© 2018 by Kate Ryan.

I'd just turned 22 years old when I first started dating this person. 

I didn't know much. 

I was out on my own.

I didn't have family support. 

So when he said things like, "Nobody else is going to be there for you,” I started to believe it.

 

At first it would be saying bad things.

A little push there. 

And then it became full-blown arguments. 

Screaming. 

Throwing stuff. 

He pushed me down the stairs. 

 

Once I came home and the dog was limping, and his stomach was bleeding. 

And he said that the dog knocked over one of the big speakers. 

We had one of those “Wizard of Oz” dogs?  Toto?  

I think he dropped it on him. 

I had to take the dog to the vet. 

I had to pay the bill. 

Then he put the dog in the microwave, because he was upset at me. 

 

I would leave and then come back, leave and then come back. 

And he's like, "I'm sorry."

Buying stuff.

Doing nice things. 

It felt like a never ending cycle. 

The older me is like, "No. 

You're not sorry.

Stop doing it. 

That tells me you're sorry.”

 

*

 

When I wanted to go to school to be a nurse, he was like, "Why do you want to do that?" 

He would ridicule anything I wanted to do to better myself. 

It was really a miserable time for me. 

I got isolated from my family. 

I became pregnant later on.

And it was overwhelming to me to think, “I already know the situation that I'm in. 

This is not the right setting or the right person to have a baby with.”

 

I ended up having a termination, but it was really hard for me to do. 

And I still think about it all these years later. 

Coming to terms with it, I made the best choice. 

I would have been stuck with him. 

I probably would have been running in fear the rest of my life. 

A kid should not have to go through that.

When you're miserable, your children get miserable too. 

And that's why we see the cycle of angry men, broken women. 

Lost people. 

 

This is a cycle I don't want to be a part of. 

This is not a way to raise children.

I need to break this.

I moved out of the house in October. 

 

*

 

We went to his house to spend Christmas, because his nephew is my godson. 

When I wanted to leave, he was like, "So you can run to your boyfriend's house." 

He kept trying to coax me to come back.

But in my mind I'm like, "No.  I'm not gonna come stay with you.

I'll still be your friend, but I don't want to live with you anymore.”

 

That's the night that he pulled out this long knife. 

I think it's one of those knives that they use for cutting fish. 

Seeing the blood coming out of my arm, I started screaming and panicking. 

 

He started punching me. 

I passed out a couple of times. 

Things turned black.

He was shaking me to wake me up. 

I'm fading in and out of consciousness. 

He threw me in a cab and took me home.

 

My arms were swollen. 

I couldn't move, couldn't do nothing. 

Every time I took a breath it hurt.

So I went to the hospital, and they asked me what happened.

I said that my ex-boyfriend assaulted me. 

I thought that the police were supposed to come. 

I wasn't supposed to sit just like I came to the ER with a cold or the flu. 

But nothing happened. 

I just sat for three hours.

I was like, "I want to go home." 

And they just let me go home.   

I really hope that's not what they do now. 

 

*

 

I was living in fear.

He's calling me. 

I don't know what's going to happen. 

He's going to come to my house. 

He sent a girl to my house who said, "I know where your mother lives." 

I'm up worrying.

 

I had to go back [to the hospital] two weeks later, because I still couldn't breathe. 

They did an x-ray. 

And he was like, "Do you know your ribs are fractured?" 

I had to take, not Tylenol or Motrin, but oxycodone. 

I became addicted. 

 

I'm like, "I get to sleep now.  Nothing's bothering me."  Once that ran out, then they were like, "Oh, you're ok?" 

And I'm like, "I'm fine." 

But I got two more. 

Just going down that path of "I don't care what happens to me.  

I feel lower than the ground.”

 

I was 108 pounds, which is underweight for my height.

Patches of hair falling out.

Stressed all the time worried about what's going to happen. 

I'm 22, 23 years old. 

And I felt like such an old lady. 

 

Eventually I just quit my job because I'm terrified to go outside. 

Anybody that I knew, I didn't want to be around. 

Because I don't want you harming somebody that I know. 

I became like a hermit in my house. 

I was asked several times did I want to press charges. 

I wish that I had done it. 

If not anything for him, it would have been more for me. 

You did something to me, and I stood up and I said,

“Don't do that to me again.”

And maybe for somebody else. 

 

It was difficult to get any help. 

We live in New York City. 

You don't have money, you're going to end up in the shelter. 

And a lot of women who have children, they don't want to go. 

We hear the horror stories. 

Safe Horizon, they were trying to send me to Buffalo. 

I was like, “I live in New York. 

This can't be life."

 

*

 

I have PTSD, and I suffer from depression.

A lot of relationships after suffered because of that.

I actually had to learn triggers and tell people that I've been in a relationship with, "Please don't do that.”

I got choked.

I don't like my neck being touched.

I don't like to be grabbed.

Outside a relationship, I won't go near an elevator with a man alone unless I have to. 

But even then I'm in the corner. 

I don't like a man to stand directly behind me. 

On the train, I don't like that.

I don't like to be with a man by myself. 

 

Some people understand. 

Some people don't. 

I'm not asking them to understand, I just want you to respect that.  

 

It's really hard to go into a relationship knowing these things, and then trying to explain it to somebody else. 

Especially to a man that can't even imagine being abused by someone else. 

It's very difficult getting it through their heads. 

I have three sons.

If somebody told me, "Oh you're son hit me," I would never say, "Well, what did you do to him to make you?" 

No. 

I'm going to tell him, “That's not what you're supposed to do.”

I don't care what she said to him. 

You don't have a right to hit somebody. 

To hit a woman, period. 

 

I wanted a daughter after my second son, but I have friends that have daughters. 

My boys, they just want to play sports. 

They just want to run in the park. 

But for a little girl…

After a certain age, you can't run with the boys anymore. 

You can't be with the boys by yourself. 

 

*

 

I talk to my older son.

He's 8. 

I've gone on a few field trips and I've seen girls hitting him. 

He's just standing there. 

And I was like, "Listen.  When I say not to hit the girl, it doesn't mean you should continue to let her hit you. 

You have to tell her, 'Please stop it.  I don't like that.'”

There's a kind of line I'm trying to get him to understand.

"You don't have to be someone's punching bag. 

Because men get abuse too.

But they don't talk about it. 

 

I'm happy to be part of the RAINN organization, the Speaker's Bureau. 

Every so often they send emails asking if you're interested doing projects. 

I went to a church event they had. 

They were looking for a speaker about domestic violence. 

So I did that. 

 

*

 

I just made a career change to the financial industry. 

A lot of single moms, especially. 

They don't have life insurance. 

They don't have things set up for their children. 

I wanted to be a teacher, but it didn't work out with my husband's schedule. 

I still get to be a teacher, it's just something else.

I'm a financial educator. 

 

Since I started this, I'm into working and training and learning.

I just feel happy. 

Happier than I've been. 

And the more that I learn, the more I can help somebody else. 

I'm meeting people. 

I'm out of the house more. 

I'm going to California, I'm going to Mexico. 

I don't want to limit myself to here. 

I'm going to get my non-residence for other states. 

They need help too. 

 

My main thing is to help. 

Because when I needed help, nobody was there for me. 

A lot of people just want you to listen. 

Even if you can't do something or give them something. 

Just to listen. 

‚Äč

-Sheri