by Lyn Twyman
Lisa met John about 15 years ago. He was charming, loving and even after over a year of dating they still lived a part. John respected her in every way. "I thought he was 'It' for me…you're so in love and you ignore the tell tale signs," explains Lisa, "I also grew up in a home where domestic violence was present. John had proposed to me a few times but would never mean it, like it was a joke or a game." The signs later became noticeable, "It started with verbal abuse. He would say 'You're not good enough. You should change jobs. Work somewhere else. Make more money'. There was no pleasing him." John grew abusive.
Lisa and John would occasionally go out with his friends. John would drink and become loud, obnoxious and increasingly abusive toward Lisa in public. Friends would ask him to leave her alone but that was not enough to convince him stop. During one of these outings, John began degrading Lisa again in front of his friends. Lisa had decided enough was enough and defended herself by speaking up. John became so enraged at Lisa that he took her by the chin, picking her up off the floor, digging his fingernails into her cheeks until she began to bleed. John's friends tried to stop him and pleaded with Lisa to leave but she did not. John later told family and friends that Lisa's injuries came from boxes and a filing cabinet that fell on her. Yet another violent episode with John left Lisa with a displaced jaw and missing teeth. John again would tell family and friends that this too resulted from another accident.
Lisa visited John's father after this last episode of violence to get his help with money that belonged to her that John had been controlling. He looked at Lisa and saw the lingering deformities from her injuries on her face. His conscious ate at him. "He looks into my eyes and tells me 'I thought things would be different.' " Different what do you mean?" Lisa recalls her asking him. There Lisa learned from John's father that John had abused his last girlfriend for 13 years. That is when Lisa's tears began to fall and they both cried together.
By that time, Lisa and John had been together for 7 years. She knew without any doubt that her relationship was more than unhealthy, it would get her killed and she needed to get out. One day while John was at work she rented a moving truck and began packing. "John's best friend walked in and saw I was in the process of trying to get everything out of our home and says 'What took you so long?' and he helped me packed." Lisa left that night with the moving truck and all her possessions, but not before John got back home from work to witness her leaving.
It was not until several weeks later, Lisa found out she was pregnant with their baby. Uncertain and scared, she went back to John but the growing baby inside her did not stop John and the violence continued, "He threw me across the room and even put me out in the hall naked," Lisa recounts. Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, John's moods would change even regarding the
unborn child they were having. One minute he was excited and expressed joy then within seconds, he would pick up the phone and threaten Lisa to abort the baby, that having the baby would mess up her life even giving ultimatums to get rid of it or else... Five months later Lisa packed her bags and left again, this time not only for her safety but for that of her unborn child.
Lisa gave birth to a beautiful girl after she finally left John. "I went to stay at a friend's house I thought he didn't know about and he found us so that's when I went to live in a shelter." But even the shelter posed another dilemma, "They would not allow us (the residence) to work yet gave us 3 months to get ourselves together to find work and housing. It's a catch 22, you can't get huone without the other. I saw a few other residents fail to do so and they were sent to emergency homeless shelter. Emergency shelter also was not an option because they make you leave during the day and you can only sleep there at night in an open room with cots."
Lisa and her daughter has also moved 16 times in 10 years because of stalking, harassments and threats from her ex.
Despite the struggles that Lisa and her daughter have faced to just have their basic needs met like housing, transportation, stability and safety, they continue to rebuild their lives.
Furthermore, Lisa has realized a dream. Lisa, a former model, loved being in front of the camera but also loves being behind it. She has been accepted into one of the most prestigious colleges for photography, the Hallmark Institute. GreenNote.com is a fiscal sponsor who is collecting donations on her behalf to raise tuition so she can attend Hallmark this fall of September 2010. To view Lisa's profile on GreenNote.com and donate toward her tuition, click here. One of Lisa's goals by going to photography school is to graduate with the tools and methods she needs so she can work in places like law enforcement and putting faces to the victims of domestic violence to help them understand just how beautiful they are.
Additionally, Lisa has launched a website called LAS Photography to showcase her stunning porfolio that includes people, nature, artifacts, collectibles and other objects. Lisa understands that her gift to capture the essence of life with the lens is a gift that she wants to use to help others. "Domestic violence is a story that others need to know about. Often people do not believe it is happening until they actually see it. A photo tells a story and this story and those of other victims and survivors needs to be told."
Lisa is a photographer, survivor and major contributor to the Courage Network blog titled Courage Magazine.
All photography in this blog post is owned by Lisa Sammons. Do not duplicate.
All rights reserved.