Changing lives one testimony at a time

Larissa Camp, formerly of Monroe City, shares her testimony of her experience of Domestic Violence and the early signs and red flags women and men should never ignore. October is recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness month. Camp is an advocate with the Crime Victims Advocacy Council in Atlanta, Georgia, currently and has spoken publicly and for private groups. She dedicates her life to serving others and sharing the life of Christ reminding them that they are worthy. On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equals to more than 10 million women and men. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence in their lifetime, this includes slapping, shoving and pushing.

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Larissa Camp, formerly of Monroe City, is a domestic violence survivor, who know advocates for victims of domestic violence.

The following testimony is given by Camp.

Around the summer of 2003, I remember driving to a family reunion and one of my tires had blown out. I soon realized my cell phone was out of minutes, and I had little to no cash. I waited for what seemed like an eternity for someone to pull over to help and soon a truck pulled over alongside of me. The truck driver ran back to my car and asked if I needed help, then scurried back to his truck to get some tools to replace my tire. He seemed to be disturbed at the fact that I was traveling alone. He appeared charming and sent the message to sincerely care. We soon parted ways but not without the man handing me some cash and his card asking me to call him later to ensure that I made it there safely.

After considering calling him for a few days I decided to take him up on his offer, he was glad to hear from me. I would soon inquire if we could meet for a formal date. I agreed and soon we would begin a new relationship. We dated for about a month before he asked me to move in with him. I was a little unsure seeing that I really didn’t know a lot about him, but I began to reflect on what I saw of him and how attentive he was to me. I knew that if I was treated like this on dates, that this was how I wanted to be treated all the time.

After moving in, I began to see some things that caused me to question if I made the right choice. One day we drove around St. Louis to explore the city. We pulled up to the jewelry store and he encouraged me to go in with him to pick out an engagement ring. I was shocked, surprised, yet hesitant as I knew it would be too soon for an engagement. He then decided it was time for me to get rid of my pre-paid cell phone, so he added me to his plan. I told him that I enjoyed my phone just fine, but he quickly reminded me of my condition when we first met and told me to just be thankful. I agreed with him and felt a sense of embarrassment for appearing ungrateful.

After a couple of months into the relationship his true colors began to show. He began taking out on me his frustrations which resulted in being abused physically, emotionally, and mentally and many times followed up with shopping. I wasn’t sure where the man I first met had went, but I tried to remind him that I accepted him in spite of his past. However, something inside of him refused to believe it. No matter what I said or did, everything with him was like walking on eggshells.

After making promises to begin counseling, it wasn’t long before the same old abusive behavior would show back up. Before long I grew tired of trying to reassure him and packed my bags to move out. But that did not stop the abuse.

Soon I would receive harassing phone calls and text messages from him crying, threatening to harm himself because I left him. After many failed attempts to have restraining orders served to him, I gave up on the justice system and started to think that maybe my situation was a waste of time for the courts even. I began to believe that nobody had time to listen.

One night while at work I received a call from him asking me if I could come help him. I knew something about him didn’t sound right and he didn’t sound like himself. After pulling into his driveway, I noticed his porch light that’s normally on, was off. I knocked on the door and he opened it wearing shorts and T-shirt saying that he wanted me to take him to the emergency room. I agreed as he went to change clothes. After about 10 minutes he comes upstairs asking me to move back in with him. He lies down on the couch and began to smoke six cigarettes back to back, offering to pay all of my bills if I decide to move back in with him.

He gets up off the couch and walks to the closet pulling out a shot gun and points it towards my head. He tells me that I can scream all that I want no one will ever hear me. After all no one cares about me anyway. He then loads the gun with a shell and we begin wrestling. I soon realize the gun is pointed at my face so I placed my hand in front of the barrel, and the gun goes off.

 All I see is smoke, my ears are ringing, and my body is heating up. I looked down to see my fingers dangling on one hand as I proceeded to fight with the other to get to the front door. I turned around to look behind me and he was standing with a blank stare, reloading the gun a second time. I screamed out the name Jesus.

I was able to wedge myself between the door frame and the wall tightly as the gun went off the second time. The shell dashed through the outer edge of my left arm, a layer of skin on my chest, and through the front door. I got away and ran as fast as I could yet feeling like I wanted to give up and die. As I was running, I heard a voice tell me that I would live, so I continued to run for help ensuring that my abuser wasn’t coming behind me. Soon I would hear police sirens in the distance to begin running to the lights headed my way. As the lights approached, I remember bowing on one knee as the scripture replayed in my mind that every knee shall bow  and confess that Jesus is Lord.

What I learned that night, is that Jesus is Lord and he proved his word to me that no weapon formed against me could be able to prosper. It was his love that Blessed me with this story to share with others the power of the saving grace of our Heavenly Father and signs that serve as red flags in relationships.

Abusers of domestic violence will use many tactics to exercise power and control over their victims. Many who become victims are unaware of what is happening either because they are not aware of the red flags, or they simply have not spent enough time alone to find out who they are outside of a relationship.

Some of the red flags:

-the abuser appeals to your emotions.

-they attempt to live the relationship along quickly

-very intense or too good to be true

-keep a recording of all the good they done for you only to use it against you later

-control their finances and yours

-promise counseling or engage religion to earn your trust

-fear of sharing your thoughts or opinions with your partner becoming angry

-blame you for their anger

-put downs, humiliation, or belittle you in front of others

-stalk, harass, or showing up at your job uninvited

-expensive gifts and trips early in the relationship

-isolate you from friends or family

Larissa’s parting words of wisdom,  “If you or anyone you know is experiencing Domestic Violence, I encourage you to seek safety and support within your local community. If you’re considering a relationship and see some of the signs or question if you are, then you most likely are. Take your time when getting to know someone. Normally everyone puts on their best face initially but overtime things change. Refuse to stick around to reassure some one that you love them if they can’t see that you’re worth more than being their personal punching bag.

Choosing to stay believing that one day your abuser will get it, isn’t going to happen. You waste precious time, energy, and miss opportunities to become the best you can be and forfeit the right relationships God would have for.

Love yourself enough to know that you are worthy. Jesus loves you unconditionally, with no strings attached. He died for us all because he sees us all as worthy of his love. A relationship with him is the best one to have as he alone knows every care, desire, and concern. And he will fulfill with no sorrow attached to it.”