People join the military for different reasons. For some, it satisfies a burning desire to serve their great country. For Carla Yarborough, it was a means of escaping the darkness of her home life.
I purposely joined the military in order to escape my toxic abusive relationship. My best friend, Kristal Clark, now Founder of Rock Paper Scissors Foundation suggested joining the military as a way to travel. But I knew that I needed to join the military in order to leave the enemy that I had at home.
That enemy was her abuser. The first few months of Carla’s relationship were dreamy. Love had swept her off her feet and she was elated. As time passed, the love faded and violence took its place. At age 17, her first love pinned her body with his car – a violent episode of abuse that would leave scars much deeper than the ones on the surface of her body.
It was a few days before Valentine’s Day. I was looking forward to spending the evening with the love of my life. I would have never imagined that the evening would end with me being rushed to the hospital. When he picked me up for our date, I could tell that he was agitated. I tried to walk on eggshells in order to keep the night “perfect.” However, no amount of perfection would calm his raging mood. His jealousy took over when I asked him to have me home by my Mother’s curfew. That’s when things went left. He accused me of messing around.
Before I could reassure him that I had not been seeing anyone else, he pushed me out of his parked car and ran over my body.
Her abuser sped off.
Onlookers called the police for help. Some rushed over to my side. The manager of the restaurant we were leaving from rushed out of her business to check on me. As a caring stranger picked me up and carried me near a brick wall, my first love came back. He was angrier this time around.
As if the night couldn’t get any worse, he ran me over again, this time pinning me with his car to the wall. He fled the scene again.
My heart broke faster than the ambulance that carried me to the hospital could get me there. I didn't understand how "love" could be so painful. My 120 pound body that was hit twice by a 3,000 pound vehicle didn’t feel nearly as bad as the injury to my heart. We were both broken souls trying to make each other whole. If I knew then what I know now, I would have told my younger self that love doesn't hurt and would’ve escaped early.
I wish I could tell you that it was the first time he physically hurt me but that would be a lie. I wish I could tell you that the night after the incident, we never talked again but then I wouldn’t be fully transparent. After he served his time, we ended up back together and things continued to worsen.
20 years later, Carla realizes that she didn’t know the signs of domestic violence. She has healed and is using her story to uplift others.
I now know that broken people hurt other people. I still have the physical scars from the “accident” but the emotional scars have gone away. I was bitter. I was resentful. I was distrustful. I was afraid to love again. But with time and doing the work of healing, I transformed from victim to victor. My past is just that - my past. I choose to live in the present. I choose to help others who have been set on fire by love. Now I know which fire extinguisher to use. My forgiveness was birthed out of my relationship with Christ.
Today, I am the President of Rock Paper Scissors Foundation. Our Founder, Kristal Clark and I use our experiences to give a voice to the voiceless. We attend several events that allow us to tell others that love shouldn’t hurt. This position has allowed me to speak out against all forms of abuse. In addition, I have opened up my home to therapeutic foster children that have experienced abuse. My main focus is to give them a safe place to begin their healing journey. I have had children in my home that were suicidal, homicidal, suffering from childhood rape, molestation and so forth. I have also volunteered at Domestic Violence Shelters in order to work with children that witnessed abuse.
To learn more about Carla and the Rock, Paper, Scissors Foundation, visit rockpaperscissorsfoundation.org.
Connect with the Rock, Paper, Scissors Foundation @rockpaperscissorsfoundation