At Latter Day Survivors, we accept Survivors' story submissions for our blog. It really is our hope that as time goes on, and this *hopefully* grows, we will have a collection of hundreds of stories so that NO ONE feels alone anymore.
As we have been working on this endeavor, we have found that so many stories have similarities; things that perhaps made us feel like we were the only ones who it happened to. Hearing or seeing our own words and then listening or reading someone else's story really helps us to understand just how NOT ALONE we are!
One thing that is very important to us is that the stories are told by the Survivors themselves. In their own words. We want to hear there voices and validate their experiences! We are not wanting to rewrite or retell someone's story. We want to be able to hear them in their own words, however those words come out! This is empowering for our Survivors. It's also very vulnerable, difficult, and sometimes raw.
In my own story, I was always too ashamed to name the details of what happened. This caused over 30 years of confusion and misunderstanding in my family. If I had spoke the words somewhere along the way, you just cannot imagine how differently my life would have turned out!
I know, when we tell our stories, often people don't understand why we're bringing it up after all these years.... For us, the secrets, pain, and lies sometimes don't go away. As adults, we become better able to give words to what happened in our past and we are better able to see how it affected us.
It is our wish that through sharing the stories with the real words of what happens, it will allow others to be able to share their stories before they are in their 30's, 40's, and 50's! Telling these stories is literally the focus of Latter Day Survivors.
Vanessa submitted her story to us via our "Survivors submission" section on our website. It was really important to her that HER VOICE be heard also. She wanted to add her story to all the others. She wanted to show how "abuse" comes in many different packages. We are SO HONORED that she would share her story with us. We have explored many "kinds" of survival stories through our blog and podcast. Here is another brave story.
As you read through it, please HEAR HER. Please understand how something like this can be very liberating to some of us just to be heard, believed, and most of all, not feel alone anymore.
With no further ado, Vanessa's story:
"I have rarely, if ever, lived with an adult who put me first in their life. My mom was absent. My dad was deployed. Eventually, my husband would be deployed often also. I have to be heard. I have to be seen. I am not going to live a Helen Keller life.
I never knew what narcissism was until one day, a friend of mine told me to look up the word narcissism, And I did. Google explained everything and YouTube explained even more.
I went into foster care at a young age. My birth family, I was told, didn't take good care of me. My birth mother was not interested in her responsibilities as a mother. My dad was in the Navy and was always deployed from home.
I was introduced into the church (The LDS church) through a church member who ran a foster home through the system. I was baptized at age 13 and lived in the same foster home until early adulthood.
My husband and I met at a friend's house. It was a last minute get together. They just wanted friends over. While we were there, some of us were having pillow fights with other friends. We were having so much fun. And then, there he was. The man who was going to become my husband one day.
I never saw the red flags back then. I only saw a decent guy. I hit him with the pillow hoping that maybe he would join in our pillow fight. He didn't like it much because the next thing he asked was, "Who threw that pillow at me?!" All fingers in the room pointed at me. He hit me with every ounce of strength with the same pillow he had.
I never realized it at the time but I probably embarrassed or emasculated him in front of his friends and he took it out on me. He was very aggressive. Such a classic narcissistic injury response. It truly showed his true colors.
I fell back against the couch. I just sat there heart broken and quite embarrassed. We didn't talk or see one another until a few days later when a friend of mine invited us to the Seattle temple to do some temple work. Afterwards, we went to a dance.
We actually danced together. Before the dance ended he asked me out on a date. We dated for a year before getting engaged. During our courting period, he was called away on deployments or short work-ups. His occupation is the Navy. He would come back from his deployments after a few weeks or more and then we would be reunited. We were going on dates; hanging out with friends.
Just like some folks out there, I have a lot of self esteem issues. One day, I began to talk poorly about myself. What happened next sort of shook me. I never had a guy yell at me before like my future husband did that day. He just didn't like me talking terribly about myself but he didn't need to yell at me about it. Then his tone and behavior softened. It was a very uncomfortable situation. This took place after one of our dates just as he was dropping me off at home.
We got married in December of 2000 in the Seattle temple. It was the happiest moment of our lives. There was no point of return now.
We moved into a small apartment with some friends of ours. We will call them "Norah" and "Mike". They were married, at the time, with two children and planning on a third. They were members of the church.
Living in the same apartment with friends wasn't easy. And not because it was a full house. Living there made me feel sad, lonely, and forgotten. I struggled a lot emotionally, mentally, and psychologically. I bumped heads with my husband and our friends.
Living in that small apartment with Norah, Mike and their two kids was so depressing. I was so sad and angry all the time. I didn't realize at the time that perhaps it was because of my husband.
He was never opposed to moving in with another family. It was a great opportunity for a built-in audience for him to talk bad about me; a smear campaign, which is complete narcissistic behavior.
Before our own kids entered the picture we moved into a three bedroom apartment on the east side of Bremerton. One day just being in a playful mood with him, there was a tennis ball involved. He was bent over reaching for something around the toilet in the bathroom and I bounced the ball in his direction and he got so mad. He got up in an aggressive manner, something told me to run and lock myself in the bedroom. He came to the bedroom door knocking and kicking at the door, yelling from the other side of it. Feeling shocked, scared, and embarrassed, I just stayed inside my bedroom until I was certain he calmed down. Who knows what could have happened, if I had not ran into that bedroom and locked myself in.
Fast forward to four kids later. I had been married to the same man for 21 years. I've experienced tag-team gas-lighting and manipulation from both my husband and one of his friends. Scriptures aren't supposed to be weapons, they're meant to be assurances, and comfort. This wouldn't be the only recent experience I've had. There have been more like this one. I've given this man roses, and he has given me thorns.
More issues began to rise where his behavior became so obviously apparent that I couldn't ignore it any longer. To be able to FINALLY see what's happening can only happen after a period of self awareness and gaining courage, self esteem, and strength to want to actually call it out. When journaling and writing out my story it eases the pain that narcissistic abuse has caused. Writing, crocheting, and going on long walks are the things that really help me process. These things have become so healing and therapeutic for me.
Some things I have learned as a military wife is that my husband revels in trickery. He is firm in his lies, pushing people to confusion. In a state of confusion, he can get what he wants from people. He is like a game of chess. I was never good at chess. How do you win at chess? By staying moves ahead of your opponent.
As my story is being told to the Family Advocacy Program, extended family members, friends, and legal aides, I have been told by one private individual that no one will save me. Perhaps she's right but, this is not her story! I have no friends, family, or support. I'm in this on my own and I need to get out of it on my own. I'm sharing my story and hope that you will be aware of the growing issue of domestic violence against women and many other stories like mine and raise awareness.
Abuse comes in many shapes and forms! Not just one!" ~Vanessa