Wearing only a thin silk nightdress, she sat curled up in a dark corner of her home, legs pulled tightly against her chest, too scared to breathe loudly – she couldn’t risk him finding her.
She waited as quietly as she could for her moment to escape. For her moment to make a run for it. She could hear him calling to her, mocking her. She knew if he found her he would hurt her and she could feel the fear pumping through her veins. But there was something else inside of her, something else pumping through her veins and arteries. Determination. She would not let him hurt her.
She moved slowly, cautiously around the corner, his footsteps quieter than before, further away. He was looking for her like a wild beast hunting its prey desperate for the taste of blood, but he was looking in the wrong direction and so she knew this was her chance to escape. She ran for the door and flicked the lock, ripping it open and running into the darkness of the night. She knew he would have heard her but she didn’t care. All she could think about was running as fast as she could. She wasn’t strong or used to running, and her feet were bare and she was barely clothed for the chill of the night, but none of that mattered in that very moment. The adrenaline and determination took over and she felt no pain – she just had to get away.
She ran and ran as fast as she could but she knew he was behind her because she heard him calling. But she knew she was far enough ahead, that the streets were windy, and that she was safe for now. She found a spot between some bushes in a stranger’s garden and curled up behind them. She considered going inside to ask for help but she was too ashamed, too embarrassed. They would judge her, she thought. She had made her bed and now she had to lie in it. She had thought about telling her family – she could call her parents. But again she was ashamed and believed she had let them down. The police were an option but he had begged and threatened that if she ever went to the police he would have his father kill her – and she believed him.
In the darkness, hidden from street lamps, she sat alone.
Occasionally she would watch a car go past and wonder if she just stepped out in front of one could it all be over? Would she and everyone else be better off? Was it easier to die? She knew at some point she would have to go home to him and that her only hope was for his angry phase to be over, and for him to be in his remorseful phase. When he calmed down he always felt guilty and would apologise and beg for her forgiveness. He could be so loving and charming and knew how to be romantic. In fact, he was the most romantic person she had ever met, not like her high school boyfriend – captain of the footy team, popular, a show off, and a jerk around his mates.
This guy was caring, devoted, and loved only her. He was attentive, he cooked for her, brought her gifts, and made her feel beautiful. That was, until he got mad again. It didn’t take much for that to happen. If she talked to her family on the phone he would throw things at her until she got off. If she spoke to her best friend he would hit her. If she said the wrong thing he would cut up her photographs. If she was late home from university he would accuse her of being with other guys and rape her. She told herself that he loved her and that he was sorry. He would also beg for forgiveness or threaten to kill himself if she left him, and so she forgave him.
Every time he beat her a part of her would fight.
This usually made him madder, but there was something in that girl – a fight, a spark – something always stopped her from throwing herself in front of a car. Something that made her continue to talk to friends, something that made her hide her pill tablets in the spare wheel of her car so he couldn’t get her pregnant no matter how hard he tried. Deep down she knew she was worth more and that this wasn’t what she wanted for her life. She knew she couldn’t give up her family, her friends, her education and future for this person who beat her. There was a glow in her, a light that she couldn’t let him put out! At 20 years old, that girl packed up his shit, she threw it in the car and drove it to his mothers house. She walked in and sat for hours with his mother and told her everything. His mother supported her, she loved her son, but had suspected the abuse, she was determined to help this young girl get out of the life she had lived with his father, the cycle needed to be broken.
That 20-year-old girl was me. Is me. She is the part of me that I am learning to be proud of.
After I left him he stalked me for years. I walked into my bedroom one day to be met by his face outside my bedroom window. On another day I found him hiding in the backyard of my parents house. He also showed up at my part-time jobs, and years later called me at a job when I was engaged to my now husband. I moved several times and listed my phone listed under a different name. It’s been 12 years of no contact, and it has taken me 12 years to finally get on social media, to allow myself a voice, to find the freedom to start my blog, to write and to feel safe!
It took me three years and a complete breakdown after I left him before I told my family what I had been through, and it was my best friend who finally got it out of me. She had questioned me all along – deep down she had known, but she could never get me to admit it. What I went through didn’t end the day I left him and it damaged friendships, it damaged the closeness I shared with my brother, it hurt my family, it caused the breakdown of my next relationship. It took rape counselling and years of me learning to love myself again – or rather the first time.
Courage is not the absence of fear, it is having that fear, acknowledging it, analyzing it, taking control over it, and ultimately realising that having fears is normal, that you can take control over the thoughts or feelings holding you back, that you are courageous, and have the power to face your fears just by starting to acknowledge them.
Fear is a natural response to trying anything new, to making any change, trust your intuition, listen to your inner voice, don’t be pressured to do things that feel unsafe or are against your values, but don’t let fear stop you from living your truth. This is a lesson I continue to lean, I have not told many people about what I lived through, my closest family know, a few friends and my husband. I made the decision to tell my husband when we started to get serious, because I couldn’t live a lie, it is too exhausting pretending to be something you’re not. I was scared he would judge me, or leave me, but I faced my fear because I needed to know he loved me for me – the good, the bad, the ugly and all of my awesomeness.
I had to learn to forgive that girl for her choices, to forgive myself. It took time, but I realise now in writing this – something I have never acknowledged before – I have forgiven her. She was young and inexperienced but she was brave. That girl made a decision to leave a dangerous situation and to become an educated woman. She became stronger and found a wonderful man who deserves her love. She is raising strong independent daughters, and a son who will treat women with respect! That girl, that woman, is me, and I am proud of me!
For many people joining Facebook and other social media networks is not a big deal, but for me it was terrifying. When I decided to take back my power and to give myself the freedom he tried to take from me, I not only joined Facebook, I started a funny, reflective and empowering blog. For years I had let my fears of the past and of not being “good enough” hold me back, and I was so scared that no one would like my writing or what I had to say, but suddenly people were visiting my blog and loving my posts, quotes, challenges and photography. I cried and cried because I was shedding a familiar part of myself. As strange as it sounds I had to let go of that insecure girl and I had to grieve her loss.
My default pattern had been to run away for years and when I stopped running it felt strange…almost wrong. But it wasn’t wrong, it was fabulous! I just didn’t know how to accept fabulous, how to accept not being that runaway girl, so I allowed myself time to adjust, to grieve, to feel, to be mindful of the pain, the insecurities, and now I can move on to being mindful of greater things in my world.
Since starting my blog I have felt more at peace and more fulfilled than ever. I truly believe we need to find our passions and follow them, and not let insecurities or fear stop us. I have learnt it is okay to give yourself permission to be your authentic self. I often say for me writing is like breathing fresh air – without it I wouldn’t survive. It may sound silly but for me it is my truth – it’s what keeps me sane.
This is the first time I have written my story.
When Janine first asked me if I was a “Life Changing Artist”, when she asked me to share what I had overcome, I wasn’t sure I could write about it, but I wanted to inspire people to take back their power, to believe in themselves and to face their fears.
I think most of us are scared of being ourselves, of showing our innermost thoughts and feelings to the world. This fear is normal but it shouldn’t stop us. The more I have opened up through my writing the more I have realised how many people out there are just like me. If I can empower one person to leave an abusive partner, one person to walk away from an unhealthy relationship, one person to seek help for depression or anxiety, or one person to follow their dreams, then everything I went through was worth it! What I went through changed the direction of my life, it empowered me to have a voice, to inspire women and men, to help people live a life of truth, purpose, and to learn to love themselves. I realised I had to embrace my greatest weaknesses and turn them into my greatest strengths.
When I began writing this piece I made a vow to be raw and honest, to share my story and inspire whoever reads this to face their fears and change their lives for the better. I never expected I would face a fear of my own by writing this, so I thank you for allowing me to share my story with you. I wish for you the belief that you deserve good things for you deserve forgiveness from yourself. You deserve to live an authentic life. In fact you need to demand this for yourself!
I will leave you with a quote that I hope inspires you to live your truth:
Following your dreams, your passions, is like fighting against life. It is easier to say that there is no time, that too many things need to be done today. Fight this. Fight this with everything you have because a life without dreams or passions can not be a life of fulfillment. Fight for your inner self. Fight for the freedom to be heard. Fight to be you!
Thank you for joining me.
Love Mackenzie xx
About Mackenzie Glanville