A love letter to SAFE
Trigger Warning: Mental, physical, and sexual abuse is discussed.
TWHC often collaborates with members to bring awareness to a host of issues that affect women’s health. In the following TWHC x installment, we’ll hear from Mary, a woman who survived family and intimate partner violence. Originally published by the SAFE Alliance, Mary wrote the following love letter to the organization to thank them for their support and encourage others to reach out for help.
Mary no longer lives in Texas, but recently reached out to ask that we tell her story. We are honored that she would share this with us and allow us to share her letter with you.
This is dedicated to my mother and anyone who has experienced abuse.
Twenty-three years to some seems like a short amount of time in a lifespan. However, in my story it seemed like an eternity. The first 23 years of my life I was trapped in a prison of abuse with no escape in sight. Thus, my story begins as far back as I can remember and progressed into my early 20s. As a young child, I never thought my life was any different than the children I went to school with every day. I thought all fathers were physically and mentally abusive, all children were beaten for the simplest things, and control was a sign of love. It was not until the age of 21 that I realized this is not love. Unfortunately, this epiphany happened due to my mother being murdered. I found my mother’s body and knew instantly that her life was taken by the man that I knew as my father.
Before and after this tragedy, I was struggling with being in an abusive relationship myself. The relationship was never physically violent, but extremely mentally abusive. It was not until after I was married to my abuser that then, like most abusive relationships, it turned physical. At that point, I knew that my life was at stake and I needed to flee. After all this time of being abused, I was finally free from all my abusers. I began my journey of healing at SAFE. The organization provided me the safe environment to begin my healing process. I opened up about my mother’s murder, the uncovering that my father was not my biological father, being raped/abused by my ex-husband, molested by my stepbrother, and the years of verbal abuse I endured at the hands of my abusers.
You might be asking yourself, “How can sanity come from such insanity?” My answer is from organizations like SAFE. This organization provided me the sanity that I was searching and longing for during these dark times. The turmoil that surrounded my past stayed there in the past because SAFE provided me the tools to move on in a healthy manner. Over the past nine years, I have been constantly working on the pain that was inflicted on to me. Today, these inflictions don’t carry such a burden on my mental state as they once did.
This is my love letter to SAFE and others … going through similar situations. The first step is always the most difficult, leaving your abuser. However, know that there are heaps of people at SAFE who love and care about you. The organization wants their survivors to do just that—survive. Everyone’s path to healing is their very own and different in every aspect. SAFE provides the opportunity that allows you to heal on your own time and find your voice again. Additionally, they treat each (person) as though they are the sole survivor there at their organization. So, my closing remarks would have to be: You are not alone in this world or this process. There are people who will be there for you and help you with protection. And above all, you are a beautiful human being who deserves healthy love and a chance to live an abuse-free life.
Republished with permission from Mary and The SAFE Alliance. To learn more about how you can support people experiencing family or intimate partner violence, visit www.safeaustin.org