I Found My Love I Found My Love

Hi, my name is Mary Carroll. I'm a 49 year old truck driver, who was once a batter woman/wife. What do I mean by battered woman/wife? Well, first I was his woman being battered, and then as if that was not a big enough title, I became his battered wife. Simple? Well not really. I've seen it all my life--mother, sisters, aunts, cousins, etc. It was a way of life, but it was not a life that should be continued or passed on.

I became involved with an older man at a very young age. He was 23, I was 13 going on 30, but I fell in love and no one was going to keep me from him. Oh, they tried, but he raised me and I was in love. At least until I got tired of him beating me and cheating, etc. I left but not for the better. I met another abuser, and several years later this man became my husband after years of his beating me. Yes. I married him. That became the worst time of my life--the things this man did to me, beat me with wire hangers, punched me like I was a man, kicked and stomped me. Oh, did I mention he was a black belt. Yea, he used it on me too. I was his 102 pounds punching, kicking, and stomping bag.

I would sit and wonder why he didn't love me. I was pretty, dressed nice, kept the house clean, and cooked. What was wrong? I found out later there was nothing wrong with house, cleaning, cooking. What was wrong? I found out later there was nothing wrong with me, except that I had stopped loving myself. I had completely lost myself somewhere between the name calling and punches.

One day, I had enough. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, was losing weight, and thinking hard about murder. I dialed 911 and told the operator that I was a battered woman, and I did not know what to do or where to go. Immediately I was on the line with a lady from the Gateway battered women's shelter. Oh my God...the best thing I did was make that phone call to 911. God had gotten tired too and put me in touch with some of his Angels on earth.

They sent a cab for me that took me to one of their many safe houses with other women that were just like me and some with children. They gave me clothes, food, and safe passage back and forth to work. I had to leave everything behind, and my real life started at 26 years old. I received counseling and classes from women survivors who also helped me understand why I was so attracted to men who beat women. It really was not just one thing, it was several reasons and they are not the same for every woman. I started to learn about myself. I found myself and I loved myself. I had survived.

A few years later, I married again and started team truck driving across country. The marriage did not last, but the trucking did. I found my love in 1989, and I'm still in love with trucking. I've learned that you should never give up your identity for anyone, but share life together. After all isn't that what attracted you to each other in the first place, the person you are? I would like to say to any woman/man that is in a domestic violence relationship to get help now. Don't stay because it will only get worse. It's like a disease and if you don't find a cure, it will get worse... or kill you. I love and pray for you all. See you on the road, drive safe, and look out for us 18 wheelers.

Mary R. Carroll

Artist's Note: This survivor explains that domestic violence was "a way of life" in her world. This confession is a disturbing truth for many people. No matter what upbringing, all of the survivors in Bravery Project have explained that they escaped permanently because many people had helped them. Both of these facts prove that domestic abuse is a community problem as well as a toxic relationship dynamic. My pleasure to work with this beautiful, strong woman is testament that with the courage to ask for help, the community responded with what she needed toward the path of recovery. She has worked VERY hard to unlearn the beliefs she grew up with and sings praises to the organization, Gateway, that saved her life.