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Q&A with survivors: Emmy

Photo contributed by Kelsey Morgan

*Warning: this article contains graphic information and may be triggering. 


Emmy, 22, shared her story about being assaulted, and subsequently arrested due to a falsified story her attacker told the police.


“After your season of suffering, God in all his grace will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” – contributed by Emmy
Q: Tell me how the issue of violence. Tell me how the issue of violence against women has affected you.
E: I would say it’s really taught me a lot about myself and about other people about respecting other people. I think they know for what happened to me happened. It was just it really think about it much and now I’m much more aware obviously. And I think that it’s taught me to respect myself more and to love myself more than I ever have before.
Q: Tell me about what you experienced.
E: I was in a relationship with a guy for about a year … But [he had been] emotionally abusive, mentally abusive to me on and off in the relationship. Just like constantly accusing me of sleeping with other people or talking to other people, and I wasn’t … he was just a very jealous type.
Looking back, I just thought it was because he cared about me and that he loved me, and I just kind of thought that it was sweet in a way. I didn’t really recognize the red flags.
But then one night he got really mad he started looking through my phone, grabbed my phone from me and just saw some things that he didn’t like … and every time I went to get my phone away from him. he would hit me. At one point, he threw me down on his couch … and he had his hands around my neck, and he was trying to choke me, and I said something like, “Please get your hands off of me,” I said, “I can’t breathe” and he said, “Good, I don’t want you to breathe.” And it was really scary.
And then he just forcefully grabbed me and in other places on body, and at one point forcefully ripped my pants off of me and told me that he could “smell other guys on me.”
… At this point I was laying on the floor, and he grabbed me by the ankles and dragged me outside of house along concrete … and then threw my phone at me and then that’s when I was finally able to call the cops.
Q: Prior to this event did you ever realize that what you were going through with him was a form of abuse?
E: No, I never really recognized that. I would have friends like point some things out to me and even some family members you know [ask], “Isn’t it weird that he just gets jealous over this or that and that?” I would just always make up excuses … and I just never really recognized it, I was blinded by it.
And as soon as we would get into an argument about something, it was a cycle. He would come back and [apologize many times] and say, “I love you, I promise I won’t do it again.”
And he would just kind of put me down and would call me certain names and tell me that I would just make me out to be a person that I wasn’t, whether it was like slut shaming me for hanging out with some guy friends or if it was him getting mad because I was just trying to ask an ex-boyfriend how his new job is going.
Q: Tell me about the events leading up to the attack.
E: I had actually been [out of town] … and he called me, and we got in an argument and he broke up with me. We didn’t talk for the remainder of that week.
Well when I flew back [home], He had just bought a new house and he had invited me to come over to see his new house. And so when I was over there I was realizing that there was a lot of my stuff all over his new house… and I started taking it, and he got really, really mad and start yelling at me and said, “Its’s just so typical of you just come in here and just start something.”
So that night I went out with a friend and had a couple of drinks, and I ran into somebody that I knew from [home] … He asked me to come back to his hotel and I kept saying, “No, that’s not a good idea, I have to go to work in the morning. I need to go home.”
And he just continued to pressure me into it, and eventually led me back up into his hotel room. He told me that I could just sleep there, and he wouldn’t bother me… but then he kept on asking me to have sex with him, and I said, “No, I don’t want to have sex with you.”
And next thing I know he’s forcefully ripping off my pants without consent and coming at me [with himself exposed]. And he kept just pressure him into doing things I didn’t want to do. And so I told him, “Look, I need you to back off.” And he wouldn’t, he wasn’t respecting my or listening to me in any way.
And then I quickly called an Uber, and when the driver picked me up I was really upset, and I was actually crying at the time because I had just been in a pretty serious situation where it could have been a lot worse.
He asked where to take me, I said just to take me to [my ex’s address] because it was really close by. I knocked on the door and I was crying and he asked me what was wrong.
That’s when I went inside, and that’s when he took my phone from me and starting looking through it.
Q: Tell me about the events immediately following the attack. Tell me about your decision to call the police.
E: … I was just kind of in shock. I was just really surprised at this person who told me that you loved me and told me that he cared about me and told me over and over again that he wanted me to be his wife one day, that he would actually do this. So, it was just initial shock.
But as soon as he threw my phone at me, and I was laying there on the concrete, like completely helpless and at first … but I knew something needed to be done. So that’s when I called the cops … but then I thought “hey this guy’s very successful here, like this could ruin his career. I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that … and I want us to be over.”
That’s why when the cops asked me what happened I just said “Oh, nothing happened, we’re fine.”
Q: Why do you think you were hesitant to tell the cops what happened?
E: I don’t know … like I loved him, and I cared about him. And I was kind of scared if I told the cops what would happen… especially after him assaulting me the way that he did, if I had, “ruined his life anymore” then he would do something worse to me. So I was scared, because if he could do that, he could do anything.
Q: What happened after the police arrived and ambulance arrived?
E: Well I got arrested. … I asked why I was the one getting arrested. And they said, “Well [here] when we get call about a domestic dispute, one person has to get arrested, and you told us that nothing happened. And he taught us a completely different story … and since you didn’t speak up and say anything, that’s why we’re taking you.”
Even in the police report the only thing he even had on his body was a small little scratch on his neck from me trying to defend myself. And bruises don’t appear on your body immediately, they take time.
Q: What was going through your mind in that moment.
E: I was just really angry and really upset, and I just felt like she really helpless and felt very distressed, it was just a whirlwind of emotions. And honestly, I just could not think straight for a while there. For days after. It was a lot to handle at one time.
Q: When did you realize that you were in danger?
E: When he had his hands around my neck, that was the scariest part about it. And when I didn’t have my phone, so I didn’t have any form of communicating with anybody and letting them know that I was in danger.
We were in the privacy of his home, it’s not like we were in public or anything. It honestly could have been a whole lot worse if he had had some sort of weapon or something, like he could have easily killed me.
Q: Tell me about just what was going through your head when it was all happening.
E: Just shock … I just never really thought that I would be in a place like that … but I guess that I was I’m very blinded by the way that he treated me, and the way that he talked to me and things that he would say, things that he would do …I was just in disbelief for a really long time.
Q: So tell me about your experience with the police. Did you feel that they were at all receptive to what that you had to say?
E: No. I feel like they were being pretty sexist and took his side over mine. I mean, he’s more than twice my size, like he’s a big guy, and I’m a very small girl. And I felt like they were like they weren’t taking it seriously at all.
I mean, I heard a lot of officers just like standing around laughing and joking with each other, and I’m sitting there like crying my eyes out, and they didn’t even give me a chance to let my dad come get me like they said he could.
And when they started to arrest me, and I started to tell them what actually happened, they said, “Oh, well you should have told us sooner,” and basically saying it was my fault.
… they just did not handle it with much respect, and, like I said the officers, were completely incompetent and sexist and biased and just completely took his side and took his word because he’s a very convincing person …
Thankfully, the judges were much more competent in that area. … And so I do appreciate the judges who handled all of our cases … and appreciate their commitment to looking at both sides, but I feel like the officers didn’t necessarily do that.
Q: What were your charges?
E: I got charged with simple assault and with injury to personal property.
Q: Tell me more about your experience with the court system.
E: I got a public defender because I don’t have that kind of money to spend on a lawyer. But I knew that any person in their right mind, if they saw the pictures of the bruises, and the threatening text messages he’d sent me, and saw the proof where he had hacked into my computer, just seen all the evidence at hand, like any person would say, “OK. This case was mishandled.” And like I said, I really appreciate the judges … but you know officers are a different story.
Q: Tell me about how you decided whether or not to seek counseling.
E: After it happened, I was very depressed … so really I just like stayed in bed and just cried every single day, and I even had to miss a day of work because of it.
But I had called my mom one day… and she really encouraged me to go talk to a counselor … who just really like helped me process what had just happened because I just couldn’t even process it. Every time I started to think about it … I would just get stuck … I was just in complete shock and disbelief for the longest time.
Q: Tell me about the effects of your decision to seek counseling.
E: It was really good because …. I think that if you’re a survivor you should share your story and you should let others know that they’re not alone in this.
It can be really scary to talk about because you all think of you in a different light or you don’t want them to like … and I was just really scared that all when I told my friends if they would just think of me differently … but this is much more common than we think it is.
And so, I want domestic violence survivors to feel like they can have a sense of hope and have a sense of healing from their past abuse as well. And so, I’m really glad that like I started seeing a counselor because my counselor really encouraged me to talk about it and not just bottle it up inside like I wanted to.
Q: How has this experience affected your sense of security?
E: I use the “buddy system” more, I don’t ever just go by myself. I’m always like with friends, especially if you know female friends who I know will be a good influence on me and who wouldn’t just like leave me … and I don’t blame [my friend who left early] for it at all, because you should be allowed to stay out and have a couple drinks with somebody and not expect to be sexually assaulted or physically assaulted by somebody. But, unfortunately, we live in a society and a world where some guys think that’s OK to do so.
Q: How has this experience changed the way you interact with your friends interact with people that you’re in with people that you’re just meeting for the first time?
E: I’m definitely more like on guard and more reserved. Where I feel like I used to just be very trusting of people, I’m not trusting people anymore because you can’t be anymore. Which is sad.
Q: Tell me about your process of moving forward.
E: It’s definitely still a process. Every day, you know I wake up and I just have to take a deep breath and say, “OK today I’m going to choose to move forward from this. I’m not sulking today,” … somedays are a lot harder than others, especially if I’m reminded of what happened some sort of way.
Some nights are really bad. Like I definitely have a minor form of PTSD in a way where I’ll just have a nightmare about the whole entire night and it’ll be like re-played in my head, and it feels so real in that moment. And I wake up and I’m sweating and my heart is racing, and I’m hyperventilating.
At first when it happened … I was thinking to myself, “Why did I move [here], do I need to move away or back with my parents?” But thankfully there’s been some of the right people in the right places, and I’m really thankful for that …
I’m able to not look at it as like something that is going to hinder me for the rest of my life but really look at it as something that’s only going to help me and something that I learned from it and I grew from it.
Q: What are some examples of your progress that you can see in yourself?
E: Well for a while I was just … constantly blaming myself for what happened and I would say things like, “I’m so stupid for ever being with somebody like that. Like it’s all my fault for not catching those red flags earlier,” … I felt very inadequate … and I just didn’t feel beautiful or like I was good at anything …
Now I look back and I just feel a lot stronger than where I was a couple of months ago … And it took like several people to tell me [none of that was true] several times for me to finally believe it and say you know what I’m saying.
Q: Why do you think it’s so common for women in your situation to blame themselves.
E: I would say a lot of women, we tend to just want to take responsibility for things when even in the back of our mind when we know that the other person is in the wrong, we want to be the ones to just take that burden off of them … I don’t know why we do that.
I definitely did it … I think for so long during the relationship he made everything my fault. Every argument we ever got in to was my fault. And I was always in the wrong … it was never him saying sorry … always me having to apologize even when I did nothing wrong.
Q: Do you think misogyny plays a role in this? And if so, how?
E: Yeah, I mean that is very prevalent in our society. I think that women are kind of looked upon as not being strong as or as good as men are … whether it’s like you know making money or being successful or you know being the leader of the relationship.
Like I think that we are always taught that men are superior and that women are inferior and that we were supposed to submit to the men and we’re supposed to you know do whatever it takes to just make them happy as long as they’re happy and then we’re happy as well.
Q: What would you want to tell someone who experiences a situation similar to yours.
E: Talk about it. Do not keep it to yourself. Those two weeks I kept it to myself were probably the worst thing I did to myself because I was just letting it eat away at me.
You are worthy and you are loved by somebody, and you don’t have to be the victim … It’s so hard when you’re in it because you can be completely blind to it …
You have to talk about it and you have to surround yourself with people who are going to support you and encourage you and really help you get through it.
Q: What’s something this experience has made you want to teach your daughter should you ever have one?
E: You can’t you can’t just rely on other people to look out for you … I definitely relied on to always take care of me and to keep me “safe” … and that you have to really be able to love yourself before you can let anybody else love you.
You have to be able to respect yourself … and not rely on a man to make you happy or to make you feel loved.
Q: And how about if you were to ever have a son?
E: It goes both ways. You know, I’m not sitting here bashing guys … I know that men can be victims of abuse as well. But definitely, there’s got to be a better level of respect out there.
I think I just meet so many guys who just want to use women … and essentially want one thing from them. And if they can’t get that one thing from them then they’re not interested. [Those men] don’t look at woman as a person who deserves respect and who deserves love.
They want to feel respected … but don’t really necessarily think about the woman being respected as well … I think respect just can go a long way on both ends.
Q: Tell me about how this experience has made you a stronger woman.
E: Well, I’m still in a phase of life learning how to love myself and not relying on a guy to do that for me … I really haven’t been single in six years, not long-term. And those are all very, very developmental years for me.
I was in high school, and then it was all college of and then into my adult years. So, this is my first time being single and being OK with being single.
Because before, I just thought that I had to have somebody who would build me up and who would tell me that I was beautiful. And I’m finally learning I can tell myself that I’m beautiful … and that I can love myself don’t need a guy to love me.
So, I think it’s made me stronger because I’m finally like recognizing things that I’ve never asked myself for …I’m just I’m definitely gaining strength day by day because I wake up and I say, “OK, I can do this.”
… So I just want to make a difference. Especially in the lives of women, if they have any inclination that a red flag or any sort of abuse whether it’s emotional abuse or verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, you don’t deserve that and you don’t have to put up with that.
And I’d definitely like to raise awareness for that and not just push it aside … it needs to be talked about it needs to be addressed because you’re just seeing more and more and more of it. The numbers are too high. It’s not OK. It needs to end.
Q: And here’s one thing women reading this can take away from your experience what would you want it to be?
E: Demand respect, more than anything. That’s the number one thing, I would say.
I think so often we just let it slide … the name calling or the you know victim blaming for this or that … And a lot of women are people pleasers like we just want everyone to be happy. We just want or significant other to love us, and so we just put up with it … even if we don’t like it.
And so, I think the women reading this, like you have to demand respect. Do it for yourself. And it’s hard, but you’re worth it.


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