I am a domestic violence survivor. My children are domestic violence survivors. My children, when they were young, witnessed me being backed into walls, screamed at in my face, & having my wrists grabbed until one broke one day. I’m 5’5” and my ex-husband was 6’3”. It doesn’t matter the size difference; domestic violence made our home chaotic. My children never knew what would trigger the abuse, so they never felt safe. Sometimes it was my oldest son that was the subject of the abuse, and sometimes it was my younger son.
The children were always anxious and lived in constant fear. They were supposed to keep the “family secret.” They witnessed me being verbally and physically abused. My oldest son, was verbally and physically abused, often through his beloved Labrador retriever, Bob being struck. My youngest used to cower in his room when my ex-husband used to start yelling, never knowing what the end result would be.
Until one day, I decided it was time for us to be survivors. My son was headed to a friend’s house to work on their student council presentation, as they were running for student council President and Vice President. His father started yelling that my son “was completing his summer reading right now and was not to leave the house.” For some reason, by the grace of God, I opened the garage door, looked at my son and said “go.” At that point, my ex-husband grabbed my 8th grade son, grabbed a knife, put it to my son’s neck and said “you are going to read right now or I’ll call the ambulance to take you to the hospital.” Thankfully, I was able to throw him off balance, and told both boys to run to the neighbors and call 911. When the police showed up, my children and I both had marks. The police did not give us an option to not press charges, we had no choice.
Our nightmare was beginning to be over, though the remnants of pain from that chaos would persist long after. This whole situation has brought about a lot of painful emotions and memories.
I don’t know Coach Meyer personally, but from the type of young men from the program that I routinely see around Columbus, I would never have a doubt of leaving one of my precious sons under his care. His wife, Shelley, is one of the most genuine, caring women that I have ever conversed with. She is constantly giving of herself and investing deeply in other people’s lives and working as an advocate for many great causes.
If I had one message to folks, it’s don’t let your children suffer along with you. As I look back, I have regrets about not having left earlier. My kids are still working through some of the anxiety of the past. I would admonish you to get into therapy yourself and get your children into individual therapy.
Form a plan and leave. Call the Ohio Domestic Violence Network at 1-800-934-9840 or the National Domestic Violence Network at 1-800-799-SAFE.
For others in the media and community; build up, rather than tear down. Use your energy to create substantive and meaningful change by spotlighting, advocating for, and giving to places like Choices for Victims of Domestic Violence in Franklin County.
There are many people who need a message of hope brought into their life, and you might just be the person that helps bring it to them.
Jen Campbell lives in Central, Ohio and writes for www.howfirmthyfriendship.com