“I knew deep down inside the way he treated me wasn’t normal,” said Goldei Limbaugh, a survivor of domestic abuse.
When Limbaugh began dating her abuser, she was a pageant queen gaining notoriety as the newly crowned 2003 Miss Southeast Georgia and a former Miss Augusta. However, this newfound fame did not sit well with her abuser.
“He became jealous of the male attention I was getting and he even starting monitoring my whereabouts,” said Limbaugh. “This was my first sign that something was wrong, and this is why I want young girls to understand that true love is rooted in trust and not control.”
After years of emotional and physical abuse, Limbaugh says she hit rock bottom after a violent encounter with her abuser ended with her in the hospital. Despite her condition, she was willing to take back her abuser until a conversation with a representative from SafeHomes Domestic Violence Center changed her life forever.
“By the time I ended up in the hospital, he and I were married with a daughter,” said Limbaugh. “The hospital’s social worker notified SafeHomes of my situation and SafeHomes employee Yasmin Thomas-Goodman politely said to me, ‘You don’t want your daughter to think it’s okay for someone to treat her this way.’ Her words made me realize I wasn’t just living for myself and my abuser and I divorced shortly after.”
Limbaugh says she is forever grateful for the support she received from SafeHomes, and she went on to become the founder of the JingleJam 10K, one of the Augusta’s most popular races that raises thousands of dollars for the domestic violence shelter.
Limbaugh uses her platform to help others become survivors and she offers the following advice to help others identify if they are dating or married to an abuser.
“Since abusers want power and control, they’ll try to break you down emotionally by playing on your insecurities with name calling, playing mind games and even making you feel guilty for correcting them. Love doesn’t belittle you and, if you are experiencing emotional abuse, take this as a red flag and get help.”
“Abusers can sometimes display a different persona in public to shift responsibility or even hide their abusive behavior. Intentional deceit is a sign of a lack of self-respect and respect for you, which is why you should take this as a sign of a toxic relationship.”
“If an abuser can remove you from friends and family, they have taken you away from your support system. I allowed my ex to do this to me, and I found myself in a dangerous place emotionally. There is hope for those relationships with your loved ones to be restored and don’t be afraid to reach back out to them for help.”
Limbaugh says healthy relationships are based on mutual respect for each other’s emotional and physical boundaries. While caution in dating is a good thing, she wants others to be proactive rather than reactive. However, if you are already in an abusive relationship, she says trust yourself and seek help.
“I want survivors to know that they are not alone, and there are people out there that can help,” said Limbaugh.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Limbaugh will be one of the domestic abuse survivors sharing their story during the 2018 Survivors’ Walk. This free event will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, at the Teardrop on Augusta University’s Summerville Campus. Attendees are encouraged to wear purple to show support.