I’m putting this guest post under “Other Healthy Tipping Point” stories because being healthy is a lot more than whole wheat bread and cardio.  Mental and emotional health are so valuable, and I wanted to share Michele’s story in case there are others out there who need to hear this message.  Love shouldn’t hurt!


Michelle wrote, “If you read nothing more, please believe this: the person you love shouldn’t hurt you. Not with his/her words, actions, or silence. You deserve to live your life on this earth feeling safe, loved, and respected, especially by the person who holds your heart. 


October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Caitlin has been so gracious to allow me to share my story with you all. As you may have guessed, I am a survivor of Domestic Violence. Not too long ago, the man I loved more than anything was physically abusive with me and I decided to leave the relationship for my own safety and well-being. Even before the physical abuse started, he was angry, controlling and jealous. He censored the people I spoke with, the places I went, and the things I read on the internet, including my beloved healthy living blogs! He accused me of awful things, calling me names I wouldn’t call my enemy and made me feel worthless in every single way. He had complete control over me. If he was happy, I was flying high. If he was angry, I walked on eggshells scared that the tiniest and insignificant thing could send him into a rage.  


What kind of woman was I to put up with that?  


Before I met him, I was going to college on a full-ride scholarship and had just returned from a year spent studying abroad in Ecuador and interning in Washington DC. I was planning to go to law school and felt like the entire world was my oyster.  


Trust me, there’s no “type” for domestic violence.  


One in four women in the United States will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Almost four million people in the United States every year are physically abused by their partner. Domestic violence goes beyond physical abuse: it can also be sexual, emotional, economic, mental, and verbal.  


The statistics are staggering, but we can all do something. First, if you are a victim, please get help. You can contact your local woman’s shelter or the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. I understand that it may seem impossible, but your life will get better if you leave. Healing yourself is not easy, but it is worth it. Every day I wake up thankful to be alive and living my life on my own terms. I am happier on my own than I ever was in my relationship, even during the good times. 


If you’re not a victim, there’s at least a 25% chance you know one. In love, encourage your friend or family member to seek help and be there for her/him every step of the way. You can also volunteer at a local shelter or even donate household items or clothing for women restarting their lives. 


Real love doesn’t hurt. Love doesn’t require you to sacrifice yourself or your basic safety for another person. There is no exception to this truth. Please look at yourself in the mirror and promise yourself that you’ll settle for nothing less than the real deal. I know I won’t ever again. 


Michelle is currently rebuilding her life after leaving an abusive marriage. She works in Marketing and is applying to law school. Her goal is that no woman will stay in an abusive relationship for fear of losing her children, home, or life. In the meantime, she’s started a brand-new healthy living blog, a Whole lot of Life. Feel free to contact her at awholelotoflife@gmail.com.


Like this story? Check out other Healthy Tipping Points:


  • Cynthia:  Healthy is More than Size / Dealing with IBS
  • Erica:  Positive Thinking in Real Life
  • Ben: A 120 Pound Journey to an Ironman
  • Erin: Young, Strong, and Beating Distorted Thinking
  • Tina:  Two Pink Lines Motivated Her to Get Healthy
  • Bo: A Man’s Healthy Tipping Point Journey
  • Emily:  A Slow Switch Helped Her Lose Nearly 100 Pounds 
  • Kayla:  The Fear of Going Blind Motivated Her to Get Healthy 
  • Maria:  A Gallbladder Stone Scare Showed Her The Importance of Real Food
  • Dani:  Learning to Run Through the Couch to 5K Program
  • Maissa:  Finding a New Outlet for Negative Emotions
  • Freya:  A Journey Out of Anorexia
  • Carrie:  Ditched Distorted Thinking and Ran a Marathon
  • Amy:  A Mom Who Lost Baby Weight and Became a Triathlete
  • Jenny:  Saw Lance Armstrong on Oprah and Decided to Ride a Century
  • Lauren:  Stays Active Despite Being a Busy Associate at a Financial Firm
  • Beth:  A Friend’s Serious Illness Inspired Her to Focus on Her Own Health


  • megan @ whatmegansmaking October 19, 2010, 8:34 am

    Wow, what a story. Thank you for this reminder and I hope that it is able to help somebody who needs to hear it!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat October 19, 2010, 8:37 am

    Wow, this is a great story. Congrats Michele, and thanks so much for sharing!

  • Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine October 19, 2010, 8:38 am

    Thank you, Michelle, for sharing your story!! I feel like domestic violence is something very few people actually talk about, but like you said, it affects far more people than we know. Way to be strong 🙂

  • Estela @ Weekly Bite October 19, 2010, 8:43 am

    What a fabulous story! Thanks for sharing Michelle!

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman October 19, 2010, 8:45 am

    Thanks so much for sharing this. It’s not often we’re reminded about domestic violence but it’s so important. You’re doing great things getting the word out.

  • Jenn @ LiveWellFitNow October 19, 2010, 8:45 am

    A very inspiring story. And so true- health is not just about cardio + whole grains. It’s about every aspect of health. I think sometimes we can easily forget that. 🙂 Thank you for sharing Michelle.

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday October 19, 2010, 8:49 am

    You are so strong for being able to leave the abusive relationship you were in. I’m glad you are sharing this message with other young women who may be in the same situation.

    I was really shocked to read that 25% of women will experience domestic violence. VERY shocked.

    • Kate @ Spoonful of Vigor October 19, 2010, 11:50 am

      That number is likely higher as it’s based on reported domestic violence, and so much of it goes unreported.

  • Wei-Wei October 19, 2010, 8:55 am

    That’s so amazing – and I think what you said about healthy living not being just about whole wheat bread and cardio is just too, too, true. You’re beautiful, Michelle, and you’re so, so strong. I really hope you do know that.

  • Holly @ couchpotatoathlete October 19, 2010, 9:00 am

    Michelle-Thank you for sharing your story. You are very brave and strong for what you did.

    The 1 in 4 stat is very scary — I had no idea it was that high.

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) October 19, 2010, 9:01 am

    Oh my gosh, that is horrible, but I am so happy that she is working on rebuilding herself again! I think everyone deserves to be with the kind of man I am with. I wish her so much love and happiness!

  • Christie {Honoring Health} October 19, 2010, 9:01 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is really scary how many women suffer from abuse by the men they love and trust. Good for you for getting out of that relationship and sharing your story with others.

  • Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards) October 19, 2010, 9:04 am

    amazing story and one that every woman should here. thank you so much for sharing.

  • Kelly October 19, 2010, 9:04 am

    Good for her for recognizing she needed to be treated better, and got out of a harmful situation. I wish Michelle the best of luck!

  • lisasfoods October 19, 2010, 9:05 am

    This story gave me chills. It’s so horrible that domestic violence still occurs, but certainly giving women the confidence and education to leave abusive relationships is vitally important.

    Thank you Michele and Caitlin.

  • Claire (Low Impact Fashionista) October 19, 2010, 9:21 am

    I love your quote that “being healthy is a lot more that whole wheat bread and cardio” so true. Thank you for this story, it makes me so sad that this occurs, but hopeful for a brighter future.

  • Laurie October 19, 2010, 9:36 am

    Very powerful. Thank you, Caitlin and Michele.

  • Ramona October 19, 2010, 9:37 am

    Thanks for sharing your story, Michelle! While it makes me sad to read what you went through, I’m so happy that you were able to get out of that situation. 🙂
    Caitlin, thank you for providing a forum for this and other stories that educate us on being truly healthy. This is such a refreshing reminder and helps me to see the bigger picture of health.

  • Camille October 19, 2010, 9:40 am

    I like that you chose the tackle this subject. This is something that so many women should know!

  • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance....after a 100+ Pound weight loss!!! October 19, 2010, 9:49 am

    Thank you for sharing Michele’s story with us Catilin!

    I too am a survivor of Domestic Violence! 8 Years & Counting Now! It was the most difficult time in my life and took years to recover emotionally and physically (gained 80+ pounds after I left my spouse).

    Many women think it will never happen to them, just as I did, however it did happen to me (something that is still hard for me to believe today) and I am very sad to say that my situation got so bad that I feared for my life and had to run away in the middle of the night!

    I will never forget what happened to me as the damage will always be there but in time and with the support of my family, friends and now current husband of 4 years I found the strength to survive and find happiness once again in my life.

    I feel many people that have not been in similar situations just do not understand that no one chooses for this to happen to them and when it does you are almost in a state of shock and disbelief and sometimes stay longer than you should have because you believe it will stop (or hope it will) or have been so controlled into believing that it is your fault and not theirs that you stay………….I hate to admit that I was controlled into that thinking but I was……….unfortunately I was very young at the time and also very naive but luckily I escaped and am here today and even my “innocence” was robbed from me I am happy to say I am a much stronger women now and appreciate life so much more than before!

    • Caitlin October 19, 2010, 9:58 am

      you rock. keep doing what you do!!!

  • HTP Dad October 19, 2010, 9:51 am

    Good for you, Michele. Best of luck in everything you try.
    Everyone else, if some one is a little off in the first month – that’s when they’re TRYING. If there are problems right off the bat, cut your losses and run. You deserve better.

  • kyla October 19, 2010, 9:56 am

    What a wonderfully brave woman you are Michele. Thank you for showing us your strength and courage.

  • Therese October 19, 2010, 10:01 am

    I really appreciate this story, especially pinpointing that abuse isn’t just physical.

    My own brother has been having a lot of issues since his wife left him three years ago and since then he has turned into a completely different person and has started to emotionally and verbally abuse my entire family. Sadly, because emotional and verbal abuse is such a tricky topic, it’s only been in the last few weeks that my family has truly realized what he’s been doing and we all collectively removed ourselves from his life until such time as he gets help. It was probably the hardest decision we’ve ever made but it had to be done.

  • Dorry October 19, 2010, 10:01 am

    Thank you for sharing your story – truly inspirational!

  • Deanna@milestorun October 19, 2010, 10:02 am

    Thanks for sharing. I passed this along to someone I think needs to know she’s not alone.

  • Vicky @ eat live spin October 19, 2010, 10:02 am

    Inspiring post.

  • ally October 19, 2010, 10:05 am

    Thank you so much Michele for sharing your story, and thank you Caitlin for posting it! I’m also a survivor of domestic violence and I know it’s not something that is easy to share with others. I think it’s important to share those stories though, people think that it won’t happen to them, they blame the victim for staying… it’s something that’s hard to understand until you are actually in that situation.

    • Michelle October 19, 2010, 11:41 am

      Ally, it really is tough to share your story. Sometimes I think that people believe that something I did caused the abuse. Perhaps I was emotionally unstable or abusive myself, which caused him to do what he did. I’ve done a lot of soul-searching and I know that nothing I did caused him to abuse me emotionally or physically. Nothing anyone does in a relationship deserves abuse…on either side.

      Our challenge as survivors is to break the silence surrounding the issue. There’s no shame to it. By sharing our story, we are helping people understand that where there’s life, there’s hope. By transcending what happened to us, we can help people believe the same is possible for them. Thanks for sharing, Ally. 🙂

    • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance....after a 100+ Pound weight loss!!! October 19, 2010, 12:52 pm

      Ally, I totally agree and that is why only the closest to me (and now the blog world) know about what happened to me and only a FEW know all the “horrible details” of what was actually done as it is embarrassing to admit it all because so many people do not understand unless they have been in a similiar situation themsleves!


      Thank you for sharing! =)

      • ally October 19, 2010, 3:43 pm

        You ladies are totally right, there shouldn’t be any shame in talking about it, and especially because it may help someone else who is currently dealing with abuse. It also helps to get rid of the stigma that can be placed on abuse victims. Too many times I hear people say “that would never happen to me, I would walk away the second he hit me”… and maybe they would, but in my experience, it’s an escalation, it’s not just violence out of nowhere. It may start with yelling (hey, all couples fight right?), then maybe a shove (he was really mad, and I was standing in his way… he didn’t mean to push me) and then eventually the line between right and wrong has been so blurred that you don’t even remember where you started from, or how you got to where you are now. It doesn’t happen over night, and throughout all of this your in a relationship that can be very loving which makes it all the more difficult to see how abusive it is.
        Sorry about the long comment, but I’m so happy to see this discussion taking place!

        • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance...after a 100+ Pound Weight Loss! October 20, 2010, 11:18 am

          Great Comment, Ally! Totall agree, it does usually happen over time and starts out with small things…..like in my case “jeolousy”, he would get upset if I hugged his friend goodbye and would excuse me of wanting to sleep with him after we left which was a total shock to me as I was like ummm you were right there and it was a friendly hug, what the heck…….then it got worse and worse over time (months and years) and became verbally, emotional, physically and sexually abusive over that time…..always in little thingss here and there after after months of good times……eventually I realized I wasn’t at fault and had to leave but that took almost a year to do as at first I tried to do it nicely but he wouldn’t let me go so eventually I was left with no choice but to flee in the middle of the night!

          I would like to say I was strong when I did it but the truth is FEAR drove me, which I know is common in cases such as these, luckily for me I got out before something really bad happened………SO I SAY TO ANY GIRL/WOMEN IN A SITUATION SUCH AS MINE YOU CAN DO IT, YOU CAN LEAVE, I PROMISE YOU THAT YOU CAN, believe me if I could you can as I was in total fear of my ex at the time and in fact for years after but eventually that FEAR lead to STRENGTH and I finally left him and after stood up to him and moved on with my life!


  • michelle October 19, 2010, 10:08 am

    Thank you to all of you!!!

    I’m glad my story spoke to you all and brought the issue of Domestic Violence to your attention. It’s an honor to share with all of you and I thank you for your support!

    • Amber K October 19, 2010, 10:29 am

      Thank you so much for sharing your story! It gets the message out there that this is not okay. I grew up in a home with domestic violence and that experience can still affect me sometimes today.

      • Michelle October 19, 2010, 11:43 am

        Domestic violence is a traumatic experience, especially as a child. I grew up around it myself and I know that had a lot to do with the reason I accepted it for so long.

        Conversely, I made a promise to myself as a child that if someone abused me I would leave. Remembering that promise to myself helped me get out. I figured, if I couldn’t keep a promise to my own self, then what?

        We can use our past to help us grow or allow it to hold us back. So happy to hear that you’re doing the former 🙂

  • Laura October 19, 2010, 10:11 am

    Thanks for posting a story about domestic violence, Caitlin! I used to volunteer with the Partnership Against Domestic Violence (PADV) in Atlanta, GA and wanted to provide a little information to complement Michele’s link to the National Domestic Violence hotline. If you (or someone you know) is in a domestic violence situation it can be to your advantage to have a safety plan.

    Here are some tips off the PADV website if you are still with your partner:

    1. Think of a safe place to go if there is an argument—avoid rooms with no exit (bathroom), or rooms with weapons (kitchen).

    2. Think about and make a list of safe people to contact.

    3. Keep money with you at all times.

    4. Memorize all important telephone numbers.

    5. Establish a code word or sign so that family, friends, neighbors, teachers or coworkers know when to call for help.

    6. Keep important papers with you such as social security cards, birth certificates, etc…

    7. Don’t try to argue or reason with your partner. You can’t change your partner’s behavior.

    8. Protect your face with your hands and arms, if your partner hits you. If knocked down, curl up in a ball protecting your head, face and stomach.

    9. Back the car in the driveway and keep it filled with gas. Keep the driver’s door unlocked.

    10. Call a crisis line for help in making your personal safety plan.

    11. Keep your cell phone fully charged.

    Here are some safety planning tips if you have left your partner:
    1. Change your phone number.

    2. Screen your phone calls.

    3. Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving the batterer.

    4. Change locks, if the batterer has a key.

    5. Avoid staying home alone.

    6. Plan how to get away if your batterer shows up.

    7. If you have to meet your former partner, do it in a public place.

    8. Notify school, work and childcare contacts that you have left your abusive partner.

    9. Vary your routine.

    • Michelle October 19, 2010, 11:22 am

      Thanks for sharing more information, Laura! This is one of the first things I learned in my support groups and is so very important. Women are actually in more risk of physical harm immediately after they leave the situation. Thanks so much for putting this information out there.

    • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance....after a 100+ Pound weight loss!!! October 19, 2010, 12:54 pm

      GREAT PLAN LAURA!!! I had to follow many of those and they worked as I was terrified of what whould happen after I left my ex, luckily nothing did but the threats were always present! =(

  • Courtney October 19, 2010, 10:12 am

    I have never dealt with any kind of abuse from family or a loved one, but I have such a heart for those who have. No one should experience chronic abuse from someone that they hold dear … and who is supposed to hold them dear as well! Michele, I applaud you for removing yourself from the situation, and for rebuilding your life, knowing that you are strong, beautiful, and successful!

    • Michelle October 19, 2010, 11:25 am

      Thank you, Courtney. Something I constantly reminded myself of as I left the situation is that I wanted to be an example to my nieces of a strong woman that stands up for herself. By keeping that in mind, it helped me hold my resolve through the tough times.

      By educating yourself to the realities of abuse, you reduce your changes of accepting it if you come into contact with it later in life. I’m happy that you’ve never experienced it and I hope deeply in my heart that you never will!!

  • Alexis {Mission: Ambition} October 19, 2010, 10:17 am

    Thank you for sharing your story Michelle, it can’t be easy to talk about it.

    And, of course, thank you Caitlin for posting stories like this on your blog. You have such an amazing overall message – it’s one of the reasons this is one of my favorite blogs.

  • Natalia - a side of simple October 19, 2010, 10:29 am

    So true about health being more than food and working out. It’s taking care of yourself and wellbeing.
    Thank you, Michelle and Caitlin, for sharing!

  • Kris October 19, 2010, 10:37 am

    Thanks for sharing your story. We need to recognize that it can happen to anyone. I had a relationship right after college where I was emotionally abused. Thank goodness I was able to recognize that it was abuse and could go further, and I got out of the relationship. The control the other person exerts is enormous, and those outside of the relationship have no way of knowing what is actually going on.

    • Michelle October 19, 2010, 11:26 am

      Exactly, Kris. Sometimes we get a picture in our minds that abuse happens to a certain type of woman. That is so wrong! It permeates our whole culture and NO ONE deserves to live like that. Leaving is tough, but so much is at stake if you stay.

  • Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life October 19, 2010, 10:43 am

    Thanks for sharing this Michelle and Caitlin.

  • Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life October 19, 2010, 10:43 am

    Thanks for sharing this Michelle and Caitlin.

  • Danielle C. October 19, 2010, 10:56 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this Michelle and Caitlin. I am so glad you brought this up, I was in an abusive relationship/marriage for almost 10 years (I left in early 2010 and my divorce was finalized over the Summer). I really don’t think I would have developed the strength to NOTICE what was going on around me if it weren’t for the healthy living blog community…. Reading blogs and starting to treat myself right was the first step for me.

    • Michelle October 19, 2010, 8:18 pm

      Healthy living blogs seriously kept me afloat during the hardest times of my relationship. I used them to escape and also to remind myself that there are people out there who experience healthy love. It made me yearn for that. Thanks for bringing that up!

  • Jessica October 19, 2010, 11:04 am

    Michelle, you are such a brave, brave woman. I’ve been in your situation before, but I was able to get out before it escalated to physical abuse. But, the lingering affects of the emotional abuse and being controlled is something I still struggle with even years later. The silver lining, for me, is that now I see warning signs early and am not afraid to stand up for myself. You are an inspiration! Good luck on your new blog – I will definitely be reading. ((hugs))

    • Michelle October 19, 2010, 11:31 am

      Thank you, Jessica! I’m so happy you left the situation before it became physical! Honestly, it has been much harder to heal from the emotional abuse than the physical. The bruises go away and the fear subsides (for me at least), but the scars left on my spirit tend to flair up a lot.

      It does help to teach us our self worth and the boundaries we should set and not let anyone cross. And, the healing comes over time. I’m happy you see the silver lining. By looking at your situation by what it taught you, you can grow into a much stronger person. I look forward to getting to know you better!

    • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance....after a 100+ Pound weight loss!!! October 19, 2010, 12:56 pm


      I find that even 8+ years later I still have moments when I am taken back and just break down, it will never leave us but we can “live and learn” and become stronger and happier women after it………it can be done! =)

      • Jessica October 19, 2010, 1:11 pm


        You are so right! My experience was more than 10 years ago, when I was just 19. But every once in a while something will remind me of that time. Sometimes I get mad at myself for putting up with it, and other times I cry for all the time I lost. But mostly, I’m grateful that I have become stronger & am most definitely happier!

  • Katherine @ Left Coast Contessa October 19, 2010, 11:16 am

    Thank you for sharing Michelle and congratulation on applying to law school and chasing your dreams. I never knew that domestic violence could be economic. Again, thank you for sharing.

  • Steph October 19, 2010, 11:36 am

    While you SCREAM at your woman, there’s a man wishing he could whisper softly in her ear.
    While you HUMILIATE, OFFEND and INSULT her, there’s a man
    flirting with her and reminding her how beautiful she is. While you HURT your woman, there’s a man wishing he could take her pain away.
    While you make your woman CRY, there’s a man stealing her smile.

    **So true, and a nice reminder. So proud of you!

  • Tiffany (Stuffed with Fluff) October 19, 2010, 11:52 am

    Thank you so much for sharing, Michelle. Wish you the best of luck on your new journeys =)

  • Betsy October 19, 2010, 11:56 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I recently got out of an emotionally abusive relationship in June that lasted two years, too long. The pain I felt is something I would never wish on my worst enemy. I still struggle daily with my self worth, but am seeking counseling and feeling better every day.
    Again, Thank you, Michelle, for sharing your story. I hope it will inspire a reader out there to get the help he/she needs!

  • Julie October 19, 2010, 12:01 pm

    This is definitely a welcome addition to the HTPs. Emotional health underlies our overall health, even though most people snuff it down, it’s important.

    I’m sorry that Michelle had to deal with this. Relationships are hard enough as they are without this terrible phenomenon. I’m glad she has been able to come from it with such positivity and honesty.

  • Stacey October 19, 2010, 12:03 pm

    Wow. I can’t even imagine. I’m really glad that she is out of that marriage now and the best of luck to her on her new journey 🙂 Thanks for sharing Michelle! I,too, have been in an abusive relationship that lasted way longer than it ever should have. Sometimes I can’t even believe that I allowed it to happen.

    • Michelle October 19, 2010, 8:19 pm

      I feel the same way, Stacey. I look back at the person I was and cannot imagine that the same “me” accepted the abuse. Being in an abusive relationship seriously wears you down every single day. It’s like, all you can think about is surviving…you become a shadow of who you were.

  • Jojo October 19, 2010, 1:06 pm

    Thank you, Michelle, for sharing your story. You are so brave and strong. I applaud you for starting to stand for yourself and chase your dream.

  • Sarah October 19, 2010, 1:18 pm

    Michelle, thank you so much for sharing your story. You are a brave and beautiful woman!

  • Sarah October 19, 2010, 1:18 pm

    Michelle, thank you so much for sharing your story. You are a brave and beautiful woman!

    • Michelle October 19, 2010, 8:20 pm

      Thank you! The same back at you!

  • Ellen@FirednFabulous October 19, 2010, 3:03 pm

    This is a wonderful story! Props to Michelle for starting her life over…sounds like she has a lot of great things ahead!

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing October 19, 2010, 3:10 pm

    I’ve been through an emotionally abusive relationship and managed to get myself out.. I still am suffering repercussions today. No one deserves to go through that.

  • Haley October 19, 2010, 3:24 pm

    I’m so glad that you chose to feature this story, Caitlin. And I admire your honesty and willingness to share, Michelle. I am also a domestic violence survivor, but in a different sense. I was the little girl who hid in a closet for hours with her siblings as her father beat and battered his partner. I too know the “walking on eggshells” feeling, but from a different perspective.

    It may be the hardest thing to do, but know that if you are in an abusive relationship, it does not only affect YOU. All these years later I still have horrible flashbacks and sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, heart racing.

    My goal is aligned with Michelle’s… but with a little more emphasis on the children =). May we all be happy and healthy and free!

    • Michelle October 19, 2010, 8:23 pm

      Hi Haley! Unfortunately, I experienced domestic violence as a child as well. I remember sitting in my bedroom cowering in my bed with my Garfield phone ready to call 9-1-1 if I thought it was going too far between my mom and my step-dad. I realize that being around that abuse definitely factored into my ending up in an abusive relationship myself. That’s why I am working so hard on healing myself. I don’t want to repeat the same pattern and I definitely don’t want my future children to have the same experience. I’m so happy that you’re healing and growing and looking outward to the other people you can help.

  • Jennifer (keepitsimplefoods) October 19, 2010, 3:40 pm

    Thank you for sharing this story. I volunteer regularly as a pro bono attorney, giving legal advice to victims of DV. I have seen clients of all socio-economic categories, with diverse backgrounds. DV truly has no “type” of victim and transcends all societal boundaries and barriers. It’s important to understand that DV runs rampant not just in our culture, but in all cultures throughout the world. There’s no excuse for it.

    • Michelle October 19, 2010, 8:25 pm

      This is exactly what I’d like to do with my career! Please be looking for an email from me soon. I would love to learn from you!

  • Laura October 19, 2010, 4:10 pm

    Thank you for having the courage to come forward with your story.

    This is a subject that is close to my heart at the moment. Two years ago, a girl that I went to school with and have known since we met at our mothers’ sewing and weaving classes as pre-schoolers was murdered by her boyfriend at the age of 22. They had been going on out five months before their break-up. She had just graduated with a first class honours degree in political science and was in her bedroom packing to leave for the capital and a new job at the Treasury when he arrived at her door, told her mother that he had a gift for her, and when alone with her in her room, he stabbed her over 200 times. He was convicted of murder, but showed no remorse at all.

    Her parents have just recently launched the Sophie Elliott Foundation (www.sophieelliottfoundation.co.nz), which is dedicated to raising awareness about violence against young women. Please friend the Foundation’s page on Facebook if you can, and if you want to support the cause: http://www.facebook.com/#!/sophieelliottfoundation. 🙂

  • Emily October 19, 2010, 5:59 pm

    I work with a UK based charity called The ManKind Initiative. In the UK one in three victims of domestic violence are male (I imagine it is similar in America), and ManKind works to get male victims treated equally to female victims.

    Along with supporting male victims and lobbying government we aim to get the public discourse on domestic violence changed from female focussed to gender neutral language so that the emphasis is on all victims rather than gender groups.

    I would really appreciate it if your blog (which I love!) would reinforce this message and make it clear that men can victims too, and male victims need help and support too.

    • Caitlin October 19, 2010, 6:00 pm

      SOOO true Emily!! Great point to make.

      • Eliza October 19, 2010, 7:40 pm

        In the United States, estimates are that between 85 and 95% of victims of ongoing domestic abuse are women. Domestic abuse occurs in same-gender relationships and sometimes men in opposite-gender relationships where women are the primary abusers. More commonly, however, women who are repeatedly emotionally or physically abused in relationships will respond to their abusers with violence. This is not an acceptable response, but the reason that women aren’t prosecuted and police officers are trained to look for the primary aggressor, is because when women fight back they cause significantly less physical harm. Additionally, men kill their partners at a much higher rate than women. I’m not denying that men are victims of domestic abuse- they certainly are, and your organization sounds like a great one, but the statistics you cite sound like the kind of statistics that “men’s rights” groups propagate. The Justice Dept. in the US is the source for the statistics I cited above. That is the reason that language remains gender specific. In my work with men convicted of domestic violence, I’ve found time and time again that they use male privilege as a way to gain and justify power and control over their partner.

        • Emily October 20, 2010, 4:52 am

          Hi Eliza,

          My statistics are from the British Crime Survey which is done by the Home Office every year. It is considered the most reliable measure of crime in this country.

          ALL of the stats we use at ManKind are official government ones: we don’t seek to promote any male bias, just gender neutrality and the dealing of victims as individuals. We believe victims are victims and should be judged according to seriousness of the crime, not gender, orientation, socio-economic status, etc.

          The BCS also consistently finds that in the UK men are much less likely to tell anyone about the abuse they suffer, more likely to be attacked with a weapon and less likely to get any help (for instance, in the UK we have 7,500 hostel bed spaces for female victims, and only 83 for men (60 of which are only available if women aren’t using them).

          Reasons for under reporting include society’s attitudes towards men who are victims – many people don’t believe it happens, or only weak men get abused. There are also different ideas of what is abusive when it comes to men. A man cannot hit his wife (rightly so), but popular culture etc says it is OK for an upset woman to slap her husband. Or throw a dinner plate. Additionally, of callers to the ManKind helpline a significant number of men do not want to report their abuse because their partner has said she will tell the police that he abused her, and that the police would believe her.

          I wonder if there are under reporting issues in the US statistics. Especially if they are based on convictions only?

        • Caitlin October 20, 2010, 6:23 am

          Not saying I agree or disagree with either of you, but I wanted to share an anecdote. I knew a older man (in his 50’s) who was terribly abused by his wife. She would slap, punch, and bite him, screaming “if you hit me back, i’ll go to the cops.” They had two children so he felt like he couldn’t divorce her because surely the court would grant the abusive mom full custody. He began to document his wounds and did eventually gain custody of the children, but isn’t that terrible?

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin October 19, 2010, 8:10 pm

    Good for you for leaving him Michelle! I’m so sorry you lived with that for so long. I hope by sharing your story you can be an inspiration for other women in your situation.

    • Michelle October 19, 2010, 8:28 pm

      Thank you, Chelsea. That’s my hope as well.

  • Lesley October 19, 2010, 8:42 pm

    Oh, I’m going to cry. Thank you for sharing your story Michelle, and kudos for having the strength to get out. I lived with one of my best friends while she was going through an abusive relationship. I am happy that 7 years later he is gone, and she and I remain close, but we still struggle with the memories to this day. I agree wholeheartedly with your, “if you read nothing more” statement. I wish every woman understood that fear has no place in love.

  • Sana October 19, 2010, 11:40 pm

    I shared Michelle’s quote with a friend today b/c I felt like she could use it.
    Thanks for reminding us all what true love really is!

  • Emily October 20, 2010, 10:45 am

    That is terrible Caitlin!

    Its horrible when anyone is a victim of domestic abuse, and that’s what The ManKind Initiative tries to focus on. It can happen to men and women, in heterosexual and homosexual relationships, to people of all ethnicities, income, profession etc etc, and all should be treated equally.

    I personally know people who are victims of domestic violence (including my mum and my uncle) and I don’t see why there should be comparatively so little help for men.

    People sometimes think The ManKind Initiative is about making men a priority over women, but it isn’t. Its about equality.

  • Liz November 16, 2011, 10:20 pm

    I am a long time reader but have never commented. This story really resonated with me however, because just about two weeks ago on 11/3, a close friend of mine was murdered by her ex boyfriend. It was an insensitive and cowardly action by a man who could not deal with living without her. So he took her life after 8 years of emotional and mental abuse, despite the fact that she had ended their relationship months ago. It is tragic that some people must be an example for the horrors of domestic violence. I hope this story and your post inspires anyone to get out of an abusive relationship and to seek the support and help of others.

    • CaitlinHTP November 17, 2011, 10:31 am

      I am so sorry about your friend 🙁

    • Michelle November 28, 2011, 7:25 pm


      I’m so sorry to hear about your friend as well. My heart goes out to you right now…what an awful time. Please feel free to email me if you ever need to…awholelotoflife@gmail.com.


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