While some may experience abuse by entering an abusive relationship later on in their life, some experience abuse in the home from an early age.
Tiffany’s story is a prime example of this.
Tiffany began to witness abuse at the young age of 3. After her father passed away, her mom remarried and found herself in an abusive relationship. Signs of abuse happened early on. The abuser was always temperamental and would find fault in the simplest things. For example, he would be triggered by a fresh loaf of bread not being on the table. To protect her children the best way she could, Tiffany’s mom would often try to prevent these triggers, and always tried to avoid angering him. However, as is common with abuse, he would still become violent. Being the youngest in the home, Tiffany would often be the one witnessing these acts of violence.
Even while in her abusive relationship, Tiffany’s mom tried to protect her as much as possible. She called the cops multiple times for help, however, they refused to get involved with the domestic abuse situation. One night, with the abuser following close behind them, her mom went so far as to drive all the way to the police station, in order to seek help, but none was given. Over the course of the relationship, the family tried to leave around six times. Each time, however, the abuser would apologize, and the family would return to the home.
As her abusive home life continued, Tiffany began to realize her life was different from the life of many other children. In later elementary school sleepovers, when girls would talk about their fun family trips or going to the movies, she found herself not being able to relate. Instead of doing fun family outings, she would mostly be at her grandparents’ house after school to avoid having to be home. As time passed and she entered middle school, Tiffany started to struggle. Teachers would often see her as disobedient for falling asleep in class, and not making good grades. Little did they know, she couldn’t sleep at home due to the noise of the fighting. In high school, the teachers became more compassionate as she would sometimes have to show up in the same clothes from the night before. They gave her extra care and genuinely tried to help her succeed.
When she was 15, her mom left her abuser for the final time. They moved into a cute little house and began a new life for themselves. Even though Tiffany was beyond happy and relieved to have left, the internal scars of the abuse still remained. She would often doubt herself and assumed she would always be unsuccessful in school because of her past tendencies. It wasn’t until a conversation with her older brother that Tiffany began to rethink her self-worth and begin to strive for more. Her brother had told her to “stop building walls and to start building herself up.” Tiffany began applying herself in school and building new, healthy relationships. Along the way, she met a fellow classmate who encouraged her to become more scholarly and pursue her goal to become a fitness instructor. She also ended up meeting her future husband at 15. He was compassionate, empathetic to her situation, and truly encouraged her to move forward.
After high school, Tiffany pursued one of her earliest dreams, when she was accepted into one of the toughest nursing programs in the country. Today, she works as a nurse and fitness instructor. Now, with her loving husband and children by her side, her home life could not be better. When asked how she would ensure that her children did not grow up in an abusive home, Tiffany credited her faith in the compassion of her husband. When she and her mom left her mother’s abusive relationship, she knew she would never find herself in the cycle of abuse again.
Tiffany’s story encapsulates the idea that one is more than their past. It provides hope that one may not have to stay in the same environment they grew up in. While one must work through the trauma, a happy and successful life is possible, and one is not defined by past boundaries. If you or someone you know relates to Tiffany’s story, please contact SafeHomes as they provide free resources for wherever you are in your healing process.