I Never Regret I Never Regret

It is difficult to write about my story. My dream was to find the right man, get married, have children and make a difference in the world with kind deeds. My dream would soon turn into a nightmare. I never thought that I would get into an abusive relationship. I dated my husband for a very short time. I didn't get to know him too well. I always viewed life through pink glasses. I saw some small warning signs when we were dating. However, I chose to ignore them because I thought it was nothing. I made excuses and washed down all the little negative things I saw. I would say that he was nervous because he was dating. I rationalized his negative traits and saw what I wanted to see. I created castles in the air and made my own image of who I wanted him to be. This was the biggest mistake a woman can make.

I soon saw when we married that the insignificant warning signs became big problems. I had the time to see his true identity when we were married. He was not shy anymore to show his true self. I was comforting and he felt that he had a full opportunity to open up. He would break things at home and come close to hitting me. He had pleasure in my fear and I was dying inside. I didn't want to upset him. So, I tried becoming more dedicated in trying to please his whims. I tried cleaning more and making sure dinner was served in a perfect way. I worked incessantly at being the "perfect" wife. I understand that perfection was never enough for him.

I had no control over anything. He took control of the "ship." He made all decisions and I had no right to object. If I did, it would rock the "boat." So, I hid my true "self" and became someone I did not recognize anymore. My family would say, "What happened to you? I can't believe you're like this." It wasn't me and who was I? I thought that it was just me, and who said I deserved any better?

Finally, my true self came out when the abuse touched my daughter. My breakpoint busted and I said that enough is enough! I would not allow anyone to abuse of my daughter even her own father. I was frozen in a decision when more abuse happened. The ideas that went through my mind was, "should I report it or not?" A woman in abuse is faced with difficult decisions. We are caught in thinking of the hurricane to face if we report an abuse or keep silent and then pay for it. I never regret separating from this abuser. It is better to have to fight than to lose my daughter or myself. It is an ocean out there and one can be swallowed up if not equipped to survive.

Artist's Note: This portrait does not do justice to the beauty of this survivor. She is not only beautiful on the outside, but also tender and giving. There is much hesitation in reporting a crime within a family, especially when traditional religious values come into play. During this portrait, she was in the middle of a custody battle and ready to fight for her daughter's safety and her own freedom, regardless of what Orthodox Jewish practices require. She told me it is a silent social disease and that women need to support one another in encouragement to stop abuse from happening. With a quaking heart, she has become a beacon for other women who are repressed and fearful of stepping into that journey.