Abuse, addiction often create vicious cycle


Angela Cain/Eyewitness News

Can you imagine being beaten by someone you love? Living with domestic violence sometimes causes victims to choose devastating paths to cope with the pain. One woman is overcoming a common consequence of abuse: Addiction.

"Domestic violence was in my family since I was a baby," said Faith, whose name has been changed to protect her identity.

Faith has known no other life than a life of abuse. "My biological parents were both chronic alcoholics and I suffered, emotional, physical and verbal abuse in that home," said Faith.

Her wounds are so deep that she hides her identity.

"At the age of nine I was taken away from my biological parents because of their alcoholism and put into an adoptive home and my adoptive father sexually molested me."

Faith has found hope through shelter and counseling at the Julian Center for abused women and children in Indianapolis. She says she fled here from an adult life where violence continued to be a constant companion.

"He literally beat me and left me in a pool of blood for dead," said Faith.

Here she describes one volatile relationship: "He left the state thinking that he was going to face a murder charge because he thought he had killed me."

In other relationships, "I've had my nose broken three times. I've had my jaw broken twice."

It is a litany of battering. "I've had several teeth knocked out. I've been knocked unconscious. I've been choked unconscious."

Faith has even been homeless "living on the streets and sleeping in cars."

She turned to alcohol and drugs to numb the pain of abuse. "Both issues have been a major part of my life all my life."

Abuse and addiction often occur simultaneously. Of women coming into domestic violence shelters, at least half of them are impacted by drugs and alcohol, said Helen McClain.

"Domestic violence is not caused by drugs and alcohol but there's a documented relationship," said McClain, who was brought on site at the Julian Center part-time. McClain is a counselor from Fairbanks, an addiction treatment center. She helps heal addictions, while the Julian Center helps heal abuse.

"Until I found a place, this place, where they deal with both issues simultaneously it just didn't work," said Faith.

"I would get clean and sober and go home to a domestic violence relationship and it wasn't long before I was drinking again to cope with the domestic violence," she said.

Today - with treatment for both addiction and abuse - Faith feels she has broken a vicious cycle. "I am experiencing life, true life, for the first time in my life."

She sees a different picture of life, one she sketches in an art therapy class. "Beauty, which is something I never saw before I got here. Everything in my life was very ugly."

Drawing beauty in her picture poignantly reminds her of just how far she has come.

"From the day I walked through this door, it has been a very, long, long journey," Faith said.

"I came to this place a cripple. I was physically, emotionally and spiritually completely bankrupt."

But Faith tells all abuse victims the sun can shine in your life again if you just seek help.

"There's help out there, but you got to ask for it. People don't know you want it if you don't ask. And then once it's offered, grab hold and don't turn loose because it can change and I'm living proof it can change."

Faith has been at the Julian Center for nearly a year - in transitional housing - getting what she calls life-saving treatment. If you are in an abusive relationship and need help, call 926-HELP. This hotline can direct you to many Central Indiana service agencies that will guide you in making life-changing decisions. You can also find out more about how to shatter the silence here.