I was once a Woman

I was once a woman.

A free woman.

A happy woman.

A live each day, love my life, embrace my future, woman.


I was once a Lover.

A hopeless lover.

A consumed lover.

A swept away with passion, can’t believe my good fortune, believing in magic, lover.


Then I became sorry.

Sorry I misspoke,

Sorry I misunderstood.

Sorry I couldn’t be quiet enough, smart enough, worthy enough.


I was once a Victim.

A tear stained, bruised and begging victim.

A lying, concealing, withdrawn victim.

A story weaving, excuse making, dreaming of change victim.


I was once a Victim.

A disillusioned, hoping for change victim.

A tremulous, wrong in my own skin victim.

Certain each time would be the last, but fearing it would really be the last of me.


I was once a Victim.

A weary and broken down victim.

A weak and hesitant victim.

A shell of my former self, a barren and desolate victim.


I became a Fighter.

A timid fighter.

A losing fighter.

A weak and failing fighter, no-one would bet on me, I’m not even betting on myself.


I became a Fighter.

A determined fighter.

A stronger fighter.

A backbone growing, never going back, you don’t control me, fighter.


I am now a Survivor.

A fledgling survivor.

A determined survivor.

A lead as many as I can, never give up never look back, you don’t define me, survivor.


For I was once a Woman.

A free woman.

A happy woman.

A live each day, love my life, embrace my future, woman.



Although this story is not truly my own, it is the story of so many women I love and have loved. You may not think this is your story either, but if there is even a seed of doubt that it may be…Get out. Get away. Get help. Make a change. You ARE strong enough and you deserve SO MUCH MORE.


In loving dedication of my beautiful grandmother Norma Momenee who existed her entire life at the hands of various abusers. In loving memory of Joy Carpenter whose beautiful legacy as a mother and woman is being spread among my community as we mourn her loss. In loving memory of all the other mothers, daughters, sisters, that have been lost at the hands of a loved one. And in regretful memory of those that will still be to come. Let’s bring about change.

8 Responses to “I was once a Woman”

  • jessie:

    Valerie, Thank you so much for sharing such a personal and painful memory. When I read this and I imagine you laying on that floor, my heart aches. I could not imagine not knowing your contagious sense of humor, your crazy personality, and your beautiful smile. The Co-op and the world is a brighter place with you in it and I am glad you were able to break away so many years ago to be here with us! I did not have the pleasure of knowing Joy, but I have been struck with sorrow by the outpouring of love and loss that so many I know in my community have felt for her. I pray that her family will continue to share the stories of how brave and wonderful she was, and that her legacy will always live on through them.

  • jessie:

    Teresa, you have always worked so hard to shield me from our tumultuous life. Watching you pick up the pieces and scrape your way through putting them back together to come back stronger on the other side has always been one of the greatest lessons you could have taught me. Although I am blessed to have never been in a physically abusive relationship, I spent two years with a man who was emotionally abusive and it began to wear me down into a woman I was unable to recognize. It was your support and example that inspired me to pull myself out of it and strive for something better. You inspire the women you work with everyday and you continue to inspire me. I am so proud to be your daughter!

  • jessie:

    Thank you Libby! I also pray that this will be read by someone who needs to hear it!

  • jessie:

    Yes Jackie I agree. In my role here as well as in my personal life I have heard some stories that are almost too painful to listen to, let alone imagine living out… Although it hurts to hear and can even at times seem hopeless to rectify, I feel that people who dedicate their lives to protecting and serving victims of abuse are doing such important and powerful work! Thank you for being a part of this work!

  • Val:

    I have been in the shoes of the victim. I was that person who was told you are not worth anything and you are not worthy of love and compassion.
    As I lay on the floor wondering if the next breath I took would be my last I started to realize that I was not suppose to end my time on earth this way. I was not suppose to be the person who lays here and gives up. I had to pick myself up and move forward. I can tell the story of being the victim but I refused to allow that to be my story. I rose above that and I will not be the person who lays down and allows others to tell me who I am . I decided to be the person who would gather their strength move forward. So I packed a bag gathered my son and walked away. I hide, I ducked and dodged for months on ends. I did not want to be the person who ended up with her name on a headstone.
    I am now a person who can tell her story to other woman and hope that they find the courage and strength to be able to leave. I stood beside a dear friend and my two daughters at the recent vigil for Joy and found myself hearing the words that rang so strong in my head years ago. Don’t be a victim be a survivor and this is what I will be. If you are in this vicious circle please reach out to someone for help. You are worthy of so much more.

  • Teresa:

    I am that woman and I know all to well how hard it is to leave. I escaped 19 years ago relocating to Battle Creek and I have never once looked back with regret. I also witnessed it first hand most of my life being the daughter of Norma Momenee so I know what if feels like to be the child of that woman and the mother of that child. As I read this I rejoice that although my daughter is that child she will not be that woman or that mother. And so this cycle, our cycle is broken. Thanks be to God.

  • Jackie:

    One of my most important volunteer jobs I had was with a domestic assault program. I will never forget some of these women’s stories. Thanks for reminding us of what’s important.

  • Libby:

    Powerful message! You are an amazing writer! Inspirational!! I pray this message with inspire just one woman to know she can be that survivor. Help is out there! Know your worth!

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