Imagine a mother leaving her two year old daughter in the front yard frightened and lone, only to return years later. In the interim, the child’s Dad, notorious in his own right, becomes the responsible parent. This was the beginning of life for me, Sharon D. Johnson. Needless to say, I grew up fast. I dropped out of school and became a mother at age thirteen.
Fast forward ten years and I was a single mother with three beautiful little girls. But with limited resources and no place to live, I ended up at the home of mother that abandoned me. I was young, homeless with nowhere else to go. One day I went to work and left my girls with my mother, only to return home and find them sitting on the front porch in the cold because she had locked them out of the house. From there I found my way to the local Family Shelter.
Time spent at the shelter had a profound impact on my life. I learned how to survive on my own. I appreciated the safe haven the shelter provided women with children like me.
Fast forward again twenty years to the new mature, successful Sharon D. Johnson; published author, business owner and friend to women in transition. I am founder of YOU TOO, a support group for abused women living in shelters. We meet weekly and discuss topics such ending domestic abuse; moving forward after the breakup and living an independent life.
It wasn’t easy, but I moved on with my life but not without many mistakes and regrets. I know that I am not alone. Many women have outgrown partners or simply refused to take abuse anymore. We have proven that it can be done and we can live to tell the story. We can inspire others to do the same. That’s my story – I would love to hear yours.
Monday night at the shelter was so touching. I really enjoyed sharing my story of abuse with the new ladies in transition. The beauty of it all is the women there related to each other’s situation. They understood there is no shame in what you have been through. You can let your hair down at “YOU TOO” meetings and share your story. When one resident in the meeting took the floor and revealed her abuse and suffering every woman listening felt her pain. I was speechless; just when you think you’ve got it bad someone else has it worse. But it is all under the same dark cloud of abuse.
Seeking professional help was the best remedy for me. It gave me hope and I learned the difference between love and lust. I also learned how to love myself. I accepted the reality that I was powerless to change my abuser; he had to change himself. After meeting with my Mental Health physician weekly I learned how to reach out to people and ask for help. It was ok to talk abut the pain caused by the abuser because I had done nothing wrong. Certainly, I made bad choices in life, but nothing justifies abuse. My abuser always made me feel guilty – he made me the bad guy. He also mentally abused my daughters to the point that I thought they would never overcome such issues.
I have made amends with my three daughters. I let them know I love them and asked for their forgiveness. I have explained and they understand that during that low point in my life I was a very sick woman. I was forced to look back to my childhood again to find out why I was so attracted to an abusive man. If I can understand and overcome that destructive time in my life others can also. It is worth the time, pain and effort to gain a new life with renewed dreams.