No one had taught 20-year-old Theresa Murphy how to demand respect or how a man should treat her, so when the man she loved began to verbally abuse her, she didn’t react. Instead, she ignored the classic signs of abuse - the name calling and character belittling. When her abuser began controlling her whereabouts and kept her isolated from friends and family, Theresa just thought he was showing his love for her. What she considered love was actually the beginning of a dark and painful abusive relationship.
As a child, Theresa witnessed first hand what verbal and physical abuse looked like.
My dad was verbally and physically abusive to my mom, and that is what I learned as a young child. My dad was an abusive man to his children as well.
After a year of enduring verbal abuse, Theresa’s relationship took a turn for the worse. The verbal insults became precursors to beatings as the abuse turned physically violent. Theresa’s boyfriend, who had developed a terrible drinking problem, became more violent with each passing day. Whenever he became drunk off of the spirits he consumed, he’d beat her more intensely.
He would beat me anytime for any reason..I had broken arms, black eyes, bruised ribs, a broken jaw bone and a numerous other bruises.
Four years and two children later, she finally broke her silence to her mother, but stayed because she feared for her own life.
I was so afraid of him; I was scared what he would do to me if I tried to escape. Imagine someone holding you hostage against your will. I was terrified for my family as well, due to the many threats he proposed.
Theresa’s narrative met a pivotal moment one night, after her boyfriend arrived home drunk.
He came home one night drunk and beat me so badly in front of our children. He knocked me out cold. All I remember is that I woke up and my daughters, who were 2 and 3-years-old at the time, were laying beside me on the floor sleep. I was afraid to move, but knew I needed to get help. I packed my children up while he was sleeping in the middle of the night, and I left the house with absolutely nothing. I went to a local convenient store and sat in the parking lot for 30 minutes in prayer with nowhere to go. I called a local domestic violence shelter and they told me I could come for the night. I was beaten so badly I required medical care, I had broken ribs and a dislocated jaw bone. At that moment, I asked (or told) GOD, if you get me out of this situation I will be an example to others and I will never look back.
God blessed her with that prayer. Theresa stayed in the domestic violence shelter for two weeks. She’d hit rock bottom. Over the next ten or so years, she joined a number of groups with other domestic violence survivors and even started a prayer group for other victims.
After about 10 years I was no longer embarrassed by what happened to me, and I finally forgave my abuser, not for him, but for me to be able to make peace with what happened to me. I worked daily motivating other women, as I still recovered emotionally. I was able to look at myself in the mirror and know it wasn’t my fault. If you have never experienced abuse it’s easy to say what you would do in the situation. The one piece of advice I would definitely give today is to learn and know the signs early, when you’re in an abusive relationship and let someone know who can help you get out safely.
Theresa Murphy is not only a life coach, but also an entrepreneur as the owner of The HR Cafe, she is the host of Motivate My Life Radio and the author of two books. Visit theresamurphyinc.com.
Follow @TheresaMurphyInspires on social media.