Topic: Importance of Self-Care After Domestic Violence
Author: SFC Montoya Baylis
In the beginning, after becoming a victim of domestic violence, my lawyer, court dates, and basically trying to restart my life didn’t leave much room for self-care. My main focus was to hold him accountable for not just my physical pain, but the mental pain as well. Yes, I tried to get back to having fun without thinking about how and why this happened to me; however, it wasn’t easy.
A few months after the attack, my friends took me on a shopping spree and I purchased a few cute dresses. Although I loved them, I never had any intentions of wearing them because it just didn’t feel right. The trip was fun but honestly my mind was elsewhere. It wasn’t until one evening my sister said that she wanted to give me a makeover. She did my hair and makeup for the first time in 3 or 4 months! My sister was great with a camera and told me that she had to get some pictures of me in a few of the dresses that I’d purchased. The more photos she took, the easier it got to pose and just free my mind. Everything changed for me when we were sitting at the computer viewing all the photos on the screen. I was beautiful and it was time to stop hiding it.
I needed to stop stressing about whether my ex would be found guilty. The evidence was there and he would pay in some shape, form or fashion. Sure, I’d always have the mental health issues that come with trauma but it didn’t have to control my life forever. In the course of that night, I realized that taking time to pamper myself was much needed in order to heal and move on with life. My ex tried for years to verbally prevent me from dressing up or having fun with my friends and being myself. I never succumbed to his verbal abuse and ignored him completely because I wasn’t built to allow anyone to control or dictate what I could or couldn’t do. Somehow, subconsciously, he was now winning. It was then that I allowed my true self back into the driver’s seat. We posted the pictures on Facebook which started a conversation with an old high school friend. Talk about truly enjoying life after that!!
Three years later that man became my husband. I am an independent person that was allowing my life to be dependent on something that I couldn’t control; however, I was allowing it to control me. I know that a lot of people spoke negatively about my quote-unquote glamour shots, trying to discredit the assault. Mentioning how I didn’t look like I was assaulted. How long do people expect you to wear your scars? Are you really supposed to look like what you’ve been through? Throughout the course of life, hard times come and go. The key is to live it, learn from it, and move past it. After that, I never questioned having a good day or pampering myself because, as a survivor, I deserve to live for those that will never get a chance too.
Bio: SFC Baylis is currently serving in the Mississippi Army National Guard (MSARNG) with 22 years of service. She’s married with kids and owns a virtual business, The Piggybank Tax Notary, LLC. Connect with her at [email protected]