Friday, October 26, 2012
Why I Talk About Abuse
And I hate talking about it. I am tired of the uncomfortable silences when I admit to what I have lived through. I'm tired of people immediately doubting my word the moment I open my mouth about it. I have been threatened for what I say here. I have been attacked for not being silent. And I hate thinking about something that really isn't a significant part of my life any more. When it comes right down it it, if it were just about me, I'd move on and never think about it again. But it isn't just about me. It's about the 200 women who have been assaulted or beaten while I wrote this blog post.
You see, October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Among all the terrible things that can happen to a person that make him or her eligible to wear a ribbon as a survivor, domestic violence is one of a scant handful that happens at the hands of someone else. In the last 50 years, roughly 150,000 soldiers have died in American wars. Roughly half that many have been killed by loved ones due to domestic violence. 75,000 people dead, not even mentioning the millions injured. Make no mistake. This is war.
I promised myself this year that I would wear a purple ribbon image on my Facebook page for the entire month. Not only because of what I have survived, but to honor the millions of people who are currently suffering at the hands of their loved ones. There has been a cost. "Domestic Violence Survivor" isn't really an attractive line on your personal resume. It is humiliating to admit to having found oneself in this kind of place, especially in a Church where eternal families are second only to Christ in doctrine. Especially when you're hoping to someday find a husband who is true and faithful to his covenants and to you.
There are so many who have no idea how domestic violence really starts. They are afraid, as I've said before, because they fear its potential in themselves. And in their fear, they label and avoid those of us who have lived it. But if we are to ever hope for an end to this war, we must stand up and be willing to face those inner demons unapologetically. Together, those who have been hurt and those who are free.
We must talk about domestic violence. We must educate. We must reach out to those who are at war in their own homes, just struggling to survive. We must be bastions of hope and safety.
For the first time today I was able to sit in the same room with my abuser and feel nothing. I wasn't nervous. There was no self-doubt. I wasn't afraid. And it was wonderful.
Even though there is a cost for not being ashamed of what has been done to me, it has been worth it. If I can help even one other woman realize that what she is living is not okay, is not normal, if I can help her see that no one deserves to be afraid in their own home, I will expose my vulnerability and mistakes to the world. I will wear my purple ribbon, and own my battle scars.
Because I am not afraid.