Oct. 12, 2021

How we can break the silence. Nenia's story of freeing herself from domestic violence and using her experience to educate others.


Nenia Corcoran has been a police officer for nearly a decade.  In addition to being one of only a few female police officers in her area, Nenia broke the gender barrier by becoming a certified SWAT operator.  She strives to be a positive role model for the younger females in her community.

She became a survivor of a sexual assault while in college. It took her many years to finally cope with this trauma.  She then struggled to end an emotionally abusive marriage to a man she’d known since middle school.

Nenia has made it her mission to reach other women who may be silently suffering in similar situations.   She aims to educate and empower young women to recognize the warning signs of domestic violence and gender-based violence. 

Resources for Domestic Violence:
www.thehotline.org -National Domestic Violence Website
https://ncadv.org/  - National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
https://www.domesticshelters.org/ - On this site, you can enter your zip code and find resources local to you
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Transcript

Melissa Bright:

Thank you to better help for sponsoring this podcast guys, you have been hearing me talk about better help for as long as I can remember, I started my therapy whenever I started this podcast. And so that's exactly why they became my sponsor, because they have helped me better help is the only place that I have ever done therapy. So if you guys think you might need to see a therapist better help is amazing. They are online, you can do it from the comfort of your own home, you have the options to message them, you can do a phone call, you can do a video chat, whatever you feel comfortable with doing. Also, they have several different types of therapists. If you need couples, or for marriage and family therapy, they offer that it's also available to individuals worldwide, not just in the US better help is also a monthly subscription. So you're not paying per session and financial aid is available for those who qualify. So visit better help.com slash bright side of life, that's better help.com slash bright side of life, join over 500,000 people taking charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. And for your first month, you're going to receive 10% off by being a listener of the bright side of life. So let them know that I sent you by using the link better help.com forward slash bright side of life. The link will also be in the description section of this episode.

Nenia:

He responded with the perfect answer of what can I do? How can we get used to a safe place? How can we work through this? That's exactly what I needed. Because in that moment, when I was thinking that I was going to end up completely alone trying to deal with this, I knew I had support.

Melissa Bright:

Welcome to the bright side of life, a podcast where people share their personal stories of struggles, pain and grief. But through all of that they're still able to find the joys in life. Hello, bright ciders. And welcome to this week's episode of the bright side of life. I am your host Melissa Bright. And I do want to mention before we start this show that this episode may act as a trigger as it covers a topic of sensitive nature. So October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Today my guest Nina is here to share her story of freeing herself from domestic violence. Nina has been a police officer for nearly a decade. And in addition to being one of the only few female police officers in her area, she also broke the gender barrier by becoming a certified SWAT operator. Nina has made it her mission to reach other women who may be silently suffering in similar situations. Along with sharing her own story, she is going to be talking about some of the warning signs of domestic violence, how you can seek help and what others can do to help victims of domestic violence, domestic abuse, Nina was married to a boy that she had known as a man that she had known since she had been 11. He was a family friend and everything everybody just knew that they were going to be married. But unfortunately, the abuse started happening even before the marriage. So that's kind of the story and we're gonna we're gonna start there. So Nina, welcome to the show. How are you doing today?

Nenia:

I'm doing great. Thank you for that introduction. I feel so cool. Like,

Melissa Bright:

this is this is your stuff. Like this is amazing. I didn't even know you were part of the SWAT stuff. I didn't realize that you were a police officer for over a decade now. I'm like, Oh my gosh, and I was blown away. Cuz from your profile picture you almost like looked a lot younger. And I was like, maybe she's not as young as I thought she was. She's been she's been doing some stuff.

Nenia:

I have been I'm in my 30s. So okay, I'm getting up there. But you know, I appreciate still Yeah,

Melissa Bright:

we're around the same age. I'm sure I'm 36. So

Nenia:

yeah, so it's been a journey. And I have packed a lot of things into my, my 31 of my 3232 years. And I think it's really important to share my story with folks because because of all of the things that I've been through I you know, always make a point of talking about the good things like the getting on the SWAT team and proving people wrong that that's a thing that could be done. But at the same time, I did a lot of other things that should be celebrated and we don't celebrate them a lot of times because we're embarrassed to talk about them and I've gotten over that and I'm no longer embarrassed about that. So that's why I share this story so that other people realize this is not something to be embarrassed about this is something to be celebrated.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, I absolutely love that you said everything because for a long time, our stories can make us shameful. And we feel guilty, just for our stories, not even to mention the stuff that like actually happened to us. And it's really hard to open up because that's kind of where I was a year ago, we have completely different stories. I've I've lost both of my parents, I had my daughter when I was 16, didn't finish college, all of this stuff that I was really shameful of. And then what I wound up doing is essentially turning my pain into my like superpower. And having people doing this platform and helping people. And so now I know that by me, you and other people sharing their stories, that that's way more effective than us just sitting in our shame and guilt. So I want to commend you for being here and sharing your story. So thank you for that. Let's just go ahead and get get into it, we're going to take you back to whenever you were 11 years old. And tell me about that about the boy that you met when you were 11 What was he like then? And what was your guys's relationship? Likely then?

Nenia:

Yeah, so you know, he was the you know, the athlete, the the cool kid, the kid everyone wanted to be friends with and I was a little bit self conscious. And I probably wouldn't have been in his social circle except for the fact that our parents were friends. So you know, our parents hung out and that is kind of what drew us together is we just spent a lot of time in each other's lives. And so even though I wasn't in that circle that he would normally run with it was it was like he made room for me in his life. And so I was always kind of grateful for that because I it felt like, charity almost, but he that he did that for me. And so he was one of those guys that quote unquote, showed affection by teasing and making fun of and all of those things. And one of the things he always said to me was, I like you because you can take a joke. And so he was always making fun of me and always making me the butt of his jokes, while we were just friends. And as we're, you know, growing up through middle school and through high school, and I thought it was my job to be the butt of his jokes and to take that which is really it's a it's a toxic friendship. But no one had ever taught me that I didn't know what a toxic relationship was nevermind a toxic friendship. And that's, that's the thing we don't talk about is like you can have toxic relationships that are not romantic. And so no one had ever taught me that so I'm in this toxic friendship with this guy. And thinking that I have to play that role in order to maintain his affection because if I were to get upset or anything like that, he would, you know, pick someone else to show that affection quote, unquote, to and so that was kind of how we developed our friendship. And in the meantime, our parents were always like, you guys are so cute together you guys are going to end up together you guys just wait you're going to get married, like all of this kind of stuff. Right? So that felt very much like justification to me like that was them approving of the relationship. And so it felt like they wanted us to end up together so after high school, when we did end up together, you know, it was like everybody was so happy for us because this is you know, what they all wanted. And of course, that toxic behavior didn't change when we got into the relationship if anything, it got worse, because he knew everything I was self conscious about. He knew every part of my body that I was uncomfortable with, you know, everything that I might get shy away from, and those were the things that he would use against me constantly. And it was constantly belittling me he was always you know, still making me the butt of his jokes. And he was very controlling in the way that I couldn't talk to other guys and I couldn't even even friends of his like he wouldn't want me to be talking to them if he wasn't there and like you know, things like that and in my mind Oh my God, this guy cares so much about me that he wants to protect me and he wants me You know, he wants me all to himself like all of these things that are not true. But you tell yourself right it's that constant. You know, boys, they they are mean to you because they like you and all of that they're protective of you because they don't want to share you. That's the the narrative that we get. But that is not healthy. And no one told me that Yeah, so after high school, he joined the military, I went to college. And we had this long term relationship, long distance relationship. And we would only see each other for like two weeks at a time when he would get leave. And those two weeks would be absolute Heaven, you know, they would be perfect he would dote on me it was, everything would be great. And then he go away. And it would be, you know, long term teasing, even his, like his letters when he would like send me mail and things, he would address them to nicknames that he knew, made me self conscious, and things like that. Like, just, just things like that. So it was, but it was teasing. And it was part of who we were as a relationship. So I didn't, I didn't know what I was ignoring. And so then, after college, I became a police officer, which is something that I'm incredibly proud of it is one of my, you know, biggest accomplishments. And it is something you know, there was only six other women in my Academy class of over 60. So I mean, it's, it's something that I'm very proud of. And he hated it. He if he had been here and not deployed during the time that I was going through all this, and I think he probably would have convinced me not to do it. And looking back now, I know that that was just it was a control thing. He didn't like the fact that I was doing something that was more masculine and more considered, it should have been his job, not my job kind of thing. Even though he was doing a job. That was it, that was considered masculine. And so he was at he was stationed in Hawaii, and I was here in New Hampshire on the east coast. So we were a whole country apart. And so he was tell it, all I knew about his life was from things that he would tell me. And so he was actually getting very heavily into substances on the military base. And I knew nothing about it. And he actually got a DUI and was was dishonorably discharged from the military. But he told me, all of these things like, you know, his command staff was picking on him, they didn't like him, they wanted to hold him back from getting promotions, things like that. So So here, I am feeling bad for him. Like, when he finally did get discharged, he needed a place to live. So obviously, like he's going to come and live with me, like that may just made sense. And I couldn't believe like, all of this bad stuff was happening. And so when he came home, or moved into my home, he was angry and spiteful. And he had, he had this drinking problem. And so here I am thinking that this is the military did this to him, because they treated him so poorly. And so I am making all these excuses for his temper and for the fact that he couldn't, couldn't go right out and find a job because he was still holding on to all of that, like resentment and all of that. So like, I made all of these excuses. And when the physical abuse started, it wasn't so much like the type of thing that people think of like, you know, he wasn't giving me black eyes, I wasn't wearing dark sunglasses to hide these things. It was little things it was like, the first of all, intimidation is a form of, of physical abuse. And so he would back me into the corner, and he would use his his height and his, you know, whatever, just like tower over you as he yelled, which was showing me like he had the ability to hurt me. He knew he had that ability. So as he yelled, I was afraid for my physical safety. And he had me trapped in corners or against doors, things like that. And I had nowhere to go. And all the while I'm not thinking this is abuse, I'm thinking this is this is something I can fix. This is the alcohol This is the military, this is this is I need to be there for him to help him through this. And so then he started with when we would be out in public and I would say something or do something that he didn't like, he would either grab my shoulder right around my collarbone or my thigh if we were sitting down and he would squeeze. And it was not enough that like you wouldn't, like scream out in pain, but he was putting enough pressure that like, I knew this was a problem. And your collarbone is a very delicate bone. It does not take a lot of force to break it. And it was like that I could break this if I want to, but I'm not going to just if you back off kind of warning. And so these things, these are the types of things that I started dealing with right away that I never would have associated with abuse. These were just things that, you know, I had to deal with, and I could probably fix if I tried hard enough is what I kept telling myself in my mind. And, of course, things didn't get better. They started to get worse and things started to unravel into into sexual abuse and financial abuse. He didn't have a job but he was still controlling all of the money that I was making, making me feel guilty about spending things. Meanwhile he was sitting in the parking lot of the liquor store waiting for the liquor store to open you know in the mall. so that he could go in and buy more alcohol things like that.

Melissa Bright:

How old were you around this time that you guys got married? He got discharged? How old? How old were you guys?

Nenia:

We were in our early 20s so we got married I think we were 24 so it was you know, just after he probably got moved in with me at like 22 Okay,

Melissa Bright:

yeah. And did he have any I mean you've known this guy since he had been 11 years old. Was there obviously there were red flags from the time that he had been 11 until you know now but can you like think of a time or why where this is coming from was there something in his his past did he grow up with abuse? I don't know if I'm skipping ahead a little bit but besides you blaming this on yourself and thinking it was you was there ever anything that you were like, why what is making him act this way? Or do you always think it had to be something that you were doing or it was your fault?

Nenia:

Most of the time, I assumed that it was my fault. He came from a broken home in the sense that his parents were divorced and they did not have a good relationship. There was a lot of just toxicity there but it I don't to the best of my knowledge that was never physical or anything like that. But so he didn't he didn't have the best growing up life as far as just the just that stability and things like that. But I never blamed that because lots of people's parents are divorced right i didn't i didn't think that that was the issue or that that played into it was it had to be me and it had to be what I was doing was upsetting him and these different things and of course whenever whenever that anger would start to come out or that you know whatever would set him off which sometimes I didn't even know what it was that it would set him off but it it had to be me because he was never like this with other people when we were out in public like no one else ever set him off in this way and he wouldn't get angry at all you know his friends or his family or anything like that so it had to be me and that was just what I figured in my mind is that it had to be something I was doing I was the problem

Melissa Bright:

right in your so you had become a police officer very like right around this time Had you ever experienced in your line of duty any any victims of domestic violence at this point yet?

Nenia:

Absolutely. And I sort of became being one of the only females in the area I sort of became like the the go to domestic violence person because I could talk to the victims and not be intimidating not be threatening things like that. So when those types of calls came in I was the one that got sent more often than not and I would have told you at that time that I was an expert in domestic violence I had absolutely no problem picking out the signs and the warning signs and other people's relationships I had no problem telling them that you know this is dangerous This is toxic This is not the kind of behavior you should be putting up with absolutely no problem seeing it in other people's relationships and would have told you that there was absolutely no way that I would miss signs of domestic violence or abuse or anything like that because I was so good at it in my job right and that's and now you have proof of it

Melissa Bright:

right? Do you feel that with your stuff because like you said when people think you weren't walking around with you know like you said you weren't walking around with glasses on I mean we see the movies we see what people look like but stuff that you said him just squeezing your your thigh as hard as he could or your collarbone or intimidating you like that's a scary thing. So whenever you would go to these say these domestic violence calls Was it something that was way more like Yeah, she did get hit she did have a black guy. So I didn't necessarily associate what my abuse was because it didn't seem quote unquote as bad even though you know now

Nenia:

i think that that played a role in it. It was me minimizing what I was going through and at the same time I had all these other things that I thought I could blame it on. You know, I thought I could blame it on the fact that he was still trying to get over the leaving the military and still had this drinking problem and still had all of these other issues. So I had other things that I could blame it on. I never I never turned around and said this is abuse. I said this is alcohol. I said this is you know I did this, I did that or this is because I came home from my mask. One job and he's angry about not still being in the military. And like, you know, I, I made the excuses. So I never associated what other people were going through with what I was going through.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, that makes sense. Okay, so I know you were you were talking about everything, I just wanted to ask some of those questions to kind of paint that picture. Now, at this time, did you had you talk to any friends, any family? Did you tell them anything about what was going on?

Nenia:

No, never. I thought I was protecting him and myself by not telling people about his drinking problem by trying to hide it from people, I was very aware that when we would go to parties, like he was getting much more intoxicated than everybody else. And so, you know, I would always be making those excuses like, oh, a long day, or, you know, whatever it was. And so I was trying to protect, I guess, in some ways, my own reputation by making sure that he didn't look bad. And so I was never, I wouldn't never talk to anybody about the, the things that I was dealing with at home, because I didn't want him to look bad, because that would make me look bad, like in this weird circle of whatever was happening in my mind. And slowly, he started isolating me away from those people. So you know, I didn't, I wasn't spending as much time with my family, I wasn't spending as much time with my friends, I was really only seeing my co workers at work. So it just wasn't the kind of environment where those things would come up, either. So it slowly became something that I had no opportunity to tell anyone.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Okay. So at this point, he has started financial abuse, whenever you said that, can you kind of explain just because if there are any listeners out there that might not know like, what is financial abuse? What does that even mean? Can you kind of explain what financial abuse is?

Nenia:

Yeah, absolutely. So domestic violence, in general, comes down to a power and control game, essentially. And that one partner is trying to maintain power and control over the other. And one way to do that, a really good way to do that is to control the money and the finances of the couple as a whole, but especially the victim, so that you don't have access to that, think about how important money is in our society. If you have no money, where can you go, you can't leave something. So in some cases, the victim might not have access to their bank accounts, it might not be a joint account, it might be all in one in that person's name, they might be getting an allowance where they're given a certain amount of money to spend, they might have to prove what they spent that money on by giving receipts to the other person, they might also be under the impression that they are under a lot of debt. So they feel guilty about spending money when in reality, that debt may or may not exist, because you don't have access to the finances. So you don't know if that that exists. A lot guilt plays a lot into it a lot of times because the person will make you feel guilty about spending, you know, why did you spend $100 at the grocery store, when usually you only spend 80, or whatever it is. So you you feel guilty about buying yourself things you feel guilty about buying things for your children often like I mean, it's just money is so important, the car might not be in your name, but the house might not be in your name. So you feel like you have nothing. So when you do go to realize that you are being abused, and you want to leave, you literally have to walk away with nothing. Some of these, some of these victims don't have jobs. So they don't even have a way to make money. Once they leave that situation, they might have been kept out of the workforce for a really long time. So they feel like they don't even have the skill set to get a job, that kind of thing. So financial abuse can be a very wide kind of term for a lot of different things. But it I saw the statistic and I don't know, don't quote me on this, because I don't know where the statistics actually came from. But I saw the statistic that 90% of domestic violence relationships include financial abuse in one way or another. And it's just because it's such a way to control what's happening in your relationship if you don't have access to that money, or you can't spend it the way you want to or whatever it is. There's not a lot you can do.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, so how how was it financial abuse in your situation? Because you were the one that had the job and he didn't so how did he? What did that look like for you guys? For us, it

Nenia:

was a lot of guilt. He didn't have a way of making money so I was taking care of him and so he was constantly making me feel guilty for spending money on myself because it could have been used to spend on him or for our, our our future. So whenever I would want to Just go and, you know, get a gym membership or, you know, whatever was stupid, stupid little things. It was, well, why are you spending money on that when you could be spending money on this or you could be should be saving it, or, you know, you've got all of this debt. And of course, because I had gone to college, I had my student loans as well. So it was like, you know, your debt is the problem, your debt is what's going to gonna make it hard for us to buy a house someday and things like that. So it was it was mostly the guilt aspect of things for me. But at the same time, he was opening credit cards in my name that I didn't know about, he was using my money to go off and buy copious amounts of alcohol that he was hiding for me. So I didn't know that that was being done. So like he was having no problem spending my money that he was lecturing me about using. And so it's my situation was a little bit warped as far as how that usually happens. But yeah, the guilt and the in the debt thing, all of that played a huge role in it.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. And that's why I wanted to ask that question. Just because people might think that there's such a cookie cutter way of financial abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, like, they might just think this is the only thing and so I just wanted you to share that story. So people know, like, if, if this is something that they might be experiencing, then they might be like, Oh, my gosh, you know. Okay, so moving on, you said you had said that you had experienced sexual abuse? Now, I want to ask this question, because it might be obvious, but it might not be obvious if you are in a relationship with somebody. How? I think I know the answer. But I also just want it to be said, once again, to benefit the listeners, how would it be sexual abuse, if you are in a relationship with somebody,

Nenia:

regardless of whether you are in a relationship or not, and this is the police officer and me talking right now as well. Consent is still 100% necessary for absolutely everything that is involved in your relationship. And in a lot of cases, people assume that because you're in a relationship that you have given this, like blanket consent form to your partner to just engage in whatever they want. And that's not true. So, for me, it was it was forcing sex on me when I was not feeling well, when I had just come home from working a night shift and was tired and just wanted to go to bed. It was you know, it was forcing sex on me when I didn't want to have sex, but I felt like I had to have sex with him because he wanted to have sex. And it was forcing sexual acts in places that I was uncomfortable with, you know, we'd be in the car somewhere. And he'd be like, you know, right now, this is where I want things and stuff like that. So it's also doing, like, so say, we're having sex and you have consented and in that part's okay. But then all of a sudden, the sex goes further than what you wanted to do either a place where you're being caused pain, or he's not listening to, you know, that doesn't, that's not okay, I'm not okay with what you're doing those kinds of things. Once you are uncomfortable, or not, okay, with where something is going, your partner should instantly Oh, you know, stop, reevaluate, either stop completely or go back to something you are comfortable with a healthy relationship, your partner is listening. And that's a two way street. Where as in, when there's sexual abuse involved, it doesn't matter. It's this is we're just going down that one path, and no matter what you say, or do, that's what that's where you're headed. And you don't realize that, that when you're in a relationship, that's not okay. And that's kind of where things got out of control for me is because I just felt like, again, this was my job. This was my role as the, you know, other partner in the relationship is when he said, jump, this was what I had to do, regardless of how I was feeling or, you know, yeah, what, what else was going on? It was, you know, I have to be at work in 10 minutes, well, you're gonna spend eight of them right here kind of thing. And those are, those are the types of things that get overlooked when you think about sexual abuse, because it's, first of all, we don't talk enough about sexual abuse. And everyone assumes that sexual abuse is done by a stranger, that it's like in that dark alley behind the bar where you drank too much and weren't supposed to be those kinds of situations when really, sexual abuse happens in relationships all the time, and people just don't even know that that's happening, and that's an issue.

Melissa Bright:

Right? Well, thank you for explaining that because that, that makes sense and it clears things up. So I appreciate that. Something else that I'm curious about during these during these years. What was what were you feeling like on a day to day basis in terms of your self esteem, your confidence, your mental health? I mean, yeah, I'm just curious of how that was for you day to day.

Nenia:

So the weird thing is, if you had asked me at that time, I would have told you that I was fine because at work, I felt really in control. I felt like I was really good at my job. I felt like I was making a difference. I was happy there. So in my mind, everything was okay. Because when I was at work, I felt like the woman that I was supposed to be, but I was terrified to go home. I was always making excuses like, Oh, you need someone to sit to stay at work for an extra hour, I will absolutely do that for you. Like, you know, I was avoiding my house as much as possible because when I was at home, I felt like a completely different person. I didn't feel confident at all, I was constantly walking on eggshells, because I never knew what was going to upset him what was going to set him off today, how much he had drank before I came home, what I was going to find when I walked through the door, there was more than one occasion where I walked in and like you know, rooms would be would be completely tossed because he was looking for some fabrication of evidence of me doing something wrong that may or may not have ever even had a right had a basis to exist kind of thing, you know, silly things like that. So at home, I felt like a completely different person. And my mental health was really suffering. I was in a dark place, I was not happy with my myself, I felt completely self. Like I had no self confidence because I was feeling like everything was always my fault. Every time something upset him, it was my fault. Every time something went wrong, it was my fault. I was apologizing constantly, which is still something I struggle with to this day. And so at home, I was miserable. But as soon as I got out of the house when I was at work, when I was at the gym, I felt like a really great person. So it was this weird thing where I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me, because I still wasn't associating things with views. So I didn't understand why I was in such a miserable mood at home and why I could feel so good at work. And I think a lot of that did have to do with what I do for work where I you know, when I put that uniform on, I felt like who I was supposed to be. So it was like, I just had this opportunity to like change out of the old the you know, the right worthless Nina and I could eat the the Nina that was in charge and the Nina that you know was was doing something good with her life. So I think that played played a role into how why I was struggling with what was happening inside my head.

Melissa Bright:

Right? Yeah, oh my gosh, and it's such a I, I appreciate your story and your story. Because of the fact that you were a police officer. And people just always Okay, I don't want to say always, but people just picture Oh, this, this girl had to be weak and no self esteem. And this is what she looked like. And this is how she acted like, they just know all the characteristics and everything. And it's just like, you just never, never know. I mean, I know people that have been abused that. Never in a million years what I thought they would be they are the most bubbly, outgoing, confident, like, what like my mind was blown when I was was told about a friend and I just couldn't believe it. And so that's why I just, once again, these stories, they're important for you, for us to share, because of this, like a police officer could be like, could even be experiencing this. So absolutely. I just wanted to note that. How long did you experience the abuse from your husband.

Nenia:

So it was about a year that we were married. And this was all going on. I was still in that place where I wanted to make all those excuses. I wanted to fix it. And now we're married. And so now I have to fix it because divorce is a scary word, even when abuse is not involved in it. So you know, divorces, failure was kind of like what was in my mind. So I can't fail at this. I have to fix it. And so it was about a year into our marriage, that I responded to a call in the middle of the night and I was so upset because I wanted to help this woman so badly. You know, she was in a really dangerous place and I could see it and I wanted to help her and I was doing you know, I was using all of my police techniques to try to to talk to this woman and get her to see what I was seeing. And I was getting so upset and I was so angry with this guy, but there is is a time when a police officer has to walk away because there's nothing that they can do. And I knew that I had reached that point. And I was so mad walking away from that house. And I couldn't figure out I mean, I had been to hundreds of these calls. And they all upset you on different levels. But this one was over the top, and I couldn't figure it out. And so I'm sitting in my cruiser A little while later, and I'm, you know, writing up my notes and talking, you know, writing down what I had done at this call. And I realized, the reason I was so upset. And the reason I was so angry with this guy is because he was a perfect representation of my husband at the time. And everything that I had said to that woman applied to my own life, and it just it hit me like a train, I don't know, where I have no idea why this particular situation is the one that you know, just right, hold the wool from my eyes and and woke me up. But that's, that's the moment. And I sat there in my car in my cruiser in the middle of the night, you know, on the side of the road at like two o'clock in the morning. Just bawling. Because how could I have missed this? How could I have been so stupid, I'm trained to see this. I'm a police officer, I'm supposed to be the one that you know, fixes these things? How could this be my life? You know, all these emotions crashed over me? How could I have let this go on for so long? How could I not have seen this? You know, right away? Yeah, all of these things. And I just sat there, like not knowing what to do with all of these emotions, because now how do you? How do you fix it? I'm only a year into my marriage. I'm a police officer. I can't tell anybody because they're gonna think less of me. How is this gonna affect my job? Like, all of those kind of questions started crashing over me too. So emotionally, in that moment, I was the last person you would want to see if you if you needed a police officer. But luckily, I got through that part of it and got to go got to move on from there. But you know, you can't once you see that, once you once you make that realization, there's no going back. Yeah, you can't, you can't undo it. Even though I tried. I went home and really looked for evidence that I was wrong, I really wanted to be wrong. I started, you know, analyzing everything that he said and did for the next couple days. And like, really looking at it. And I was like, you know, I must be missing something. I'm sure there's a silver lining in all this that I'm just overreacting to, or whatever. And unfortunately, instead of finding, finding that good stuff, I was finding that things were actually even worse than I realized, you know, things were things had spiraled so far out of control that I was missing things I didn't even know I was missing. And so it took me about a week to kind of like really solidify this, that this was this was really happening. And then I had locked myself in the bathroom a little while before work. And I was sitting on the floor of my bathroom, like just crying trying to figure out what I was going to do. Because I still felt like I couldn't tell anyone because I was so afraid that if any of my co workers or any of my friends found out they would disown me, because, you know, I'm supposed to be this like strong, badass police officer woman like I can't be I can't be a victim that that's a dirty word. Yeah, you can't be both is what I thought at the time. And so finally, I sent a text message that if you printed it out, you'd probably be I probably could have done it as a novel to my best friend, and just unloaded and just told him all of these things. And he is also a police officer. And I really expected him to turn around and say, I can't believe you got yourself in this situation like this is all your fault. And luckily, he responded with the textbook perfect answer of what can I do? How can we get used to a safe place? How can we how can we work through this? And that's exactly what I needed. Because in that moment, when I was thinking that I was going to end up completely alone, trying to deal with this. I knew I had someone I knew I had support. Yeah. And he helped me come up with a plan. He, he recognized that I was not emotionally in the place to go to work. So what our plan ended up being was I was going to pack my bag like I was going to work because I was working the night shift at the time. And so I was going to leave the house like normal pretending to go to work and I was going to park my car at work. But then they were he was going to pick me up and take me to a safe location where I could kind of just decompress really come to this realization, which is really something, I recommend the part of your safety plan if you are, if you're listening to this and trying to come up with your own safety plan, it's really hard to think straight and plan for what's next, when you are worried about that person walking in, or being in the next room or figuring out what you're doing. So finding that place where you can research things online without worrying about someone walking in, or just think clearly, or just like, put some distance between you and that person is really, really helpful. And I had the opportunity to do that and to be in that safe place where I knew I was completely supported and completely safe. And I could do those things and look up those things and figure out what the next step was, because now, I couldn't just walk away, I had to legally untangle myself from this man. So I had to look those kinds of things up and figure out what those next steps were and how I was going to deal with that. And not to mention how I was going to, you know, free myself from the situation immediately because court processes take a really long time. And so you know, I needed that space to figure that out. And this friend helped me find that space and and that's exactly what I needed in that moment.

Melissa Bright:

Oh my gosh, I absolutely love what you said about the safety plan. And we can talk more about that. Unfortunately, some people don't even have that they are so watched over so controlled, don't have access to phones don't have access to anything. And we can talk more about that because for you I'm sure that you have seen that all with with your job. And so we can talk more about safety plans and things that we can do but I do think it's important that you said just getting away and that was so smart of you to pack a bag act like you're going to work get you to a safe place. You know I was like thinking if I would ever be in the situation like what would I do like what I say I'm going to the grocery store and you know get that hour of whatever. I'm sure there are some absolutely incredible stories of what people have done but thank you for sharing that. So with that you said it had been about a been about a week right? That you now were what's happening with your husband at this point has he tried to contact you have you talked to him, he can't get ahold of you. What was kind of untangling with him.

Nenia:

So that first week I was I was still in the house, things were still I was pretending Everything was normal. And, and still, I was lucky because he had a job at that point and was working during the day. And I was working at night. So I did have some hours of I mean, I was supposed to be asleep. But I wasn't really doing a lot of sleeping at that time. And so I did have some time to myself in the house to kind of figure things out. But when you know, those crossover over hours, and when we were off together, that time was still happening normally. And I was just that my eyes were open. So I was like kind of dumbfounded that like things were normal. And I would have been putting up with that. So I had that week of of looking at all of that from now this new point of view. And then that night that I left for work, I did just kind of disappear. And so in the morning so I was supposed to be at work for all my car was there. So if you were to have driven by you would think that I was at work. And so I had that night of just kind of figuring things out. And then in the morning instead of going home after work, I sent him a message and basically said, You know, I need some time and I won't be home. And so he knew that I was not coming home for a reason. But he didn't know where I was. I turned my phone off after that, like he had no way of contacting me and I just had to kind of weather that when I turned my phone on. A couple days later I had lots and lots of angry messages I had text messages I had voicemails I had you know all sorts of stuff but he at least knew that like I was alive and wouldn't call the police and I wonder to now like would he have even bothered to call the police if I hadn't come home and that was I was in a place where I felt comfortable that he wouldn't be able to find me because he didn't he just didn't know that that no this friend that I was staying with or where they lived or anything like that and I my car was at work and so all of these kind of precautions have been taken So I was comfortable where I was to just have those couple days to decompress. And I basically gave myself, I think I gave myself three or four days. And then by that time, I felt comfortable enough with my decision and what I had to do next, to start taking those next steps of going to the court and starting the process of filing paperwork and things like that. And being a police officer played a role in that, for me, that was kind of terrifying, because again, I was afraid of lots of people, lots of co workers finding out about what was going on. So where I would have advised somebody else to get a protection order during all of this, I was not willing to do that for myself. Because here I am, I'm the person that's supposed to enforce the protection order, right? Like I'm the person that's not supposed to need one. And when you get a protection order, it's something that shows up in, in police records when they run you, and not that my co workers should be running me or looking at my information or anything like that. But if for some reason I got pulled over or something like that, yeah, that would be there. And I was embarrassed about that. So I instead decided that I could take care of myself and that I was going to do that. And I am I think lucky that that it worked out okay for me. But I would probably not recommend taking that path for something else. I think I put myself in a lot of situations that I didn't need to be in thinking that I had to do this all by myself.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Oh, my goodness. So what Okay, so now we are we're about a week you start doing the court proceedings, you do not get a protection order against him. What happens after this? Where do we go from here?

Nenia:

So I had to serve that paperwork, which is something that you don't have to do yourself. You know, I can't speak for every state, but in my state, you can have the sheriff's office serve paperwork like that, and not something that I was willing to do. So I went to the house when I knew that he would be home. And I had to just kind of pray that I was getting there early enough, right after him working that he hadn't started drinking yet. Yeah. And I basically showed up with the paperwork and kind of alluded to the fact that there were police like unit actual, like uniformed police on the job where I was not on the job at at the moment in the area, even though there were not. And so I tried to use that as kind of leverage to keep him calm enough to just like, get that initial. Yeah, situation over with, I'm lucky that I, he knew something was wrong, because I hadn't been home in a few days. But I'm lucky enough that I caught him off guard enough. And just in the point of his tips, Enos that he was kind of like, not able to react the way he may have normally done. And so I got him to sign the paperwork, and then just kind of like, left. And he actually did the opposite of what I thought is he stormed out after. So he took all this stuff and left thinking that that was going to punish me, but really, that gave me a house back. So so it actually ended up working in my favor. But um, that was kind of it was just kind of a weird situation. Because, again, I didn't want to ask for help. And so I decided I was going to do this myself and put myself in this dangerous situation that I didn't need to be in. And then because he took everything and left, I changed the locks on the doors and like kind of just claimed the house. And that worked two ways for me. In one way it was very kind of like this is my space and I'm taking it back it was rewarding. It was I'm not backing down from this. You know, I feel like this is my home. On the other side. I was terrified every single day that I was going to come home and he would be there waiting for me in the driveway because he obviously knew where where it was. Yeah, I was terrified that while I was asleep he was going to come and burn the house down. I had like I had nightmares and I had all of these concerns that are valid and at the same time you would think they're paranoid, but I really believed that he was capable of all of these things. And so somebody else looking at this from a different point of view might think that the steps that I took of you No, I changed all the locks, I put barricade type things on all the windows so that they couldn't be lifted. Even though they were locked, I put a bunch of security motion lights up around the house so that I would know at night, if somebody was walking around, I got some of those security cameras for the outside the house, I got a dog, like I mean, I just I went above and beyond as far as trying to protect myself in that house. And so in some ways that was probably not great for my mental health because I was living in fear. But in other ways, it was good for my mental health, because it was my space that I was trying to reclaim and like banish him from so that I think the important thing to take away from that is it's going to be different for everyone. And you really just need to kind of figure out what works for you. And I don't think there's a right answer. I don't know that what I did was the correct thing to do. But I don't know that it wasn't either. So

Melissa Bright:

yeah. But what you said about, you know, you know, staying in the place that you know, that he could show up at any time, because he obviously lived there. But you said like you You explained it so well and the fact that like, but that was you taking back your power? And saying no, I'm going to do this instead of I don't even want to say running away, cuz that's not what well, that is what people do. But they should it was you like standing up to him and saying like, no, but But in the meantime, I am going to protect myself, if I do stay here and like you said, I do not believe that there is one single domestic violence incident, whatever that is the same. Everybody is living in completely different situations from really, really, really bad where they can't even like they're being constantly watched to a little bit less. So every situation is different. But it's still good to hear what people do, just in case it could help you know, that guy. Anything from you said putting the barriers or barricading the windows. I mean, somebody might be like, Oh my god, I didn't even think about that, or whatever. Did he ever, ever come back? Did you ever try.

Nenia:

So I had lots of lots of drunken phone calls and messages. I believe that I saw him on multiple occasions driving by there were lots of times where I don't think he had any reason to be in the place in the town that I was working in. And he would just like be hanging out there kind of thing when he knew I was working. So I definitely think that there were attempts to intimidate me and to make sure I knew he was still around and things like that. As far as actually showing up, like at the house trying to get in, I don't know, nothing that I could ever prove. And like concretely say yes. But there were times where I would come home and there would be something that was just slightly off like, you know, something that had been moved or something and like, yes, the winds could have done that. But also couldn't have done that, those kinds of things. And you get to the point and I experienced a lot of gaslighting. So I was still dealing with the aftermath of that as well, where I was not 100% confident in trusting my own mind. Yeah. So that played into it a lot to where I would say Well, did that move or did that happen? Or it's so there were times when I think he was there. But I was so unsure of in not confident in trusting myself to say it that right. I'll never be able to know for sure. Yeah. And I think he I think he loved that knowing that that he could do that. without me knowing for sure that he was doing it. Yes, he was still for for a long time. After he left. He was still controlling a lot of what I did and a lot of you know how my life went because of all of the things all of the precautions all of the worries all of that he was still a lot playing a huge role in my life, even though he wasn't physically there.

Melissa Bright:

Right. How long has it been since you've last spoke to him seen him experienced anything that had to do with him?

Nenia:

Six years.

Melissa Bright:

Okay, do you guys live to the best of your knowledge anywhere near each other.

Nenia:

Last I knew he was still in the general area here. And the last It was a couple years ago that I saw him last I was in a Home Depot and he was there with another woman and The emotions that I felt in that moment, and I don't even know that he saw me, I saw him from like, you know, like walk down an aisle kind of thing. And I have no idea that he saw me. But the, the fear and the terror had all returned instantly. Plus, there was guilt, because there was this other woman that I'm, you know, sure was experiencing things that I could relate to. And I felt like I had no way of warning her or helping her or protecting her, I felt there was like this moment of relief that, you know, that's not me, which I felt really guilty over two. So there was a tidal wave of emotions that I couldn't even explain at the time. And, I mean, it had probably been it three years, maybe at that point that I hadn't seen him and all of that came rushing back in that 15 seconds of walking by the aisle. And knowing that that was him. And there were still moments sometimes when, you know, someone reminds me of him, and I have to do the double take to make sure it's not and things like that. And you would think after six years and being really able to talk about this and open about it, that those types of emotions would just go away. And I'm not there yet. I don't know if you ever get there. But they lessen and they I can deal with them differently. Now I have the tools to to recognize that that fleeting moment of fear and be like, Nope, I'm safe. I'm you know, I'm here with my my now husband who has a very safe and healthy relationship. That's uh, you know, he's my safe person, I'm, I'm in a good space, I have the tools to deal with it differently now. So it doesn't hold that same power over me anymore. It's a very quick, just kind of fleeting, of that's my past. Yeah. And I think that's okay, I think it's okay, let's still recognize that and have those fears. And I, it does sharpen your ability to deal with that kind of stuff. And I see it as progress, I see the fact that I can now only deal with it for 15 seconds, as opposed to when it might have, at one point, taken up the rest of my day, right kind of thing. That's progress. And that's healthy. And I'm okay with that.

Melissa Bright:

Right. That's what I was gonna say. It just reminds you of how far you have came. I have instances like that to like in my healing journey, and some of my anger issues that I have, like I'm very, very reactive to stuff because I'm so sensitive. And I think somebody will say the wrong thing. But like, I will sit here and be like, Oh, I didn't immediately react this time, like I have came a long way. It didn't. It didn't last for an hour that I'm pissed off now. Now I was just pissed off for like five seconds, and I'm over it and I can move on. So I think it's important that you said like, yeah, there can be flashbacks, but that will just show you how far you have came in. In some weird way. Maybe that's what is supposed to happen. You know, that's why these situations always arise. I really want to talk about something that I know is really important to people is just being who you are now six years later, and how were you able to get to where you are now that you have been able to marry somebody else? I mean, I've never been in this situation. But some people, I'm assuming probably feel like they're not even worthy to be loved. Why would somebody want me I you know, all this stuff. So what were some really important moments, important things, steps, whatever it is that you did to really help you heal and move past this.

Nenia:

Yeah, it's, it's not a switch that you can just flip. And I think the hardest thing is you think that the leaving is going to be the hardest part. And you figure as soon as you leave, everything's going to be better, and you're going to be fixed and you're going to be happy, and you're going to be in this better place. And in some ways, Yes, that's true. But in a lot of the mental part of it. That's just not the way that your body and your mind work, you just can't turn off all of those feelings and you just can't turn off the way that that relationship has affected who you are now and how you react to things. So the hardest thing to realize is that that turning that switch off is going to take time and going to take work and that it's not an instant thing and I think I struggled with that for a little while because I didn't understand why I didn't just instantly feel okay and instantly feel better. Why was I still so scared? Why was I still you know, getting that reaction every time I heard a noise outside the door. Like, why was that still happening? It should be better now. Yeah. And so I was stigmatized to think that therapy was for sick people. And I wasn't sick. There was nothing wrong with me, I had just had this bad experience and being in the law enforcement world do you look at therapy as a as a problem, you know, that's for people who have problems. And so I was so against going to therapy, because there was nothing wrong with me, I was fine. And it was my best friend again, the same. The same guy originally confessed everything to that, basically dragged me there. He bribed me with ice cream, and told me that he gave me ice cream if I went to my first appointment. And so I went, and I went, really, I was not happy about going there. And I went in that like, kind of like little kid tantrum kind of way, like, I'm not talking to this person, like, I'm just gonna sit there. And I truly believed that I didn't need therapy, because there was nothing wrong with me. And I went to the first appointment, and I got really lucky because this particular person clicked with me right away. Um, and so she just kind of got the fact that where I was in my, like, stigma and all that stuff. And so for the first little while, she just talked to me. And slowly like, I started answering her questions, and I started and I don't even know when it happened. But all of a sudden, I'm like, spilling my guts to this total stranger that I never thought I would do. And, you know, it's not instant, you don't just you don't just meet this therapy person, and, you know, have one conversation and feel better. But I felt enough of a response that I was okay. I was like, maybe I'll come back for the next appointment. And every single time I left, I was like, I'll make I'll tentatively make a next appointment. And it was like, it was like six months that I was still saying that and she was like, you know that you can just say you're going to, I'll see you next time, right? Maybe I won't, though you don't know. Right? I am now such a such a proponent of therapy, because it's not just for specific people, anyone going through anything, could use somebody to non judgmentally talk to, you know, this person, this person is there for you to bounce things off of. And so it got to the point where sometimes, I was answering my own questions, and you know, talking myself back around in a circle, where I was like, Oh, I should have seen that myself kind of thing, then this person was just kind of sitting there and allowing me to do that. And you really do unpack a lot of things in that situation that you if you ignore, you're never going to unpack. And so I did get to a point where I started to understand different reactions and different points, why I was doing different things, because I could relate them to Okay, this reaction is because I was always being gaslighted. So I don't feel comfortable, you know, trusting that instinct, or whatever it was, right. And so for me, therapy played a lot of played a big role in me being able to start to feel confident again. But it didn't fix everything right away. And it didn't fix everything, there were still things I needed to learn on my own. And I needed to learn out in just trying things. And the first time I went on a date afterwards was a complete shit show. It was horrible. And it had nothing to do with the guy. It was actually a guy that I had known for a long time and was really good friends with and we're still friends. But it was just I wasn't, I wasn't prepared for how that was gonna go. Yeah, and for how I was gonna feel and for all of these things, and so it's hard to open yourself up again. And first dates are hard anyway. And then a first date after a bad relationship is like, you know, yeah, just a really heavy weight. And luckily, I was able to kind of laugh about it later and be like, Okay, this is why I was like, so caught off guard when he asked me these personal questions, like, he really wasn't trying to be mean, that's a normal thing for first date, but I wasn't ready for like, yeah, just things like that. And so I was able to laugh about it later and slowly, things just got easier. And then I met, why didn't meet, I already knew my husband, but I met him in a romantic sense where he started to show me that worthiness that was still That was within me that I was still not totally accepting. And even now, so we had been together with Ben together for years now. And we just got married in July of this year. So we've only been married a couple months. But even now, there are still moments where he's still teaching me things about myself and still teaching me things about how I am worthy of of love and things like that. Because there are always going to be those doubts, I think in the back of your mind. And you have to just wait and find that person that's willing to take the time to show you how wrong you are, and how much you do deserve all of the things that that other person told you you didn't deserve.

Melissa Bright:

Right? Oh, oh my gosh. So a couple things I wanted to note you talking about therapy, I love that you admitted the fact that you thought that therapy was a stigma. Because that just shows how much there is still a stigma. I went I started therapy last year, because I lost my mom 10 years ago, and basically shoved it down for 10 years and never dealt with it. But mine was more like on a financial aspect. I just couldn't afford therapy. But I always wanted it. things with therapy is like everybody always thinks that like there's got to be something majorly wrong with somebody, they are weak, or they can't handle themselves or something like that, with therapy. And it's so important that you said is, first of all therapy makes you aware. It just makes you aware of things that you weren't aware of before. Maybe they said something like maybe you didn't know all the stuff that your ex husband said was actually gaslighting. But your therapist told you like well, this is actually what it is. And this is why you act this way. And this is how you respond. I always talk about how that is so important. Because first of all, educating yourself and becoming aware is so important in the healing process. Because if you don't, well, there's no problem if you don't notice that there's a problem and you don't become aware of it. How can you fix it. And that's when I talked about Mel's mental must haves, those were like two of the biggest things was you have to become aware and you have to educate yourselves, then they leave you with these tools that you can take with you. So just like you're going to be going to Home Depot to get tools to build a house, you're going to go to therapy to get these tools to how to dance handle trauma, anxiety, stress, whatever it is. And so I just wanted to go back to that. And then in terms of your husband, finding somebody that will remind you all the time that you are worthy. That's my boyfriend. Now I wasn't in relationships a lot before him. And I just like dated, you know, nothing serious. And I prayed for somebody, I just said, Hey, when it's time, I just want somebody that loves me for everything that I am and everything that I'm not. And he definitely got both, because I still have a long way to go. And he deals with a lot with me. But he has taught me so much. And sometimes you have to be in those relationships, to learn even more about yourself, learn like, Oh, I still am working on that self worth, or I'm still working on that security, or I'm still working on feeling comfortable with a man, whatever it is, sometimes you just have to get in that relationship because you won't learn that part of yourself. So I just love that you said that. I don't know that we are Go ahead. Go ahead, please.

Nenia:

I think it's important that maybe not right away. But once you get to a certain place in your relationship where you feel comfortable with that person, that you share a little bit about what you're dealing with with them, so that they can understand why you react certain ways to things to and why you might instantly go one way when you know they are thinking another way kind of thing. And that is something that my husband is such a trooper for because we've had a lot of conversations. And so when I do start spyler spiraling down that path, he can say like no, like, remember who I am. Remember who you are like, this is where we're at right now. And there are just some things that like, the constant apologizing is something that I'm still dealing with. And he will he will stop me and say, it's not your fault that it's raining, or it's not your fault that you know, whatever is happening. So he will he'll kind of ground me and bring me back to where I should be in that relationship. And so being able to share that with him was really important to him being able to help me grow and help me realize my worth and things like that. So that's a scary thing. And it's hard to share those things with somebody else. But if you do reach that person, reach that point with a person, then I think it's really helpful to your relationship.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, absolutely. I love that you said that. Well, I know that we are at an hour and eight minutes. I could talk to you forever but I I do want to talk about some important things, I feel like we have talked a lot about some warning signs. But if you could just briefly talk about ones that, I mean, we did talk about a lot that people might not even notice. But if there's any off the top of your head that you know, that are warning signs for any kind of physical, mental, sexual, any kind of abuse that you want to talk about, I would love to hear those.

Nenia:

So I think the important thing to remember is abuse is all about that, that power and control. So if you are in a relationship where you just feel like you don't have control over certain things, certain aspects, that's a warning sign. If you are wondering, you know, why aren't I ever allowed to drive? Why don't I have access to the money? You know, different, different questions where somebody else is controlling what you do, why do I have to wear certain outfits? When I go out? Why can't I make the plans? Why are the plans always being made by him, those kind of things, those are the warning signs. So there are so many ways that people can control a relationship, and they are not all physical. And sometimes they never reach that truly physical of of that we think of like the hitting and the choking and things like that. Sometimes it is all it stays in that like intimidation realm of, you know, just making themselves a threat to you. Because you know, they could go that much further. That's still abuse. So if you are in a situation where you don't feel in control, where you feel threatened, where you feel like you can't do something because of something else, because they'll threaten your children, because they'll threaten your pets, because of whatever you think the repercussion could be, that is abuse, whether there has been the physical aspect of it or not. It's that control. That is the warning sign. And I think that's what we forget is that there doesn't need to ever be physical

Melissa Bright:

control and the power. Right. And that's such a great point. And sometimes I don't, I don't want to say intimidation is worse, but it's it's they know, they know, like now you're just kind of waiting, oh my gosh, are they gonna hit me? Are they gonna do something else? It's just crazy to think about

Nenia:

terrible for your mental health. Yeah. To be in that state all the time.

Melissa Bright:

Right? Exactly. What? How can family members and friends help? If one, they either suspect that there was some kind of you know, domestic violence going on? And then too, if they do for sure know, what, what can they do.

Nenia:

So this is a really tricky area, because you can't help someone that doesn't want to be helped, you can't force your help on someone, you can't force them to see that they are in a abusive relationship. And that is the hardest thing because when you are witnessing someone you love or someone you care about, be in this situation, all you want to do is make it better, and you can't. And so the important thing that you need to do is make sure that that person knows that no matter what happens, you're still going to be there for them. Because when they get to the point where they feel like they need to reach out, they are going to feel alone, whether they have been isolated away and they feel like maybe they pushed you away, whether they are just embarrassed or they feel like they they are gonna ruin relationships by sharing this stuff, they are going to feel like they can't reach out. And so the more supportive you have been during the time where they're not ready, the more they'll be ready to reach out to you when they are ready. And that's a really hard thing to do because you want to force your opinion on these people and make them see what you see. But that can come off as judgment and it can make them afraid of you saying I told you so it can make them afraid of you. Just Just being negative towards when they when they do come out so it's just letting them know no matter what, even if even if you keep pushing me away, I'm gonna stay here I'm going to be here for when you're ready for me and be ready to be non judgmental and and never say I told you so never say I saw this the whole time or you should have known or any of those kind of kind of you might feel it in your head. But you just can't say that because as soon as you do, that person's going to shut down and they're going to feel like you're not an ally anymore. So you just really just have to be as open and don't force answers on them either. The best thing that my best friend said to me was, what can we do? What do you need from me. And that was he was letting me control what I couldn't control what I felt like I had no control over. So when I said to him, I need, you know, I need a safe place, I need to be able to get out of here. He said, I'm on it. And he just did it. And that was great, because it was what I needed. But that might not be what you that person, whoever it is that you're you're hoping to help needs. So just even if you don't know what to say, Tell them I don't know, I don't know what I can do. But I'll do whatever you need.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Perfect. That's wonderful. That's wonderful advice. If somebody were thinking about leaving a relationship that is abusive, I know we talked a little bit about having a safety plan, what would be some of your advice or recommendations that you would have for people that are thinking about leaving.

Nenia:

So everyone's situation is different. And you know your situation better than anyone else. So if you are in a situation where you can reach out to some other people and ask for help, and they suggest something that you're like, I don't think that'll work, go with your gut. Because you know better than anyone else, what is or is not going to be safe for you. If you are in a situation where you can make that clean break quickly without needing court paperwork, and without needing you know, there are no kids involved, that kind of thing, then it's a little bit easier. As far as now you just need to make the plan in order to do that. If there are other factors involved in you are going to need to do some research, or you're going to need some legal help. That's when things get complicated depending on how much freedom you have. So the first step is figuring out how much freedom you have and how much you need to be able to come up with that plan. So is it going to the grocery store and sitting in your car for an extra 10 minutes and doing some research on on the side? Can you use your phone for that? Are you aware that there are websites like the hotline.org that have quick exit features where you can click on they have a little X up in the corner and that x when you click on it, it brings you to like the weather channel comm or some you know, some safe website. So nobody knows that what you were looking at, those are options to you. But you have to also weigh the way the issues there, like that doesn't clear your history. So if someone is checking your internet history, they'd still be able to see that you have to clear that later. So you really need to kind of weigh what is safe for you, and how far you can go. I'm hoping that if you are able to listen to a podcast like this, you have some freedom there. And so do the research that you need to do to make that plan solid, so that you only have to do it once because it's really hard to do the one time and it's even harder to do if you have to do it a second time or third time because something went wrong. And also be gentle with yourself. If you do mess something up and you you know, accept an apology that maybe you shouldn't have accepted and have to do something a second time or you know, whatever it is, it doesn't help to beat yourself up when you're already, you know, taking abuse. So yeah, those those steps of being able to find a safe space to do that research and to know that that research is out there to know that there are those types of websites and some resources available to you. And to lean on those friends, but are still there, I promise you, no matter how far you push some of your loved ones away, they're still there for you and they will still come back and they will still do everything that they need to do to help you no matter what you you said or did when you push them away. When you go to them and say I need your help with this. They are they are still going to be there. Know that and use that.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Awesome. Thank you for sharing that. So I know that you have a book that you wrote about your experience. So can you talk a little bit about your book, and where people can find it?

Nenia:

Yes. So I wrote my first novel, it's called he loves me not and it is available on my website and on Amazon. And that book is actually a young adult fiction novel. So it is kind of about my experience, but not totally. But all the experiences that she has all the emotions that my main character has are all totally real. And I wrote it as a young adult novel because I went back to the fact that I met this guy so young, and my relationship was abusive from the beginning, but I never knew it. And I recognize that we don't teach these warning signs and the toxic abuse stuff. We don't teach it early enough, because for some reason, we seem to think it's an adult problem. And it's not it starts much sooner than we want to care to admit. And that we hope. So I was hoping that with writing this novel, from a young adult point of view that some other young adults might read the signs and read these warning signs and relate to my main character and be able to recognize these things in their early relationships so that they can put a stop to them before they ever become a 15 year problem that they are dealing with in their 30s.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, awesome. And I will post her website in the show notes, so you guys can go directly there and look at it. If you What do you want people to know most about your story and how you were able to free yourself from domestic violence.

Nenia:

I think the most important part is just remembering that domestic violence does not discriminate. It doesn't matter what you do for work, it doesn't matter. your gender, it doesn't matter your social class, it doesn't matter your sexuality, anyone can be in an abusive relationship. And you don't know you can't recognize the signs, just based on Oh, that person has sunglasses on like, no, it can be that bubbly, happy person that you would never suspect that they are terrified to go home to their house. And we need to educate everyone, not just the people who might be in these situations, because when that person is in the situation and reaches out, you need to be ready to help and respond to that. So I am hopeful that through sharing my story, people will realize that anyone really can be a victim. And that a victim is not a dirty word. It's not something to be embarrassed about. It's not something to be ashamed of, it's just has to be recognized in order to become a survivor. Because if you keep ignoring the fact that you're a victim, you you can never get over that point, and you can never get out of that situation. So I think trying to take that stigma away from the fact that a domestic violence victim must be weak and, and embarrassed and ashamed and all of those negative things. And to be able to say that, no, they're in a situation and impossibly hard situation. And if they are at the point where they are asking for help, and at the point where they are ready to to end that relationship, then they are incredibly strong, and deserve respect and deserve the help that they're asking for. So that's what I hope comes from sharing my story from folks reading my book and things like that, is that we can end that stigma that there is something wrong with being a victim and that the survivor is actually quite strong and should be respected, not not ashamed.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Oh my gosh, I love that you said that. And people need to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel that you can overcome this, that you don't have to be stuck in that the victim mode for you know, after you get out that there can be life after this, that there can be happiness, that there can be freedom that you can love yourself. I know things can feel very bleak and dim when you're caught in the storm, and you just don't see no way out. But we are here to tell you that that you deserve to be here and to to we just want to give you courage. Definitely because I know that it can feel hopeless. I'm sure a lot of times so yes. Thank you, Nina, I just have one last question for you. And I asked all my guests this in your own words, what does the bright side of life mean to you? It's

Nenia:

it's happiness. It's it's being on the other side and knowing that whatever happened in the past doesn't, doesn't have to dim the future. You can have that bright and shining future and still have kind of some crappy stuff in your past that it's okay.

Melissa Bright:

Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on here to share your story. I appreciate it. I also wanted to ask you, I'm going to ask you for some resources, like you were talking about and I also do want to put those in the show notes. So if anybody wants to look at those, check those out. I will those will also be in the show notes. So Nina, thank you again very much.

Nenia:

Absolutely Thank you for having me.

Melissa Bright:

Thank you guys so much for listening to this week's episode of the bright side of life I hope you guys got something out of this episode, Nina shared so many important things that we need to learn about domestic violence and how to raise awareness about it and things that people can do if they are in this situation themselves or if they know somebody so I hope this episode was beneficial to you guys. And also I did want to mention that I have opened up my buy me a coffee, two memberships now so if you guys would like to support the bright side of life, you guys can do that directly on my website, which is at the bright side of life podcast.com and that's going to show you the different tiers of my memberships, and you guys can donate directly there. And as always, guys, if you know someone that may need to hear Nina story, please share it with them, because we never know if this is the one that puts hope back in their heart.

Nenia Corcoran

Author

When I was 11 years old, I met the boy I would grow up to marry. He was a family friend and our parents were always telling us we we're going to end up together.
No one had ever taught me about toxic relationships, so I had no idea that the belittling, bullying, guilting, gaslighting, and humiliation my best friend was constantly doing to me wasn't normal. After all, boys are only mean to you because they like you, right?
We started dating after high school. Our romantic relationship was just as toxic, though I had no idea what emotional abuse was at the time. I thought I was "lucky" to be dating my high school sweetheart. This was how things were "supposed" to be.
After college, while my boyfriend was in the military, I became a police officer. I was good at my job and very proud of what I did. But my boyfriend always made me feel like being a police officer was somehow a bad thing. He was never proud of me and always putting down my profession, even though he was a soldier and we were supposed to be on the same team.
After he was dishonorably discharged from the military for getting a DUI (a fact he lied to me about) he moved in with me. He didn't have a job and was drinking heavily. He started physically abusing me, but I blamed the alcohol. I made all sorts of excuses for his behavior and I truly believed I could fix him. When he asked me to marry him (only so he could get on my health insurance) I thought that would make everything better.
Unfortunately, things only got worse. He progressed to sexual and financial abuse, but still I didn't see it.
It wasn't until I was on a call at work when I realized how much I had in common with a victim I was speaking to. I realized I was in an abusive relationship, and a very dangerous one at that.
It took me a year, but I was able to free myself. Now I spread my story so that others realize abuse really can happen to anyone, even a police officer.