We are so proud of our McKenzie. She was honored to be Survivor of the Year by Weber County in Utah. She gave a most beautiful speech, talking about her trials going through the abuse, and how she overcame it and fights for others.
We couldn't be more proud to call her our own! We love you, so much, McKenzie!
“My name is Mckenzie, and I am a victim of domestic violence. I am a daughter, sister, aunt, friend........Unfortunately my story of domestic violence abuse begins very young. As a child I was subjected to my father holding my mom at gun point, sexual abuse from a close family member and endless amounts of heartache. When I was younger, my name was legally changed so that I was able to get away from such people, we sought shelter at the YCC for a time. I don't remember much but my mother would tell us that we were safe and that was a great feeling for a short while.
Through out all those hardships as a child, I dreamt of simplicity. To love and be loved equally in return.
I no longer wanted to be afraid...............
I moved out at a young age to be on my own. I desperately wanted to create a life that was not repeating the cycles that I had grown up in. I completed high school with high honors, attending college course while I was there so that I was able to get my associates degree a year after graduation. I worked 3 jobs. I was ready and willing to trust, love and be loved by a partner.
When I was 19, I thought that had found that happy beginning. I found my former husband. I was his princess. He was so charming and sweet. Bought me flowers, took me out on dates, would open the door for me and even took me on vacation before we were married. None of these things I'd ever truly experienced before. They may seem little to some, but to me, it meant the world. I was blinded by this fairy tale coming true, that I didn't see what was about to happen to me. I didn't listen to the warnings of my friends and family and I didn't pay any attention to the red flags that came up.
I didn't see that was beginning to repeat the cycle I had fought so hard not to be in.
Shortly after we got married, the fairy tale ended. The red flags became very obvious as the emotional, physical and sexual abuse started. I was back to where I was as a child all over again. I had fear of doing or saying the wrong thing, as it might leave me with bruises the next day. The hardest part of it all, was I was believing it. I had believed the lies he was telling me were true. He has done so many things to me, many of which I do not wish to recall. It was bad enough, that I feared for my life. I was afraid he would kill me.
I'm sure many of you have had similar experiences, or know someone who has; that's why you're here. As we all know, abusers make their victims feel like what is being done to them is truly their fault and do not hold themselves accountable. It's not even uncommon for victims to return to their abusers 2, 3, or even 7 times until they finally leave for good. I was no different. I blamed myself for his actions. I went back, feeling guilty for leaving. Over and over the toxic cycle continued. But, after many months of enduring this from him something switched in my brain. I suddenly knew, I had to keep track of what he was doing. I knew I had to get away, and I knew the moments in which I could. I had endured enough, and it was time to go for good. The universe was giving me an escape, and I took it. My escape was not the most ideal way. It was from rape. But, in that act of
rape, I was able to get evidence against him. I was able to finally put a stop to his abuse. Not only for myself, but for others. I stopped it. It's honestly weird for me to say that out loud. "I stopped him." He was my husband, my abuser, my "fairy tale" and I stopped him. With that evidence, I took it to the police immediately. You can imagine what happened from there. Tests were performed, questions were asked and he was arrested just three days after the final incident.
You would think that with him having being arrested that I would have felt relief. I didn't. I was scared. I was groomed to be abused, even with my abuser locked up I was abusing myself in lack of self care, self harm and isolation. I was scared of his release, and my nightmare came true. Three days after his arrest, he was released. He stalked me by tracking my family. I was terrified for my life.
I did the unthinkable for myself though and attended his bail hearing. At his bail hearing I pleaded to the judge to please understand the abuse that I had been through, and to please protect my life. I can't state the amount of empowerment, relief, feeling heard that day as I did when the judge in fact, revoked his bail.
I'm happy to say that after this time, he was not released.
For a year, we went through court hearings which included delays, rescheduling and heartache but most of all victories. Victories from the judge, bailiff, prosecutor, detective and advocate for fighting with me to insure he cannot attack again. Thank you to all of you that went through this journey with me and fought on my side. That year in court, was very hard for me. Your support helped me remind myself why I was there. It helped push me through. He did eventually end up in prison, which is where he is today.
And I survived.
I survived through all the pain, to bring him to justice. Not only for myself, but for everyone else who's suffered at his hands.
The effects that this abuse took on me are endless.
It has been over year since all of this came to a head. Since I had finally been heard that the abuse was taking place.
I still fear for my life. I still find myself isolating at times. I went through a timer period of self medicating early on with alcohol. I feel weird being alone, I feel weird in crowds.
I also have found support networks that I had no clue existed. Weber County Victim Advocates, YCC, Rape Recovery Group, A New Dawn and other survivors that have just spoke up and helped walk me through the healing process.
Through these resources I have found Hope. Survivorship.
.......... That there is life beyond the abuse. And I am not alone. We are not alone.
Not only did I survive, I found forgiveness. My mother helped me reunite with my father after 19 years which I am forever grateful for. It helped me bond with him and forgive him. We only had a couple months together but during that time, he taught me what forgiveness truly is. He helped me heal from all the wrong I experienced. With my recently acquired medical background, he helped show me the value of life. Because of his help, I was able to continue forward in life and find closure before he passed. Because of this closure I had with him, I feel that I have a better chance in not repeating cycles.
For those who are still stuck in repeating their toxic cycles.
I love you. I accept you, even for staying or going back.
You don't have to go back.
There are other options.
You do not have to fight alone, you have to be willing to do the work.
And I stand by when you are ready to fight.”