My name is Cynthia and I grew up with a loving family in what you might call a “normal” home. In January 2009, I was focused on finding a loving, healthy relationship, like the one my parents shared. I was going to be 50 that June and I signed onto a Christian Dating website in hopes of meeting a respectful, faithful man.
The man I eventually became engaged to was charming; Clyde told me he was active in his church and a widower with four grown kids and grandchildren. He said he had graduated from the University of Tennessee and played football before joining the army. He told me about recent promotions and raises at his job at a bank and he took me to see the townhouse we would share after we married. We talked about the grief he experienced after his wife died from cancer and how he did not think he would ever find love again. In the months we spent together, I wanted him to know that love was still possible and that I wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.
All of this was more than I could ever imagine. My dreams of finding love had come true. Except that virtually nothing Clyde told me was real. My work as a health care provider sometimes required me to work 24-hour shifts and I was not inclined to check up on Clyde in any case. I was first concerned when he offered to handle some construction work for my Mother and did not do the work or return her money. Then he offered to invest my daughter’s tax refund. I realized that he stole from both of them.
In February 2010, the physical violence in our relationship escalated very quickly. He realized that I knew about the missing money and his other lies began to unravel, as well. He threatened me with a gun, forcing me to do only as he wished. He isolated me from my family, threatening to hurt them if I made contact or talked about the violence.
Mixed in with the physical abuse, extreme isolation and mental anguish, Clyde would tell me that he loved me. The next minute he would again threaten me or my family. I wanted to die to escape from this cycle of abuse. I was able to escape when Clyde got sick and I took him to the hospital. As soon as I was out of his presence, I called the police and told them what I had experienced. I was able to walk out of the hospital and not look back.
I arrived at the YWCA Weaver Domestic Violence shelter at 8pm on a rainy night. After my intake, the counselors provided me with towels and toiletries to take a shower. I had a bed, clean sheets and a place where I felt safe. While at the Shelter, I learned more about domestic violence and I worked with a case manager and received therapy. I got help with aspects of everyday living; I made friends. Without the YWCA, I would not be where I am today. I am a success because of the YWCA. They provided me with shelter and the tools I needed to get my life back on track.
I am very grateful that the YWCA is there for victims of domestic violence. Without them, I would not be here today. I will never forget my experience with domestic violence. It has made me a wiser and stronger person. If I can give back and help make a difference, then my journey has been worth it. I want to help reach out and let people know that there is a place that they can turn to: all they have to do is make that first call to the YWCA Crisis Line. Perhaps it will help them be safe and it may change their life, as it did mine.