‘This Photo Was Taken The Night Before I Escaped’

February 5, 2018
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Judy Sharp finds it very hard to look at this photo of herself with her young sons.

Yet, she does so every year – sharing her story in a plea to show others caught in the web of domestic violence, there’s a way out.

You will easily be forgiven for not recognising the skinny, terrified mother-of-two above, as she appears to be a very different woman these dats. She went on to become an accomplished author known for her inspiring TED X talk with her son who has autism, Laser Beak Man artist Tim Sharp.

The dynamic duo have come such a long way from the night pictured in this harrowing photo.

“I can barely look at that first photo,’ Judy told Kidspot.

Judy recently shared the image on Tim Sharp’s Facebook page, despite the bad memories that it brings up – but she went a step beyond. She also shared practical tips for people thinking about escaping abusive relationships.

“On this day every year I share a small part of our story with the hope that it may encourage someone else.’ she wrote in the poignant post.

Judy’s story

“On the 1st February 1992 I escaped a very abusive marriage,’ starts the powerful social media post.

“This photo was taken the night before I escaped. I do not know how I survived that night. He took the photo he said because it was supposed to be the last night I was to be alive and so the boys would have a memory of being with their mother.”

Her boys Tim and Sam were almost two and four-years-old at the time, and the fierce mama knew she had to act, despite feeling exhausted by her situation.

“To be honest I didn’t run for myself, I was too worn out and worn down to do anything for myself. I did it for my sons,” she says.

“I really didn’t believe there was any hope or future for us and I didn’t believe I could do it. But I had to try for the boys I had to do everything I could for them to be safe and away from such evil.”Judy chose a better life for herself and her sons, and wants to help others have a “wonderful life”.

Source: Judy Sharp

Women who find themselves in domestic violence situations are often asked why they don’t just leave. There are myriad reasons why, and a big one is that they feel trapped by their financial situation.

Sure you can leave, but to go where and with what money?

In many cases, Financial abuse is also part of the deal, keeping victims tied to their abusers who deny them access to money.

“He kept all the money from me, I never even had $5 in my purse,” she told Kidspot.

How could you survive looking after two young kids, especially if they also had demanding special needs?

Her eldest child Tim, was diagnosed with severe autism when he was 3-years-old.

“I couldn’t go to a shelter because Tim’s autism was so bad, no one could deal with it,” she said.

Image credit: kidspot

He has since gone on to set records with his exceptional talent, and in particular his magnificent, popular creation, Laser Beak Man.

Despite her being urged to place him in an institution, Tim is living a happy, successful life. His work has appeared in international galleries, and his creation sparked an 8-part animated children’s TV series and even a Broadway play in the Big Apple.

“Looking back Tim was always leading the way but it wasn’t always clear then,” the proud Mother  toldKidspot.

But the day that this photo was taken Tim’s future didn’t look so bright.

Judy’s shares the following tips

Knowing the reality of taking that seemingly enormous leap into a new life, and not only surviving but thriving, Judy wanted to share how she has coped.

“In the early days it was down to basics, food, and for Tim living with autism trying to find a bit of happiness in every day, just trying to survive.” she said.

The incredible Mom-of-two and bestselling author made a few rules and beliefs for herself, some of which she still follows today. They are:

  1. Always pay your bills first. People will feed you rather than pay the bills for you . And they did.
  2. Only go to the shops one day a week and then hopefully there will be some money left for a drive to the country or fish and chips at the beach.
  3. No matter how hard it is to ask for what you need , when you do most people will try to do what they can to help. They can not read your mind, talk to them. But only ever ask for really important things. 
  4. Always be humble and grateful for every single act of kindness. THANK YOU. 
  5. One is the loneliest number but at least you get all the blankets. As one you are the captain.
  6. A friends husband told me that every day in every way things would get better. I didn’t believe him. I didn’t think it was possible. But I did what he said and everyday I wrote down one good thing. He told me not to think of what had gone wrong, what I hadn’t done, or what I thought I failed at, just find one better thing. Some days it seemed impossible to think of any better change but he was right there was always something. You have to look to find.
  7. No matter what the expense, this family needs a dog. There is no one else who is always that happy to see you and makes you smile like that and forget everything else.
  8. Single mothers have been raising incredible humans since time began. I am strong, I am invincible, I can do anything. I am woman! I am a mother. 
  9. It’s rare that only one thing goes wrong at a time. Sometimes it’s threes,or many more. Deal with them one by one and do your best. It may not seem fair but it is what it is.
  10. All that matters is the family you make. That is the only thing worth fighting for. And when you have a child with autism the fight is longer and harder but you are the world expert on your child and your family. Believe in yourself and after a while, you are no longer fighting, just leading the way. 
  11. No matter what happens life goes on. You can watch it go by or walk with it. No matter how slowly or even wearing ten-ton mud covered boots from the depths of quicksand, but you can always take a step. Like every wise prophet has said life is one step after another. 
  12. Everything is better when you float in water. 
  13. It took me a long time to start to believe this one…… It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t deserve it. No one deserves it. I deserve so much better and it’s up to me to make that better happen.Judy and Tim Sharp now have a wonderful life – beyond what she could have imagined all those years ago. Source: Judy Sharp

 “Don’t wait for it to stop, it won’t”

Judy ends off her post with a plea for those suffering in the same situation she was facing when her boys were tiny.

” Take a step, tell someone, ask for help. If you can’t do it for yourself do it for your children. Domestic violence/abuse is never acceptable, don’t wait for it to stop, it won’t.

Judy says that back then she could never imagine that all these years later she would have such a wonderful, full life. She has a home and garden, her beloved pets, great friends and has raised two “healthy, happy, gentlemen sons”.

Image credit: kidspot

Her other son Sam is a fantastic swimmer that trialled for the Olympics and is a swim coach.

“I am a keynote speaker, an author and an associate producer. I am me. “

“The scars don’t go away but I don’t have to look at them every day. I wish you the same happiness, believe me, everyone does. Take a step.”

As well as being a phenomenal advocate for autism, Judy has also become a powerful voice for domestic violence victims.

“This is a huge need in the world,’ Judy told Kidspot.

“I only wrote it in the hope it may help one, I think it might have.”

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