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Those Hearts Will Race For A Long Time

 

November 5, 2020

By SUZIE CAMPBELL

My youngest daughter interviewed me for a college paper she was writing. The last question she asked me was, "If you could be anyone or anything, who or what would you be?"

 My answer was and still is that I would be just who I am and what I am today. Every experience I had, both good and bad, brought me to where I am today, and I love my life. I have two beautiful children as a result of my first marriage. I wouldn't trade that for anything. Changing any part of my life would mean changing who I have become due to those experiences.

There are still ghosts lurking from my past, some I have discovered while writing this series. They are annoying ghosts disguised as fears, fears that I have held on to far too long. I am now ready to say goodbye to them.

I remember years after my husband and I were married, I was coming home one afternoon from shopping. My heart was racing, and I had this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I sped down the road. I was about twenty minutes later getting home than I told him I would be.

Just before I got to our driveway, it dawned on me how silly this was. He wouldn't mind that I was late. It was one of those old ghosts still haunting me. I pulled over to the side of the road, took a few deep breaths, and went home to hug that wonderful man.

The true after-effects for survivors of domestic violence aren't the physical wounds. The bruises and broken bones heal. The scars fade and become less noticeable. But the emotional and psychological wounds and scars linger for years. These are hard to let go.  

An article in the Oklahoma Bar Journal from 2007 written by Casey Rose-Petherick and Kelly Gaines Stoner entitled 'Barriers to Justice for Domestic Violence Victims' lists several assumptions and clarifying facts related to domestic violence. The very first one gives alarming information on Oklahoma's rise to the top of the list in intimate partner homicide rates.

Project Safe, headquartered in Shawnee, has received $53,141 from the 2009 Recovery Act STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant. The purpose of this grant is to develop and strengthen the response to violence against women and to support and enhance services for victims.

I was fortunate enough to have a strong support system once I opened up and asked for help, but this is not always the case.

Below is part of a Safety Plan Guideline. Please share it with friends and family or anyone you think may need this information. To see the full guide and for more information on resources available for the victims of domestic violence, visit Project Safe at www. projectsafe.org or call their 24-hour hotline toll free at 1-800-821-9953 or 273-9953.

Guidelines For Leaving

• You may request a police stand-by or escort while you leave. If you need to sneak away, be prepared.

• Make a plan for how and where you will escape; plan for a quick escape.

• Put aside emergency money as you can.

• Hide an extra set of car keys.

• Pack an extra set of clothes for yourself and your children and store them at a trusted friend or neighbor's house. Try to avoid using next-door neighbors, close family members and mutual friends.

Take with you important phone numbers of friends, relatives, doctors, schools, etc., as well as other essential items, including driver's license; regularly needed medication; list of credit cards held by self or jointly or the credit cards themselves if you have access to them, pay stubs, and checkbooks and information about bank accounts and other assets.

If time is available, also take:

• Citizenship documents (such as your passport, green card, etc.).

• Titles, deeds, and other property information.

• Medical records.

• Children's school and immunization records.

• Insurance information.

• A copy of marriage license, birth certificates, will, and other legal documents.

• Verification of social security numbers.

• Welfare identification.

• Valued pictures, jewelry, or personal possessions.

Create a false trail: Call motels, real estate agencies, and schools in a town at least six hours away from where you plan to relocate. Ask questions that require a call back to your house in order to leave phone numbers on record.

My kids are now grown with families of their own. The anger and the fear that they feel are apparent still when they talk about him. Those things that go bump in the night still make the hairs stand up on the back of our necks and cause our hearts to race.

Some things have become a part of who we are. But as my daughter so eloquently stated, "I needed to say goodbye to that little girl. Say goodbye to all the fear and pain and torment I have tried to run from for the past 20 years."

I began this series to help others better understand the long-term effects of domestic violence, but in doing this, I have discovered things still haunting my life that I can now say goodbye to.  

My children and I are not victims of domestic violence; we are SURVIVORS.  

(Editor's Note: This is the sixth and final column in this series. The previous five are available on our website.)

 

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