Do you have those moments in life when you look back and think, wow I really wish I knew that before you kno what happened? We had so many of those with our experience of Domestic Violence. For instance, peeing yourself can be a sign of strangulations. If you peed yourself during the attack it’s an indication how long you were being strangled. If you peed is very serious. Had we known then what we know now!
You only know what you know, until you know differently, then you need to do better. I thankfully had no prior experience with strangulation, brain trauma, cervical & thoracic spine trauma, PTSD, CPSTD, criminal court, restraining orders, family court, domestic violence, or any physical violence. But this made this experience even harder to wrap my head around.
I have found that the word strangulation pretty much derails any conversation and your life really, at least it did mine. No one is prepared to be strangled or believe another human can do that to another. Maybe it is just me being sensitive and naive. No one is ready to hear that I have neck issues because I was strangled. I feel it causes trauma for some to hear of my experience. It can be painful to hear other people’s stories that involve violence.
Strangulation is genuinely different; I believe so because it is perverse. The most violent act is to take another’s life when you can feel it leaving a body through your own hands. Killing someone with anything is outrageous, but with your hands is in its own category. Fundamentally anyone who can do this is missing a crucial part of being human.
No one likes to talk about it. I am learning that when it happens in an intimate partner relationship, only 50% become reported cases. It is because there are usually no visible signs of trauma to the untrained eye, and the victim wants to believe she’s okay. She wants to believe it wasn’t that bad. It’s embarrassing somehow.
Most do not know that this is the most lethal form of Domestic Violence. The chance of homicide goes up 700%. You can die up two weeks after due to swelling in the neck. It can cause brain trauma. It can easily destabilize your cervical and thoracic vertebrae, which can impact many areas of your health for a very long time. Five years now, for me.
It will usually be with someone larger than you with little chance to defend yourself; it will happen in your home most likely in your bedroom when you least expect it making it even harder to defend yourself. The psychological trauma you endure largely depends on what state your body is in at the time of the trauma. What reserves you have to get you through. Either way, being strangled by another human has to be at the top of the list of the absolute worst ways to die.
As if strangulation were the only traumas experienced through this life-threatening violent attack. My takeaways have little to do with actually being strangled but surviving the aftermath through the court process as a victim of a violent crime and a parent of children exposed to Domestic Violence; there was a lot we did not know.
We could have been so much better prepared for the court experience, and if I had to do it all over again, I would have stayed out of court no matter the cost. All that happened to us was more victimization. Criminal prosecution is not what I ever imagined it would be. Although I never really thought about criminal restitution before being a victim of a violent crime.
There were some critical decisions made with the best of intentions that seriously hurt us and created more suffering. These are the things you find out after that you didn’t know. I am sharing this because you cannot heal if you are stressing. Like you cannot eat if you are on the hunt. You cannot heal, which means thriving or even surviving well is out of the question. We got very much injured in our bodies, minds, and spirits by this violence, and being involved with the courts created significantly more stress for us and prolonged our healing.
Worst though being in the flight, fight or freeze response for an extended period wrecks your health if you find yourself or someone you love has fallen victim to a violent crime. Learn from us, from our mistakes!
Here are five things I would have done differently to navigate better after being a victim of a violent crime:
1. SAY YES TO PARAMEDICS!
Agree to paramedics. DO NOT try and be strong for your kids. DO NOT think you are going to save them anything by sacrificing your wellbeing. DO NOT believe yourself when you say I am okay, are you a doctor? What do you know? I was seriously hurt. I would have appreciated being in the presence of medics while showing symptoms of shock. My body was processing, I didn’t know what it was, and I interrupted my process to homeostasis. I would have recovered so much faster had I been treated for trauma when it was happening. There is a forensic strangulation kit that they do if you are a victim of domestic violence strangulation, they do this because of how dangerous it is and how hard it is to prove in court. I refused medical assistance; my mother was flipping out, insisting I go to the ER after she heard what happened to me. Thankfully we had a loving, supportive family with us during this time.
2. YES VICTIMS NEED LEGAL REPRESENTATION!
Have an attorney with you in criminal court if you are the victim. But wait, I am the victim! Yes, you heard me right. DO NOT go to criminal court ever if you can avoid it and never without an attorney. It will be the best $5K you ever spent. They do not want to hear from you; if you can walk and speak, nothing happened to you, so unless you are being rolled in on a gurney to demonstrate injury, do not go. It was such a rude awakening to this reality. I get it, I am alive, and I am so happy. But it has been backbreaking work to get my life back to this point. If you find yourself in the Domestic Violence Unit, you most likely will have a junior prosecutor that does not know how to handle the politics and stand up to these old school judges. Not their faults, but this department is usually a training station for future amazing prosecutors.
3. DEMAND EMERGENCY CUSTODY ORDERS FROM CRIMINAL COURT!
Demand emergency temporary custody orders addressed in Criminal Court DO NOT spend your money in Family Court to deal with custody right away. All this does is complicate the process. Oh, and by the way, they can walk into family court after being convicted in criminal the week prior and say they didn’t do. This means you have to reprove your case. Hours in court, VERY expensive. Criminals deserve the challenge of earning time back with their kids; violent behavior endangers them. The courts are very hands-off criminals who commit domestic violence; they like to pawn it off as a Family Court thing, with this outdated mentality that it’s “family business.” I call BULL SHIT. We need to be stricter with these people who commit violence in our homes in front of children. Our children are our future, and they are getting damaged by Domestic Violence.
4. GET AN OMBUDSPERSON FOR SCHOOL DISCUSSIONS!
DO NOT speak to the school about how Domestic Violence is impacting your student without an ombudsperson. We made this HUGE mistake. What we didn’t know was that the school was going to take sides after hearing from the bio mom that we attacked her and were trying to steal her daughter. Even though we had conviction papers, city prosecutors, psychologists, medical doctors, and court personnel attesting to our trauma and that we were the actual victims, the school is not trained to handle Domestic Violence issues. While it usually is not safe to assume anything, it is safe to think that your school will not understand and will potentially misbehave as our school did. We were denied a home contract initially until we called a district-level meeting at the school with the ombudsperson explaining what our rights were. Finding this person is easier than you think. The school district has a compliance department. If you feel that your rights are being denied, do not be afraid to speak up for support. Help is out there. My stepdaughter after this meeting was granted a home study contract and was not allowed back into the school until all staff that was in contact with her received Trauma Training. All her symptoms were viewed as ADHD until a professional educated the group not to be so quick to dismiss it as ADD. There could be some severe stuff these kids are exposed to at home. With #domesticviolence happening every 3 seconds in this country, chances are a child is damaged daily and having to sit in school while worrying if their mom is getting beat up by their Dad. Or worse if their Dad will beat them. No one can learn when they don’t feel safe.
5. TAKE PICTURES OF YOUR SPINE HEALTHY!
Take pictures of your thoracic and cervical spine, take measurements of your body when it feels great. You never know when you’ll receive a traumatic spinal injury. I know the majority reading will not believe it, but Domestic Violence happens to one in four women in this country. Strangulation often occurs in this violence, especially to women (not to say that it isn’t women on men or children involved). But I believe this goes beyond that, what if you are in a car accident? Your spine will get hurt, do you have anything to compare it to? Whiplash can last years or a lifetime. Each year over 2 million Americans a year get whiplash. I had 360-degree whiplash from what could have been a 100mph car crash. Getting your health back after something like that is so tough. Having before pictures of your healthy spine and measurements of you healthy can be a great diagnostic tool for your doctor to help you find your path to well again.
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