| This is the 299th story of Our Life Logs |
Life began the year 1993 in a beautiful small town in Southern California. Our close-knit family projected the picture-perfect story with loving parents, huge apple trees to climb, and a million sun-kissed memories. Sadly, every beautiful story is entangled with a monster. The monsters that haunted my life and broke my sweet laughter were violators of the sweetest innocence and remained a protected secret until recently.
At the tender age of six, I fell victim to sexual abuse by someone who was only a child himself. I was a little girl with a big voice and personality, yet my abuser convinced me to stay silent. It shocks me to this day how easily he scared me into silence. Laying on my back in a dirt ditch, he whispered threats against speaking out, and you’d better believe it worked; I didn’t tell a soul until after I graduated high school.
For the rest of my life, I have struggled with feeling dirty. Yes, dirty, the word that makes my therapist cringe each time I use it. But it’s true; dirty is the most pure and honest word that I can find to describe how being robbed of my innocence made me feel. My adolescence was haunted by these events. My sexual abuse followed me and altered how I saw myself and my worth. It twisted my idea of what normal sexual behavior was.
At 19, I began a four-year relationship with a significant other who was physically, sexually, and emotionally abusive. Any professional could look at my background and theorize that I got into an abusive relationship as an adult because of my childhood. Maybe they’d be right, but I honestly can’t tell you what made me stay.
He was charming. We met online, which was always a hard pill for my parents to swallow. He swooped in and was “Mister Wonderful” from day one, winning my parents and their hesitations over instantly. My confused, not so confident heart melted at the sight of his quick wit, good job, and subtle control. I never saw the trap coming when I decided to move four hours away from my family to live with a man I hardly knew. I was in love. I didn’t see any signs.
From the first day I moved in, he was a different man. The once sweet, attentive figure had revealed his cold, harsh persona. Small hints of degrading words and yelling soon turned into trapping me in rooms. It didn’t take long for his need for physical authority to take over.
I remember it so clearly. On the first weekend, his brother had come to stay with us. It was also the weekend I discovered he had been talking to another woman. I wish I could tell you the details, but I never even got the chance to have my questions answered. I had stolen a moment alone with him to ask what had been going on, but he immediately became furious with me. Overly confident and strong-willed, I demanded to see the conversation between him and this other woman. His only response was that I needed to stay out of his personal life.
Confusion and anger pulsed through my body. He knew everything that happened in my life, so my demand for an explanation seemed fair. If there was nothing to hide, then what was the problem? Looking back, I know this was the day my adolescent immaturity took over. I began raising my voice, demanding him to prove my accusations wrong.
Then I saw it. A sudden shift in his eyes; a combination of fury and emptiness. He began yelling, and inching closer and closer to my face. By this time, we had his brother’s full attention, the embarrassment seemed to only make him louder. I turned and darted for our bedroom. I told him that we needed space, that I needed to take a drive so we both could decompress. He began yelling over and over “You’re not going to leave!” He positioned his giant body between me and the door and began backing me further and further towards the corner of the room.
Fear of being trapped caused me to try to push my way past him to the open door. His tight grip around my arm was followed by a hard slap to my left cheek. He had definitely gotten my attention. I stumbled backward trying to catch back up with reality. I remember staring at him in shock through my blurred vision. I saw his lips move, I knew he was yelling, but all I could hear was a solid ring.
Tears ran down my face as I tried with everything I had to fight my way out of the room. He grabbed my upper body and pushed me hard up against the wall. When I was able to break free from him I ran to the closet, closing the door as hard as I could and huddled in the corner. He quickly followed me, pinning me down and giving me three more hard blows to the back of the head. Then he got up, turned off the closet light, and shut the door behind him. I laid on the closet floor in the dark for an hour; the sting of the tears running down my face kept me wide awake.
When I inched the closet door open, I saw him sitting on our bed crying. It was dark outside, and the apartment was quiet. He looked up at me with his red, fear-filled eyes and began apologizing over and over. He told me his life was full of abuse, and he didn’t know why he couldn’t control his anger. It made my heart ache for him, and made me feel like I understood him. After promising me it would never happen again, he fell asleep holding onto me tight. I laid there for hours staring at the dark ceiling.
I woke up the next morning to breakfast in bed, and his smiling face. He had decided he was taking me shopping for clothes and makeup for the job I would be starting soon. We never talked about what had happened. I was too numb to bring it up. I pulled my sore body out of bed and shuffled to the bathroom. I cringed looking in the mirror at the bruise on my cheek, and his excuses running through my head.
I later discovered that during the fight he had locked my cell phone, wallet, and car keys away in his safe. This became a trend through every fight we would have in the future. He would always tell me it was to keep me safe, that I didn’t need to be driving when I was so angry. Really though, it was for him, just as he had said, he made sure I wasn’t leaving.
I had become the woman that made excuses for every time he screamed for control; every time he slapped me, choked me, or pushed me down. My mind had conformed so much I couldn’t even imagine walking away. I had confused pain with passionate love.
The relationship was a blur. The good memories smeared with adrenaline and heartbreak for the loss of the man he promised to be. Eventually, I became fed up with hiding my cuts and bruises and showing up to work exhausted from fear and lack of sleep. I honestly can’t remember when I finally realized I needed to leave him. It all just piled up until I couldn’t take it anymore.
Choosing to leave was the hardest part. The abuse had remained a secret for so long. Who would believe me? Yet, somehow, I did it. In September 2015, I left him. My dad arrived with a trailer. Even though at the time my dad didn’t know about the abuse, he was the first one to show up to help me pack my things. He looked at me with loving eyes and reassured me that leaving him was the right thing to do.
But leaving was just the beginning of the long, overwhelming road to healing. The physical pain my abuser caused me wasn’t the toughest thing for me to face. When I was finally out, I had to face the reality that he had killed the woman I used to be. My personality, my laughter, my grace…all gone. I started over. I moved to a small town a few hours away. Surrounded by good friends and family, I began to rebuild the life I had lost.
The girl I was before has slowly returned over the years. Overcoming so much allowed me to find a silver lining and be proud of my ability to survive. I got to celebrate my tiny triumphs. Moving into my first house, getting to start fresh, and finally living the life that he always told me I couldn’t have on my own. I even took a picture of the first mailbox I had to myself. Yes, it’s hanging on my wall as a reminder of how powerful the little things are.
My older brother introduced me to the love of my life in November 2015. He waited patiently as I got on my feet by providing help, support, and true friendship. Six months later, we started dating. Learning to trust someone, not only with my heart, but with my well-being and independence, has been a true challenge for me. He shows patience through it all, matching my difficult moments with enough love and laughter to settle my nerves.
From the first time I met him, his kind eyes convinced me of his honesty. Through him, I’ve learned what healthy love and relationships look like. He has taught me how to truly love without condition or hesitation, and that it’s okay to disagree with each other in respect. There hasn’t been one time he has used words that make me question my worth. That, my friends, is a good man. We got married in December 2018 and couldn’t be happier.
I began therapy and have since learned how to forgive my abusers. Forgiving has given me the freedom to separate myself as a victim from the strong independent woman that I’ve aspired to be.
So often, I’m faced with the question of “Now what?” The tug of war between being drug down by terrifying memories and the fight to want to scream like a warrior at the top of my lungs to save other women and men from the fury of false love. I want victims barricaded by fear and guilt to leave their abusers to know the empowerment I’m experiencing. I’m proof that overcoming your abuse, and using it as a building block to create the strong person you desire to be, is possible.
This is the story of Morgan Fox
Morgan’s story brings light to the epidemic of abuse and domestic violence. Her childhood and young adulthood life had been speckled with abuse, until she gained the courage to end the cycle. She is now 25 years old and lives a healthy inspiring life in Lake County, California, with her wonderful husband. Morgan pours her soul into her family, writing, and adorable pups. She has found peace in writing poetry, an outlet for her healing and a push for her to approach a career as a writer. Morgan has the yearning for people to find the beauty in life that she has found. She wants to make a difference in healing the hearts of women who just don’t know where to start. “I’ve come so far, now it’s your turn,” says Morgan.
This story first touched our hearts on April 11, 2019.
| Writer: Morgan Fox | Editor: Kristen Petronio |