From Charmer to Harmer.
It's unfortunate to think that that the idea of "surviving" abuse is almost synonymous with being blessed or lucky. One would think that luck is avoiding abuse overall, but the stats still remain that 1 in 4 women in America will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, with women ages 18-34 being the greatest at risk. And until abuse is obsolete, safety is key!
Recently, Christina Milian opened up to the Huffington Post about her past battle with domestic violence. After keeping it a secret for nearly 16 years, the 34-year-old singer and mom opened up about her gut wrenching and heart tugging tale of traumatic beat downs, sick mind games, and even staring down the barrel of a gun more than once. The singer detailed the stages of her abuse, leading up to her dramatic escape and all the in-betweens (including being tempted to go back to her abuser).
Now she's hoping to help other women who've fallen victim to DV after her own saving grace came from taking notes from another survivor.
Check out the stages of Christina's horrific abuse turned heroic ending, below:
1. The Controlling Phase
The domestic violence started slowly and evolved. First the controlling phase, "Who's on your phone? Who is this person? Your mom is way too up in your business. You're 18. You're an adult." He was getting in my head - brainwashing me. I know that my dad not being in my life made a huge impact on me. I was brainwashed that I couldn't do anything without him.
2. From Nice Guy to Trife Guy
I was 18 and he was 19. He was super funny, with great sarcasm. I'm thinking this happiness is part of the package. But soon his sarcasm turned out to be a bit more dark than I was prepared to get myself into. The relationship changed from him being a funny and sarcastic guy to being an asshole, in a joking style.
He would speak down to me by saying how great other women were. Watching someone on TV and saying how sexy she is. It gets in your head. He was great at making me feel bad about anything positive I had ever done. He didn't say it but his actions were like, "I'm going to break you down and you will have nobody to trust but me." He convinced me that I was nothing without him. I was insecure... Yet, a little voice in my head said this is wrong. If you stay you will die.
4. Alienation from Friends and Family
He had me believe that everyone else was the enemy. He started talking down about my friends so bit by bit, I was getting rid of my friends. When I look at it now, I was very naive and innocent at 18-years-old.
I was really goofy, fun and bubbly--but I was becoming dark. I found myself talking like him--cursing all the time. I couldn't look him in the eye. I stopped going to the studio and turning down opportunities because I didn't want to get into an argument. I was losing my spirit. He got in my head that I was not a "good girl."
5. Threats and Imposing Fear
I felt that I couldn't do anything without him and he started to instill fear in me with threats. He'd say, "If you leave me, I'll bomb your mom's house." He always made references to his gang relationships.
[My first attack] I remember waking up one morning and he was kicking me and stomping on me. It was over nothing. He accused me of lying about a boy. Then the violence escalated. When we had arguments he would choke me and kick me. I stayed with him in a house in Laurel Canyon hills, with no one around, and there were times when I ran half naked, with no phone, out of the house after him beating me up. I would run. Then, I would see his car lights coming at me, to run me over.
One time he played Russian Roulette on me. He put one bullet in a gun and pointed it at my face. When you have a gun in your face, all you can think about is your family and people who love you. Also, I didn't think that if I went for help he would receive treatment or even be arrested.
Another time, he nearly killed me. I woke up to him choking me to the point I was barely able to scream out. Whatever I found in my reach, I grabbed and hit him with it. I still didn't know where to go.
7. When the Abuser Plays "Victim" to Weaken You Back Down
The days when I would gain strength to leave him, he would call me and say he was going to kill himself - literally! He had a gun and shot the gun, then acted like he was dying. I'm on the phone and can't do anything, so I called the police. He'd put fake blood on the floor and say he was dying. Another time he said that he found out that he had cancer and was dying. He would make me feel bad and that I was needed.
8. Settling for "Survival" and Forgetting How to Save Yourself
Your daily life is: "How am I going to survive? But I love this man. I can't live without him, but I can't live with him." I was so torn.
People would see bruises and I would make excuses like I went paintball shooting. In fact, I stopped talking to my family to be with him. I remember being that girl in the middle of the gas station trying to call 9-1-1 or my mom and he had me by my hair pulling me back. People would just watch but not know how to help.
(Christina began to cry during interview) All you hope for is that someone would save you because you don't know how to save yourself. You don't know what he will do because he's gotten in your head saying "I will kill you. I will kill your family". I was afraid of dying.
I was watching an episode on Oprah about domestic violence. Then I remember reading a story in a magazine. It was a girl telling a story of abuse of how she got out of it. I was mentally taking notes. It was just the average girl sharing her story. God was giving me signs even if I wasn't accepting them at the moment or ready to make the move. My family continued to love and support me despite my fighting with them.
10) The Escape Plan - "I knew I had to leave or die"
I knew that I had to disappear. I had to force myself not to communicate with him and not to reach out to him. The cycle of abuse was getting worse. After telling my mom for about the tenth time that I was going to leave him, I was finally ready. I knew that I had to leave or die. I was fortunate. My mom got me a ticket with the help of the record label to go to New York and spend time with family and get back to work. I cried the night I decided to leave.
The next morning, I took the first flight to New York and asked my mom to have all my numbers and information changed before I landed. I left him a message on the way to the airport - "I can't do this anymore." He'd heard it many times before so he probably didn't believe me.
Find a way to separate yourself and change your number. Visit family or friends. Go to a shelter. Do that for your own healing. I can't even imagine going through this with a child and how scared you are to protect your child and protect yourself. There are a lot of girls going through this. It happens way more often than we think. This is your choice to live or die.
11) Life After Abuse + The "Healing Phase"
When I finally released it and I heard myself talk about it with family and friends it became therapy. Admit to your family about the abuse. You didn't deserve being hurt. Find an outlet. Discussing it is therapy.
Find your inner strength to move on although it will be hard at times. Beauty and love must be within you and you have to learn to love yourself. Take your time to love yourself again. Pray! God is good! I'll tell you that. I lost my spirituality; I didn't know how to pray but when I started having conversations with God again and being honest with myself, that's when I began to understand who I was again.
Like my mom told me, "Love shouldn't hurt!"
Read the entire account over at Huffington Post!
If you've experience domestic violence, please share your story of how you overcame it below. You never know who you may help!