Don't Give Up on Yourself: Tessa's Story

This Survivor Story Has Verbal and Physical Abuse Triggers

I became a burn survivor by way of a domestic violence attack. My boyfriend intentionally set me on fire and left me for dead on August 20th, 2012. I had used women's center services prior to the attack. Unfortunately, domestic abuse tends to be cyclical. Sometimes, you grow up in an abusive household and grow to think that this is what normal relationships look like- so I continued to get into abusive relationship after abusive relationship.

This time, it was the definition of an abusive relationship. It started out perfect, you know, what relationship doesn’t? However, it quickly changed and I chose to ignore the signs. I was in a bad place in my life. I was an addict. I didn't even think to save myself. That was the thing. It wasn’t that I wanted to be in an abusive relationship, but at that point, I wasn’t sure I was even worth saving. I think that a lot of people in abusive relationships feel that way, especially when they have been in multiple abusive relationships. You think, “I must be doing this to myself.” Well, that’s just not the truth.

"That was the thing. It wasn't that I wanted to be in an abusive relationship, but at that point, I was sure I was even worth saving."


When I went to the women’s center, the woman working there told me “You know, you don’t need that. You don’t deserve that. Nobody deserves it.” I think I knew that already, but I needed to hear it from someone else. The women’s center is built to help women get out of that cycle of abuse. To know that there is always somewhere to turn to for help, it creates a cycle of hope instead. Sometimes, all you have to do is just make a phone call. You don’t have to know what to do. You don’t have to know what’s next or where you are going to go. Women’s center’s have people to help you figure all that out. They will help you take the steps you need to in order to be safe.

I thought that it was my fault. I thought that it was me- that I attracted that or I picked horrible men, or maybe, just maybe, it was what I deserve. I gave up. Dating wasn't an option anymore. It just wasn't. But then, as fate would have it, I met my husband. I certainly never thought that I would be in a good, healthy, stable relationship with a man that treats me like I'm perfect. I mean nobody's perfect- but my husband looks at me like I am. It’s not a fairytale relationship, but sometimes it feels like that. I have no other one to compare it to. I’m not Cinderella. I wasn’t a maid, but I sure had a hell of a life before this.

Whether it’s domestic violence or something else, everybody goes through something. When you go through something horrible and life-changing, it’s your job to help others get through it too. You have to help however you can and get them to the other side- because it’s so beautiful over here. There are places like the women’s center where you can go to find solace, peace, and safety.

"Love doesn't hurt. Love's not perfect, but it doesn't hurt."


Love doesn’t hurt. Love’s not perfect, but love doesn’t hurt. You are worth loving- and that second chance is out there.  

If someone in your life is witnessing or experience domestic violence, or if you are a victim yourself, don’t wait. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at or 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Story transposed from