Five years ago, my mother Sandy passed away in a car accident. Although the initial investigation from the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office stated that the cause of her accident was due to “some sort of a tire issue, causing the vehicle to veer off the road,” what my family and I know many years and one book later, is that her death was due to alcoholism, and potentially being attacked while driving.

In honor of the five year anniversary of my mother’s passing, I am publishing one post per day about the marginalized issues that affected my family: domestic violence, alcoholism, bipolar disorder, dissociative identity, sexual abuse, and so forth. My mother and I had a loving yet very difficult relationship as I detail in my memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, and it’s been my mission ever since I recovered from my own mental health issues to advocate and raise awareness around mental health. 

Although I’ve been very outspoken about many of the above issues and my mother, I haven’t talked about the fact that on the day she died, it could have been because her enabler was threatening her life in the vehicle she was driving. It’s a messy situation because there was alcohol mixed with an abusive situation, although one may have not caused the other. The person she died with was also her abuser; and out of respect for the family and out of my own healing and not knowing the details as to what happened that day, I have never come forward and talked about it. Over the years I heard reports from several people that my mother was being threatened with a gun to her head and told that if she tried to contact my brother and I that we would be killed; this was psychologically damaging to hear and is something I have had to work through on top of my other issues.

My mother had a history; she was married to an abusive person for many years, and usually, when someone doesn’t receive help for that psychologically, they can go on to repeat those behaviors in future relationships. Growing up around that, being beaten myself, being sexually abused, emotionally abused, and watching my mother affected also damaged me at a very young age. I felt as though I had no one to protect me, and therefore, I had to protect the adults in my life and had to rely on myself for everything. That’s not a good place for a child to be, and it also creates major trust issues. I learned through recovery that God loves me and that he has given me a new life and love in his word, and I never looked back!

Women – and men – can break those psychological issues created by staying in domestic violence situations, but it takes a lot of courage, inner strength, work, and faith in God. It takes knowing that you are worth more than the lies the abuser is feeding you. 

You and your loved ones CAN get help and get to a better place. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has put together a safety plan for every member of the family, including pets.  They also have a number to call in case you are in immediate danger, 24/7: 1-800-799-7233, or call 911. For deaf callers, please dial (855) 812-1001.