By Demi Moore
As a survivor of domestic abuse, each day brings a sense of peace and healing. To those of you reading who have been victims of domestic abuse, to those who are victims now, and especially to those who will become a victim of domestic abuse, I promise you there is hope. You chose to read this today for a reason. Before I get into my story, I want you to pause for a moment. I want you to ask yourself why did you choose to read this, and who are you reading for? What are your hopes to gain today? And as you are reflecting on how you are feeling and what you are thinking, I invite you to be fully present and engaged in the topic I am discussing.
I share my story with you to further clarify what it is like to be a victim of domestic violence, to understand myself as a survivor of domestic violence and reflect on the impact of this journey both personally and professionally. I also want to provide support and comfort to those who have or will suffer from domestic violence.
This is my story
My name is Demi Lynn Moore.
I save lives for a living.
I have a passion for health, well-being, and fitness.
I am strong, proud, and confident.
I am an educated woman pursuing a doctorate degree.
But on top of all of that, I was a victim of domestic violence.
I am 31 years old. I was born and raised in Pennsylvania and I have two loving and supportive parents, Shelly and Larry Moore. I am an only child. Growing up I attended school, received good grades, participated in school activities, and I was captain of the cheerleading squad. I had a lot of friends and enjoyed life. That’s when it all changed. In October of 2006, I met my first ex-abuser. He was cute and charming. I enjoyed the extra attention and flattery, yet I was unaware that his flattery was a potential early warning sign of domestic abuse. He displayed a lot jealous traits and manipulative behaviors that I ignored because I was swayed with his charming personality. Or so I thought.
Research suggests: If a man has history of jealousy, possessiveness, and the ability to be charming, manipulative, and seductive to get what he wants, and hostile, nasty and mean when he doesn’t succeed, the risk for battering becomes very high.
In December of 2006, the two of us were driving to Philadelphia to visit a relative of his and an argument started for a reason I can no longer remember. He proceeded to punch me in the left side of the face, causing my head to slam against the passenger side window. At that time, I did not know what to think. Was this real? Did this really just happen? I was confused and not thinking clearly. I had never experienced this before.
During another argument, he threw me through his closet doors, and the last time he put his hands on me he threw me down his spiral staircase. After tumbling down and trying to understand what happened, I truly feared for my life. I was able to get to my feet and run out the back door to my car. As I was backing out of his driveway, looking in my mirror for other cars, I stopped to put my car in drive. I looked to my left, and he was standing there with a metal baseball bat. I quickly sped out of his driveway and got away.
For months, he continued to contact me and even going as far as saying he was outside of my parents’ house. It was in that moment, I had no other choice but to finally disclose some, not all, of the information to my parents. The local police in his neighborhood were notified and due to them being uninterested in helping me, I did not press charges or have him arrested. I requested that he leave me alone.
You’re probably sitting there wondering why my parents didn’t get more involved. I was a cheerleader still at the time, so coming home with bruises was not out of the ordinary. It was easy to hide it from them. I did not grow up in a house with domestic violence so this was new to me and I was not sure how to deal with it or process it all.
In June 2007, I graduated high school with very low self-esteem resulting from this. The low self-esteem continued as I began college. Looking back now, I demonstrated depressive behaviors. I had a loss of energy, yet I could not sleep. I was always agitated and restless and I continuously criticized myself for my perceived mistakes. I had little, if any, self – confidence. I did not believe that I had any personal value or self -worth.
I did not think it could get any worse until tragedy struck again when I developed an eating disorder stemming from the abuse. I struggled with self-image and by sophomore year of college my eating disorder was out of control. For the next year, I continued to hide that from my parents once again out of embarrassment. I lived at school, so again it was easy to hide. The eating disorder was taking over. I was found lying on the bathroom floor by a campus security guard after passing out. Finally, my senior year, my secret was out. My roommates figured out what was wrong with me and went to a counselor on campus who then notified my parents. At that point I had to confess to my parents I had an eating disorder. I moved home for my last semester. I was slowly dying. The eating disorder was going to win if I did not get help.
Still, through all of this I graduated from college in 2011, Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. I knew that dealing with being abused and low self-esteem, and now an eating disorder, I had to do something to prevent this from ever happening again.
I was introduced to Krav Maga which is a self-defense and fighting system developed for Israeli Defense Forces. A combination of my fight training, and going to the gym, I actually started to feel a little better about myself, but I still was not eating properly. I was eventually introduced to a personal trainer who taught me proper techniques of working out, but more importantly she showed me the proper way to eat, finally convincing me that with proper nutrition, combined with training, I could eat and lose weight a health way. I finally developed the body I was looking for and a new passion in life for physical fitness training.
At this stage in my life, I obtained a job with the State Police, and in 2012 I began my career. Life was perfect, right? Wrong.Within a year after beginning my career, I met and started dating my second ex-abuser. After all I had been through and after climbing out of my emotional dark hole, three months into us dating, I was once again a victim of domestic violence.
The verbal and physical abuse I endured in this relationship was far worse than anything in my past. The verbal abuse was every day and the physical abuse was a few times a week. By this time, I was living in my own apartment, and he eventually moved in with me. It started with him slapping me across the face, but quickly progressed to him coming after me with a butcher knife, and sleeping every night with a loaded gun under his pillow, to him eventually holding the loaded gun to my head, waking up looking down the barrel of the gun, to him attempting to set me on fire, destroying my apartment, punching and kicking me in the legs, stomach, ribs and face.
He went through my phone and deleted every single male that was in my phone, even if they were family or co-workers. He knew all of my passwords to my email accounts as well as my social media accounts so he could “check up on me” anytime he wanted. He knew where I was at all times. He knew when I was to leave for work, and when I was to return home. If I was a minute late, I was in trouble. I could not go to the store alone, I could not go see my parents alone, and I definitely could not hang out with my friends alone or go to the gym alone. He degraded me in the lowest of ways you can degrade a human.
I was extremely close to my family and he was not, therefore he resented me for that. We could not attend family functions and if we did, we either got there late due to an argument or he would start an argument while we were there so we would have to leave early. I was running out of excuses to make for him. He would tell me I can only talk to my parents once a day so I would try to get all of my calls into them while I was at work and out of the house. I was being isolated from my family and I was losing friends because I could not tell anyone what was going on. I was a prisoner within my own home.
During this time, he was not working. I was the only income, paying all of the bills, rent, my student loans, his car payment, our gym memberships and phone bills. I was going broke. I knew there was a problem when I had a full-time job, yet had to ask my parents for money to put gas in my car because I did not have any.
With all of the abuse, and how unstable we were, he thought it would be a great idea to get a dog. He thought it would “bring us closer together,” I guess like a child. To save an argument we did. I of course paid for my now six year old miniature dachshund. I always say I am not sure who saved who, but I thank God for him because I feel like he saved me.
By now you have to be wondering what happened next? She left him right? Well not exactly. In September of 2014, it got worse. I do not know what was worse the fact that he actually proposed to me, or the fact that I accepted a marriage proposal from a man that has tried to kill me numerous times. On the outside I was portraying this happy couple I had a nice diamond to show off and I had become such a professional at hiding the abuse and having all of my family and friends thinking we were a happy couple. I began to tell myself, “this is going to be my life…but it can’t be.” I was smiling on the outside, but on the inside, I was dying.
You have to also be thinking, “She’s a cop, why doesn’t she have him arrested?” Eventually my work did find out about some of the abuse. I can only use so much makeup to cover up the bruises. I was called in by my superiors for questioning, yet they did not arrest him. It is only within the last ten years that Intimate Partner Violence or domestic violence has been taken seriously as a criminal justice issue within the national context of our country so I could not understand why they were unable to see the fact that I was crying out for help. That night after I was called in for questioning, he told me if he got arrested he would kill me first and make it look like a suicide. He eventually began calling and harassing me while I was at work.
By January 2015, I had enough. January 23rd he was out drinking with friends. I got up for work at 3am and he was not home. I called him and naturally he cursed me out yet eventually showed up at home with a friend. He and his friend eventually walked in the door and went to the main bedroom and went to sleep. I wanted answers so I walked back to ask him where he was at this hour and more importantly how did he get home. He stood up and threw me against the wall. While continuing to use profanity, he told me I did not have the right to ask him these questions. I reminded him that I was his fiancé so I did have the right to ask. He never answered so I walked out into the living room.
As I made it out there, he came running down the hall. He threw a candle at the wall and it smashed. I could see my puppy under the kitchen table and I can still to this day hear his yelp as he was crying. He ripped the hallway closet doors off of the hinges. He did not care. He was not responsible for any of the damage. He then picked me up by my neck with both of his hands around my neck and began to strangle me. As he did so, he was also and slamming me into the front door. His friend came running out and was yelling for him to let go of me. Eventually he put me down, and as I could feel myself fading in and out, he punched me in the face. I fell to the ground and I could see him coming back for another punch until his friend jumped in.
The room went black, but I could still hear their voices so I knew I was alive. He said to his friend, “If the cops come, tell them she hit me first.” His friend said, “No I just watched you lay your fiancé out in front of me and we don’t even know if she is alive.” The two ended up leaving after that. Once I realized they were gone, I knew if I did not end this relationship, either he was going to kill me, or I was going to kill him. Someone was going to end up dead.
January 25th was it, I had enough. I told him the relationship was over and he needed to come pick up his stuff. I do not think he believed me. I made sure my family was there when he eventually showed up with his friend. He was shocked to see I really had his stuff packed and this was the end. Box by box he carried them out making comments but I ignored them. On January 25, 2015 that night for the first time in 3 years, I slept with both eyes shut.
One of the best predictions of future violence is a history of past violent behavior. When my relationship ended with him, I was contacted by one of his ex-girlfriends who told me that she wished she only reached out sooner. She told me when she was with him she experienced some of the same violent behavior that I went through. And as time went on, the girlfriends after me would reach out to me asking if I had experienced any of his violent behavior. Yet we all concluded that I seemed to get the worst of it.
Turning the Page for a Better Life
During this disastrous relationship, as you can imagine I relapsed with the eating disorder. Here I was once again at the bottom of a dark hole. In 2017, I decided to go back to school and pursue my Master’s Degree. He did not have a college education and hated the fact that I did, therefore he would not allow me to continue school while with him and I could not afford it because of him. Since then, I have gone to a counselor which helped me overcome some, not all of the emotional distress. I have joined a new gym and I train harder than ever which has always been one of my true passions. Counseling is a great tool however I found the best therapy to be the gym, talking with my family and friends and most of all, sharing my story.
In May of 2019, I successfully graduated with my Master’s Degree from and in September 2019, I began pursuing my doctorate degree.
A Bright Future Ahead
I share my story with you not for sympathy, but in hopes of saving someone else’s life. The questions often come up, “Why did you stay so long?” Or “Why didn’t you just leave?” There are numerous reasons why someone doesn’t just leave, and why someone stays in a relationship that could kill them. Fear. There was a fear of staying and a fear of leaving. Statistics show that in a domestic abuse situation, if the abuser has access to a gun, which we had, it will increase the chances that the woman will die by 500 percent. It’s incredibly dangerous to leave an abuser, because the final step in the domestic violence pattern is: kill her.
In closing, domestic violence thought I would die unhappy and unloved at the hands of my abuser. God had other plans. I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story with you. I hope that it has been educational and helpful. I hope that if anyone reading today is in the midst of a violent relationship or you know anyone who is, you can see with me here today there is a way out. I am here to tell you that that there is a group among us who suffers alone because keeping silent appears safer than speaking out. To break the silence it brings pain, shame, rejection, and suffering. So they keep it in and feel alone.
I often found myself reflecting on the words of one researcher: It takes a long time to forgive yourself, especially if you are a person who tends to be hard on yourself. You probably can’t believe that you, of all people, got involved with a toxic man. Maybe you saw the signs, yet you remained in the relationship in order to fix him or change him. Once I began to believe in myself, I began to understand that my story was impactful and I could make a difference. I decided to no longer hide from my experiences as a victim of domestic abuse; instead, I embraced my encounters and became a more resilient survivor and took control of my entire existence. I realized that I could never again allow myself to become a victim of domestic violence if I truly wanted to obtain authenticity. I was now not a victim, but a survivor.
As my journey continues, I hope to leave you with this message. Domestic violence does not discriminate. There is no one story fits all and each story is unique. There is a light at the end of the dark tunnel and you do not have to live in darkness forever. Please continue to follow my journey as I take my tragedy and turn it into a triumph. Keep an eye out for my upcoming book releasing this year, A Trooper in Moore Ways than You Know where I share my entire story.
If you, or someone in your community is in an abusive relationship, please call the Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County’s 24/7 crisis hotline at 610-565-4590 for support and resources.