by Brittany Ludwig
The following was shared at the October 19, 2023, Candlelight Vigil at the OSU Mansfield Campus Riedl Hall for Domestic Violence Awareness Month and is used by permission.
I have always wanted to be in love, I thought love was the best thing in the world. I've learned that I had no idea what love truly is or how it should be. When I experienced domestic violence for the first time, it was when I least expected it. I was driving down the road with my boyfriend and he was upset and smacked me across the face. I remember the hundreds of thoughts going through my mind how could he do that, why did he do that, but I remember just sitting there in complete shock. Little did I know that was the start of hell on earth for me.
During the time with him he tried to kill me at least five different times strangling me. One time he tried to apologize right after by proposing to me and saying he loved me and always would. He even showed his "quote on quote love” to my mom and me by taking us on a wild ride of trying to drive us into a moving semi and asking us if we were ready to die. I swore I was done with him that night, but a couple months after that I went back.
For some reason he always had control over me because he knew I cared about him and always saw the best in him. Like he always said, he is an amazing man sober, but a horrible man drunk. I always tried to remember the good times. Little did I know that he had traps for me hidden all around my house with knives, including in a tampon box that my wrist would get cut if I reached in the box or if I opened a cabinet door a knife would fall out. The final straw of this was one day when he hit me so hard that he broke my front tooth and hit the other one and it spun around. If it wasn't for my teeth bleeding so bad, he would of killed me that night . He was startled by the blood and stopped strangling me. Even in that moment, he tried to show he loved me by comforting me and trying to stop the bleeding.
By the grace of God and my guardian angels, I was able to escape that night. That night started him on a robbing spree at knife point of many places. The spree ended when the police arrested him trying to break back into my house to get me. During that experience I lost my house and two cars and a job I really enjoyed.
Fast forward two years later, after a lot of hard work I have my own place again and a car. I met someone who I felt is meant for me he made me think this is what love is. We did everything together including going on my crazy animal rescues in the middle of the night. He made me feel free to be me. I was so completely comfortable with him that I shared my past life of domestic violence every horrible part of it with him. Little did I know he would later use that exact experience against me. He became controlling and needing to know where I was at every moment. He was verbally abusing and mentally abusing me, pushing me away from everyone I loved and making me feel worthless. Deja vu for sure but I didn't want to believe it.
People were telling me you are using your past to judge him, give him a chance, he seems like a good guy. (If you start to feel something is wrong follow your instincts, I wish I did.) This domestic experience ended with him jumping off of a bed and landing on top of me kicking me in my pregnant belly. Again, by the grace of God and a friend getting me in the middle I was able to escape from him.
The first time I had my ultrasound of my daughter was in the emergency room to make sure she wasn't killed by him. Fast forward two years ago today, the day I went in to be induced he went to court to be sentenced with probation and community service. That same day I finally learned what true love is. My baby girl was born. I did not plan any of what happened to me but I'm thankful I survived it.
It taught me many things:
1. I'm stronger than I realize, and I have amazing guardian angels.
2. Never get mad at yourself for your mistakes they are lessons in life. It’s ok if you have to repeat the lesson a couple times to finally learn it.
3. If you feel something is wrong in a relationship, get away.
4. Love does not hurt you on purpose or control you.
5. You cannot change anyone no matter how much you love them it’s up to them to change.
6. Domestic violence does not discriminate it can happen to anyone.
7. Never forget we are not victims, we are survivors!!!!!!