LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Alison Addie is a survivor of intimate partner violence - but she didn’t realize she was in an abusive relationship until after she was out of it.
When she first started dating the man who later abused her, Alison said it felt good.
“It started out great, real fun, lots of dates. It was perfect,” she said.
Then, she started experiencing doubts about the relationship. She said she questioned the foundation of the relationship and her happiness.
But, she stayed. For one year, two months and 26 days. She knows the exact amount of time.
After the breakup, Alison realized how unhealthy her relationship was while reading through one of her old journals.
“I flipped to a random page and it was a page of me scribbling down all my doubts,” she said. “I kept reading it and reading it and reading it and page after page after page of me trying to process what I was feeling in the relationship.”
She shortly realized what she experienced.
“It just suddenly, ‘This is bad, this is abuse, I was in an abusive relationship,’” Alison said.
The University of Louisville junior was involved in an abusive relationship from December 2018 until March 2020.
“It took me a long time to wrap my head around the fact that I was abused,” said Alison. “The boundaries were blurred. My ex was really, really amazing to some people and really, really not to me.”
Alison started struggling emotionally when her abuser died. She did not want to get into details about his death but she found it difficult to find someone who understood how she was feeling - sometimes grief, other times anger.
She turned to The Center for Women and Families, a nonprofit that helps domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. She said it was a source of light.
“It’s kind of like a center for hope,” said Alison.
Alison said staff at The Center advocated on her behalf, conducted listening circles and helped her learn how to process her triggers. The experience validated her feelings, empowered her and helped her get to a point where she could talk about her past.
“I generally love myself and it’s taken me a lot to be able to say that,” she said.
Looking back, Alison said the one disappointing thing about her experience is that she was never able to press charges before her abuser died.
Earlier this month, Alison participated in the Speak Their Name event hosted by The Center. The event remembers victims of domestic violence in Kentucky who died in 2020 and 2021.
Alison said sharing her story on that platform and continuing to persevere makes her feel powerful.
If you find yourself in a situation like Alison, there is always a way to get help. Call 1-844-237-2331 or visit The Center online.
You can also call the Domestic Violence Support Hotline at any time. That number is 1-800-799-7233.
The Center for Women and Families is hosting a Give Week through Oct. 23. The fundraising event helps make sure the organization can continue to offer its services and programs for free.
If you'd like to learn more about The Center and donate, click here.