33 I Survived – Jennifer Skeen

Author: Jennifer Skeen, Pima Community College

I survived.mp4 from Jennifer R Skeen on Vimeo.


I survived. Some don’t.Some don’t. Normally when I am speaking to people I open with a joke, break the tension and make sure that they are listening. Domestic Violence or intimate partner violence, whether emotional or physical is nothing to joke about. On average 48.4 % of women and 48.8% of men have experienced psychological aggression in their lifetime. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience physical violence by their partners. So why don’t we talk about this more?

Well, I am going to talk about it.

I was 21 years old and I spent the next five years in hell. It started from the very beginning and lasted past the day I left. It started with little comments on my appearance. Like how my nose was too big, but that’s ok because you have big features. During the years it turned into an environment unfit for anyone to survive in. I will call this person Mack. Mack turned into a very controlling, abusive man. He didn’t allow me to talk to anyone who he decided wanted me, or even those he didn’t deem worthy of his attention. He knew that I would have a hard time having kids, and said that no one would ever want me to have their children anyways. The worst night that happened, wasn’t even the last day I was with him. It started out as a verbal fight. They always did. It soon escalated to him breaking all of my glass figurines, breaking music CDs, and taking a lighter and burning the quilt my grandma made me for my high school graduation. He tried to kill me with diet pills, threw all the food at the bathroom door while I was throwing up what he shoved down my throat. When I wouldn’t come out, he got his gun. I didn’t know if it was going to be me or him that he shot. That night the cops were involved for the only time in those five years. Mack was taken away on a 72-hour psych hold, but when he got out, he promised things would be better. I believed him. Finally, I realized I wouldn’t make it if I stayed. I lost two jobs and countless friends in that period of my life, but some stuck by me, and are still here.

Three years later I ended up married to someone I thought was wonderful.  I can’t believe how wrong I really was. I found out I was pregnant two months into our marriage, and we were living with his parents. It was not a good pregnancy, and I suffered from extreme morning sickness. I dealt with a lot of control from him and his parents. His mother would demand updates on my health, berate me for getting sick when food was cooking and also any parenting choices she didn’t agree with. My ex-husband allowed her to do this, and never stood up for me. I would want to see my friends and he would not let me out of the house, unless he wanted me to come somewhere with him. He would leave for hours in the middle of the night and just let me sit at home, being berated by his mom. My father died during my pregnancy and it devastated me. I was told that I need to get over his death and treat my ex-husbands parents better. After my daughter was born, I told him that either I was leaving with her or we all had to move, I wasn’t going to live like that. We all moved and that’s when I saw that the problem was him. He wouldn’t touch me in any way except to get me pregnant. I would tell him no, and that didn’t stop him. I would beg for a hug, for him to not yell and scream at me and our daughter, but things never got better. I finally left after he tried to rape me one night, while our daughter was sleeping in our room, she was 4.

Since I left that relationship, I have helped myself heal by writing what happened to me, and talking about it. I suffer from anxiety, and also my kids have extreme behavior issues. We are all getting the help that we need to fully cope with what we went through. I am happily remarried to someone who knows, and understands everything me and my children have gone through. I haven’t hidden anything that has happened. I was one of the lucky ones who made it out. When I look at my daughter, I can’t help but think about what she will go through in her life. I hope she doesn’t go through half of what I have gone through, but I hope if she does, she can say the words “I survived”.

19% of domestic violence cases involve some kind of weapon, if that weapon is a gun the chance of it turning into a homicide is 500%. 38% of the women murdered across the globe are committed by their partners. 72% of all murder suicides involve partners. 94% of the victims are women…. How do we justify this?

If you are in a domestic abuse situation, whether physical or verbal know that you are not alone. You can get out and you too can survive. There are steps you can take to get out and recover. Every person’s survival, physical and mental is different. The first thing you have to do is realize that you are in an abusive relationship. You need to realize that your abuser will not change, so you have too. Have a reason, no matter how big or small to get away. Whether it’s for your kids, your dog or even just you. YOU ARE ENOUGH OF A REASON. Reach out to those you love, those friends who you were told didn’t care and know that yes, they do. Reach out to a therapist or a lawyer. They can help you plan an escape. If you fear for your life, the police can help, you can plan an escape for when it is the right time to leave. What matters is that you do. You don’t want to be one of those that doesn’t make it. You want to be able to say “I Survived”.

Not just those that are directly involved with domestic violence are affected. 1 in 15 children are exposed to the violence, and 90% actually witness it. Children can grow up to be abusers themselves, if they witness this as the familiar norm. They also grow up to be victims, if they don’t see a change Do, we want this for our children?

Nearly 20 people a minute are assaulted by their partners. This is more than 10 million people in a single year. You have to realize that not all of these are reported. Victims feel powerless and think that no one can help, or that they themselves don’t deserve help. I know I felt that way. I think it’s time we start talking about domestic violence, to protect all the women, men and children that suffer in silence every day. If they talk, Will you listen? Will you help them be able to say, that they too survived?


“Emotional and Verbal Abuse | Office on Women’s Health.” OASH, 13 Sept. 2018, https://www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety/other-types/emotional-and-verbal-abuse.

Karakurt, Günnur, and Kristin E Silver. “Emotional Abuse in Intimate Relationships: The Role of Gender and Age.” Violence and Victims, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3876290/.

“NCADV: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.” The Nation’s Leading Grassroots Voice on Domestic Violence, https://ncadv.org/STATISTICS.


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