I struggled even knowing how to start this letter because there are so many thoughts running through my head about what I wanted to share. The first is to reassure you that your legacy will live on and there are women, such as myself who are doing the work to raise awareness and create change. I am passionate about creating change so that less women will experience what we have. Yes, I am a survivor and overcomer of domestic violence. Growing up, I always vowed to myself that I would NEVER be in an abusive situation because so many of my family members were; and I knew I did not want to be in that situation. It’s interesting how sometimes the very things that we try to avoid end up finding us.
My story is a bit different from yours. I was 29 at the time and had just started dating this guy. He did all the right things. He was chivalrous, respectful, consistent, and REALLY into me. These are all the things a girl wants, right? Well, it was perfect until it wasn’t. I had noticed a lot of jealousy at first and him questioning what I would be doing and any men that I interacted with. Red flag #1 of a million. We were in a long distance relationship initially, so I didn’t think much of it and just tried to make him feel as secure as possible to let him know I was all about him. Then, I noticed all my time and energy was being invested in him. Red flag #2. I was starting to
be isolated because he would make me feel guilty for spending time with anyone else because I was supposed to be invested in him and our relationship. The red flags continued to show , but by this time almost a year had gone by and the emotional attachment felt too strong for me to leave. I wanted it to work. I was willing to sacrifice whatever to keep things going. I mean after all relationships are hard, right? Relationships require work and sacrifice, right? I heard this so many times from the adults around me that I thought these struggles were normal. I thought this is how all relationships were. I was wrong.
Relationships should be your safe space. Your partner should empower you to be the best version of yourself and never shrink due their insecurities. I lost my ambition for my business. I stopped laughing. My personality was blah and I completely lost myself. It wasn’t until I got professional help that I had practical tools to start building myself up enough to leave. My therapist tasked me with looking in the mirror and consistently pouring into myself. “You are beautiful.” “You are loved.” “You are worthy.” At first I didn’t even believe the words coming out of my mouth and it made me so sad and cry. I hated the person I had become, but as I continued to do the work, I got stronger and started seeing my worth. It took A LOT of time in therapy, educating myself on narcissists, and seeking God for support. Although my friends offered support, I still felt isolated and didn’t reach out because I didn’t think they could relate and I felt judged for even being in this situation.
If I could go back and change anything about my healing process, it’s that I would not have done it alone. I wish I had leaned on more people because it is a hard burden to carry. And that is why I do what I do for Dear Deanndra, Inc. I want other young ladies to know that they are not alone in their journey and a support system is waiting for them if they need it. I want to educate them on recognizing the red flags and taking action EARLY. I want to pour confidence into them, so that they know their worth and won’t settle for anything less than God’s best for them. This is why I do what I do and I hope I make you proud.