to pay a deposit of $1350. Additionally, I will have to purchase a bed, or at least an air mattress, and few normal home items such as bath towels, sheets, and cleaning supplies. I am covered on kitchen utensils and cooking supplies though, thanks to my sister. I am not looking to make this home extravagant; having my own safe place to rest my head at night will be the biggest blessing of all time-I could careless about the aesthetics.
Before this experience, I was awful at asking for or accepting help from others and I felt ashamed just thinking about it. However, I now realize that if I hadn’t asked for help, there’s a chance my life could have been cut short by the hands of an abuser. Throughout the last few months, I’ve had to ask for help more times than I would like to admit but I have learned to put pride aside and accept that being vulnerable is not always the worst thing to happen. With that being said, I am writing this letter in hopes of receiving help that myself, nor family members are able to provide right now. What I need is help gathering the funds to pay the deposit on this rental home and possibly a little help gathering household supplies and/or funds for household supplies.
I am asking you to consider a gift of any amount, that I will use to put towards the deposit on the rental home. I am not asking for a specific amount because I will be beyond grateful for any amount of money given or help received. In the future, I will go on to pay this forward to another deserving individual. If you’ve made it to the bottom of this letter, I want to thank you. I really look forward to hearing from you, thank you for your time.