Abuse. Survival. And the grace to go on.
Today, I woke up knowing that millions of people around the world would read the story of my life. It’s the story of an abusive marriage that was my personal hell and darkest secret for years.
A story of the humiliating, painful, and at times crippling experiences I was forced to endure during my marriage.
As I told the reporter, I’m not perfect. I made mistakes in my marriage. Too often victims of domestic abuse blame themselves and feel that they are deserving of their fate. Regardless, the end NEVER justifies the means. Abuse is NEVER warranted.
It was never my intention to go public. When I was initially approached I hesitated sharing any of the details of this horrible time in my life. But then I thought about the thousands of women living in domestic abuse situations on a daily basis and knew I couldn’t be silent and abandon these brave and oftentimes voiceless women.
I’m writing to you today on Medium because I know the spotlights will point at me for the next few days and rather than rehash details over and over again I decided to let you, the reader, hear my voice directly.
I never set out to destroy my ex-husband’s career. I felt myself lucky to escape my marriage relatively unscathed. I was happy to leave that ugly period in my life behind and create a new existence filled with optimism and hope. I would have left it alone but I knew deep down that other women weren’t as fortunate and that I had to do something.
Perhaps what saddens me the most is that I thought I’d left this part of my life behind after we got divorced. But the reality is, abuse always finds a way to rear its head at the most unexpected, inconvenient times. This is something that I will deal with for the rest of my life. The difference between this and other challenges people face in their lives is my pain is now public fodder.
I have passionately and diligently worked in Republican politics for years. I am not one of those people who are so embittered by the current administration that I’m actively working to derail it with scandal. This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue. The reality is there are abusers working on both sides of the aisle, in our communities, our schools, churches, everywhere!
I was embarrassed to tell anyone because I thought that this wasn’t something that happened to women like me; it didn’t happen in my social circles. At least, that’s what I thought. Recent stories have shown me that, sadly, I’m not alone. The kind of hate it takes to actively and deliberately destroy another person doesn’t neatly fit a mold.
I stand by my statements to the Washington Post. Making the decision to tell my story was incredibly difficult. It forced me to relive the worst moments of my life in vivid detail, time and time again, as the Posts’ reporters, editorial board, and legal team vigorously verified the details of the things you read in their story.
I am blessed that others have stepped forward to corroborate my story. It’s lonely enough being a victim of abuse. It’s even worse when the victim is made to stand alone.
Telling my story repeatedly was difficult and reminded me of why I suffered in silence for so long. I’m forever grateful to my friends who have supported and loved me through this entire process. This wasn’t something I could have survived without an amazing community around me for support. Specifically, to John Bremer and Alex Graham, you loved me and held on to me and refused to let me give up. There aren’t enough words I have to express my love and gratitude for these men.
Sadly, I will pay a price for telling this story. To do so, I had to be willing to walk away from everything — potential clients and job offers included — in order to tell it. I had to be willing to risk it all. In an industry (especially a male dominated one) where you are defined by your reputation and relationships, I know there will be fallout from my decision. But that’s okay because I’ve survived this far and I will continue to do so.
I am working on my happy ending. I am one of the lucky ones because at least that’s an option for me. I am not alone in what I endured and there are those who will never get the chance to escape.
I told my story because talking about relationship violence is the only way to stop it. Women stay silent because there is so much to lose. In speaking up I hope to encourage other women who suffer in silence to come forward — there is an army of love and support waiting for you.
My story is messy, humiliating and tragic, but it’s my truth. Two years ago, I used to wonder how I would survive each day. Not anymore. It’s only because of the Grace of God and the incredible people He put into my life that I am able to survive. My friends and loved ones took the time to educate themselves (and me) about what relationship violence is and how to help a friend who is experiencing it. If you think that you or a loved one might be in an abusive relationship, there are resources to help you. http://www.joinonelove.org