Recently, a friend of mine sent me a news article about a woman in Scottsdale who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend.
The terrible crime happened just blocks away from where I grew up. The 34-year-old victim, Danielle Long, was an acquaintance of my friend. She had broken up with her murderer just a month before, and family and friends say she wanted to get a restraining order against him. They said she felt she needed to protect herself.
My friend who sent me this heartbreaking story had herself just left an abusive relationship. She said she was thankful that it was not her that lost her life.
That hit me. Hard.
We are both incredibly saddened that one more person has lost their life due to domestic violence.
And this month, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, is a call to action for me.
I, too, escaped from an abusive relationship.
It isn’t something I share often. But it is something I am passionate about sharing so I can help others who are in similar dangerous situations.
If you’re reading this and you’re involved in a relationship rooted with a cycle of abuse, please read my story and reach out for help.
Yes, I’m a mortgage broker. And yes, I help clients secure financing for their dream homes.
But if the foundation on which you build your dream home and dream life with someone puts you and your children’s lives in danger – my first priority is to help you get to safety.
I want you to know that domestic violence can happen to anyone. And it doesn’t always reveal itself as the black eye that we see in the movies or the mother with kids who is always the victim.
It can happen to anyone – woman, man, mothers, fathers, heterosexual, LGBTQ+, married, living together, acquaintances, roommates, romantic, platonic, seasoned relationships, new relationships, all different races, all different ages, all different socioeconomic backgrounds.
My journey to leave my abuser was a long and stressful one – and, like other sufferers, it took more than one try to get away.
It often starts out small.
Mental and verbal abuse poisoned me internally. I did not even realize these things were happening. They chipped away at my self-esteem, made me feel less than. I doubted myself, isolated myself, and became so dependent on my abuser that the thought of life on my own seemed impossible.
“How would I survive?” I would often wonder while pondering to get out.
The fact that there is an internal battle going on with no clear evidence of abuse, like a black eye or other visible bruising, is disorienting. I tricked myself into thinking it really was not as bad as it felt or seemed.
And then one day, in an instant, when something was thrown in my direction, a belonging that I loved broken to pieces, and then suffering physical abuse – I was relieved.
I finally had a trail and a visible confirmation of the verbal and mental abuse I had suffered, and it told the world of the pain I was suffering inside.
After a few tries, I finally got away.
I learned a lot in my experience surviving an abusive relationship. But sadly, what I learned the most was not to speak about being a battered woman because of the shame and stigma society has placed upon us. This has to change.
People often say “Oh, I would NEVER let someone hit me.” Or they look at you as if it was your fault and that you asked for it.
I thought all these things too before it happened to me.
I was able to escape. And I want you to know that if you’re suffering in an abusive relationship, you can too.
After my experience, I made it a mission in my life to help those involved in abusive relationships in my Phoenix community.
In my late 20s, I served on the Board of Directors for the DOVES Program, a first of its kind program in the U.S. designed for seniors experiencing domestic violence. The organization runs a help hotline, holds weekly support meetings, and runs a shelter for elder abuse sufferers who choose to leave their abusive situations.
Helping grandmas and grandpas who had suffered at the hands of an abuser was absolutely heartbreaking for me.
I have also volunteered and taught yoga to both men and women living in shelters after escaping from their abusers.
These experiences have not only given me a new sense of purpose. They’ve also helped heal me.
The latest alarming domestic violence statistics in the U.S. tell us that:
Visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence for more statistics.
If you, a family member, or a friend are involved in an abusive relationship, please get help using the resources below. It’s also important to educate yourself so that if you ever find yourself in a situation where you might need to help a loved one escape, you can offer a helpful path to do so.
I’m a mortgage broker and I am passionate about helping you become a homeowner or invest in a new home by recommending and servicing the best loan program for your needs. I’m also passionate about helping make my community and our society a better place by providing education on a variety of issues, including domestic violence. I hope you find the above resources helpful and educational as we continue our fight to stop domestic violence.