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Suffering in Silence: My Secrets Keep Me Sick

Looking out my kitchen window, I can see the kids running in the yard, laughing and fighting and then back to laughing. I often take my new life for granted, forgetting the fear and violence that held me hostage for years. Every now and then, I'm caught off guard with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and joy. I never knew life could be so good. That life I lived of sex, drugs, and violence seems to have been a few lifetimes ago. It flashes in my mind like I'm remembering a movie or a nightmare, and I can't put all the pieces together. I haven't heard from him. So of course, I'm crawling in my skin with anxiety. Has he finally tried to find us and punish me for leaving? I never could understand how he had so much power over me. I could never understand why he beat me when he said he never would. I couldn't figure out how the hell I could be so stupid until I realized my husband was a pimp. Now, he's putting me to work. Months of beatings and gaslight with loaded guns in my mouth convinced me I had no choice.

I'm looking back at where I came from, amazed I'm still here, while trying to learn from my mistakes and move forward, not wanting to repeat my mistakes while trying not to "regret my past or wish to shut the door on it." When things are quiet and calm inside, I'm walking on eggshells. Can this really be life? Or is this the calm before the storm?

--Colleen Hanson

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