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Lauren's Story

When I was 20 years old I was living out of my car with my son, who was a year and half old. I worked 38 hours a week at the local gas station, and fell in love with a man who was 11 years older than me. He was the first person to call me beautiful and show a serious interest in me. I didn't know much about love, or what it meant to be treated right, but I thought he would help me escape the streets. I thought he would show me what it meant to be loved for, and taken care of. He was handsome, charismatic, and a hard-working man. I didn't realize what I had gotten myself into.

The first sign of physical abuse was on my son’s second birthday. It was September 2014. He was heavily intoxicated, and wanted to have a three-some with my best friend and me. I said no, which resulted in me being kicked out of my apartment. When I was allowed back a few hours later I found them in my bed together. This resulted in a fight that included CDs being thrown at me, my boyfriend blaming me for his problems, and him punching the walls. He also broke a door, smashed Derek’s birthday cake, and then left to sleep in his truck with my friend for a few hours.

Months passed, and we were fighting constantly. I went through 4 bottles of vodka a week to try and numb the pain, but every day was a battle. He tried to tear me down about how I was raising my son, where I worked, and that I would never amount to anything. He started to become abusive to my son as well. He would yell at him for minor things, if my son cried, or if my son didn’t act in any way that he saw fit. At one point he snatched chap stick out of my son’s hand and chucked it back at him because my son wanted to bring that chap stick to school that day.

Our intimacy barely existed, yet he claimed he loved me. Almost 6 months after the birthday party incident came the escalator-fight.

I came home from work and found him passed out drunk on the couch with porn still playing on the computer. I woke up him up and yelled at him that if I wasn’t good enough for him, and that if porn was his only outlet then I was done. This resulted in him becoming extremely angry and he began cursing at me and blaming me. He started punching doors and walls, and apologizing with lies.

When I stood my ground, and didn’t change my mind, he started throwing things at me. Still, I held my ground, so he broke a metal lamp over my head.

I didn’t call the cops. Instead I called his friends to come pick him up and bring him to their house. He was so drunk that when they showed up he kept asking where I was even though I was standing right next to him.

After a few days I forgave him again.

The next big episode happened only a couple months later. It was a two-day concert in our town, and both nights did not go well. On the first night my boyfriend left me to go to the bar with a different girl, the friend I had with me left for a booty call, and I was drugged while bumming a cigarette from a stranger. I woke up in a ditch near my apartment some hours later with no memory of how I got there. The second night I stayed by my boyfriend's side, but he wanted nothing to do with me. We both drank heavily, which led to a screaming match in my parking lot. He picked me up at put me under his truck and threatened to run me over if I didn't cool off. When I finally grew tired he carried me inside and preformed unprotected sex after disregarding my refusal. Later, I would learn this would be defined as date rape.

The final straw came only two weeks later when I finally caught him in a lie. I searched through his phone while he was sleeping, called the girls he was cheating on me with, and confronted him. He tried to talk his way out of it until I told him that I had called each girl. That's when he snapped. Over the next hour he continuously threw me against the walls, choked me, and hit my face. I didn't fight back until he went after my son. When I finally got my son and I away long enough to call the cops, he took off. I didn't even notice that he had grabbed my garage door opener and my spare keys until the cops got there.

When the cops came and took statements I told them how I iniated the fight, and that I was the one who should've know better than to wake a sleeping drunk. Even then, I wanted to protect him, but they wouldn't have it. Thankfully the police were able to calm me down and describe the reality of my situation. I finally told them three places he may have drove to, and they found him an hour later up the road at his cousin’s house. He spent a day and a half in jail, and missed one day of work.

I suffered minor injuries, mainly bruises and cuts. The real damage was mental. Post-Traumatic-Stress hit me hard, especially in the first four weeks after the final fight. I'd self-medicate everyday with a bottle of gin and exessive excercise. Relentless nightmares kept me awake at night, so sleep became rare. When my son spent weekends with his dad, I searched for comfort in the arms of other men but it left me feeling empty instead.

The best thing that could have ever happened to me came a month later. I was fired from my job as a Manager at the gas station, and I felt a tremendous weight lifted off my shoulders. Not only did I have more time to spend with my son, but I was able to go back to school full time. I put the bottle down and focused on creating a healthy lifestyle instead. I became stronger both mentally and physically.

I had to to learn to love myself so that no person could ever use me again.

As of August 2016, I have kept true to my word of never going back. A year later I am still in school and working towards a better life. My car has been vandalized a few times from my abuser, but I keep moving forward. I have so many people to thank for keeping my spirits up, but the list would go on for days. No matter what happens I keep fighting for a better life because in the end, it's my son who motivates me. I have seen hell, and I've planted my roots to grow towards the heavens. With every hardship I shall rise to face the battle.

-Lauren

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