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In honor of her mother, Inga Coffee: Ashley Jones

1/16
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Tracy Derraco

 Why are you participating in Unconventional Apology Project? 

 

"I just feel like it’s important to get it out there. I’ve had a lot of shame and guilt on my shoulders for a long time..."

 

I just feel like it’s important to get it out there. I’ve had a lot of shame and guilt on my shoulders for a long time and I just…it’s been like a really dark secret that I haven’t ever…there’s only a few people that I told. I’m kind of transitioning into a new part of my life, with my boyfriend now and just kind of trying to let go of certain things.

 

 

 

Have you ever had the opportunity to discuss the story you are sharing with us today? What impact did it have on you? 

 

"I almost felt weak you know? Because amongst my friends and family, I come off as a really strong person and really independent."

 

I did and I discussed it with my boyfriend last year. Which was kind of hard, it had been bugging me for a while. We were sitting at his house and he was kind of halfway asleep and I was tossing and turning a lot. And he’s like, “What’s going on?” and I’m like, “I don’t know, I have something to tell you that I haven’t told anyone before.” And he was just like, “well, what is it?” And I was like, “I don’t know if I’m ready to tell you yet.” And he’s like, “Ok, well just wake me whenever you’re ready.” [Laughs]. Literally, it took me a couple of hours and he was like, “Ok, I’m gonna get up. I can’t sleep.” He fixed me a rum and coke [room laughs]. It was like 2 o’clock in the morning and he’s like “Ok, I’m gonna get you a rum and coke and you’re gonna tell me what’s going on.” And I told him.

 

One other person was one of my best friends. I told her actually when it happened. Or the day after because I had left and I went to my mom’s house and I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t want to tell my parents because I was super ashamed of it and completely humiliated. I called her; she wasn’t in town at the time, she was at a wedding. Those were pretty much the only two people that I told.

 

It felt good…but I still had that shame and still felt really humiliated that it happened. It felt good, but it still felt like I needed to not tell anyone and I was super scared. I didn’t know what to think because it’s never happened. Nothing that crazy has ever happened to me before, really. You know? I almost felt weak you know? Because amongst my friends and family, I come off as a really strong person and really independent. I took martial arts for half my life, my whole life, so it was kind of like…I already had that heartiness and I felt kind of ashamed that I was going through this you know what I mean? I just didn’t want to seem weak I guess…and vulnerable.

 

 

 

What domestic abuse experience do you want to share?

 

One night after we got married (we were probably 8 or 9 months into our marriage, maybe a year), I had been working a lot and he was drinking quite a bit and very, very heavily. I had started working at a local café as a line cook. I had gotten off super late that night. He had told me he was going to go out with friends and stuff to go drinking. And so I was like, “Ok, there’s nothing wrong with that.” I was always having to just be…I didn’t wanna be the kind of girlfriend that was just trying to keep someone in all the time or trying to control someone. “Don’t go out drinking tonight. Don’t go out with your boys.” That kind of was always over my head for a while. I just didn’t wanna seem like I was super controlling. I never thought I was, I think it was just him trying to make me feel like I was controlling him, when in actuality, he had all the freedom that he wanted and I was working all the time and serving him and doing stuff for him all the time.

 

I went to work and I got home pretty late, like around 1:30 or so. I came home and he was completely passed out. He had left his bicycle at the bottom of our staircase at the apartment complex. His bike was unlocked. I came home and I was just kind of like, “What’s going on?” You know? I walked his bike up and I went back up the stairs and he had been passed out in the bed. He had his shoes on and clothes and everything. So he was completely dressed. All the lights were on so that was kind of weird too…he was passed out.

 

“He got mad and he picked me up and pretty much threw me into a mirror.”

 

I came home and ended up taking a shower and just kinda let him sleep. I was trying to get into bed and I felt bad, like “Oh, I shouldn’t let him sleep with his shoes on.” He has all of his clothes on that he’d been in all night and smells like cigarettes, and so I just started to take his shoes off. Trying to take his belt off and everything. I was trying to crawl into bed and he was kind of laid out all over the bed. I was like, “Hey can you move please?” And he was completely passed out. I’m like, “Hey, I need room on the bed” [simulates nudging motion]. He wasn’t waking up. He’s just kind of shifting around a little bit. So I’m like, [firmer voice] “Hey, can you please move? I’m tryna get into bed babe. I’m tryna get into bed.” And he had gotten in my face. It was a really long time ago, but he told me that he was pissed off for me always trying to bother him or keep him from hanging out with his boys, you know what I mean? “You’re always bothering me when I’m trying to have fun.” You know? “Why don’t you just leave me alone, go sleep on the couch.” I was like, “No. I took off your shoes, I’m trying to be cool about it.” And he tried to sleep on the bed again and wouldn’t let me come onto the bed. I kinda just pushed my way into the bed. He got mad and he picked me up and pretty much threw me into a mirror. We had a really small room, and the mirror was kind of by the door and the mirror broke. I had gotten a few cuts on my arms and had gotten some glass in my hand. So after he did that, he went back to bed [sigh in disbelief]. I went into the bathroom and I just started crying [tears] and cleaning up, trying to get the glass out and everything. I had locked the doors…completely freaked out. And I just was weeping in the bathroom for a good couple of hours. And I wanted to call my cousin to have her pick me up but I was afraid to leave the bathroom. So I stayed in there probably about and hour and a half or so. I heard him shuffling around and I heard him get up. He was trying to get into the bathroom. And he was trying to get in to use the bathroom. I told him to go away. I wanted him to leave the apartment. I said, “Hey, you threw me into a mirror. The mirror’s broken.” He was screaming at me, “I need to use the bathroom!” And I told him to go away and that I didn’t want him in the apartment, and I told him to leave and he just kept on laughing like, “I’m not gonna leave. I’m not leaving. Let me use the bathroom right now.” And I told him “No, stay away from me. I’m gonna stay in the bathroom until you leave.” And he’s like, “well I’m not leaving and I’m not going to the bathroom inside, so come out.” I was super freaked out; I didn’t know what to do. I told him I’m not coming out of the bathroom. And he’s like, “well, if you don’t come out of the bathroom, I’m gonna break the door down and use the bathroom.” And I said “No! [Shakes head profusely]” And I kept on screaming at him just to leave me alone and he came in. I heard him shove the bathroom door with his shoulder a few times. And then he kicked it open. And I was sitting on the toilet kinda not looking at him…looking down [tilts head town and covers face with hand to shield].  And he was like, “You need to move right now.” And I kept on screaming at him to get away from me and just to leave. And he didn’t wanna leave. He’s like, “I want you to get out of the bathroom. Maybe you should leave. You get out of the apartment.” And I told him, “No.” I didn’t wanna go. And he’s like, “If you don’t get off the toilet right now, I’m just gonna piss on you.” And I told him just to leave and I kept on crying [tears] and I couldn’t talk after he told me that. And he was like, “This is the last time I’m gonna tell you. You better get up or I’m gonna fuckin’ piss on you.” And I just started crying and all of a sudden, he just started urinating all over me [tears] and it was completely humiliating and I don’t know why I just sat there. And just let him do it. I was just crying and after he was done, he got up and just went back to bed.

 

After he passed out again, I ended up getting my things while he was asleep and called my cousin and told her what was going on. I got my dogs, ‘cause I have two dogs and I brought them to my mom’s house. And my mom was kinda freakin’ out, like “Well, did he hit you? Did he hit you?” I didn’t tell her because I didn’t want anything to happen because I have two older brothers too and if they found out it would have been really terrible and I just didn’t want the whole drama thing. So I lied to my mom, but I told my best friend and she was just like, “I don’t know what to do. I’m out here in Northern California with everyone. I don’t know what to do.” She’s like, “Can you hold on till I get home?” And I was just like, “Ok.” I sought for divorce right after and then I had told him about what happened when I got back from my parents’ house and I saw him down the street. I think he went to the liquor store. He went to go get Gatorade or something. I went to ask him about what had happened and he told me he didn’t remember what happened. He didn’t remember anything. I told him what had happened and he’s like, “No. That never happened.” And I’m like, “No. That’s what happened. You threw me across.” And I showed him the cuts and everything and I’m like, “Ok, well I’m done I don’t wanna do this anymore. I wanna get a divorce.” And he didn’t want a divorce. He kind of begged me to stay with him and I told him I didn’t want to. I stayed in the same apartment with him for a while and I was still kind of going through the paperwork and everything and then we came to the conclusion that we were going to try to work it out only if we went and got marriage counseling.

 

We went and got marriage counseling. It helped for a little bit and then he was kind of like, “I don’t want to go and do this anymore. I don’t want to do the marriage counseling. I think it’s fine. I think we’re fine now.” It was ok for a little bit. We hadn’t taken a honeymoon yet. So we went to Thailand. It was kind of a good for a little while and…again, it happened in Thailand too. He was drinking and then we got into a scuffle in the bedroom and he ended up holding me down and screaming in my face. I don’t even remember what we were arguing about. I think most of the times that he did, because it would happen pretty often…I don’t even remember what we were talking about. You know what I mean?    

 

"It’s crazy because I never really thought like I was being hurt or anything. I don’t know why, I just felt like it was normal or that I should be ashamed of myself. A lot of the time he would blame me for him…"

 

It’s crazy because I never really thought like I was being hurt or anything. I don’t know why, I just felt like it was normal or that I should be ashamed of myself. A lot of the time he would blame me for him…for provoking him to do things you know what I mean? After that incident had happened I had gotten really, really, really depressed about it and I had kinda thought about taking my own life for a while. He held that against me and pretty much told me that I was crazy and stuff. And kind of used that psychologically against me to say that, “You’re crazy. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re not really feeling this way.” I was thinking about this last night and I was just like God, all the things he used to say to me to make me feel like I was going crazy you know? I had told him that I had tried to do that and that I was thinking about doing those things to myself just so he would know. That maybe he could help me or something or have some sympathy. Something for me. Not necessarily sympathy but just something. It went on for quite a while after that. We were living in that apartment. I was really, really cool with it because I was around my friends and family. I’m an avid surfer…we were both surfers at the time. I lived like right next to the beach so I’d just walk to the beach. That community was kind of like my safe community. I knew everyone there. They raised the rent of our apartment and I was happy to pay for it because I was with my friends and my second family and the community, had lived there for years, like ten years. And he was just like, “No, let’s move out. Let’s go somewhere cheaper. We can get an apartment about 20-25 minutes away from here for like $900, $600.” And I was totally against it. I didn’t wanna do it. And he convinced me to do it and that’s when things got worse. Because I wasn’t around my family. And I wasn’t around my friends anymore. And it was just me and him all the time. It got a lot worse. He was in my face a lot more. Every time we would have an argument, it would definitely escalate to something physical. He would always be in my face [juts head forward]. Or if I was trying to walk away and not like try to provoke him [tucks head down, shrinks shoulders] in any way, he’d try to get in my face anyways. He’d head-butt me a few times and back me into a corner. If I tried to leave, he’d lock the door and threaten, “If you leave, don’t ever come back. I don’t even wanna take you back.” That would freak me out because he was all I had and I was completely in love with him, you know? Completely in love with him. He had gone through some things with his family too and I just felt like I didn’t wanna abandon him you know what I mean? Yeah, it was crazy. The whole entire time we lived in that other house…it was just every time we got into an argument, it just got so much more worse. Just physically, mentally, sexually too.

 

"I was doing jujitsu and after that I was doing Kung Fu and I was doing MMA training. And a lot of the times he’d be like, 'If you call the cops, they’re not gonna believe you anyway. You have all this martial arts training.' And yeah…that kind of made me think about it like, 'Yo, you’re right.' Maybe I am being abusive. Maybe I’m the abuser?"

 

The sexual abuse that I experienced. I never…I thought it was normal. Until I had spoken to my boyfriend about it and he’s like, “No. He raped you. You need to consent. You need to be able to say…you need to want to have sex with someone to have sex with someone.” And he’s like, “It’s not just because he’s your husband. He doesn’t have you like property. You’re not his property over you.” And I was totally like, “Oh my God! You’re right.” It was definitely like that. There were times when I’d be asleep or sick  [tears] and he would come onto me…I’d be asleep. And I remember I woke up one time and he was having sex with me and I just started crying. My back was turned and I cried the whole entire time. And then he just finished. And I remember thinking the whole time that I was just a body, you know? I was just a body for him. And it felt shitty ‘cause I was completely in love with him and I just wanted something different you know? I just wanted to be a good wife too. That was always going through my head: “Just be a good wife. Take care of him. That’s what you’re supposed to do.” You know [tears]? And I was so caught up in trying to be a good wife for him that I definitely ignored myself. It was pretty awful those last 2 years. And then he ended up leaving me and that was when I just started doing things for myself and realizing what was going on. And I started getting kinda sick of it. And I was standing up to him, which I probably shouldn’t have done. I didn’t know what else to do. I just got completely sick of it. And that’s when he started kind of fading away and leaving me alone and stuff like that. He just didn’t wanna be around me I guess ‘cause I wasn’t giving him that satisfaction of trying to control me all the time. He would always bring up the fact that I was doing martial arts. I was doing jujitsu and after that I was doing Kung Fu and I was doing MMA training. And a lot of the times he’d be like, “If you call the cops, they’re not gonna believe you anyway. You have all this martial arts training.” And yeah…that kind of made me think about it like, "Yo, you’re right." Maybe I am being abusive. Maybe I’m the abuser? You know? Screaming at you all the time. For the longest time, I felt like I was provoking him to do it and that I deserved it you know what I mean? I deserved everything. Like my self worth…I didn’t have any self worth. I didn’t really have the ability to even make decision on what I wanted to do you know what I mean? It was always like, “I gotta take care of him. I gotta get up at 4:30 in the morning to make him breakfast in the morning and coffee and make sure that he has lunch and spend my whole entire day making sure he has dinner for when he gets home. But when I get home…he would take the car to work. When we moved out from the old apartment to this other one, he would take the car to work and I would have to ride my bike and then take the trolley for like a good half hour you know? I would literally just spend my day trying to make sure that he was ok. And I didn’t really realize until after he left…I was just racking my brain, trying to figure out how to get him back…how to get him back. Until I started going to see a therapist and they were just like, why would you want this person back? They didn’t really tell me “No.” You know what I mean? They didn’t tell me no. They’re like, “Ok, yeah. Tell us about what happened.” And then I just had a moment with my therapist like, “Oh my God. Why do I want this person back in my life?” [Laughs].  

 

 

 

What no longer lingers in your heart and mind about your experience? What has opened up for you as a result? 

 

"I’ve been able to just pretty much live so it’s been awesome [laughs]."

 

What no longer lingers in my mind is anger towards him. Doing this Project is helping me let go of those things and to kind of forgive that and just let me move on. Also, just the humiliation and the shame of just having that happen to me. I don’t have to be ashamed of it because, obviously there’s a lot of other women and men and children that this happens to every day. So it’s kind of like I’m not alone and there’s nothing to be ashamed of because it happened.

 

Things that have opened up are…a lot of things; I’m able to do things now [laughs]. I can go surfing anytime that I want to and I can travel. Before that…a lot of my friends were always abroad and I really admired that about them. I’ve been able to travel and make plans to go out of the country a lot and with work too, I’m able to concentrate more at work. It’s not like I HAVE to get home and get this done so I can take care of him and have to rush out.  I can spend more time thinking of more creative things to do at work. You know? I can study up on different cooking techniques. Just being able to focus more at work has been really awesome. It’s been cool to do whatever and not kind of like be stuck in one place…not secluded. I’ve been able to see my friends and go out, which has been really awesome. It’s really cool. For the longest time I hadn’t been hanging out with them, but now that I’m closer to them…I’m back in my neighborhood again. I moved back last year [big smile].  So they’re just like, “Yay! You’re back!” Everyone’s like, “I’m so happy that you moved back, you belong here! I don’t know why the heck you moved!” It’s nice to be around everyone. They haven’t seen me in the water for a long time and they’re like, “Where have you been?” You know? “Oh, you know, life.”  I’ve been able to just pretty much live so it’s been awesome [laughs].   

 

 

 

What is your definition of love and how does that love feel? 

 

"It’s setting them free so they’re able to kind of expand and be more than what they are. To kind of figure out who they are as people and just be supportive of that."

 

My definition of love is unconditional. I was just thinking about this yesterday. One of my favorite things is laying in bed and just being warm and having a nice blanket. Just feeling very comfortable. Love gives each other space when we need to have space. It’s just unconditional. It’s not having to hold someone down and trying to control them. It’s setting them free so they’re able to kind of expand and be more than what they are. To kind of figure out who they are as people and just be supportive of that.

 

[My new love] feels good! It definitely feels like that! It’s crazy how much space he allows me to have. I’m not always checking, like “Is that ok? Is that ok?” It’s like, “Yeah, go with your fiends, it’s fine.” And even with my friends we’d go out…if I did go out with my girlfriends, my ex-husband would always have to be there. It’s always be like, “Oh no. Let me go. I wanna go with you guys.” I went and hung out with my girlfriend recently to have dinner and she was like, “Oh, you didn’t bring him8?” And I was like, “No, he didn’t wanna go and he just wanted to hang out at home.” And she’s like, “Oh, well that’s’ nice [laughs]. That’s really nice! It’s nice that he’s really respecting your girl time.” And I kind of thought of it and I’m like, “Yeah, huh? A lot of the times we’re kind of hanging out by ourselves now.” So that’s been really cool. A lot of the times I haven’t had the space I really wanted to be with my friends and do the things I needed to do. So that’s been really cool. He’s just super supportive. It’s not like…Sometimes I wait for it to escalate. Like I feel like it’s gonna get escalated into this really, crazy yelling in your face and stuff. It’s always like, break…come back and then we’ll talk about it. And he’s always really calm. And, “I’m not gonna yell at you. I’m angry because of this. Why are you angry?” It’s never like, “You did this to me! You did this to me! I don’t wanna do this! Blah blah blah blah!” It’s NEVER like that. It’s like, “This is where I’m at. And this is where I’m at.” “Ok, well, let’s talk about it.” I’m just sitting there waiting for it to escalate and it never does. It feels good to not have to go there with someone, you know? It’s awesome [laughs, big smile]. Where if we have disagreements, we learn from them and we progress from them. It’s nice. It’s nice to have a real relationship. It’s pretty crazy. It’s nice. It’s really nice.

 

 

 

What does leaving a Trail of Existence mean to you? 

 

"It means living and sharing my experience with people so that they could learn from that too."

 

It means living and sharing my experience with people so that they could learn from that too.  Looking back and letting those things go and acknowledging that those things happened to me. I’m gonna learn from them. It was something that happened, you know? Just constantly learning about myself and being able to let other people know what had happened so they can relate. Basically, just letting people know what had happened to me ‘cause I don’t wanna keep it inside anymore.

 

 

 

Do you have any parting thoughts? 

 

"You are important. Always take care of yourself...If you’re not happy, how are you ever gonna live?"

 

If you’re reading about all these stories and everything and it really relates to you, try and seek help. Know that you are important. You know what I mean? You are important. Always take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself mentally and being happy. Making yourself happy so you can be healthy and live pretty much. If you’re not happy, how are you ever gonna live? How are you ever gonna open other doors and avenues and see the world for what it is?

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WARNING: this website contains accounts of domestic and sexual violence that some may find graphic or triggering and not appropriate for all ages.

 

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