My first week in Pre-K is going wonderful. I love the school that I’m teaching at, my co-workers, and of course my students. I am keeping busy with ongoing court hearings, therapy appointments, and am in the beginning phase of completing required evaluations. I will also continue my Monday evening group meetings for “Celebrate Recovery”, at my church. I am now able to visit with my boys twice a week for four hours each day. They are both happy and healthy, and doing wonderful in their new schools.

According to my case plan, my goal is to have successfully moved into my own, safe and stable home by January 2018. I’m ecstatic and can’t wait!

I never thought I could live on my own, or would ever really want to. But I feel ready now. I think being around my solid support team is key. I have so much to look forward to.

I know that I can do this, and I will.

As most know, I received news a few days ago that my motion for a “Permanent Protective Order” for me AND my CHILDREN was GRANTED. Before hearing this, I just knew it. I knew that the judge would grant this.

This is the first experience I’ve actually had where I’m involved in the most uncomfortable of situations- without fear or anxiety. I just KNOW that everything is going to work out. Whether its the courts, DFCS, whoever- I have faith.

Today, I began the “Intake” process for the Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) evaluation. These sessions last approximately 90 minutes each, and more than likely I will have 2-3 appointments.

I didn’t really know exactly what an IPV assessment was, but basically it is an in-depth look from the very beginning (childhood) to now. As expected, it was uncomfortable to travel back in time. It’s almost like being in therapy, but the goal is more or less to get the bigger picture.

I’ve been able to reflect and research- gaining more knowledge of past toxic relationships and patterns that have brought me to where I’m at today. Doing this allows me to go forward, and changing things so that I can be safe and not fall into the trap of violence again.

I notice myself trying to dissociate every time I have to talk about my past. I have to force myself (like when I was on the stand, being cross-examined by my abuser) to stay in the MOMENT.

It’s very difficult.

I received an e-mail from my attorney saying that my next court hearing for Juvenile Court in Athens would be October 5th, 2017 at 2:00 p.m.

As I rode home today, I stared out the car window. I began to have flashbacks on events that occurred last summer. (Probably because I had just had my first IPV assessment).

We were living in Almond, North Carolina. My abuser had gotten a job working on a farm. He would leave me and the boys at our campsite where we lived while he went to work. We had a big van with a bed in it. It was packed full of stuff- essentially 7-years worth of our “stuff”. We had a tent and were near a river. I would wake up early in the morning. I would try and gather food to feed the boys, but it was scarce.

I would have to wait until the middle of the afternoon, or the hottest part of the day to walk the boys down the hill to bathe them in the river. The water was ice-cold, but you got used to it after awhile. I would drag my red backpack down with me and set our soap, washcloths, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste (hygiene) down on the large rocks. Living in the wilderness, I had to learn to be creative.

It would take me a REALLY long time to “bathe”. But I do have to admit, I felt cleaner doing that than in any regular shower any day!

I had to stay constantly alert at all times.

I would boil water by gathering leaves and sticks- starting a fire. We lived there for approximately two months.

This was our way of living. I remember as the boys napped, I would read my book, “Escape” by Carolyn Jessup. She had escaped a polygamist marriage through the FLDS. It’s weird, but I could relate a lot to her in that book. It could have been that I understood her feelings. Because I felt “trapped” in a dysfunctional way of living, where I was expected, if not DEMANDED to be okay with another woman living in my home.

There was also similarities in the abuse that took place.

I would sit and stare. I would lay down and think to myself, “What am I doing? How did I end up like this?”

I did choose to try and make my marriage work. I drove myself and my children up to North Carolina during that time on my own free will. I was not kidnapped or coerced. I did it because I loved my abuser. I loved him and I wanted more than anything to salvage what I could of our marriage.

We were married up there. I love the mountains. It will always hold a special place in my heart, but I will never return to “those mountains”.

I remember laying on the bed, starving.

The only way I knew my abuser was probably close to being back at the campsite was when the sun had almost gone down. That’s how we kept up with the time.

Sometimes, it would be pitch black outside before I would eventually see the headlights to my car, pull up.

I would open the small windows to let fresh air in. I could hear wild animals all around us.

When I arrived up there, I found out I had once again, been lied to. I was met with my abuser and his girlfriend. The same girlfriend that drove me to being hospitalized.

She was upset that I came up.

She barely spoke to me. My abuser was charming- no less. He treated her bad. I think he really wanted to rekindle our relationship. It was almost like the tables had turned. Once there, he ordered me to hand over my car keys. They were both supposed to appear in the Superior Court for Temporary Protective Order hearings in Athens. By not showing, the hearing would be dismissed, and it was.

The girlfriend didn’t last long. She told me she understood how I had felt. She tried to get me to leave before that though. My abuser waited until the 11-year anniversary of my mother’s death to tell me that his girlfriend was pregnant with his baby.

I cried.

I felt like I was being tortured. Emotionally, I was. I was lied to. She wasn’t even supposed to be up there, you know? He told me he was through with her, that part of his life was over…

During the night, I had to use the bathroom really bad. I got up with my flashlight and stood in the bushes. She jumped out and sat by the campfire next to me. She rubbed her stomach. She talked about how she was definitely having this baby, and how excited she was. She was trying to drive me to the point of no return. But it didn’t work. I didn’t let this bother me. I took everything in, but said nothing.

I questioned if she was being honest about this. I thought it was too much of a coincidence. And last I heard, her baby “did not survive”, so I still to this day do not know if that was a made up story or the truth. No tests or appointments were given or shown.

A few days later, my abuser was at work and I was there with her. She was starting to get antsy, wanting to go back home to Georgia.

I tried to avoid her the best that I could, I still feared her.

I’ll never forget when she was using a military knife to open up a can of vegetables, and she sliced her hand wide open. Her hand wouldn’t stop bleeding. The most disturbing part, was right after it happened, she looked me straight in the eyes, and said, “I missed”, just as calm as could be.

I said, “you missed?” And she said, “YES. I missed”, showing me her injury. Naturally, I freaked out. I offered to take her to the hospital. She dismissed that, and said she would be fine. I said, “well I hope you don’t loose your hand- like I hope it won’t get infected”. She waited until my abuser returned and tried to get him to take her to the hospital.

I knew then, that she was playing games.

He flipped the switch, and was hateful. She insisted that the boys and I stay at the campsite. My abuser refused. He said he was not about to leave us in the dark alone. (Although he had, several times).

He wouldn’t even walk her in the hospital. She ended up getting stiches. Pretty much that night sealed the deal, and by the next day, we were all on our way back to Georgia to drop her off with her brother. She texted me the entire ride, telling me how sorry she was.

She hoped that I would be okay.

My gut told me that after she was gone, I would once again be the scapegoat again. Everything would be my fault. I prayed that I was wrong. I hoped that things would be different this time. And the time after that, and the time after the last time.

But as history will show, that wasn’t the case. And this time, I was miles away from home. I was literally cut off of every single support I had. It actually crossed my mind: Will I ever see my daughters again? My family and friends?

I was at the mercy, of my abuser.





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