r By Heather Wolsey
Advocate for ChangerAs a young girl, I had many dreams of what life would be like when I grew up. I decided at a young age that being a mother was my dream job. I was married when I was 20 and I was blessed with six beautiful children. My life had all the makings for my happily ever after, but I hid a dark secret. I was a victim of domestic violence.rShortly after I was married, my husband began to be emotionally abusive. I didn’t understand what was going on, nor did I recognize the warning signs. I did my best to make my home happy and keep the peace. We had periods of happiness intermingled with hard times which included walking on eggshells and fighting.rThe emotional abuse gradually turned into physical abuse. I found myself stuck in an impossible situation. I didn’t want to be in my marriage any longer and I couldn’t figure out how to get my children and myself out safely. This took a toll on me. My dream job had turned into a prison sentence that had no end in sight.rI endured this reality for 20 years. It took me almost dying to realize that I couldn’t simply endure the abuse any longer. I finally found the courage to get myself and my children out.rAs I look back on my experience, I realize just how lucky I am to be here. Only now do I understand the cycle of violence that I was caught in. I want others to understand this as well. Domestic violence always follows identifiable patterns – the honeymoon phase, the tension phase and the incident. Domestic violence happens to one in three Utah women. That being said, men can be victims as well. Domestic violence has become a norm in our society and I am not OK with that.rMy days are now filled with mommy duties and working a full-time job. It is exhausting, but it is so worth it. I am committed to making sure that my children understand that what happened in our house wasn’t normal. I will make sure that the cycle of abuse is not passed on through them. I want my community to understand that children watch everything that happens in their household. They will mirror their parent’s actions. We cannot allow this to happen through our silence and secrecy.rI have decided that it is my duty as a concerned citizen to speak out about domestic violence. I hope to educate and inform my community about domestic violence in efforts to reverse this horrible trend. I also want to give those who are currently suffering a message of hope. There is a way out. There is life after domestic violence and many happy days to be had. If you or someone you know is being abused, please ask for help by calling 1-800-897-LINK.