“If you leave me, I will hunt you down and kill you.”

Once we have found a safe place to go, taken the terrifying step to run for our lives and leave everything behind, and rested our bones for a short time, we must then find a way to go on with our lives. That means working to support ourselves, and our children; finding a safe place to live; and trying to make as normal a life as possible for all of us.

In my former life, as a battered wife, I had not been allowed to work out of the house. So here I was, back in the job market. My skills were rusty, my brain was addled, and I jumped at every loud noise. I took whatever I could find for a while. Each new job brought new responsibilities and experiences. Finally, I was confident enough to go after a really good job. To my amazement, I got it. The pay was good, the drive was lousy, but my two little girls and I would be better off.

Every workday I drove the hour plus into downtown from our small apartment in the south bay. My car was a clunker, absolutely on its last wheel. But it was mine. I had paid for it, and no one could take it from me.

I parked at a cheap lot several blocks from my office. I would get out of my car and start the walk. Each step was a victory. I figured that if the bullet got me, I would probably never know it, but I was saddened at the thought of my two young daughters having to go on without me.

It is still painful to remember those times. I have a really good life now. But for a long time I was still making the same mistakes with the men in my life. Oh, nobody hit me, I wouldn’t stand for that, but they controlled me in so many ways. It was easy, I was practically a professional victim. I was “wired” for it.

Deciding to walk in front of the bullet was a victory for me. Taking control my own life has been more difficult even than that. Domestic violence hurts everyone it touches. So, here I am, years later, remembering and writing, hoping to help even one woman save her own life and the lives of her children.

If someone is telling you that they will hunt you down and kill you if you leave, please, please get some help, call a local shelter, call Safe Horizon, get away. Anyone who says this is not stable and may, in fact, do great bodily harm to you or your children.