March 03, 2015
Amy says when she was 18 years old, she was held prisoner, chained up and raped by a man and his friends for over a year. She says she was subjected to his daily verbal and psychological torments. Amy says she was finally rescued by a friend on a rare night when her perpetrator left her alone. When Amy was ready to tell her story to police, it was 16 years too late — and past the statute of limitations in the state where she lived. But, she uses her story to warn other potential victims.
“The psychological warfare perpetrated against me negatively programmed me to believe that I was worthless and unlovable,” Amy says. “This set me up to fail, and for years I was trapped as a perpetual victim.”
Now married and a mom, Amy has more than pieced her life back together. Today, she runs a successful special events and publicity firm, and dedicates much of her free time to working with survivors of abuse. In addition to sharing her story, she offers a crash course to students in recognizing the early warning signs of abuse.
After a recent episode of Dr.Phil, Amy sat down backstage to talk about her experience, and to offer her words of advice and wisdom on building self-esteem and developing a support group to help victims move past an abusive relationship.
1. You deserve love. It wasn’t until I met my husband when I was 30 years old that I realized that I deserved love. I felt a shift and made a conscious decision to love and respect myself. This enabled someone else to love and respect me. My husband healed my heart. I’d never felt true unconditional love and support before.
2. You have to know that you’ll find better. There is someone out there who will love you and treat you with respect. If you can’t believe that for yourself, and you’re a mom, then you need to believe that for your children, because they deserve better. Being the change will provide a healthy home life for your children.
3. You can’t change an abuser. Stop making excuses for him. I thought I could save a lot of men with my love. But if someone doesn’t want to get help and won’t put in the time, energy and hard work it takes to be the man you deserve, then you need to get out. You’re not giving up on them; you’re giving yourself a chance at the life filled with love that you deserve.
4. Tell your family and friends the truth. Let them into your world so that you have the support system you need to heal. No one should have to go through this journey alone.
5. It’s a lifelong journey to heal. Find ways every day to help yourself heal and make yourself a priority. Once you decide to make a change, life will get easier, and you’ll feel like you can finally breathe. This is what happiness feels like.