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Junior high is usually a time when the work gets harder and lifelong memories are made. My year followed that path and also created my future. I will never forget this one warm sunny day as I attended lunch period with some friends. I was walking to my table with my then best friend Barbie when a note was thrown in my tray. Yes, a note. I was only 13 and at that time and notes still existed. After we sat down, I opened and began to read. It was a short sentence written in small print on whole sheet of paper. "Will you go out with me?" Those were the only words written besides a signature that read, "Josh Brooks." I sat there shocked and unsure why to say. I had no idea the guy liked me. He was loud, funny, and a rebel of the school. The next few days we hung out around school and eventually swapped numbers. I had begun to find out a new side of him that I never noticed before. He was shy and sweet while also being a gentleman. Once I got to know him, I fell pretty hard for him. He never made the first move, so I had no choice if I wanted things to go further. After four months of dating, we had our first kiss at a dance I begged him to go to.
Two months later, those three big words came out: "I love you." Shortly after a year together, he revealed to me he has diabetes. I wasn't aware of how much was involved with it and how serious it could be, but that changed fast. After one trip to the hospital with him, I quickly did my research and learned everything. I did everything possible, but his health got worse. We had some great times going camping, watching movies, joy rides in the mountains, and soon I saw those happy moments disappear. He got too sick to do anything that involved a lot of activity and I was there to care for him. Many nights spent in the hospital and many jobs lost just so I could be with him and help him get better. He was my everything and I couldn't see him that way. Even through all of the changes and with everything I've done, his health was still failing. Eventually the seizures were daily and the smile turned to tears. I was constantly fighting for him to have faith and not give up. I felt what I did and all the love I had wasn't enough. I was left empty, broken, and clueless on what to do. I was literally watching the man I loved die slowly.
In the last year of our 15 year relationship, I held a job close to home that allowed me to be home when needed to take care of Josh. Depression was taking over him during that time, and things were getting worse. Constant arguing, loneliness, and drugs played a big part of our lives, so escaping to work was a big relief. It was a place where I could forget things and be myself again. I usually worked evenings after I was promoted so some type of management could be on both shifts. One particular evening I'm working alone when this guy I've never seen before comes in. I was kinda nervous, but did my best to remain calm and busy. He bought two monster energy drinks and left. I noticed a few tattoos, the clothes he wore, and a couple other features in case something went wrong. Nothing did, and I went home safely.
The next day, he returned again for the same monster drink, and I looked at him a little more clearly. As he walked to the register, I noticed he was wearing work clothes and was dirty from head to toe. When he reached the register and greeted me, I was taken back by what I saw. He looked back at me with the most beautiful baby blue eyes I ever saw. And then he smiled this handsome, gorgeous smile, and I was instantly attracted. He came every day that I was working and I began to find out why. I learned that his name is Ronnie, he worked at a restoration company, and he lived with his parents until his apartment was fixed. I also learned that they happened to live down the street from the store. We began to hang out a little more when I had a little more time and we got closer each time. He listened to me, complimented, and just made me feel good about myself again. Despite my love for Josh, I couldn't handle anymore pain and I was the one that gave up. A few months after meeting Ronnie, I left home and moved in with him. Things were so great at the beginning, and I haven't felt that much happiness in a long time. Two months after we moved in together, I got pregnant. We were thrilled to be starting a family! Ronnie was such a gentleman and so loving. He did anything and everything he could to make sure I was comfortable. That was the happiest time of my life—for a little while, anyway. Three months later and showered with love, we attended the company Christmas party his employer was holding. We were having a great time that night; dancing, eating, and also playing secret Santa. We had smiles and laughter the whole way home. I quickly realized when we got there that alcohol was not a friend to Ronnie.
I walked in our apartment and turned around when I heard the door shut behind me. Before I could even blink, his eyes turned dark as night and he reached for me. In seconds I felt his hand grip my throat and squeeze. I didn't know what to do but panic and try to fight him off. He was so strong and nothing I did was working. Just as I saw the lights dim and felt my body go weak, he let me go. I dropped to the ground unable to hold myself up and tried to get my breath back. I felt his hands on me again, only this time pulling me back up, and I was terrified what was coming next. I saw the anger on his face and the gate in his eyes as he shoved me into the bedroom. I landed on the floor beside the bed and watched his every move. He came in the room quickly and landed a swift kick on my leg. I curled myself in a ball to protect my stomach as he placed kick after kick to my body. Seconds felt like minutes before he decided to back off. I sat there still in a ball crying and pleading for him to leave me alone. He grabbed me off the floor and shoved me into the bed. Thousands of thoughts ran through my head as I backed up to the wall not knowing what to do. He ordered me to get undressed and go to sleep, then he left the room. I did as he said in hope it would save me from further harm. I laid under the covers for hours with the fear he would come back in and start again. He didn't, and eventually, I fell asleep.
The next morning I woke to him sitting next to me on the bed staring at me. I was nervous at first with him there until I noticed the expression on his face. He had this look of shock, sadness, and regret. Of course, many apologies were given, along with explanations. I have a big heart and believe in second chances, so I figured I would give him the opportunity to redeem himself. He ended up making changes and I could see a difference. However, after my daughter, Aryan, was born, things went back to the way they were. He watched every move I made with her and criticized everything I did. If he felt I was wrong and I didn't listen to him, then the words faded and his hands did the talking. I fell for every apology and kept pushing forward, hoping it would get better. We had some good times in between the problems, but those eventually went away, and I had no choice but to keep reading for my life or leave. After another incident that went too far, I was able to contact the police after he left and had him arrested and moved to a shelter. Again, I fell for his apologies and sweet talk and returned just to see things haven't changed.
This happened two more times before I ended up getting pregnant a second time. At that point, I was falling into a deep depression and all I wanted was out. The abuse continued off and on for a few months until I decided to leave one more time and return to the shelter. Again, I had him arrested and proceeded with the process of keeping things that way. I made the mistake of speaking to him on the phone one night and yet again, he played on my mind and heart. I returned on our daughter's first birthday with the intention of leaving again the next day. I did leave, but not how I planned. I ended up going into labor that evening. I waited until the following day with difficulty so I could try to find a ride to the hospital instead of ambulance. Time was running out though and that was my only option left. I arrived at the hospital and kept in contact with him the whole time so he knew what was happening. I had to be rushed to Pittsburgh to stop the contractions since I was a month and a half early. Ronnie was disappointed he couldn't go, but he needed to remain with Aryan. He stayed with me on the phone and I had complete support from him. I stayed in Pittsburgh for two days to receive medicine to help my baby develop faster. I gave birth to her completely alone on July 4th and named her Angleah. Then the hard times started again and I was worthless in his eyes. Many times while I was in the hospital I ignored his calls and stayed determined to be with my daughter. When it came time for me to go home, I did everything in my power to get Aryan back, and did so successfully. Instead of going back home, I went back to the shelter. I stayed there for the next month until I was able to return to the hospital and be with my angel. I spoke with him randomly and started to think things had finally changed. I decided to give it one more try. I returned back to him after Angleah was discharged and things were actually going great with us despite battling postpartum depression. Shortly after thanksgiving things took a turn for the worst. Ronnie wasn't home much, but when he was, it was constant arguing. He found anything he could to belittle me about and make me feel horrible. I got the chance to escape to my mother's for Christmas and it felt great to get out. I was nervous to return home, but I had nowhere else to go at that time. The two days that followed after I returned was the final end to our relationship.
December 26th I was choked unconscious, kicked in the ribs, punched, and called every name in the book. The next day, the same events followed, but lasted twice as long and he included several punches to my stomach and back. When he wasn't looking, I was able to grab a charger and hide it underneath Aryan's bed. I stayed with the girls in their bedroom while he walked through the apartment getting ready to leave. He came in the bedroom one final time before leaving to warn me not to "be stupid" and he would be back later. He also threatened to harm our children and pin it on me if I decided to "act out." After hearing those words, it was like a light had been shone upon me and I could see the truth I'd been blind to for so long. I remained in the room until I heard the door shut. I ran out, locked the front door, and looked out the window to see which way he went. After he was a good distance away and I knew he wasn't coming back, I grabbed an old phone and plugged it in. I dialed 911, told the operator everything, and she dispatched the state police. After they got my report, he was arrested 20 minutes later. It's been six months now and he is still currently incarcerated awaiting transfer to a state facility. He will be serving a sentence of two years and I have an active no contact PFA for the next three years that protects me and both of my daughters. I wish I would've listened to the warning signs and stayed out when I had the chance. If I would've though, I wouldn't have both my daughters who are beautiful blessings to me. I thank God every day for watching over me and I pray he helps keep me strong so I can keep fighting. I am on my way to creating a better life for us and to never have that misery in our lives again.
Remember that mental, emotional, and physical abuse is exactly the same thing. One doesn't hurt more than the other. If you or someone you know suffers from domestic violence, then don't be afraid to reach out. Help is out there for anyone who needs it. I made it and so can you.