When is enough, enough? At what point in your relationship do you decide to walk out the door and never look back? What buttons must be pushed for you to walk away from the love of your life? To walk away from the best thing that could ever happen to you?
I am sure you are saying you cannot; you cannot walk away from this person. They have made it nearly impossible to leave because they have manipulated you into believing no one will ever love a person as damaged as you. No one will ever love you as they can.
But can you walk away? When is enough, enough? We all have a breaking point; mine was my daughter.
August 20, 2015, was the day my life changed forever.
I woke up that morning with the motive that I was going to take a pregnancy test. I had been a few days late, and I knew something was different. When I saw the two lines, I felt every emotion, from excited to terrified. I kept the secret to myself the entire day. I wanted to wait and tell him on his birthday, which was the very next day. Looking back at pictures from that day, I beamed with excitement. I laughed and smiled more than typical, and it did not take long for him to suspect I was up to something. A smile alone could set this man off.
That night I tried to cheer him up by taking him to dinner. When we arrived home, I handed him his birthday present. I wrapped the positive pregnancy test in tissue paper inside a bag that read, “Happy Birthday.” I was terrified and shaking because I had no idea how he was going to react. After pulling out the pregnancy test, he looked up at me and said, “I promise, this changes everything.”
I suffered from extreme morning sickness for the first 18 weeks of my pregnancy, and I had trouble keeping anything down. Often, my boyfriend blamed me for making myself sick. Even if I mentioned being nauseous, he would get angry. I would have welcomed any ounce of compassion, but he was anything but compassionate.
I finally found relief from the morning sickness during my second trimester, but depression shortly replaced the nausea. My boyfriend had lost his job, and my company was in the middle of a merger that any day could have left me jobless. He spent his days of unemployment getting high, and he had zero ambition to find work to help me support our growing family.
My patience started running thin, and I was starting to realize the precious baby growing inside me deserved so much more. Just like always, he convinced me to stay and that our love was enough. (But did I know what love was?)
At 23 weeks pregnant, he put me through a night of torture. He was cold-hearted, and he did everything in his power to deprive me of rest. The next morning, his pettiness continued. He shut off the power while I was in the shower, disabled the garage door, poured cologne over every inch of my closet, and the list goes on. Later that day, he made threats to kill himself. At that moment, he officially pushed the wrong buttons. I threw my hands in the air and decided I wanted out. Enough was enough. That day I decided I wanted to spend my energy giving my unborn baby a healthy environment in which to grow. After 23 weeks of finger-pointing, lack of support, and walking around on eggshells, I decided to leave the father of my unborn child.
The most dangerous period in an abusive relationship is when the victim leaves.
I never allowed myself to believe I was in an abusive relationship. I made countless excuses: he is not a morning person, he is under a lot of stress, I said the wrong thing, maybe I am overreacting. If someone would have told me the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is when the victim leaves, would I have taken extreme caution? He had never laid a hand on me or verbally threatened my life. I thought abuse left bruises, not just tear-stained pillows.
Thirty-three weeks into my pregnancy, the father of my unborn child broke into my home, hid in my garage, and physically assaulted me until I was unrecognizable. He left me for dead, lying alone, unconscious, on the cold garage floor. He was the same man who assured me everything would change after he saw the positive pregnancy test. He promised to love me for a lifetime, but when I could no longer love him in return, he chose to take my life into his own hands.
I thought I knew this man; I honestly believed he would never physically hurt me. I was wrong. Later, I learned his sole intention in the attack was to murder our unborn child. Since the day of the attack, he has been convicted of Felony Murder, and the judge spared no mercy when she sentenced him to two consecutive life sentences in prison.
On March 15, 2016, my daughter, Ella Ann, was taken from me by a man who decided to play god. When I decided to leave my abuser, it was because I wanted to give Ella a better life. I wanted her to grow up in a home full of unconditional love, not a home full of broken promises and short tempers. It brings me comfort knowing the first thing Ella saw when she opened her eyes was the face of Jesus.
It has taken countless hours of therapy, talks with Jesus, and resources like the YWCA to learn how to live loved after abuse. I am grateful I can advocate against domestic violence and educate others on the warning signs. Every life I make an impact on is because of Ella. Her life was not taken in vain. Through her death, lives will be saved.
If you need help escaping an abusive relationship, the YWCA of Central Alabama is a local resource that offers safety to victims of domestic violence.
Jessica Jackson Burgess is a bereaved mother to Ella Ann, who was born sleeping over four years ago, and she is a survivor of domestic abuse. She lives in Locust Fork, Alabama with her husband Garry, 5-year-old step-son Wyatt, and their beautiful daughter Tyler Ann, who is 19 months old. Jessica and Garry currently are expecting their little caboose, Thomas, who is scheduled to arrive this November. Jessica studied finance at The University of Montevallo, where she graduated at the top of her class. For the past nine years, she has been working for an international brokerage firm. She is a lighthearted, energetic, transparent individual who is on a journey to find joy and peace despite her transgressions and suffering.