Janice's Story

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Janice's truth . . . FREEDOM

I was her only child, her first-born, born to her on her l6th birthday.
I didn't know her anger. I didn't know her pain
I thought I was a beautiful birthday present. Boy was I vain!

I tried my best to be her good little girl.
I studied hard and earned good grades.
I dotted my I's and crossed my t's.
I remembered my manners, to say thank you and please.

"If you can get a B, you can get an A", she would say!
In my mind I'd think
Is it Johnnie Walker Red talking, or is it my mother today?

I cleaned her house spotless, but it was never good enough.
When her other babies came along, I cared for them too.
The best that a teenage girl could do.

Then Daddy left, and the Divorce papers came.
According to Mommy, Daddy had put our family to shame.
"And you", she said, "are the biggest mistake I have ever made in my life.
It's all your fault that I married your sorry Daddy and became his wife."

And from that day on she BEAT me...
She BEAT me because I looked just like Daddy.
She BEAT me because I made Daddy leave.
She BEAT me because I was not Daddy.
She BEAT me until she drew blood, and I became numb to the beatings.
She BEAT me into fear. I was so afraid. Afraid to tell anyone. How she beat me.

I met a boy. He and I were both sixteen.
He told me that his Daddy was awfully mean!
He seemed nice. He gained my trust.
I told him about Momma and how she fussed.

By graduation, he had a plan.
He said, "Marry me and I'll set you free!"
Freedom. How peaceful that would be.

A year into the marriage, I was 19 and full of life
He was a hard worker and I was a stay at home Mom
Because that's the way he said it should be.
My husband, my beautiful baby boy, and me.

I thought everything was just fine,
Me, being the perfect Mom and the perfect wife.
Until this stranger came home one Friday night.

I had dinner on the stove, and I was dressed to go out.
He said, "Where do you think you're going?"
I said, "Out with some friends". He said, "No you're not."
I said, "Yes I am". He said, "No you're not."
And slapped my face so hard with the back of his hand.
I became numb from the pain.

I thought, "This isn't Freedom.
This is Momma, all over again!"

My name is Janice, and I am a survivor of child abuse and domestic violence. I don't think I will ever escape the emotional scars that I earned from childhood and 11 years of a physically abusive marriage, but I do thank God that I had the strength to seek help and take control of my life. I'm a believer that everything happens for a reason, and the experiences that I just shared with you in poem, led me on a journey to a place where I, for the first time in my life, really felt free. That place was at Vera House. While a resident at Vera House, I was inspired to return to school and pursue a career in Social Work. I took classes at Onondaga Community College and graduated in 2004. I have worked at Vera House as a Volunteer, a Resident Supervisor, a Co-Facilitator for Alternatives to Domestic Violence for Men, and am presently a Case Manager at the Main Shelter. I am presently working on my Bachelor's Degree in Social Work at Syracuse University.

In closing, I just want to say that "We have to talk about Domestic Violence". It can be a silent killer, if we don't talk about it. I was fortunate to walk away with emotional scars. Many others did not survive. If you or someone you know is a victim, tell somebody, set yourself free. If you know someone that you even suspect is being abused, reach out. Ask them if there is something that you can do to help. If you are the person that is being abusive to your partner, seek help. If you just pick up the phone and call a hotline like we have at Vera House, and anonymously talk to someone, it's a start. But do something to keep yourself safe, and everyone involved safe. As a community it is our job to work together to end domestic violence. That is my mission!

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