Theresa and her husband, Eric, were together for 17 years. He had a progressive disease that eventually impacted his sanity, and he became psychotic. Theresa felt bad for him and did not leave him due to his medical issues. She had made a commitment to him, and she loved him.
Theresa didn’t realize she was being abused until the Verde Valley Sanctuary (VVS) helped her understand the full scope of domestic violence. She experienced emotional abuse and intimidation; verbal abuse; economic abuse; harassment; and malicious social media stalking. Her husband really exposed her personally and tried to turn the community against her. She wasn’t feeling safe, and Eric knew she couldn’t do this any longer. This is Theresa’s story.
“The day I knew I needed to leave Eric he wasn’t acting rational or sane. My friends, including the VVS staff, helped to pack me up and move me out. I felt so supported. After I moved, the harassment and stalking escalated; all hell broke loose! Many people in my community knew about my situation. Eric tried to destroy me, to make me cave in. I remember completing a questionnaire with VVS, and it was then I realized the scale of the abuse. This was my first step to healing.
I worked with the legal advocates at the Legal Advocacy Center to file for a divorce. VVS also paid the court filing fees for me. It was with the help of VVS that I was able to understand that I was being abused. I really didn’t see it because I was so close to it emotionally. When I took a step away from Eric, I could finally understand that this was domestic violence. I was finally able to stand up to him.
I learned how to navigate the court system and how to represent myself in court. The police came to my place numerous times to gather evidence of Eric’s continual harassment and social media stalking. It took two months just to get a protective order. It only took a few months for the divorce to go through. However, it took a whole year to stop the harassment and all the negative social media. There were police checkups nearly every morning; legal paperwork; pushing and pushing to go to court; and collecting all the evidence. It was a lot to go through, but I was determined. It was my time to get strong, to go for it, to not back down.
Throughout this process, I had PTSD which manifested in anxiety attacks. However, the healing process built a lot of strength in me. I healed from my past wounds as well. I did a lot of research, and I took online courses about abuse. The last thing I did was attend an online Tony Robbins course titled “Unleash the Power Within.” It was a life-changing course. There was a lot of deep work and I learned to really let go of everything.
This experience allowed me to help women who have experienced far worse than I have. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. I can pay it forward now too. Today, I am doing great, and I am in a wonderful relationship. I can stand up for myself. I’ve acquired self-love through this healing process. I am not broken. The past is my old story. I live in the present. Life is so good after you get through it all. I don’t know how I could have done this without VVS.”