Mini Episode 2: Survived & Thrived Stories, Alyssa’s Escape
Mini Episode 2: Survived & Thrived Stories, Alyssa’s Escape
In this unique episode of Survived & Thrived Stories, Alyssa breaks her silence about escaping from an abusive relationship. Almost 8 years to the day after her escape, Alyssa opens up about how she came to know and love a man who hurt her in unimaginable ways.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE
Alyssa Scolari [00:23]:
Hi friends. How are we doing? Welcome to episode number two of the mini series, Survived and Thrived stories. I apologize that it has taken so long to come out with the second episode. There’s been a lot going on, as you all know, I just moved to a new state. So things have been a little hectic. We were in the process of like selling our old house and decorating our new one. And it’s just been a lot. So, thank you so much for your patience. I know that the first one was really popular. A lot of you reached out and a lot of you really were grateful that I started a series like this where you can write in and share however much or however little of your trauma journey and recovery journey as you want.
As for myself, I think we’re going to do this episode a little bit differently today. For those who have written in, I am going to get to your story, absolutely. But I also know that I have been promising that I would create a podcast episode where I would share a little bit more about my journey of recovering and escaping from my abusive relationship. On July 14th. I shared on my social media that it had been eight years since I left. And I got a lot of messages asking if I could share more or people telling me that it was really helpful to hear that I was in an abusive relationship. So I thought I would create a podcast episode where I talk more about it. Not necessarily in such detail, because I do want to be mindful. This is a very triggering subject.
So just a trigger warning, we are talking about domestic violence. We are talking about an abusive relationship, and I’m going to share a little bit more about what that process was like for me in as much time as I can. I think I could talk for days, but I will try to condense it. So this is really going to be my own story, my own survived and thrived story. So essentially, I’m writing into myself for second episode. And then in the third episode, I promise you, I will get back to the letters. Again, I know I’ve taken a long break as the first one launched in May and it is now July, but thank you so much for your patience and understanding.
I feel nervous about this, actually. Excited, but a little nervous because one of the first things that people had said when I shared that it was eight years since I left his house, was that, “Oh, I have no idea”. And I think there’s a reason for that, it’s because I did my best to keep it hidden. I think aside from my family members and my husband, I only have one person in my life who really knows what it was like to be with him. She saw me through the process and that’s one of my best friends, Irvashee, who was also on the podcast, I think episode 27, I think, where we talk about cultural whiplash. So she helped save my life. I will say no more, no less, because that’s pretty much exactly what happened. So if we take it back eight and a half years ago, actually even more than that, right? Let’s take it back to like 15 years ago, because that is when I first met this guy. He was/is significantly older than me and I met him and was just enamored.
So it was a little weird because as much as I liked him back then, it was literally illegal to be in a relationship with him. So we just stayed friends. And I had a feeling that he liked me, but lots of things that like made me feel like he liked me. He would pick me up in the middle of the night and I would sneak out of the house and looking back now, I’m like, oh, that is so creepy. But I was a kid, I was a teenager. And I truly thought that I was head over heels in love with this older guy who’s paying attention to me. So fast-forward, I guess maybe five-ish years, five or six years, and then we started dating. I was an adult. He was still significantly older than me. And there was a lot that happened that I won’t go into, we were on again off again. And there were certainly red flags in the beginning of the relationship.
He would tell me he wanted to hang out with me. I was in college. So I would come home from college and he would tell me that he wanted to hang out with me Friday, Saturday, Sunday don’t make any plans. So I wouldn’t because I was young, dumb and in love. And he would tell me we were going to hang out and then he would come pick me up. Friday night would come and I would maybe get a text from him around like 8:30, nine o’clock. And he would be like, “Oh, I decided to go out with my friends instead”. And then I would sit at home alone, “But I’ll see you tomorrow”. Saturday would come. I would be waiting for him to pick me up. Same thing. “Oh, sorry. My other friend needed me”. Okay.
I spent so many weekends on my couch sobbing because he told me he would come get me, come pick me up, we would hang out, told me not to make plans so I wouldn’t make plans with anybody. And then he would just not come get me. And I didn’t realize this back then, but looking back on it now, I see that’s part of his grooming process. It’s part of what he does. It’s part of how he isolated me. I ended up not talking to any of my friends, not seeing my family. And he would say all the things I wanted to hear, but then would choose his friends if a better opportunity came up, but I would be sitting by myself at home on the weekends.
So time went by and we got closer and closer. And then something happened in my home. Things were tough back then, and I was really desperately seeking a way out. And I was in a lot of pain. I was really hurting. I was looking for somebody who would listen to me, believe me, hold me, tell me that everything was going to be okay. And he was exactly that. He knew I was hurting. He knew what was happening. And he told me that I should move in with him. And at 21 years old, I thought that that was the best idea ever, because I’d get to escape from all of the terrible things that are going on in my life and I get to move in with this guy that I thought loved me. So I moved in and I didn’t tell anybody. I told people that I was still living at college. I was living a double life. I was going to school full-time. I was telling my family I was staying at school. I was telling my friends that I was staying at home because I had people that I lived with.
I had six people that I lived with. And that’s how it went. And things really started to change maybe a month or so after I moved in. It definitely wasn’t all fun and games. My mental health started to really deteriorate because of the manipulation that I was experiencing. The, I want you, and I want to keep you close, but I also want to keep you hidden. So we’re not going to tell anybody that we’re together and we’re not going to tell anybody about this and we’re going to hang out during the week, but I’m going to go out by myself on the weekends. And you’re not really allowed to go anywhere. At one point, I had my keys and my phone and … Well, not my phone, but my cell phone charger taken away from me so that I couldn’t charge my phone. I had a tracker on my phone and it happened fast. I don’t even have a timeline for it really because one minute I was like, oh, yay. I’m moving in with this guy. And the next minute, all of my privileges were gone.
And he manipulated me into wanting certain things and thinking a certain way about those around me. He manipulated me into feeling like nobody else in the world loved me and supported me. And he made me feel like I was just better off as a secret than as anyone else of importance. And I went with it because I felt like even though this might not be the perfect love, any love is better than no love, right? Wrong, spoiler alert, very, very, very wrong. But that’s how I felt at the time. I was desperate to be heard and seen and loved. So I waited. I waited for him to come home at the end of the day. I couldn’t wait to talk to him.
Sometimes he would give me the time of day and sometimes he could not be bothered with me. And all of that psychological manipulation and abuse caused me to further deteriorate. I began self-harming, which scared him. And I became angry, very angry. And he also didn’t like that. I was more to be seen and not heard. And he really made me feel that I was broken and there was something wrong with me for having the feelings that I had. At one point, I tried to get away in the middle of the night. And I remember that he ended up literally falling asleep on top of me so that I could not leave without him knowing. I couldn’t even get up to go to the bathroom.
And it went on like this for months and it got worse and it got worse and worse. My mental health got worse. My self-harm got worse. And eventually, I started to fight back and I started to question things and talk back to him. And he hated that. And he got so sick of me. He got sick of me really fast. And eventually, my family found out where I was staying and they tried to get me home. I wouldn’t come home. I couldn’t really pick up the phone. I couldn’t answer the phone. Didn’t have my phone most of the time. And even if I did, I wouldn’t have picked up because even though I hated where I was, I didn’t want to go home. And for reasons that truly are not for this podcast, but I wasn’t going home.
My family told my friends, my friends found out, and my friends completely disowned me. They, I believe at one point actually told me I was crazy. They had an intervention with me and they did their best. They were working with the tools that they had at the time, but they essentially shut me out. And pretty much kicked me out and friends that I had gone to high school with, friends that I had known since middle school, people that I had known for years, totally iced me out. Right? Which is something that doesn’t get talked enough about, is this idea that when you’re in an abusive relationship, the people around you lose patience with you, they ice you out, they shut you out because they’re like, “I’m sick of telling you, this guy is bad for you” or “You’re crazy”, or “You’re unhinged for being with somebody like this”.
And people just go away. People don’t step in and say, “What do you need?” Instead, people get mad, like I did something personally to them by being in this type of relationship. And they were so offended that I lied to them and should I have lied? No, absolutely not. But I did what I had to do in that moment to survive. And sadly, they felt that me lying to them was just unforgivable and I get it. It happens. So we don’t talk anymore. So I lost my friends, lost a lot of my family at the time and was very, very isolated. And I had people calling me, leaving me messages, telling me I needed to come home. And I just couldn’t. I got to a place where I was so stuck. I didn’t want to stay with him, but I couldn’t leave. I literally couldn’t leave.
When I tried to leave, I got a lecture about how the world is a dangerous place and I will never be able to make it out there. In fact, I wasn’t even allowed to drive to my classes. At one point, he started driving me to my classes. So a lot took place over the course of six months. I was traumatized in ways that truthfully, I still can’t really talk about. Things happened that I’m still not comfortable sharing. Some of those things include physical altercations. I was hurt pretty badly, nothing permanent, but still physical altercations. And just a loss of privileges that every human should have and a loss of autonomy over my own body. So I didn’t get to choose whether or not we were together, whether or not we were intimate, it was his choice. And if it was his choice, then I wasn’t allowed to talk about it. I wasn’t allowed to speak about it with anybody. I had to keep that to myself.
It was really hard and it left a ripple effect on my life that I don’t have words for. I got out and I talk a little bit about how I got out in the blog post that I recently wrote that you can find on lightaftertrauma.com. It’s titled, I Escaped With My Life because I truly did. The day that I left, I still don’t really know why he let me go. I think that he was so sick of my crap. So sick of me needing to go to a crisis center because I felt really suicidal. So sick of the self-harm, just so sick of feeling like he had to take care of me because I had deteriorated so quickly that he just was over it and I was able to escape. And I can’t say that I never looked back because just because I knew I had to leave didn’t mean that I didn’t love him anymore because truthfully I did, I really did.
And I share that because I think that a lot of people feel a lot of shame about this. Even though people have abused us, we can still love them. Yes, that is very common. That happens a lot. And that was the case with me. It took me a long time to fall out of love, to even figure out what had happened. I didn’t even start realizing that it was trauma until I was about six, maybe five or six years after it happened. For the first five years, I told myself that it was my fault. I told myself that I was the one who was the bad person. I somehow on my head and made it all my fault, my responsibility, and carried immense guilt, wherever I went. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I really am able to see the situation for what it was. And it’s not until now that I’m able to share some parts of it. You got a very brief description of what was months and months of brutality.
But what I want you to know, is that I got out and you can get out too, if you’re in this situation or if you were in the situation and you got out, I want you to celebrate because so many of us don’t celebrate. I got out and just felt terrible about myself. But the thing is, that some people don’t ever get out. Some people don’t make it out with their lives. And like I said in the blog post, there’s no way of telling which of us will get out with our lives and which of us won’t. And there’s nothing special about me that caused me to get out. I’m not so strong because I got out. I just did. I just got lucky, I guess I don’t really know, but I know I got out and I know that with the years left that I have to live, I’ve made a very, very intentional decision to speak out about things like this and to help other people and to be who I needed back then, because I think I would have done a lot better if I had somebody like me back then.
So if you’ve been there, if you’re in it, if you’re afraid you might be getting into it, know that you’re supported, know that there’s a home for you in this podcast, in this space. Know that I really do understand and know that you can get out. It’s scary and it’s dangerous and it’s not something you should ever do on your own. There are so many resources out there for you. I’ve had Forever Your Overwatch, who I think is now Safe Way NJ, on the podcast episode and they are the podcast and we did a whole episode about how they have a program, a nonprofit program, that is helping survivors of domestic violence to get out of their situation safely.
There are lots of non-profit organizations that help. There’s also the domestic violence hotline. For those of you that may need it, I am just going to list that number here, which is it is 1-800-799-SAFE. Again, that’s 1-800-799-7233. Or you can text “start” to 88788. That is the National Domestic Violence Hotline. I do believe that is only in the United States, but please don’t quote me on that.
So if that is needed, please call. I wish that I had known about hotlines like this. I didn’t even know at the time that what I was in was domestic violence. I didn’t know that it was abusive, but I’m here now. And I’m so grateful for this podcast. And I am so grateful to be sharing my story. Every year around this time, it always hits me pretty hard and I get pretty depressed and I have flashbacks. And this year, I think was the hardest. And I think it’s because something shifted within me that told me that it’s time to share my story, which is why I’m here today, talking about this, shedding light on this. And that’s it, really. This isn’t a podcast episode where I’ve got 10 great tips for getting out. This is just me sharing my story because it feels like it’s time.
And I know I’m not alone. I know I’m not the only one. I have worked my rear end off to be in therapy, to look at the reasons why I ended up in that relationship in the first place, not to say that it was my fault because I did not ask for what happened. It was not my fault and it’s not your fault. But I was able to really reflect on reasons why I ended up with him and why I was so attracted to him. And therapy was really helpful for that. And fast forward eight years later, I am with somebody who is truly the kindest man I’ve ever met. And I say that even if he wasn’t my husband, I would say that because he is so safe and I feel lucky, but at the same time, I also know how hard I have fought to be able to have somebody like him in my life.
So I want you all to know it’s possible. And I want you all to know how much you are loved. And if you have listened to this far, I want to thank you for tuning in. This is going to be a wrap on episode two of the mini series, Survived and Thrived. I am done talking for now, but I will be back with more solo episodes because I like this. I like chatting. It feels like I’m talking to some of my closest friends. So thank you again for your love and your support. If you haven’t done so already, please subscribe and leave a rating for the podcast. If you can leave a review, that would be fantastic. But if not, please leave a rating. I would very much appreciate that. Also, head over to lightaftertrauma.com for additional episodes, if you are looking and if you would like to in your story, because we are still doing the Survived and Thrived stories.
As I said earlier, this is just a little bit of a different take where I am getting to share one of my stories. So I will be reading more of your letters. I’ve got them in my inbox. Please write into firstname.lastname@example.org. This doesn’t have to be somebody who has it all figured out because let’s be honest, that’s unrealistic. Recovery is a lifelong journey. So if you feel compelled to write in and share where you’re at in your journey, I would love to hear from you. And it would be so helpful for everyone else as well. So I look forward to hearing from you and to connecting. Have a wonderful day. I am holding you all in the light.
Thanks for listening everyone. For more information, please head over to lightaftertrauma.com or you can also follow us on social media. On Instagram, we are @lightaftertrauma and on Twitter, it is @lightafterpod. Lastly, please head over to at patrion.com/lightaftertrauma to support our show. We are asking for $5 a month, which is the equivalent to a cup of coffee at Starbucks. So please head on over. Again, that’s patrion.com/lightaftertrauma. Thank you and we appreciate your support.