The day I've been dreading for nearly six years finally came- my ex/abuser was released from prison on July 30, 2021. Words can't describe the emotions I felt the day I got the call to inform me that the man who tried to kill me is now walking around free.
I reflected on September 23, 2015, the day he was sentenced; it was a turning point in my healing journey. I felt a weight leave my shoulders and an overwhelming sense of safety and security. However, receiving the call he was released created the exact opposite feeling; I felt heavy with a sense of loss of control and uncertainty.
I have spoken all over the country, sharing my story about surviving abuse and the rebuilding process. However, this created a new chapter of my "Battered Not Broken journey," which I am learning to navigate with no blueprint or directions. I had no one I could reach out to who could share their journey and tell me what it would feel like or the emotions I would go through, and more importantly, what I need to do to stay safe.
This is is the nitty-gritty of my experience and how I have had to recalibrate" my mindset and faith.
The Mindset of Domestic Violence Abusers
It's impossible to know the mindset of a person convicted of an assault once they are released (especially in domestic violence cases). We never know if domestic violence abusers want to get "revenge" on their victims or if they are going to stay away. In my case, my abuser threatened to kill me as he was assaulting me; called my family and threatened he was "going to finish what he started"; and wrote me, saying the "police better get to him before he gets to me." While in prison, he wrote a letter- (although it wasn't threatening), it was filled with narcissistic lies and shifted blame that illustrated he hasn't changed and still hasn't taken accountability for his crime.
I'm a firm believer in "When
Let's be clear; I don't want to take away from the ex-offenders who used their time in prison to take accountability for their crime and worked to reform and rehabilitate themselves to become better people and reduce their chances of recidivism. I also believe that if they are only "serving their time" and NOT working on rehabilitating themselves...then they come back out the same way they went in..and sometimes worse!
I am also a firm believer in...
"When someone shows you who they are believe them the first time." (Maya Angelou).
Yet, one can never honestly know a person's mindset; therefore, you must be your own advocate; be informed, strategize, and vigilant because it allows you to take control and regain your power!
Become your Own Best Advocate
Being your own best advocate means you can ask for what you need and want. You know your rights, and you speak up for your rights. You are informed and able to make choices and decisions that affect your life. Being informed, creating a safety strategy, and being vigilant means you are advocating for yourself.
Creating a safety strategy looks like this:
Sign up for VINE
Contact parole/probation officer regarding conditions of their parole/ probation
Obtain a CCW
Purchase a firearm
Enroll in self-defense classes
Purchase security cameras for inside and outside your home
Install a home security system
Purchase a safety device necklace/bracelet
Buy a trained personal protection dog
Aside from the safety strategy, it would help if you had a spiritual strategy too. This strategy keeps your spirit full any time fear and anxiety creep in because it will. Fear is a natural response to challenges or the unknown. It's an emotion that serves a valuable purpose, thus the saying "the gift of fear"/ fight or flight response, but it can quickly become unhealthy when it paralyzes us.
The devil will creep in and try to make you think that God will let you down and won't protect you; this is the moment spiritual strategy and faith kick in. It's where you remind yourself that God has never failed you and this time-worn be any different.
“…For he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ’The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5-6
Creating a spiritual strategy looks like this:
Find bible verses that remind you of God's promise - Fear Scriptures.
Find music/create a playlist to keep you encouraged - here is my Fear Not Playlist!
Begin each day with prayer/ meditation.
Find a support group in your area /virtually to keep you encouraged and support you in your journey.
For all my fellow survivors, may you find your strength along this journey and be encouraged to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
If you or someone you know, is in need of support, life coaching, encouragement, or resources; or you would like to invite Marica to deliver a message for your program, please use the Contact form to connect with us.
VINE https://www.vinelink.com "VINE is the nation’s leading victim notification network. It allows survivors, victims of crime, and other concerned citizens to access timely and reliable information about offenders or criminal cases in U.S. jails and prisons."
The Gift of Fear written by Gavin De Becker https://www.amazon.com/Gift-Fear-Survival-Signals-Violence/dp/0316235024
Victims’ Post-Conviction Rights When an Offender is Released This 50-state survey provides an overview of the various rights applicable to victims when an offender is released, moves or attempts to move between systems, escapes, or dies after conviction.