February: Love without fear. . . for victims of domestic violence
DVAC director shares her personal experience with domestic violence
Publisher’s Note: This is the first segment of a two-part story. The second segment will appear in next week’s edition.
GRAFTON– Jolene Halldorson has heard many horrific stories from women who come to the Domestic Violence and Abuse Center for help. Women who are looking to escape mental and physical abuse from a man they love or once loved. But the center director has her own story to tell – one of abusive relationships that nearly ended her life.
Halldorson was 19 years old and attending college in Grand Forks when she met and fell in love with a young man. At the time, she believed she was in a healthy, normal relationship, but as she looks back she realizes there were incidences that presently she would have recognized as warning signals.
Just a few weeks after they started dating, Halldorson left Grand Forks without telling anyone where she was going, to be with a friend whose father had passed away. After spending the day with her friend, she went to her parents’ home instead of returning to Grand Forks. When she arrived, her parents were worried about her because they had received a call from a guy who said their daughter was not at her apartment and he was concerned for her welfare.
“I was shocked because he hadn’t met my parents and I hadn’t given him any of my family’s information,” she commented. “At the time, it was looked at as ‘he really cares about you, it was really sweet of him to worry about you like that.’ He was upset, but he said it was because when he couldn’t find me he was worried about my safety.”
That incident was the first sign of the control and abuse that was to come for the young woman.
The relationship became serious quickly. Within six months they were engaged and within the year they were husband and wife. “On my wedding day, I remember thinking I don’t want to go through with this,” Halldorson remarked. “But I felt people had invested in the wedding and I had invested my time in the relationship. I would be embarrassed if I didn’t go through with it.”