How yoga helped me heal from neglect and violence.
I grew up in poverty in a drug-addicted and violent family. Without necessities like proper food or shelter, and subjected to regular abuse, I ran away at the age of 13. Within two years, I was on the road with a 19-year-old man. Being so young, I was attracted to his antisocial, rebellious past rather than recognizing these behaviors as red flags. Eventually, we called my mother and she threatened him with jail time for statutory rape and crossing state lines with a minor—unless he married me. She was, as she put it, “tired of dealing with me.” I was forced to wed him.
One day, he returned from work with a vengeance. Storming through the door, he grabbed his gun and summoned me. I didn’t know if he was planning to hurt me or someone else. I tried to make up excuses: I don’t feel that well; I’m tired; can we go after dinner? But he ordered me to get my things from upstairs. My hands quivered and my knees buckled as I closed and locked the bedroom door, knowing it would only buy me minutes.
Clutching the scissors that I’d come to hide beneath my mattress, I waited for him, my mind racing to think of an escape plan. Within seconds, he was pounding on the door. “I’m going to kill you if you don’t open this door!” he threatened. When the yelling stopped, I grabbed the bedroom phone and called the police. Then I hid behind the bed. It was the first time I’d ever asked for help.
The police arrived just in time. They ordered him to leave the property, suggesting a 24-hour cooling-off …