Daytona State College
The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse. This is more than a story, this was my life. Abuse is alive and well and growing in numbers. I thought long and hard about telling my story and the impact it could have for others and myself; good and bad. For me on a personal level it is to heal my heart and soul, to get back what was taken from me for so many years. I hope to bring a face to a silent epidemic that needs more vocal champions.
I have asked, “Why?” So many times I wanted to give up, but something within me would not. Through all the pain and chaos the path for me was blurred and the unknown was simply a diversity that at times I would have welcomed. The words “domestic violence” were ones I dared not utter. I am a survivor and my name is Amy Hampton.
Let me start with the first time my husband put his hands on me. He had been drinking all day and I decided I needed to take him to a motel to get him away from the children and me. I was able to get him into the car and drove to the motel, where I paid for a room. As we approached the door to the room he grabbed my hair. He twisted his grip so tight to my scalp I could feel my hair ripping. He hit me with his other fist several times. I was in shock, unable to respond, and the fear was so overwhelming. My head began to hit the brick wall several times and then I fell to the ground, shaking and crying for him to stop. Next I remembered he stomped on me; I was able to finally push him away long enough for me to escape his grasp. I got into the car and left to a friend’s house in complete panic and disbelief, unable to think or rationalize what had happened.
You would think I would have left after that, but I did not. I let him convince me it was just a black out and it would never happen again. Well that was only the beginning. The screaming in my face maybe an inch away and the names; I was “crazy,” “stupid,” everything was “my fault.” If I just would leave him alone, all alone, he would pursue me throughout the house, along with the constant threat of abandonment. Then came the part that started to break me. That no one would ever want or love me and nothing was ever right. I feared what my little toddler would be able to remember and worried for him. One day my husband came home and told me in front of my brother that he had moved our money and I no longer had access to it so I could not leave. My tears stopped and I became numb; over time this was my normal. As time went on I became lost and broken. I no longer had a voice. I no longer knew who I was. I began to have panic attacks that made me physically sick.
Twice my husband was arrested for domestic violence. The first time he spent one night in jail and paid a $500 fine. The second time, about 30 days later, he spent 45 days in jail with no fine. I tried to find a way out, but in this rural community there was no place to go unless I drove 45 minutes away. There were no resources due to lack of funding and what funding they did have took 30 or more days. I even called his probation officer since he was on felony probation for his 3rd DUI and they never came to the house, yet they were 2 blocks away. Instead, the probation officer told my husband I had called. I never did that again.
I learned to put a smile on my face and pretend to be happy. No one ever really new. He began to tell lies about me to his family to discredit me, but they had already known about his alcoholism and how he could become “mean,” as they put it. They never told me, but what my mother-in-law did say was, “It’s a merry-go-round and someone must get off before something bad happens.”
One day I looked in the mirror and realized I no longer could see me. There was only a shell of a person. I fell to the ground and cried. I felt trapped, alone, and I could not breathe. Trapped inside a box with the walls closing in. My spirit, heart, and mind destroyed; just gone. So many times I had a fleeting moment of hoping to not wake up. I had no way to leave and no access to enough money. There was no end in sight.
Then came the one day I dreaded the most; he endangered my three-year-old. I was at work and came home to find my house ransacked. The recliner was full of random things. The hutch was open; dishes missing and placed through the living room. I went into the bedroom to find my child in our bed. For some reason I pulled back the covers to find my blue glasses broken and in the bed with him. I cleaned the glass and by the grace of God he was fine, without a scratch on him. I slept on the couch and the next morning I started to plan my escape.
Four weeks to the day my husband had become angry and left for his parent’s house for a couple days. When he left I went and got a U-Haul and called my brothers and adult sons to help pack what I could get out. I only had a 10 by 10 truck, enough to get my child’s and my personal belongings. Everyone had me packed in 24 hours. I had to leave a house full of everything I had worked and paid for. As I walked out for the last time I turned to look and realized I was finally leaving my own personal hell. I was full of panic; my chest so tight I could barely breathe as I went to a friend’s house to hide so that me and my child could sleep before we headed out, praying he would not find us. On April 1st, 2019 with every part of my strength and God’s, I stepped foot in Florida.
I have begun a new life, starting over. I put one foot in front of the other. Rebuilding a life can be a struggle. A lot of times I feel as if it is two steps forward and 10 steps back. There is so much to deal with within me. I did not know who I was and parts of me had been broken. I had become so good at hiding myself, or so I thought. I try to quiet the thoughts in my mind that tell me I am not good enough or worthy of happiness. I am still learning to be me, finding that part deep inside me that I lost and forgot. Putting together every broken piece of who I am, one piece at a time.
A simple class that I thought was for me to graduate, has become my place to find my voice again. A professor that is tough, but fair helped me in a way he could never understand and for that I am profoundly grateful. Never stop being that light for your students, you never know who you will help. To be able to speak for the ones that have not found their strength and voice.
I want to put a face, a live breathing person to the issue of domestic violence. It affects all walks of life young and old, male and female. You are not alone. I hope my story can help someone because it is our voice that needs to be heard. I have begun to find parts of me that I thought were gone. The strength that resonated within me. A very special friend told me that, “You do not see what I see,” as I can see the amazement in his eyes, he was right. I did not, but I am starting to.
This is a process for me as I let go of the destruction and it will take time. Some of it I will fix and some I won’t, and that is okay for it makes me who I am now. We deserve happiness, peace, love, and a life of wonder. I am finding mine; no one can take that from me. We are reminded of our strength and worth in others that care as our world is crumbling down around us. They are our constant, standing before us without ever knowing it. I will be your strength and champion. Hear our voice, see our faces, we are many.