Column: Don't be afraid to reach out for help
Submitted by the Southwest Crisis Center Editor's note: The following translated letters, included without names, have been shared by Kari Voss-Drost, assistant director at Southwest Crisis Center. The hope and intention in writing and sharing th...
Submitted by the Southwest Crisis Center
Editor’s note: The following translated letters, included without names, have been shared by Kari Voss-Drost, assistant director at Southwest Crisis Center. The hope and intention in writing and sharing the letters is to let other survivors know they are not alone and to shed light on the intersections of immigration and domestic and sexual violence as well as added barriers immigrants may face when seeking safety, reporting or speaking out.
To speak out or not to speak out? It seems like there is no way out when you are in an abusive situation. It comes to your mind that there is no way to escape. There is embarrassment and fear of the person hurting you. There is fear that no one will help you and that person will continue to harm you.
I would ask myself, “Should I speak out or not?” due to the threats I would receive. Especially in my situation, because I am here without legal status. That person would take advantage of that and threaten to have me deported.
I used to work for him. I saw red flags in the work environment that I was in, and my gut instinct told me I needed to get out. I spoke to that person to tell him I was no longer going to work for him. About one week after I left, he told me why I left; he was sick. I believed he was sick. His intentions were others and it was too late, because that’s when he abused me.
He would offer me presents in order for my SILENCE. I never accepted these “presents.” At that time, I felt dirty and scared. All I wanted was to go home. He would laugh. I knew he had weapons - a gun. At that time, all you hear is judgement from others and receiving no help.
I finally spoke with a friend and told her what happened. She referred me to the Southwest Crisis Center. You feel devalued, you feel powerless. You feel trapped in a dark world. What helped me was my friends and support from the Southwest Crisis Center. It was then that I realized that being silent is NOT the answer. It was helpful realizing that I wasn’t alone. Police officers were kind during the reporting process. I was reminded that it was NOT my fault.
My abuser was arrested that same day. I remember my head hurting so much. The next day my neck was swollen, as well as my shoulders. I hurt internally and physically. I was terrified. It was impossible to sleep the first couple days; I wasn’t tired. I had to go to the hospital so I could receive medication to help me sleep.
I was able to go to therapy sessions. I was so scared to even leave my house. Summer did not get my attention. I only wanted to sleep. My abuser was eventually deported. I feel better knowing that he is no longer here - I don’t fear bumping into him like I used to before.
It’s important to not keep silent because if we keep silent, our violent situation will never end. Had I not spoken, the abuser may have new victims and keep terrifying others. I’m sure that if I had not spoken, there would be more victims today other than me. Had I stayed silent, JUSTICE WOULD NEVER been made. He would still be free harming others and intimidating me. Had I stayed silent, I’m sure the pain I was feeling would have grown and he would have kept abusing me. I’m sure I would have tried suicide.
Speaking is important, you are NOT alone. The justice system has been very wonderful and supportive of me. I now I understand why others have committed suicide because you feel powerless and worthless. If you are in the same situation, I know you feel scared and threatened. You can trust the justice system; tell a friend. Even just speaking to someone will help you feel better. Nobody has the right to make us feel scared. If we speak we will receive help, and it’s possible for justice to be served.
There is always a way out This is a small part of my story.
I am a survivor of domestic violence. I tolerated a manipulative, abusive and bad person. I was an abused woman for many years by a violent person that made me feel that I was not worth anything and that I was alone, with nobody to help me. He succeeded in making me think that life was not worth living, with no will to wake up in the mornings and no appetite to eat. I was dead in life.
I remember a lot of things as if they were just yesterday. I still hear his voice next to my ear threatening to kill me and that nobody would bother to look for me. He would tell me he would make sure he would get rid of my body after killing me.
Every time I look at myself in the mirror and I look at the scar on my arm, I remember that morning when he hit me with a long lumber stick without any remorse. He broke my arm due to him hitting me. I also remember one day while at work we were arguing and as I turned my head to look the other way, he hit me on the head with a large tube. I felt a lot of pain and blood running down my neck.
There were a lot of times that I would pray to God for help - to give me a way out of this type of life that I was living with this abusive person.
I now know that death has an odor. When a person is near death, you can smell it because it is so close to you. My surroundings were black and empty; I could not see the light in my life. I know that death was very near me.
Thankfully, one day I woke up from that darkness that I was living and I asked for help. I now know that we are not alone; there are special places like the Southwest Crisis Center that exist to help us.
I want to ask all of the women that are being abused not to keep silent; you need to speak and find help. You are not alone like you may think you are; there is always a way out and there is always a light. Be brave and don’t be afraid. You only live once and there is no need to live in fear.
Life is beautiful.