Many of my followers know me as “Jojo”, “The MP”, “The athlete with the spinal cord injury”, “The bikini competitor”, “The Canadian living in America”. I am very much all of those things.
What many of you don’t know, is that I am also a survivor of domestic violence. The past almost 3 years have been sheer hell for me. A huge part of why I did so many back to back shows in 2018-2019 is because it kept me busy and allowed me to mentally escape the chaos. (August 2019)
When I talk about domestic violence I don’t just mean a one time occurance or the everyday basic arguments couples get into. I’m talking police involvement, jail served, Protection orders filed, by the State and by myself, in two different States.
I don’t rattle easy. I am not afraid to protect myself or my kids or the people I love but this situation I was in, scared me to the core. Rattled my soul even. I’ve been gone over 125 days and I’m still terrified. (September 4, 2019)
I used to believe that victims of domestic abuse were so stupid to go back to their abusers. Like how can they be that dumb? They finally have the courage to leave, then they go back? I never understood it.
I am here to tell you that I finally understand it. I would be lying if I told you I never thought of going back. It wasn’t to be a victim again, but to have my things. To be able to provide better financially for my kids, its what I knew, to not feel so out cast or judged. Clearly, my thought process has changed with time. But the first few months gone, I struggled bad with knowing what to do. (September 2019)
Every day, as a victim, you have a choice to stay away and choose to be free another day OR allow the abuser to win and go back. Every day is hard but its better than living in constant fear and control.
Their are so many occurances of Domestic Violence that I experienced but a few stand out. The final straw for me was when we lived in Lafayette, Louisiana and my then husband got upset about something. Not even sure the particulars of this situation. He was always so mad, everyday. I didn’t have to do much of anything to set him off.
When things would get heated, which was a daily occurance I would grab my keys and walk out to my truck and drive away. I spent countless hours upon hours hiding in my truck in random parking lots all over town. This one time he followed me, screaming in my face, spitting on me, and chest butting me the entire way to my truck.
Remember, I just competed in two back to back shows so I am 115 pounds and hes roughly 240 pounds. I got into my truck finally and locked the doors. He was screaming at me through the locked doors begging me to unroll the windows. Which I refused to do. He got more and more irate. I opened driver side window an inch, maybe. He was furious. I had turned on my phone to record him as soon as I got into my truck and I remember him specifically saying to me, “Roll it down (The window) or ill rip the fu#@*n door off and I’ll beat you to death with it” This was the second time hes threatened my life. I was terrified.
I had already had my life threatened once, by this man. This was the last time. After he went to work I went to the Police and reported it. To my surprise the Police laughed, they didn’t care. I knew at that moment, my life was in danger. It wasn’t a matter of “if” but “when” id be killed. My then husband raged all the time and seemed to me to black out and not even know when he snapped.
Did you know that Louisiana is ranked #1 for domestic homicide in the USA? I didn’t. The judge at the court house there told me.
I sent the video to my dad and right then we planned my escape. This assault happened Tuesday April 20, 2019. My dad wired me some money, which I truly believe saved my life. Wednesday, I was able to get new tires on my truck. They had been bald for the entire time I lived in Louisiana. I believe my ex kept it that way to keep me stuck.
I spoke to my kids school in Louisiana and friends in Utah and planned my escape. Yes, escape. You can’t just walk out the door and be free to leave. It doesn’t work that way. It takes many, many steps of careful planning and help to make it all fluid.
We waited until my then husband went to work on night shift, packed what we could into my truck and my daughters car and we drove off into the night. Headed back to Utah where I knew we could be safe. We left 95% of everything we owned. Twenty years of “Things” just left. It didn’t matter any more. We had to be safe.
My relationship was turbulent before we moved to Louisiana so my closer friends knew of the severity of my situation and collectively with just three days notice had a safe place for me and my girls to go to. (February 2020)
To clarify, “Domestic Violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assauly, and/or abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one to intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partners consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.” – NCADV
It has now been just over 9 months since we left; my girls and I. I very much am grateful for being brave enough for leaving that situation. I commend my girls for being so brave and supportive and so resilient.
We ended up being in two basements last year. Two different basements. Sometimes sleeping on the floor, no beds. Sharing kitchens and living spaces. We fianlly got into our own place in October, 5 months after we initially left. We have been rallied around and supported by loving people. Since we left with basically nothing, we have everything in our home that’s been donated and/or given to us.
I have been extremely humbed and grateful for the love and support of everyone around us. I dont talk openly about this. Many of my people dont even know this about me. I’m not sharing this for sympathy. I’m not sharing this for attention. I’m not sharing this to bash my ex. I have no selfish reason to post this. I simply want to reach out to those who feel “stuck” in the same cycle I was in. Domestic Violence IS NOT OKAY! I’m very passionate about this.
I want people to know that you can get out, it does get better, it takes time, sometimes a lot of time, but you can rebuild. Stuff is just that, stuff. You can leave absolutely everything and be okay. Your kids will be okay. Make a plan, if needed. But make sure you and your kids are safe!
If you are a victim or know of a victim of Domestic Violence please call thee Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
Clearly, I have taken a long time to write and rewrite and post this post. Today,, would have marked my ex husband and my 3 year anniversary. So I felt it fitting to finally post about it.