Friday, October 26, 2012

Why I Talk About Abuse

Most of the time, people don't want to talk or think about abuse. As soon as you use the A word, you can expect a shutter to come down behind their eyes. People are afraid of it. They think there is something wrong with you because you have been a victim in the past. They think there is something wrong with you because you haven't kept your mouth shut about it. They think you must be filled with anger or hate, or you wouldn't tell people the things that someone has done to you.

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.


  1. Thanks. I just have so many things to do, sometimes I forget to speak vocally for those who need spokespeople. This is a problem that will only go away when we shine the light on it. My life was saved. I speak out about porn and other addictions, but even still I shy away from speaking about violence, for exactly the reasons you state. I've shared your post because I think it's so important. Thanks for putting it in words.

  2. As a childhood survivor of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse I appreciate your courage to speak out. When I go to church I realize that at least one-in-three women and one-in-ten men will have been sexually abused before their eighteen birthday. Many times I hear comments that are so un-Christlike and I often speak out in defense to the ones who are silently suffering. I know what it is like to silently suffer and I also know what it is like to have the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ heal me from the emotional pain I endured. I am currently writing a book, "His Grace Is Sufficient" that talks about my own path to healing (

    Thank you for speaking out!

  3. You are pretty much my hero. Thanks for this!

  4. "They think there is something wrong with you because you have been a victim in the past."

    They need to realize that the abuse is what is wrong with the victims and that the victims are not at fault.

    My current wife has been scarred for life by the abuse she suffered in two previous marriages. It has been difficult learning when and how to help her and when to back off and let her work through something on her own. But she is well worth the effort.

    I am a bit puzzled by this statement: "Even though there is a cost for not being ashamed of what has been done to me, it has been worth it."

    I admire you for your courage in facing your own demons and having the strength to reach out to help others that are suffering from similar circumstances.


  5. Silverrain,
    I am sorry you went through all of that. I apologize for my uncharitable comments on FMH. Best of luck to you.


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  7. Thought you might be interested in this story, if you haven't seen it already.


  8. I'm shocked and saddened that you've been threatened for what you've written, SilverRain. For my part, I honor and value the work you do to see to it that people realize they don't have to suffer like you and my grandmother did.


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