Ten years ago tonight, you changed me. As I sit here thinking about that horrible night, I feel the overwhelming need to say thank you. Two days ago, I stood in a room with sixty two silhouettes which represent the women in our area who lost their lives to the likes of you. You intended to kill me that night but instead of being a silhouette in that room, I will be the key-note speaker for them in October. I remember each specific way you told me you could kill me and praying to God for you to just get it over with. I can close my eyes still today and hear your voice say to me as you gritted your teeth, “I don’t know if I should kiss you or kill you”. The hairs on the back of my neck still stand up as I get the most horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach each time I recall it.
You see, when I met you, I was not the person I needed to be nor on a good path to become her. I just didn’t realize it then. That night redirected my life and I can not thank you enough for that. I believe people think I should be angry at you but I can’t find it in my heart to do so anymore. Instead, I feel sorry for you. I wonder what happened to you that made you feel that you needed to control and punish me the way you did. I used to think it was my fault, that I deserved you to hit me but now I know it was not a broken piece in me but a broken part of you.
I am sitting here thinking about my ten year journey since that night. I have grown as a person more than I would not have grown into without meeting you. I have renewed my relationship with God and found new strength in my faith. I have grown closer to my family. I have met the most amazing people since leaving you. I have been put on a path that I wouldn’t have taken if you were not a part of my life.
I mostly need to say thank you for choosing me. I have taken the tragedy of that night and turned it into something positive. I started a non profit organization called Standing Courageous. We are training first responders and medical staff about strangulation. We are working towards making a violent offender registry. I wish I would have known that I was not your first prey. It haunts me that I was not your last. I wish I could warn her about you before she gets entrapped in your web. I fear maybe she will end up being one of those silhouettes.
Because of you, I can look into the eyes of other victims and say “I understand”. You made me feel like I wasn’t worth anything. You controlled my life to the point where I didn’t even know who I was anymore. You punished me physically, emotionally, and sexually for things and most times I didn’t even understand why. You made me hate the girl looking back at me in the mirror because I didn’t recognize her. I know what it is to hit rock bottom and have no where else to go but to pick myself back up. I know how it is to betray friends and family and hurt those people who love me. I know what it is to serial date abusers. I know what it is to be a binge drinker and not want to face each morning. I know what it is to be cheated on and told that it was my fault. You made me make an attempt to end my life. You made me understand how it feels to have the hands of a man who says I love you squeezing around your neck as he looks through you with no emotion. You made me know what it is to feel that someone wants to truly kill you. You made me know the fear that comes over the body as a gun is put to my head. You made me realize that sticks and stone may break my bones but it’s the words that actually hurt me. You made me realize that pure evil does live inside some people.
June 25th, 2016; it has been ten years since you tried to kill me. The above paragraph says “you” this and “you” that. Well, no more you. You no longer have control over me and you no longer will haunt me. Your chapter is over sir. My story will go on and this day ends your chapter. You did not do this to me, God chose this to happen FOR me. Today is the start of my freedom. Today I start my journey of being the voice for victims, survivors, and their families. I will hold my head high and say this happened to me, let’s make sure it doesn’t happen to others. I will stand courageous and do everything in love. I will stand firm in my faith. I will hold close my friends and family. I will live each day as if it my last. I don’t know why you didn’t kill me that night but thank you. I will make the most of the life I have left.