Phillips: 'I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor because I lived to tell this story
Daisy Phillips, now 38, will never forget that day in 1989 when she was wrapping up her ninth grade year at Bethel Junior High (currently Bethel Middle School). Her favorite teacher, Mrs. Becky Clowers, wrote these words in her yearbook: “If you want to reach for the stars, you will reach them!”
As a confident, vibrant young girl that summer day, she had no trouble believing those words as she excitedly thought about her bright future ahead of her, but she didn’t have any idea how she would need to draw on the truth of those words in the future as an adult when she entered the dark world of domestic violence.
Slowly but surely, all that youthful confidence was stripped away.
It started during a vulnerable time in her life, when she was separated after a 10-year marriage and both her grandmothers passed away. An old boyfriend appeared back in her life and “swept her off her feet” with his romantic ways for the first couple of months. “He showered me with love and took me and my kids on picnics and played ball with my son – all the typical ways of laying it on thick and getting in a good way with me,” Phillips explained.
Then, the isolation and manipulation phase began.
He began monitoring her cell phone calls and text messages, began sending texts to her friends and had to know where she was at all times. “When I was gone for a half hour, he would call about four times,” she said. Finally, he took the cell phone from her altogether. To isolate her farther, he took the air out of her tires to prevent her from driving.
In acts of ultimate manipulation, he broke four pairs of her glasses so that she couldn’t see clearly for days at a time. “I remember I glued one pair back together and kept wearing them,” Phillips recalled.
On average of three days a week, the relationship got violent. “When he drank, he hit me,” she said, adding that he spat in her face and chipped her tooth in two separate incidences. “I had to clean dirt out of my mouth more than one time after he threw me on the ground.”
To hide the violence on her face from her kids, she covered the bruises with make-up and always wore her hair down around her face.
While others looking in on the circle of abuse could see her situation clearly, it was very confusing inside that circle. At first, her mind blamed the abuse on the alcohol rather than the person and wanted to believe the best in him, and then she didn’t want to put her children through an abuse shelter or jeopardize their safety further, so days turned into weeks which turned into months.
“It’s a shameful cycle,” she explained. “I felt so stupid for not getting out and that’s the way a lot of women feel when they get in those situations and they are highly intelligent women.”
Finally, on a hot summer day, the violence reached an all-time peak when Phillips ended up crawling from her living room floor to her kitchen to get a towel which, when she held it to her face, became literally soaked in blood. When she ran from the house with more determination than ever to escape, he grabbed her arm to pull her back into the house. “He said, ‘I’m sorry, come back in. I love you,’” she remembered. “Then, my next door neighbor got between us and told him ‘Get your hands off her’ and that’s when I ran to a friend’s house three doors down and she called 9-1-1.”
While spending the next four days in the hospital recovering from that incident, she learned she suffered two facial fractures in her nose. Her face was black and she couldn’t open her right eye. When a nurse held a mirror to her face the next day, she barely recognized herself.
Through the black bruises and the tears, however, Phillips managed to see the girl she used to be in the nurse’s mirror –the confident and vibrant young girl with sparkling eyes who used to dream to reach the stars. That very day in the uncomfortable hospital bed that spoke the cold, hard truth about the abuse, she knew she couldn’t hide the violence anymore and found a new spirit to discover that girl again.
“My neighbor saved my life that day,” she declared. “Also, my friend three doors down told me later that she was supposed to be at work that day, but she was convinced that God had her home to be there for me.”
After this incident, Phillips made the tough decision to share her story in hopes of helping other women and men escape the vicious cycle of domestic violence. “My advice to anyone going through a violent relationship is to break the cycle by breaking the silence because that’s the real kicker,” said Phillips. “Whatever it is that’s keeping you silent – whether it’s your pride or shame or your attempt to protect your kids or family members – don’t let it keep your voice and don’t be silent.”
“I don’t call myself a victim but I call myself a survivor because I lived to tell this story,” she added.