I’ve talked before about the losses that come with being in an abusive relationship; friendships, traditions, stability, etc. There is another very poignant piece that we don’t often talk about, our pets. They aren’t always a loss. In many cases they are an anchor. Although there are a few options, it can be challenging to find placement for people and animals, so victims stay in their situation. Abusers can be quick to turn frustrations onto animals as punishment for those that love them and the animal itself. In our house, we understood that all too well.

When the kids were younger we had a German Shepard named Zeppelin. I clicked on my Facebook memories today and was reminded of her. She was the sweetest pup and the kids adored her. When Joe was at work or away, we had a great time with her. She would play with the kids on their playground, let Emma dress her up for a tea party, and play hide and seek. When he was home, she was a nervous wreck. Literally urinating every time he spoke. It didn’t matter what or how he said it, she could not control herself. We tried training to no avail. The trainer was stumped. I held our secret close as we talked about how to help Zeppelin. I wasn’t in a place where I fully understood that we needed to get out ourselves. I knew why she was scared. Joe’s frustrations continued to mount and finally exploded. She was no longer safe with us. The process began to try and find her a home. The GSD rescue that took her had some harsh words for me about surrendering her.* I forget what excuse I made up as to why she was so nervous. It was one of those humiliating moments that was easier than what might happen if we kept her at home. Zeppelin became another castaway in our fight to keep from drowning.

As we continue to understand more about domestic violence, we are seeing more resources to help in situations like this. Red Rover is just one organization working to solve this part of the problem, I will add their link below. If you are in a situation like this, there are ways to get you out along with your fur babies. Please, reach out.

* I am incredibly grateful for the rescue who placed her with a loving family. Zeppelin lived out her life as a happy girl.

Winning Women with Regina Shearer

I am honored to be asked to be on the Winning Women radio show with Regina Shearer, where women share their journeys. Please join us and listen in, tomorrow July 9, at 4:00 EST. I’ll be discussing my own journey that led me to be a victim’s advocate and prompted me to run for office. Feel free to email and call in questions.

Options to tune in:

-Download the RGB Internet Radio App from the Apple or Google Stores. (It is a FREE app, broadcasting music 24/7, along with a few other shows. All you have to do is tune in at 4:00)

-If you have an Alexa, you can say, “Alexa, enable RGB Internet Radio” and after the first time, all you have to say is, “Alexa, play RGB Internet Radio.”

-If you have Google Assistant, you only have to say, “Play RGB Internet Radio.”

-You can go to the website: and listen to it from there.

If you can’t join us tomorrow, the broadcast will be available later next week. I will post the link when we get it.

I Believe I’ll Wear Green

I’ve recently decided to take a huge step in my advocacy and work to break the stigmas surrounding domestic violence. As I’ve continued to help individuals in over 36 states, as well as a few other countries, some of my biggest frustrations are the laws that we come up against. Laws that bind what fellow survivors can do to implement their safe passage to a new, safe existence. As an individual, there isn’t a lot I can do to make the necessary waves of change. I’ve found myself, in great exasperation, saying that someone has to do something. When public individuals are glorified for harmful behavior and laws protect the ability to harm, we have to start looking at how to fix it. Even in my own therapy, as I continued to heal what was on the surface, it was never as successful as digging deep and figuring out what was at the root of my decisions. I have decided to run for office, at my state’s level, but I have no intention of making this about politics. This will remain about my continued journey in survival.

To launch my campaign, I needed to get headshots done. As soon as I scheduled them, my mind started swirling. One of the bigger decisions was what color I wanted to wear. I decided on the color green. It’s actually not a color I owned, but there was something about it that felt right. After I shared the pictures, one of my friends commented on how much she liked green on me. She remarked that she’d never seen me in it. In that moment, the color green became incredibly significant. I remembered exactly why this color was nonexistent in my wardrobe. Joe hated the color green and was adamant I never wear it. I had a couple of shirts over the years, just for holidays, and he ended up destroying both. It’s funny that until being asked, my brain hadn’t even contemplated why it felt significant. Why when I first saw myself in the mirror I had to take a few extra seconds to examine it. How interesting that a color can feel like strength, independence, and hope all at one time. 

As I step into this new part of my journey, I believe I’ll wear green. 

Independence Day

The Martin Family October 2015

Today is a day that, even before my brain realizes the date, my soul feels. It’s a heavy feeling, a bit anxious. It was a shift in our existence. It’s been 5 years. Five years since the night that would thrust us into the undertow. Today is the anniversary of our independence. I wish I could say that I had walked away, that one of the multiple times I’d loaded the kids up in the car that I’d had the courage to keep going. I can’t though. I was so afraid of what Joe would do to me or to the kids if we left. He had made his threats and done enough to make me think he would follow through. He had successfully convinced me that we were alone. I was confident that no one would believe me or help us. April 6, 2016, everything shifted. This is an excerpt of the transcript from my Protection Hearing describing the end of our last night under one roof. This comes with a trigger warning for fellow survivors. If you choose to read it, please be aware that it is intense and broken.

April 7, 2016 marks the day that we started the process to gain independence. Today, we celebrate our lives, our growth, our happiness, and our strength. I am so grateful for where we are today.

Happy Independence Day to my trio.

If you’ve not yet found your Independence Day, don’t give up hope. Reach out, you are not alone.


I can hear the garage door opening. I start my rapid checklist of things I was supposed to do. Kids have been fed, their rooms are clean, homework is done and checked, I got most of the laundry done, but not all…..maybe he will let that slide. I have a little bit of a panic, but I only have two loads left. Emma was sick again today, so I had to bleach and disinfect the surfaces. I got that done. I have no idea what I’m going to say when he asks how I let her get sick. The dogs are in their kennels with bones, that should keep them from barking when he walks in. I can hear the boys starting to aggravate each other, so I quickly yell up, “Dad’s home.” They immediately quiet down, thank goodness. Back to my checklist. His dinner is plated and warming up. The dryer dings, but at the same time I realize too many lights are on in the house. We are in 3 rooms, but lights are on in at least 5 or 6. I don’t have time to start pulling the clothes and run around the house to turn off lights. He will hear me if I yell up to the boys and ask them to turn them off. Then I notice the door is opening. He’s home. I feel panicky. I can’t breathe. I’m drowning. At that moment I wake up with a start, my eyes quickly searching my dark bedroom. My brain is trying to piece together what I am seeing, what is reality, what is the ghost of days before. After I reassure myself that I am safe, my breathing starts to slow. I start my checklist. It’s a different kind of checklist; the kids are doing well and are happy, I am happy, I am married to a wonderful man, the house isn’t perfectly clean, there’s laundry on the floor, I am the boss of me….

What does surviving domestic abuse look like? You wouldn’t be in the minority if you assumed that it’s just about getting on with your life. Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy. The toll that it takes to be in survival mode for any length of time reshapes perceptions and reactions to even benign situations. For me, surviving has been complicated and has come in stages. It’s an everyday self-talk and processing form of upkeep. After being in the water for so long, those sea legs aren’t quite gone. Just as each person that has found themselves trapped in the undertow has a unique experience, the aftermath of that experience is equally as unique. There are a few common threads and mindsets, but even in the commonalities, how and when they manifest depend on the individual.

My independence day anniversary is quickly approaching. It’s been almost 5 years since I last shared a life with Joe. That means it’s been half a decade of learning, unlearning, relearning, therapy, and feeling the sand beneath my toes rather than gasping for breath in the deep water of domestic abuse. My life today is a beautiful one. It might sound trite, but it is perfect in its imperfections. Still, it’s work. My brain struggles to make sense of my journey. I have nightmares. While some are nonsensical, most are more of a memory. My nightmare I described above is a memory. A vivid one that I hadn’t thought about in years, but my brain decided to rehash. I have a few similarities in my present life. I had done laundry that day and Emma had been a little under the weather, but there’s no pressure on me for either of those. It’s just another day. That’s one of the more complicated natures of surviving. The fight or flight response might be dormant, but my mind sometimes works at keeping it at the ready. A life preserver just in case I end up back in the deep water.

In continuing to work with other survivors, I’ve learned that it’s important to shed light onto this part of the journey. The complex PTSD and learning what’s “normal”. This will be the start of a series of posts that dives into what life is like after the undertow. I will talk more about the pull of the deep water, setbacks, and learning to live out of the water.