I am strong. I am innocent. I am a survivor. I am a warrior!
violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner.
My name is Chelsea and I am 26 years old. Here you will not find your typical survivor story because I am not the typical survivor of domestic violence. I am the innocent survivor. I am the daughter. I am the observer. I recently discovered my story started long before the divorce. My hope for this story is not to upset anyone, especially my parents. My hope for this story is to help parents realize what their actions do to someone that looks up to them.
Many of my memories don’t have a time stamp on them. Some of them I can’t even guess an age. My way of coping was to push everything back and move on. Most memories feel like dreams to me. The very first memory I can recall is when my grandfather told us that we could no longer live on the family property. Later through arguments between my parents and family gossip, I found out that we could no longer live there because my dad was a drug addict. After the move, life changed. I felt like I didn’t have an open relationship with my mom’s family. I learned from the family I did have, my dad’s family, that I didn’t have the healthiest relationships. I witnessed a lot of fighting between everyone.
My most vivid memory was one day when my parents were fighting over who knows what. I saw my dad grab a knife from the kitchen, walk to the bathroom, and shut the door. My mom ran out of the house screaming for me to call the police. I saw him come out with the knife and put it on the counter. I was trembling on the side of my bed with the phone in my hand. When the door opened I immediately cried. He told me I couldn’t call the police or I would regret doing that to him. He was my dad and I was terrified so I listened to him. I remember watching him leave but nothing after that.
I remember being chased many times. I felt like the roads didn’t have an end. Like most other times I don’t know what started the argument but I would end up in a car with my mom and my dad would follow close behind. He told her he wanted her like his ex… dead! We left. We drove in and out of traffic for what felt like forever. That night my mom rented a hotel and we stayed there. I thought that night would be the last night I was going to have to deal with the fights. I thought it was the end, but it wasn’t. She went back to him.
I was the one in the middle. I was the one that was held over each other’s heads. I remember getting food thrown across the living room at us. Again, we left. He wanted money so we met him in a parking lot. I got out to give him the money. I was scared but I knew he wouldn’t hurt me. No father would hurt their child, especially not mine. I was a daddy’s girl. I wanted to learn everything he knew because I never wanted to depend on a man.
I was always told that every family fights. Little did I know not every family had physical fights. I felt so alone. I couldn’t tell anyone because I knew I would get in trouble once I got home. I didn’t have marks on my body just on my heart and my brain. His family knew about the addiction. They “tried” to help by giving me books about living with a parent that had an addiction or having a family “meeting.” My mom didn’t know I saw the drug deals or him use the drugs. A lot of time she was at work or school and I would hang out with my dad. That’s when I became a daddy’s girl. When my dad would make “jokes” about my mom, I would just laugh along or agree with him because I knew it was easier to ask my mom to forgive me later.
Once I got older I realized my family wasn’t “normal.” I felt like my mom’s protector because there was no way he would kill her with me in the house… until the day I was scared for my own life. My dad used to be a truck driver so he thought he was the best one the road. We were coming home from vacation and he tried to run an 18 wheeler off the road. I screamed because obviously, I was scared. I got yelled at for screaming and making a big deal out of things. When I told him that we could have died if that truck would have hit us he said he didn’t care. My heart sank.
The divorce came shortly after. He looked at me in the eyes and told me when he found her he was going to kill her. That was the most disturbing time of my life. I knew what he was capable of and I knew he meant what he said. That week seemed like the longest week of my life. I lived a couple of houses down from my parents and he would wake me up at all hours of the night. He wanted me to give him answers I didn’t have. I was once again stuck in the middle. I didn’t want to give up either of my parents, but I couldn’t let him control me like he did to her. When I told him I was not going to be home one night he told me it wasn’t going to be pretty when I got back. I knew that meant a fight so I never went home again. I got a police escort to my house because I was too scared to go alone. After threats of breaking into my house, him finding me, and him paying me back, I decided I needed to move.
He was in and out of jail a lot for those couple of months. The threats became worse. The constant texts, calls, and emails had to stop. When he told me he knew every move I made, I was going to regret doing this to him, and payback wasn’t going to be good I knew it wouldn’t stop unless I did something. I called the police. When the officer responded I told him I didn’t know if they were waiting for him to kill one of us or what but no one was doing anything. He understood my frustration. So he did his duty and picked my dad up. The officer personally called me to say he was in jail and for a second I felt like I could breathe. But I knew it wasn’t the end.
Getting a restraining order to protect yourself from your own father sucks! I went to court that day feeling the worst I’ve ever felt. I had all the proof I needed but I had to face my abuser. Even though he was in shackles and cuffs I was terrified. He yelled at me across the courtroom. He told the judged I was lying but the proof was right in front of her. With the proof I had given, my testimony, and his behavior in court the judge granted my restraining order for a year and a half.
My life has been and continues to be what some people consider a nightmare but I know it could always be worse. By no means do I think my parents were terrible parents. I do think that my mom should have gotten out sooner for her kids. I also think that my dad should not act the way he does. When my dad was released from jail he signed an extension on my protective order. I know that is just a piece of paper to some people but for me, it’s my security. Since then I’ve been in therapy. I have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. But those are just labels because I know in my heart who I am. I know I do not have to be the people who raised me. In my spare time, I like to go to target practice, meditate, relax, be happy, be free, and be me. I am Chelsea and my future has just begun!
I am strong. I am innocent. I am a survivor. I am a warrior!