October 2015

Terry Finds Healing After a Lifetime of Abuse
There was no last straw or final act of violence that caused her to leave. Terry just woke up one day and knew she had to get away. In a final act of resolve, she hastily packed a few of her things, grabbed her keys and drove away.

Terry thought something was wrong with her that the men she loved hurt and abused her.  Four decades earlier her father had destroyed her childhood by sexually abusing her. As a child, she coped silently, burying the pain and shame of her father's repeated abuse.

When she was in high school, she met Sean. He was strong and confident and she quickly fell in love. Things were fun and exciting at first, but the relationship quickly became abusive. She considered leaving Sean, but stayed when he promised to change - something he never did. They married after high school and within a few years they had two young children. She endured the abuse for many years and did her best to raise her boys, but the relationship with Sean eventually fell apart and ended in divorce.

Finally free, she decided to start a new life. Her kids were grown and living on their own so she moved from Pennsylvania to Florida. She managed to find steady work with a lawn maintenance company and soon met Steve. There were "red flags", but she had fallen in love and believed the anger and physical abuse came with the territory.

He would disappear for long periods of time and send texts suggesting he was with another woman. Often, when Steve's out-of-control anger took hold, he would grab Terry by the throat and squeeze until she almost passed out.

This is how Terry found herself driving away from their apartment. She found shelter at The Spring and was referred to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay for trauma counseling.

Terry's counselor used two evidenced-based trauma therapies with Terry: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART). She helped Terry recognize many of the negative beliefs she had about herself and identified a long-term pattern of thoughts that caused her to tolerate abuse.  By patiently working with Terry in weekly sessions, her therapist was able to help her change her negative self-beliefs into positive ones.

Through this process Terry gained the strength to put abusive relationships behind her. She now realizes that love should not include abuse and that she deserves a caring partner. After processing the pain and shame she experienced her entire life, she now accepts and loves herself and has a sense of inner peace.

Your support allows the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay to be there for Terry and other survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault through Corbett Trauma Center, 2-1-1, and Sexual Assault Services. Thank you for ensuring that no one in our community has to face crisis alone.