Be Informed Survivor Stories Lynn's Story Two weeks after asking for a separation I was woken up to the worst nightmare of my life. I remember shutting down during it and not mentally being there (I learned that coping mechanism from trauma in my childhood). I had to stay in the house for several months afterward so I did not deal with it initially. I just shoved it aside and I definitely didn’t report it because he and his family are “upstanding Christians”. I Knew no one would believe me. I was already being judged for getting divorced by everyone in the church community and I was not putting myself through that. After that incident and before I could move out, I also dealt with stalking and him trying to have me put on a psych hold so I would lose my job. I had almost no family support. In fact, I was made to believe it was my fault for a while. I also became a little promiscuous for a short while afterward and I think it was because I didn’t want him to have been the last person to touch me. I did have support from certain friends I confided in. I wish I could say I got help dealing with this immediately but the truth is I shoved it to the side for survival. I needed to get along with him so he wouldn’t take my stuff from me (my vehicle, possessions, etc.). After being gone from the house for a year, he started going back on everything we agreed on in the separation and at that point it was like a dam broke. Everything I had not dealt with was suddenly rushing to the surface. It was debilitating at first. I was angry and I was crying all the time. I got caught up in feeling like it is unfair that he has the house and stuff after all that he did to me, but I had to realize I cannot control that so it will do me no good to dwell on that. What I can control is to become active about wanting to heal my mental health. I think what helped me was a combination of several things. Finally talking to my therapist about it was a huge start in healing. Deciding to stand up for myself and fight for what I deserve in the divorce instead of letting him have it all out of fear was empowering. The divorce is still in process but no matter the outcome I am just glad I am advocating for me finally. Cutting the toxic and unsupportive people in my family out of my life as well as anyone connected to my spouse has been amazing for my inner peace. What has helped the most is the knowledge that he only made me stronger. He thought he was going to break me. Instead, he set me on a career path that I love and am thankful for every day. I now get to save lives and sometimes help other victims that have gone through what I have been through. Another step in healing that I am finding helpful is to own my story. To refuse to let others shame me for telling the truth and to share it so that others who have been through this know that they are not alone. It does not matter if people believe you, and it’s not likely the person will ever admit what they did. It does not matter if you decide to report it or not because we all have to make that decision for ourselves. what does matter is that you surround yourself with people who support you, that you cut any toxic people out of your lives, and that you find what works for you to begin the healing process. If by sharing my story even just one person feels less alone, than I am eternally grateful for this opportunity to speak out.