This is the first time I've come out in public about this topic, and it's one of the scariest things to do.
To tell the world about my story, my past, and what is becoming my present is a difficult thing to do, considering what I grew up with.
The thought of telling the public about what happened five years ago, something I thought was behind me, seemed like the right next step because I know that somewhere out there, someone is going through the same situation.
For 18 years of my life, I suffered all three types of abuse from what most consider their home.
My family became my friends and my neighbors, and without them, I honestly think I never would have left my house alive. I don't believe anyone can understand the hardship of living through abuse unless you have lived through it yourself.
Life after being abused has been painful and wrenching, but ultimately, rewarding. To survive something that lasted so long and live to tell the story is the ultimate form of survival. It hasn't been an easy road, and my life has been significantly different than those around me.
Here are seven ways my life changed after experiencing abuse:
A pity party begins
I don't like to tell people about what happened because they always feel sorry for me. In reality, most people don't really know what to say, which is normal and expected.
After a while, hearing "I'm sorry" means nothing in any situation because you've heard it so many times before. It also becomes frustrating when people want to check in on me and ask about my family. It's appreciated, but tiring when it's something I want to put behind me.
Relationships become nearly impossible
Anyone who suffers abuse also suffers the reality of knowing that trusting again is going to be a battle. I can honestly say I have a difficult time trying to trust and be close to people after what I went through.
In the back of my mind, I am always questioning whether or not that person means what he or she is saying. It's also difficult to get close to people in any sort of loving manner because that feeling was taken away from me five years ago.
Telling the past is as bad as saying, "I love you"
I'm always afraid to mention what happened to me previously because the second I do, I am looked at differently. When I am in a relationship, the last thing I want to do is bring anyone home to my family because that would mean I would have to explain what happened for 18 years.
So far, every time I've mentioned it to a significant other, it's been a shunned topic. When something like that took up a good chunk of my life, finding someone who can accept it and move on is exactly on the same level of difficulty as trying to find a life partner. It has definitely weeded out some bad men in my life.
There are consistent flashbacks
I can't say I remember everything that happened to me because a good portion was when I was younger, but I remember the worst of it. Only those who have gone through what I have gone through understand what it's like to wake up in the middle of the night and think about being beaten. It's not a pleasant feeling, and it never goes away.
There's no definition for love
In any abusive situation, the term "love" suddenly begins to mean nothing. I became one of the coldest people for the longest time because I refused to let myself open up to anyone. If anyone wanted to get close to me, I did not let them because the last time I did that, it resulted in me spending an evening crying in the arms of the police.
Because I was never shown the proper form of any sort of loving relationship and was punished for saying it, I no longer have a positive definition of what the hell love even is. Rebuilding this has been an incredibly long process, which has taken a toll on all people in my life.
Independence becomes key
Having to take care of myself for all of my life has made me the independent person I am. A person who has the strength to exit an abusive situation has the strongest courage in the world.
It's an awful situation to be in, but it certainly helps you to gain perspective. Nothing is taken for granted, and everything is worked hard for. We become fighters.
Life becomes worth living
Some people fall into a deep hole of depression after abuse. It's one of the most painful feelings in the world, and we all go through it, no matter what type of abuse.
It happens during abuse and for a long, long time after. It gets so bad that most of us end up nearly dying. It is at that moment we learn how precious our lives are and begin living them to the fullest.
When someone saved me from my own hell, I realized there is potential in life after everything I had gone through. Ever since, I have wanted to save everyone I could possibly save since the abuse, including my sister.
When you have come close to death, you truly do learn how to live life.