The Faces Of A Domestic Abuse Victim: Naomi

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The Faces Of A Domestic Abuse Victim: Naomi

Photo by Felix Cooper.

Photo by Felix Cooper.

Photo by Felix Cooper.

Felix Cooper

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This article is the second installment in a series about domestic abuse. This article has mentions of rape, suicide attempts, and self-harm. This is a true retelling from a Midwest high school student. All names have been changed to protect the individuals involved.

 

“Once he found out my boyfriend dumped me, he became obsessed with me.”

Naomi, who uses she-her pronouns, entered a relationship with Cam at the beginning of her sophomore year in high school. 

“Honestly, I wasn’t really attracted to him, but I accepted his advances anyway,” said Naomi. “I felt bad for him. I thought I should give him a chance.”

Cam became attached fast. He trailed Naomi to classes and switched seats to be by her as often as he could. Naomi pretended to be happy with her relationship in public, but behind the smile, trauma lay claim to months of her life.

“Cam would drag me aside before my activities. He’d assault me, he’d leave bruises on my body even when I said no; when I had tears streaming down my face, he kept going.” said Naomi, recounting what happened repeatedly over the course of her relationship. “Sometimes I can still feel his presence suffocating me.”

Naomi wanted to leave, but her abuser employed emotional manipulation to make her stay: Cam threatened to commit suicide if she told anybody what he had done to her or tried to end the relationship. Terrified, alone and inexperienced, Naomi was coerced into silence. Because Cam had taken control of most of Naomi’s social life by then, there were few people to notice that she had become a shell of herself. She wasn’t allowed to talk to her family or her friends with Cam in her life. Even when Cam was caught assaulting Naomi by a police officer, a paralyzing fear of what Cam would do kept her from telling the officer the truth. 

“I was raped multiple times by the same person,” said Naomi. “He took away my confidence, my self-esteem, and my innocence.”

Naomi was still new to the dating realm when the abuse started; Cam’s treatment destroyed her confidence and took what little love for herself she had. During the months following the end of the relationship, Naomi spun into a cycle of intense self-harm, cutting her skin and fantasizing about her own death. For a long time even after the relationship, she was disturbed by her own reflection because it was not the rosy-cheeked girl she had been before Cam. The life had been drained, leaving her once bright eyes empty. 

Naomi cycled through harsh periods of starvation in an attempt to change what she saw in the mirror. She would progress to attempting suicide multiple times and self-harming almost daily. 

It took more than six months for Naomi’s story to come to light because she, like many victims, worried about what her peers would think.

Naomi said, “I was afraid of what people would think of me once they heard, and during that time sexual assault cases were never taken seriously. Why would I want to relive the trauma in court only for nothing to come from it?”

Naomi’s internalized hurt festered for a full year before she could tell her family what had happened. They cried as one as she told the story of her abuse, but fortunately, they accepted her with full support. Naomi’s family found her a therapist to assist with recovery.

Naomi chose not to report her abuser. Though she did fear what others would say, she was more afraid to be responsible for her abuser’s suicide, which is what he had threatened since the beginning. 

“Even though he is a rapist, he’s a human being,” said Naomi. “He has done horrible things to me and maybe more people, but that doesn’t mean he deserves to die. Everyone can learn from their mistakes.”

Naomi worked through the many toxic thoughts her abuse had left her throughout the year. She initially blamed herself for not stopping Cam; she thought she had put herself in a situation to be taken advantage of by agreeing to Cam’s advances. 

However, Naomi now believes, “No matter how I look at it, it just isn’t the victims fault. It doesn’t matter your gender identity, what you were wearing, what you did or who you liked; no one deserves to be raped.”

Naomi’s trauma went unnoticed by her friends and family. No one noticed her hurt even when it manifested in cutting and starvation. Naomi is a survivor who still faces a long road of recovery ahead of her. 

Naomi wants others to know that they are not alone with domestic abuse.

“I tear up thinking about how many other girls and boys have gone through what I did,” Naomi said. “But I want them to know that help is out there and that they are never alone, because even if they think the world is against them, no matter who they are, they will always be loved. They need to know they are not to be blamed for what happened to them. Rape is not the victim’s fault.”

Many stories do not end so fortunately as Naomi’s did. Some people never find relief from their abusers, and these victims can be found walking the halls and classrooms of high schools in any place, even a small midwestern town just like Glenwood. They may seem like an average teen if one doesn’t look below the surface, or if one chooses not to see the problem; students may find that not everyone is happy behind their public mask. A victim of domestic of domestic abuse has no one face, and the sooner that is acknowledged, the sooner we can help our peers.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, talk or email school guidance counselors Kathleen Loeffelbein at [email protected], Michelle Fluckey at [email protected], and Jedd Taylor at [email protected] You can also call the Iowa Domestic Abuse Helpline at 1-800-770-1650.