Teela Hart

Surviving Domestic Violence


One Day


“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Befalling freedom from my abuser was taxing; the road paved with falling rocks and repeated avalanches of emotion. I had unchained my physical body from his grasp. I was fortunate to have escaped with my life and the lives of my children. We enjoyed a stress free, perpetual vacation to various places, taking pictures and producing videos of our excursions for a solid summer season.

Upon our return home, we were evicted due to the loss of an income, but that was ok, I told my children. The end of one thing always means the beginning of a new thing. And in our case, it meant the beginning of a brand new life, uncontrolled by bitterness and anger. They seemed to be happy with that.

Move number one:

We moved into a four-room house with my mother . It was painful, but I felt semi-safe. She lived at the end of a dead end road and my heart raced at every car that headed our way. I was nervous and jittery with every door slam or horn blow or any other random noises I couldn’t identify. The phone rang and my heart sank…every time.

No worries, I told myself. I have a restraining order, mace, a bat, a knife, a phone, and I never slept when everyone else did. Someone had to stand guard. My hands shook with every minute movement, breathing was shallow and rapid, but that was no problem. I could handle that compared to what I had to reckon with prior to my escape.

Move number two:

Enthusiastic to find a new home, we searched until we found the perfect home; the last house on the left, on 13th street. (I think there are horror movies about this but I’m not superstitious) I purchased an alarm system, dolled up the house, brought a little of the old into the new, the mace, the bat, the knife, and the phone and lay claim to our new home.

I triple checked the windows and doors to be sure they were locked and set the alarm. I lay on the couch with my various weapons listening intently to every noise the house made in order to be at ease when heard repeatedly. I was as someone “hopped up” on crack, peeking out windows, walking the halls repeatedly checking on the kids. Nevertheless, that was ok I could handle it.

It took about three weeks before finally resigning to sleep in my bed. My nightly ritual of checking windows, setting the alarm, strategically placing the mace, the bat, the knife and the phone in the place my abuser would have slept continued. However, that was ok I could handle it.

It has been an entire year now yet still the ritual continues. The phone rings; my heart stops. A knock at the door; my heart stops. The sound of a car pulling into my driveway; my heart stops. A noise in the night; my heart stops. A flashback dream; my heart stops.

The question that really governs my mind is this. When will my heart stop stopping?

New beginnings are wonderful. Added anxiety of constant emotional, verbal, financial, mental and physical abuses are no more. Instead of the wonderment I expect, continued fear is what I receive.

My former life once filled with independence, freeness of heart, fun, spontaneity, and always on the go no longer exists.  I find myself now bound to the solitude of my new home.  I grieve deeply for that part of me that is now a stranger. My soul traverses between bargaining, anger, depression, and denial. However, I cannot make the leap to acceptance. One day maybe. One day.

Author: Teela Hart

I am a mother, daughter, sister and domestic violence survivor.

21 thoughts on “One Day

  1. Teela, I can certainly identify with what you are going through. I have my rituals as well when my (awesome) husband works night shifts. Mace under the pillow, weapon in the drawer (which is usually open for easy access). I jump at every sound and my senses are in overdrive when I am alone. Even the cat’s footsteps sound a lot like a person walking down the hall. May your story touch the hearts of many and help to put an end to the suffering of others. Most of all, I hope sharing your story brings you peace at last.


    • Thank you Willow,
      I am not sure peace is what I will find, but maybe the words will help someone else find their voice and their peace.
      Your words are encouraging and I appreciate them.


  2. great post teela .. i hope one day you find that peace


  3. “I grieve deeply for that part of me that is now a stranger.”
    This is powerful. Great writing Teela.
    A mace? Really? Like the medieval version?
    You rock! Awesome.


  4. This is heartbreaking to me. My wife is 33 years past her abuse. And still, once in a while I will see something in her eyes and hear her say something that is clearly not about what is happening in the moment. Things like “I won’t let this happen again”.
    I was as ignorant of this phenomenon as anyone else, holding the stupid party line ideas like “why don’t they just leave”. But I have gotten to see how the demon burrows in and changes perception and psychology. Of course being a man I want to hit and rend but taking revenge in the real world wouldn’t change was was done to the woman I love. If there is any value in this it is the ability for victims to to teach other the true nature of this evil. My wife speaks here in our city about it, working with a local organization. She does good but each times she describes her past she comes back angry and distracted. I know that this is not acceptable. It isn’t “someone else’s problem”.


    • Yet it is everyone else’s problem. The future of our children and theirs and humanity as a whole depends on acknowledging it exists and that so many times we are powerless to it’s grip. To teach others, to tell them, make them aware and make them listen.
      Again, I feel your heartbreak as I do my own and I thank you sincerely for standing by the woman you love, accepting her, supporting her and making true effort to understand her.


  5. Hi Teela – I feel for your because I stand where you stand, and you express it poignantly. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to leave my abuser, but I never imagined how hard.

    I live with the fear everyday, always looking over my shoulder and dreading sleep. It is hard to shake his pervasive influence – even though, as you say, I’ve removed him physically from my life he casts a long shadow. I try to make the most of my freedom, as I know that my child and I can’t live in fear. I take whatever precautions I can to keep us safe. Each day I get a little more comfortable in my own skin.

    I hope things get better for me and you and all the other survivors just trying to get into the sunlight again.


  6. Being here and writing means you’ve accepted it…you just don’t realize what you’ve actually accepted. It will come to you. It’s bubbling up little by little. 🙂


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