Through help from Friend to Friend in Carthage, NC, one survivor was able to realize six things that helped her escape the cycle of abuse. This is her story.
The night before Tabatha called Friend to Friend was the night she feared for her life.
Like many others in the 12 years Tabatha and her partner had endured before, the night started with an argument. She knew it would end in violence, again. But this time, before she even knew what was happening, Tabatha found herself against a wall.
“He looked at me and said ‘I will kill you bitch.’ And I believed him. I don’t know where the strength came from, but I put my legs up and used them to push him off me, and he hit the wall so hard that the window broke.”
She had never felt that much fear — and for the first time, she allowed herself to realize that no one should have to fight to live.
It’s been more than two years since she sought help from Friend to Friend, a Moore County nonprofit that works to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. Tabatha moved into Friend to Friend’s Serenity House the day after her last fight with her partner. She spent the next six months working on herself.
Here’s what she learned:
She Wasn’t Alone.
Tabatha had never sought out help because she didn’t want anyone to have pity on her, or to think less of her. But she met Friend to Friend’s Serenity House shelter manager, who had once been a resident herself. And time and time again, in group therapy sessions, she heard her story “coming from someone else’s mouth.”
“They didn’t judge me, or act like I brought this on myself,” she says. “I started realizing that God was going to do something for me.”
Abuse is About Control.
“When someone is beating you and telling you all these horrific things about yourself, it takes a toll on your mental wellbeing,” she says. “After moving into the shelter, the beating went away, but I could still hear him calling me names.”
Through therapy at Friend to Friend, Tabatha was able to understand that the abuse came from a need for control. It was about him, not her. “Once you decide that no human being should be in control of another, you can start to turn things around.”
Escaping the Cycle Is a Lifestyle Choice, Too.
Self-medicating to cope with the abuse, Tabatha realized, had further robbed her of her independence and self-worth. “Being a drug or alcohol user on top of being a battered woman, there’s nowhere to go but down,” she says. “Today, I’m proud to say I’m none of those things.”
“But I really needed to be around other positive people; you can’t be around the same old people and expect different results. With their help, I was able to say this is it — that I would never be a resident in a shelter ever again.”
He Wasn’t Going to Change, But She Could.
After violence first occurs, an abuser will often try to make up for their actions with promises that always turn out to be excuses. The highs in the relationship can be so good, they can make you question how low the low points really were.
“The love I had for him was more than the love I had for myself,” Tabatha says. “When you’re going through it, you think it’s going to get better. He kept me on a rope of hope that he would change. I was stuck on a continuous cycle until I realized that I couldn’t change him, I had to change me.”
Through help from Friend to Friend, Tabatha’s sense of self-respect began to come back. She worked on sustaining healthy friendships; and to her surprise, she began to think of her abuser less and less.
There Were People in Her Corner.
Those who seek shelter at the Serenity House receive a place to stay and all the essentials for daily life, as well as Friend to Friend’s trauma-informed, victim-centered services and 24/7 emotional support. Victims receive assistance with court orders and counseling, and reclaim independence through vocational training, financial education, and a bevy of other services.
“Friend to Friend does not require anything of our guests,” says Casey Halferty, the nonprofit’s Outreach and Prevention Program Coordinator, adding that programs are grant funded and supported by the community. “All of our services are 100 percent free and confidential.”
Tabatha received assistance in finding a new home, and furnishing it with essentials. “I didn’t have to ask for anything. They’re pouring themselves into me; into my dream.”
Her Own Company is More Than Enough.
“I don’t need someone to validate me or make me feel good about myself. I’m in control,” she says. “For the last two years, I have enjoyed Tabatha.”
For more information on the services Friend to Friend provides, visit https://www.friendtofriend.me/.