I Didn’t Know I Was a Victim

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Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength, that God is testing them. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it” -unknown

It was three years that I was enslaved in a domestic abusive relationship. Like many women, I ignored the red flags from the beginning. It was an honest mistake for me to believe that the very attributes of his, that I wished to annihilate, would undergo modification on their own. I chose to ignore his

  • Jealousy of my males friends, even those I knew before him

  • Controlling behavior of my social media accounts and my whereabouts

  • Degrading remarks, name calling, and telling me to shut up

  • Bad temper, demeaning tone, and cussing, even in front of the children

  • Addictive habits of drinking alcohol 

  • Manipulation of always making me feel as if I was in the wrong and he was a victim 

  • Accusations of cheating when he was cheating on me

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And of course, like most situations, it only got worse as time went on. However, I kept convincing myself that it wasn’t that bad. I had begun to normalize his narcissistic behaviors and believing that maybe good men just didn’t exist and that I needed to just stick it out. After all, that’s what was exhibited in my entire childhood with the men in my family. I could resonate with Beyonce when she said, on her Lemonade album, “You remind me of my father, a magician, able to exist in two places at once. In the tradition of men in my blood you come home at 3 a.m. and lie to me.” 

However, once I began to completely lose myself and questioning rather I wanted this to be my future, I began praying and reading. The message I received was, maybe a relationship was keeping me from spending time with God and I needed to remove a distractioneven if it hurtI kept an open mind about it, but still didn’t act on anything despite the continually emotional and verbal abuse I was experiencing. 

Then it happened…….one morning, I woke to retrieve my debit card from him so that I could put gas in my car and pick up my girls. When I went downstairs I noticed he was drunk and angry from the night before when I went out with my girlfriends. I asked for my card back, but he cussed me out and threatened me to get out of his face. Until he finally followed me upstairs and physically assaulted me. He grabbed me, shook my body like a rag doll, threw me on the bed, and then pressed my head into the mattress, so that I couldn’t breathe. I believe the only reason he stopped was because his oldest son was there. I was terrified at this point because I knew this was the beginning of a turning point in my already abusive relationship. I didn’t want to stick around for the next physical altercation. 

We weren’t experiencing a test to strengthen our relationship. I had been humiliated, disrespected, and degraded. What did I think I was working out? His further permission to diminish me?” -Evanah Respes

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I then had to think about the message I was sending to my daughters. My then, three and one year old, were normalizing their toxic environment and I wanted to break the generational curse of domestic trauma and the belief that all men cheat. So, I made my first selfish decision!

December 2013, I woke to the sun kissing the side of my daughters’ faces. We had fallen asleep on the couch watching a Disney movie, while waiting for my boyfriend to return home from his usual nightly outings. It was about 7am and the night before, him and I had exchanged several texts messages arguing. I looked out the window as I heard each car passing by hoping that it would be him, but instead I only saw the outline of his parked car from the snow that covered the ground. 

While searching through my thoughts and looking around my living room, I heard a voice say, are you ready to trust me yet?” I looked at both of their innocent sleeping faces and decided this would be the last night of me compromising myself. I had no plan in place and there was no preparation, but I knew that at least, for a night or two, I could go to my brother’s home. So, I packed about a weeks’ worth of clothing for each of us and left everything else behind. I vowed to myself to not partake in the break up to make up saga. If God had provided a way out, then I was surely going to take it and never look back. Faith over Fear was essential in first learning to finally let go. 

Although, it wasn’t until I was finishing my undergrad degree, in Behavioral Science, that I learned that I was a victim after learning about the many forms of Domestic Violence. 

Are there red signs that you are dismissing?

Is there a distraction that you need to remove?

What do you need to let go of?

If you are finding that you are relating to my story or are experiencing a similar situation and want to let go, there is help. For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7 in the US, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). 

What got me through this difficult time was building my spiritual foundation, family, close friends and knowing that I wanted different for my children, especially because they are girls. Look at the resources you have around you. Stop masking your happiness and seek help. Do not be ashamed!

 I had to remove myself from the clearance rack and put myself back on the “please see attendant for assistance” self. It starts with you making the conscious decision to be selfish! My decision led me to an engagement with the kind of man I prayed for, to a home filled with love and discipline for my children, to my journey of starting my business, Girlfriends of Beatitudes of Publishing LLC, and writing my first nonfiction memoir. 

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Evanah (Vannie) Respes is the Founder and owner of Girlfriends of Beatitudes Publishing LLC. Evanah is a mother of three beautiful girls and is engaged to be married. She's currently working on pushing her first book which will highlight her and her daughter's testimony and how God used her daughter to save her. Aside from building her business, Evanah works daily with young children and their families as a Teacher Home Visitor. For updates on her book and other news for Girlfriends of Beatitudes Publishing LLC, follow her pages on Instagram: @girlfriends_of_beatitudes and Facebook: Girlfriends of Beatitudes. Email: girlfriendsofbeatitudes@gmail.com. You can also find her previous blog post of her story here: Love Again Ruth. Any comments or questions are welcomed as well.