Survivor Story - Tara's Story of Surviving Domestic Violence

Today's guest Tara survived a near-death experience when her attacker strangled her, causing her to pass out. After years of abuse in the form of isolation, demeaning her character, physical abuse and more, this one night that nearly took her life changed her course. 

For Tara, the struggle wasn't over though. Hear how the domestic violence, with alcohol and drug abuse, led Tara into depression, bad choices, and nearly losing her children. 

Fortunately, as this is a Survivor Story, you'll also hear how Tara found hope and help, and how she gives that hope and help to others.

Visit for resources or call our 24-hour hotline at 800-828-2023.


Thank you for joining us today for another episode of I'm not in an abusive relationship with us is Tara, who is on the other end of a domestic violence relationship situation. Thank you very much for coming to see us and talk with us, having me, we are going to offer this, you are going to offer the story of hope to our listeners today, because you have survived this relationship and looking back on it, you said earlier, that you wished you would have known then what you know, now but there was a lot that went on between when this began and how you have survived it. So if you would please share some of your story with us.

So, I think being the abusive relationship I didn't realize I was really an abusive relationship for many years, I grew up in a home, where violence was happening between my mom. And my dad, and then they got divorced, my mom remarried and between my mom and stepdad. There was a lot of domestic violence. And so that was just kind of the norm in our life, and having seen it happen twice with your mom.

That would make you think it was normal.

Yeah. And so it was just kind of that's the kind of idea. I got of what relationships where you just kind of moms, that's husbands and wives fight. And you just kind of dealt with it and went on. And so I was fifteen when I met my well he's my ex husband now. So when I met him fifteen years old and at that time, I life, I had started just kind of before that, you know, I was good kid in school played sports greats to all these things, and then became a freshman in high school. And I went to I party, and I seen people drinking and things like that, and that was kind of the family that I grew up in. And so I kind of gravitated towards that route, and I met him and we started drinking together and just hanging. Out and not fifteen. You think you know, everything? So everybody's telling you like he's not a person to be with.

Yeah. You think, you know, everything you think you know what love is in my idea of love is so distorted anyway. And so there were at first when I started dating at fifteen I was using like going out and drinking using marijuana tried cocaine acid all these different drugs, and that's kind of how our relationship started. And so it was like this excitement for me at that young age. And he was also part of that excitement.

I'm sure you're doing these things together this.

And so I look back today and see some red flags obviously, at that time on fifteen I didn't know anything about what red flags were, or an unhealthy relationship was so by seventeen I was pregnant with our first kid and so kind of solidified the relationship there, I think, as a female when you get pregnant, and you meet the man of your dreams you think that. That you're going to do whatever you can to have a healthy family for your children. And so I think I Nord so many different signals and red flags and different abusive things that were happening there wasn't any physical abuse up. I was mainly just, you know, mental abuse control isolation. I stopped hanging out with a lot of my friends in was just him. And whatever frontier allowed to have around us were you still in high school? Yes, go. I did go to high school arts. Good. Yeah. I did. I graduated from high school. So I'm not sure how. So between that and after I had my first son at seventeen we are using meth and we started using meth pretty heavily. And so I got to the point where I was so addicted to that. I needed it just even get up to go to school. And trying to raise a kid go to school, and then being relationship that was so abusive.

And so controlling somehow I'm sure by the grace of God, I was able to graduate high school that was something, you know that I really focused on wanted to do in my life. I think because when I found out, I was pregnant seventeen I had people tell me oh, now you're never going to quit school. You're going to be a high school dropout. And so, like, I had some kind of thing inside me that was like, I'm not gonna I'm not gonna be that person. I'm going to graduate in so I graduate.

That's amazing thing. I wish our listeners could see you because the things that you're saying, as I'm sitting here looking at this beautiful woman that you are wonderful person. You really are a story of hope it's amazing to me listening to what you're telling me.

So I graduated high school and really are my meth addiction really got increased heavily at that point, the abuse, obviously, when you have meth involved in anything, the abuse, intensified greatly just things like, you know, couldn't talk to anybody. If I talked to another guy, even if they're at our house, you know, then I was accused of having sex with that person. And just anything to the point where I almost like isolated myself right into the bedroom because I didn't want to have to deal with those fights and things anymore.

We had ended up, I had my second daughter, twenty one in a decided to that we needed to get married inside say that in giggle, because I'm just like thinking back to, like, what was going on between that seventeen to twenty one? Why did I decide to marry why like, but I think is still just that you know that idea of having a family. I've had my second child. And I kind of just figure like this is it. I mean, this is the relationship by men. This is my life. This is where I'm going to be for the rest of my life. And so we got married when I was twenty one or twenty two and.

Was he the same age as you or was?

He's a couple years older nothing matters. But sometimes when the male is a little bit older. Just you seem to depend more on him.

Perhaps, I'm not sure. And I was I was very dependent on him. I always try to think like I was going to be an independent woman, and, you know, growing up seeing my mom get abused. I always made those statements like I'm never ever going to get into an abusive relationship. I'm never ever going to drink alcohol. Never gonna use drugs, all these things that may turn into that. Exact I I never was going to be, and we got married and nothing changed. Everything was still the same still the abuse. Still the isolation still. All those. Yeah. Just all those same behaviors happened. We just had to children now instead of just one and I remember, just kind of being an a depression, but not even realizing that I was depressed. And so I mean it would've been anything, if you had to see me, you know, back then fifteen years ago, or whatever ran into me at the store and just, you know, my hair not done and no makeup on and stains on my shirts. And I just didn't care like I didn't care about really what I look like what I was doing just kind of stuck and they didn't have anything to look forward to. I mean day was the same.

So we ended up having a house fire and at that point, we stopped using meth, and we got clean, and we're living with his mom for a little while and things that you did that on your own. Stopped. I mean, got clean and stopped using that. Yeah. I think that people can. But I don't think it's true recovery because you still depend on other things like you still have those behaviors. And you still have that depression, and you still have that blah of life. You're not using the drug that kind of helped cover all those things up. That gave you, you know, that drug to help you numb those feelings or give you some kind of enjoyment in life or anything like that. And like, you know, he was very abusive anyway. So he said, we're going to quit. We are going to quit. And you know there wasn't any other. I mean he was pretty much you know, that's where I could get drugs from for a long time. And so I didn't go out and buy the drugs all my own all the time. And so, yeah, we had quit. We could on her own, but it was still pretty not real happy life.

What we had done was started going to church. I love church of God. But at that time, like, church was terrible for me because it was another form of abuse that he could use to control and so excuse me. Excuse me. And so we all know says, you know that wives are supposed to submit to their husbands and submit to God, but he took that and twisted that in the church that we were going to didn't really explain what being submissive met and so, my heart always aches for women. Who are Christian women who think that they have to stay in an abusive relationship, because God says that he doesn't like divorce or because you're supposed to submit to your husbands. And that's not what that meant at that time. I didn't know that. That's not what that meant, and so they need to finish the part of husbands value.

Your wife. Yes. Yes. And so, so for a couple years, we did that. And just. I just grew this hatred kind of towards God cloves thinking, like, what kind of God would want a woman in her children to be treated so terribly all the time and still think that he's the one in the right? And I just remember like having to walk this even straighter line than what I've ever had to walk before. You know, not saying certain things, listening certain things watching certain things always, you know, making sure we were going to church and being this perfect family. And you know what he said was right? And it was pretty I don't like hundred like any of that stuff of that time. And I couldn't really be around my family because my family still drink and their centers. And so, you know, there was another way that he could isolate me from being around my family and it lasted a couple of years when a church when he star falling from church, where he'd always say, well, you in the children need it, you and the kids need, and I'm thinking. Okay. Escaped him for a while. And so we of actually stopped going to church and I started using meth again, and I was sneaking around using it without him knowing. And you know, waiting to you went to work and I'd go get it and kinda just using that and he eventually found out that I was using meth and started using with me again.

And so, you know behavior store, they're the Beauce and control, and all those things intensified again because of the meth and we decided that my grandparents lived in Florida. So we decided that we should pack up and move to Florida and that everything would be better. We've just got away from this area. And so we packed up like just what we could put in a truck. And we headed to Florida we lived on there for about a year and a half, but at first, like I thought like things really were going to change like he had changed. And he was like just happy and doing stuff with me, and the kids and really kind of being involved in our lives. And but it didn't last long. I remember one night down in Florida. We went to. To out to a bar with some friends down there, and he wouldn't go out and dance music as other guy to go dance with me, and just not really thinking anything of it. And then we got in the car just hit me, and he called me all these names, and just like made I made them look like a fool, and blah, blah, blah. And it was just like what do even realize what I'd done, and he kicked me out of the car on the stark road, you have a phone or anything made maybe walk in.

My grandma came and looked for me. I remember grandmas said, you know what she is married? She is not dead. She deserves to be able to go out and have fun. And they really resonated with me because I was like that is true like that. Deadly I can write be that. I wanna have fun. But, you know, the behaviors continued on even Florida so you can change the place that you're at. But if you don't change those behaviors and change those thoughts than everything stays the same very true. I bet it was hard for your grandma to watch the second generation of this happened. Was it happening with her as well? Your grandparents did they fight as well as your parents. I didn't see them. But, like stories, I've heard that, you know, my grandma was an abusive relationships pretty much all her life, too.

So I never witnessed up time, you know, we got to that age they had pretty much settled down my grandma and grandpa and. But yeah. I mean so how did you begin to pull yourself out of this? So we got pardon with my third child. We moved back to Michigan, and I had been a certified nursing assistant. That's the job that I held. And so, I decided that was going to step out and apply to go to nursing school. And I got accepted into the nursing program at southwest Michigan college. This little ray of hope cutting Linda me too. I was like, I don't have to live in the same life that I've been living. I don't have to be dependent on him forever. You know, so many years of mental abuse of being told, you know, like you'll never be able to live on your own. You have kids to support you can't even get a job. And really, you start believing that, like I wanna ever be able to be my own. But then I got accepted into the nursing program when I was like, wait, like I think something, you know, I think things can chain. Right. We continue to fight and one night, we got into a huge fight, and I just decided, I grabbed my kids, and we left, and I went and. We've done with my mom and we're staying there. And I was just like this is I don't you know, I'm done. I don't wanna go back. There's a something going to nursing school, and just making like front like female friendships outside of the home from my job and things like that. And, you know, people just encouraging me and kinda speaking some life into me, and I moved in with my mom, and he called me, one night, and asked if he had a friend who wanted to go out and asked if he could meet up with me, and some of my friends, and we all go out together and so- sake. Sure. That sounds fine. And so I actually met him at his house. I drove over there Madam at his house, and we rode to the bar together. Some friends there and then started drinking, and it was time to go home.

So he had to give me a right back to my car. And so on the way home we started arguing, and I you know, just told him that I I don't love him anymore. And I wanted to voice I want just to be done. You know. And I thought honesty, would be the best to policy that time. Again, I wasn't aware of, like all the all the statistics of domestic violence, and so he did not take lightly to that. And he pulled drove into this field that was astound from his house, a little bit and p pulled into this field and jumped out of his truck, and I remember, like I have anywhere to go at it. Like I was gonna try to jump out the other side before you could get the door open, and he opened the door and grabbing my feet.

I'm so sorry that all this happened to you. And I'm re we all appreciate of course, you are emotional. We appreciate you being willing to share the bad parts so that we can see how you got to the good parts, and I do want to reassure our listeners looking at you right now you did get to the good parts.

I'm sorry. And tell the story lot. I don't know. It's hard today. It's hard today. So he pulled me out of the truck, and get me, sir choking, me and started telling me that I didn't deserve to live and that might kids student deserved have me for a month, and that he could snap, my neck ain't nobody nowhere care. Gosh. Remember I passed out when I came back to like, I remember just kind of like this peaceful feeling over me, and then I realized where I was kind of started getting upset again, and he got back on me and started, you know, choking on me again in. I just asked him as to just think about dean my son and I are really close, and he never been really close to his dad think teen, teen needs me. I don't know. I'm not really sure what happened except I know that God has a bigger plan for my life than that night. That's for sure. It was really strange. Like he just picked me up and set me on his lap and started hugging time, how she loved me and he just wants me to come home, and let's quit school. Let's put my job and I guess, I will have a great idea. Yes. I'm going to quit school. I'm just gonna come home and got back down to his house in his sister was there and. Oh, she was just do this to you, my face had from being choked, had bruising and stuff on it, and I asked her to call the police, but she wouldn't call the police, but she said, she'd, give me right home.

So she gave me a ride home to my mom's house, and I was so scared, and I called the police a very first time ever called the police on him. So I called the police in the police came, and I was so scared that he was going to show up because he told me so many times in my life, you know, if you ever call the police, if you ever call the police, and the police came, and they did a report on omen told me that they'd have to call child protective services because with the domestic violence protective services and so I was just like devastated because you hear so many horrible stories in child protective services gets called. And so, I was, you know, in my mind, this is a bad idea, I should have called the police, and he was arrested and he was charged with. Started at disturbing the peace and I think just like just mastic violence, which isn't a very heavy charge like misdemeanor or something. And so thinking ended up spending like two weeks in jail for that and was got out before thanksgiving. An. Mary, his whole family. So mad. Oh, yeah. And start his mom actually babysit my kids by worked, and I remember her calling the next day into saying, well, you know, I don't think it's a good idea that I babysit the kids for you anymore. And just like it was really awkward and odd to me that everybody knew how he was. But yet, when it came down to it, nobody wants to stand behind you.

Sometimes, I think you just feel completely alone.

Oh, I'm sure. I'm sure you see abusive to them as well. It was very yes. He was abusive person. So it didn't take much to set them off in him cuss everybody's mom's grandparents whoever, you know all the time and everybody just kinda tote around OMB as he's just, you know, he's got anger issues, and oh, he had horrible childhood, and, and I fell into that, like, oh, you know, he'd just had such a horrible childhood. Like that's why he acts like that today. But no, he doesn't matter what your childhood is, like everybody has the bright in the opportunity to change and make better choices, and it doesn't mean that you get treat people the way that he treated me. No, no. Yes. Going forward doesn't mean where you came from, but making those choices to go forward on purpose. You can blame some of those actions on your pass behavior, but you still are making your choices going forward.

So, so what happened then from there?

I would like to say the I got hooked up with domestic violence services and everything was great, and I changed my life. But honestly, what I did is sunk further into my addiction started go into the bars a lot using Methuselah, actually, I'd be at the bars pro more than I was at home. You know, talk my kids in at night, and then head off to the bar, and I remember coming home and seeing my son, still awake at three o'clock in the morning and he had school the next day and just thinking, like I was the only thing that they had that was really stable was not a stable person whatsoever. You know is very unstable very unhealthy at that time, I'm seeking I don't know relationships and just becoming involved very surfaced with other men, and I don't know. I guess is trying to find some how to, you know, he'll those hurts and well, deep down. I think you believe twenty told you about yourself. So, you know, trying, trying to, to stay abused almost if that makes any sense, right? Yeah.

Before you're able to climb out of that home. Another guy and hit just gotten out of prison. For cooking meth. And so. We started dating and he moved in with me, and my children and didn't take long before we are houses rated and found with them lab in the house. So CPS didn't get involved, the first time for my domestic violence, because the kids don't witness it. So see piston get involved, but this time they did what the meth Lebanon house. They got involved, the man that. I was with at that time he was arrested and went to jail, and actually went to teen challenge, and I had my children, removed and I just started sinking into anything that was offered to me. So domestic and sexual services was one of the requirements that I had to do. And I'm so grateful that that was a requirement. I think that it should be requirement in every, like ninth tenth eleventh grade class, just to learn what domestic violence is in that you don't have to live in that, that there is something different for you.

So I started doing those classes I going to church started just getting involved in everything counseling and therapy and substance use therapy, and yeah, just my life started changing. I started seeing myself in a different light. I started seeing myself as somebody who didn't deserve to be that beat up abused person that I did have there was smart. And that was a good mom, and that I was able to be an independent woman that it always wanted to be and. The guy that I actually got bus with and went to teen challenge. He completely changed his life, and we are married today. That's a good story. Yeah. And so, yeah. And so we have a really healthy marriage today. Like is totally different. Like I said earlier, when I think about my story back that I just wonder sometimes, like how low myself esteem, must've been in how broken a person, I must have been to stay in a relationship, where I was always degraded and always treated so, terribly in there are good men out there, who want to love us want to treat us as equals want to be good to us. And I'm blessed I found that man and I have a really just a beautiful life today.

That's wonderful and your kids are with you. Yep. Yep. So we went through the CPS case got that I'll close my kids returned home. I was able to get my felony expunged off my record because I'd been charged with the possession of meth charge that was a felony says able to get that expunged. And just through the encouragement of so many people in my life, I was went back to school. Cool. I have a master's degree now in social work, and that's fantastic. So I work, I'm a substance use counselor no therapist now and volunteers much as I can with domestic and sexual abuse services. I just love this agency so much and just wonderful. Yeah. The hope they give to people and just the love. They give to people when people don't feel lovable at all. I didn't feel like I was worth love and feel like I was worth anybody's time really to help. This has been awesome. And now you get to teach other women and people that they are worthy of love and a good life and everything going forward. Absolutely. Yes, I can imagine your clients are so lucky to have on because, you know exactly where they come from what they're dealing with. And that they really can get out of, oh, you gotta use of. That's wonderful tear. Thank you so much. I am thrilled to have been able to meet you and just all of our listeners that have got to be inspired by what you shared with us.

Thank you for listening to I'm not in an abusive relationship. These stories resonate with you in, you need help. Please visit our website. Or call our hotline 800-828-2023. We are here to walk alongside of you. If you know someone who might benefit from our show, please share social media, email. or simply telling someone about it. It all helps us spread the word and helps us to combat domestic and sexual violence. We also welcome financial volunteers support. That information is our website. Thank you to the staff, volunteers and board of directors at Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services. This podcast is produced with the help of a committee dedicated advocates. Thank you WBET radio in Sturgis, Michigan for the use of their studio. This has been a podcast about surviving domestic, and sexual violence and production of Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services of Michigan.

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