Tears are falling, my face is hot, and my mind is racing. Not tears of sorrow not joyful ones either. He holds me close. But I do not utter any words. He cups my face in his hands and asks, "Tell me what's wrong?" I don't answer because I don't know. I'm confused, torn, and broken. I felt like I was living through a nightmare. I couldn't possibly tell him the truth because he would get me real good and I had had, enough. I want to run in this very moment and pull his strong arms from around my body. I thought, "I must be losing my mind sitting being his personal punching bag." In my mind, I was hysterical but my body sat motionless collapsed on the floor with his arms holding me like a wounded infant.
Have you ever wondered, why doesn't she just leave? I am Chantelle Branch, a survivor of domestic violence, and I know the bitter taste of love. It has been eleven years since I fled my old life and left my abuser behind. I couldn't bare another day of abuse because this burden was so heavy that it weighed my soul down. I was wishing for death with his next blow and I believed, at that time, that I deserved it. No one had taught me about the cycle of abuse. Hit after hit had become normal. The guilt and shame were kept hidden just like my face. I hid from my family and I no longer hung out with my friends. My daughter had gotten use to wiping my tears and encouraging me at the same time. She was unknowingly thrust into the counselor role. Lots of time I would look at her and think, "she is smarter than me. How is it that she knows, at the age of three, to wait until he left for work, to look me square in the eyes and tell me, "We should just leave."" It would take some time after this before a light bulb came on in my brain and I remembered just for a moment, who I was. And in that moment a strategic plan was downloaded into me. It was everything I needed to break free. But it would never work unless I had faith. When I finally made the one decision that would change my life forever. Then and only then, would change be inevitable. This decision catapulted me into my destiny. It was and still is the best decision I ever made. I ran and I never looked back.
After years of healing, I chose to break the silence and share a story about Domestic Abuse called, Decisions. It is a journey of Faith through a domestic violence relationship. Although it is a fictional story, it is based on real life experiences. This book was also a part of my healing. Recovery is vital and being in a supportive environment can help you build up the very things that were lost. Counseling and therapy teaches you more about your self-awareness, the cycle of abuse, and then a plan for your future, and your children's future. If we are not healed, then the cycle continues to grow at a rapid pace. And because abuse is a learned behavior we can believe the statistics about the pattern of behavior passing on to our children.
One study in North America found that children who were exposed to violence in the home were 15 times more likely to be physically and/or sexually assaulted than the national average.
I had to break free for myself and for my daughter. I didn't want her to grow up without me. I believe that after terrifying life experiences the positive coping methods are the keys to our resiliency. Positive coping methods look different for each individual but knowing the red flags or phrases that trigger certain feelings of anxiety or memories, and being aware of how they affect you are important. You must learn to identify markers that get you stirred up so that you can easily apply a method or strategy to that situation, and this will help you cope faster and be positive towards your rode to healing.
When a victims physiological needs are met then they are in a place or mindset to focus on the next step. As they continue the healing process, their personal safety is at the forefront, and this continues until they are in a stable environment where they can grow. Being loved and having a sense of belonging follows and I believe a shield of confidence is gained as the individual becomes more self-aware. All the while, with each new day they are strengthened and empowered to continue life. Ultimately no longer being a victim, but being victorious in self-actualization.
About Survivor, Chantelle Branch
Chantelle Branch shares her personal journey of healing with audiences across America. She spends her time motivating young women and teens on self-care, self value, self worth, and the reality of healthy relationships. In April of 2017, Branch was the keynote speaker for Family Shelter Service (Wheaton, IL), a women's safe haven, where $236K was raised. She has embarked on a mission to spread the message of Resiliency after her terrifying life experiences. Branch continues her journey of educating individuals about the 8 cycles of abuse and encouraging victims to break free from the suffocating toxins of abusive relationships. As a licensed cosmetologist, and with the passing of the Illinois law for stylists to have DV training to help bring awareness to clients, Branch continues to make strides in the beauty industry to touch the lives of all those affected by Domestic Violence. She has embarked on a mission to spread the message of Faith & Resiliency after terrifying life experiences. She is the author of the book, decisions, which tells the story of a woman dealing with domestic violence.
Chantelle is a survivor who has made it her mission to bring awareness about domestic violence in a unique fashion. In the fall of 2018, she created the #MyFearlessFuture project. It is a "Live" Museum and Skit that takes you through 1 day in the life of a victim. It teaches about the cycle of abuse and gives tips for those who would like to know how to help a victim. This is a documentary featuring brave bold women who share their story. The next #MyFearlessFuture Project is set for Saturday November 9, 2019 @4pm. For tickets, please click here https://www.eventbrite.com/e/my-fearless-future-live-museum-tickets-73755864777 . For more about Chantelle, check out her website at www.chantellebranch.com