Jennifer Taman—who is co-founder and project director of nonprofit organization Women of Destiny and is a domestic abuse survivor herself—cited in harrowing detail her personal example of living through and surviving domestic abuse and how she rose above it all to be a living example of “Healing Forward,” the theme of Domestic Violence Awareness Month this year.
Taman, who was the inspirational speaker in Monday’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month proclamation signing at Saipan World Resort’s Royal Taga Ballroom, detailed the extent of her physical, mental, and verbal abuse and periods of considering suicide.
Taman shared that she ended an eight-year abusive relationship around a year-and-a-half ago. During this relationship, Taman experienced extreme physical, mental, and verbal abuse. “I will not go in detail of how, when, why, and what happened to me during those eight years, but this much I will say: Throughout the course of that relationship, I was…slapped, punched, kicked, my hair pulled, my face slammed on the kitchen table, and choked to the point I almost died,” said Taman. “In addition to that, I was constantly called fat, ugly, stupid, dumb, a loser, good for nothing, a nobody, a piece of s___t, worthless, useless, and all sorts of insults you can think of. I had no close friends to talk to or vent to, [and] I was ashamed to tell anyone what was happening to me.”
Taman lost all contact with her family, felt extremely isolated, and frequently contemplated suicide. She said were it not for her daughter and her dogs, “I would have probably been dead by now.”
Taman said that she wanted to leave her abuser many times before, but her abuser always made excuses. “Every time I tried to leave him, I was always promised [a] better tomorrow, he was always sorry, and he always promised that everything will change. But nothing changed. I was still miserable,” she said.
The relationship came to a point where Taman saw her abuser doing something she deeply disagreed with and decided that it was now time to end the relationship and seek help. By this point, Taman started to learn how to heal, how to love herself, and how to not hate herself for going through what she did. “I understood that healing wouldn’t be easy, nor will it [happen] overnight, but I was determined to mend my damaged heart and become a better version of myself,” she said.
To begin her healing, Taman first turned to prayer and strengthened her relationship with God. Then, Taman signed up for counseling through Karidat Social Services, scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., began opening up to her family about the abuse she experienced, made more friends, ate healthily, took care of herself, and did many outdoor activities such as walking her dogs and going to the beach.
Most importantly, Taman made a point to celebrate every milestone of independence that she achieved, such as getting her own bank account, ID, apartment, and receiving a Community Grant through the Northern Marianas Humanities Council.
Taman hopes that those currently suffering from domestic abuse, those needing healing, and those who are in the process of healing take solace in her words, and that she can serve as a reminder that healing comes from within.
“Know that you are not alone, and that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and that you are loved. Speak out, and know that people are listening. Believe in your strength. You are braver and stronger than you think. Forgive those that have harmed you, and forgive yourself. You deserve to be the happiest person in the world, and [deserve to] be the best version of you. You are special, unique, and beautiful. You are God’s precious gift, so hold your head up high and remember that healing starts from within,” said Taman.