My name is Ethel and I was a battered woman for fourteen years until I decided to take my life back, but not before going through hell and high water. I was kicked and stomped on when I was seven months pregnant, and had a gun pulled on me. I tried to leave my abuser so many times but each time I left I came back because society didn’t view domestic violence as a public issue, only as a family matter. I was too embarrassed to tell my family what I was going through, so I stayed with my abuser out of fear that he would kill me.

One day a few years ago I was feeling good for no reason at all and as I was walking up to my abuser I noticed the look on his face. He seemed to look angry about something and as I got closer he said, “What do you have on?” I said, “A nice short outfit.” He said, “The color yellow is for whores.” Out of nowhere he started pulling on my clothes. Then he started beating me in public in front of everybody. I fought back, but I was no match for him. He was much stronger than I. To add insult to injury, his mother slapped my face and told me to calm down. Right at that moment I wanted to die. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I left him the next day but ended up returning because all the shelters in Chicago were full and I didn’t have a support system in place. So I was beaten even worse.

Another time we agreed to eat pizza for dinner. He left the house to go get the food at 6 pm and didn’t come back until 11 pm. I told him that I found something in the refrigerator to feed the kids but we could eat it the next day. He said, “You made me spend all my money on this pizza?” I said, “No, we can eat it tomorrow,” and walked away. He came in the room and hit me in my nose with a full can of beer; with blood gushing everywhere, he told me not to disrespect him ever again. I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror; my eyes where closing shut. He then wanted to be intimate with me and I did because I didn’t want to be battered anymore.

Finally one day in 1996 I fought back – I left and never looked back. To this day I believe God didn’t save me for me, but he saved me for the next battered woman, child, and man so I can be a witness to them about the power of God. It was only God’s grace and mercy that carried me through.

Today I stand to say I am a Christian domestic violence advocate and a full-time mother, and I am not ashamed to share my trials and tribulations with anyone because you never know who may be going through something similar. I hope that my story helps at least one woman through the AVA ministry.

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