Thursday, October 10, 2013


I'm willing to bet that I am no different than your neighbor, one of your friends, or maybe even you.

I'm a survivor of domestic violence. 

October, in addition to being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 

When I say that "I" am a survivor, I am not saying that my husband beats me. He is my life raft, my savior, my stability and the person I lean on the most for normality in a relationship, even when we both get it wrong. 

The current statistics on domestic violence are that one in four women and one in seven men are harmed by someone close to them, defined as an "intimate partner" in their lifetimes. 

I'm willing to bet my life that those numbers are higher because what is one's definition of violence is another's definition of normal. That was me, growing up. I knew that what we were experiencing as a family wasn't everyone else's normal, but I knew that this was our normal. And that our normal was to be kept quiet. To many, I think we might have even looked like a semi normal family. 

I'm not telling my family's story, however, I'm sort of telling my own. To exert power over a small child in a barbaric manner is nothing short of the most vile thing I can ever imagine. Once a child's innocence is stolen, that child cannot ever have that back, ever. That child must go through life choosing to either be crippled or defiant about his or her injuries. I refuse to be crippled. 

So, how to define domestic violence, exactly?

Violence isn't always explosive, though I always think of it as walking on eggshells. Sometimes it's quite covert, disguised as controlling behaviors with money, verbal bashing, constant digs, extremely controlling behavior, etc. It's a tear down of your soul. 

Maybe it looks a lot like an occasional "this rarely happens." But then it happens again. And again. And again. 

Domestic violence is not limited to hitting, kicking, or screaming. It includes rape, rape within marriage, incest, and molestation. As stated above, it is not limited to women. Domestic violence may touch women, men, and children. 

If you're human, and this doesn't apply to you, you read the statistics, the news, hear the stories, and recoil in horror. 

However, you might read those same statistics and feel shame if it does. Damn, that shame hurts nearly as badly as the violence itself. 

If you know someone who is experiencing this, you might try to help. And try. And try. And try some more. You wonder why in the hell he or she just won't leave their partner, especially when there are children involved. You feel played for a schmuck. Why wouldn't you?

But that's the thing about continuous violence. There develops an odd sort of co-dependency, especially if there are children involved. You might believe the lies you are told, even a little bit.

"You'll never leave me alive."

"You're crazy, this is all in your head."

"Stupid bitch. Fucking whore."

"This happens to bad little girls."

"I'll kill your dog if you tell."

You believe it all. And so, you stay. There is no way out, you think. You might be dependent because of finances, special needs, lack of a support system, or because you're utterly broken inside. 

If you're a child, you don't tell because you honestly believe that you deserve every damned thing that has happened to you and you believe every threat uttered. 

Maybe you do leave. Maybe you leave and never look back. But it's not that easy, is it? Scars never heal, do they? You might PTSD, nightmares, and triggers. You will likely have those the rest of your life whether your were the adult or the child. 

This isn't your fault. 

You have just witnessed brutality of the worst kind. Your spirit is shattered. If there are children who have witnessed this, or have experienced this, it's even worse; sometimes, because sometimes you can't even see past your own pain to care for their broken souls. So, now there are more shells of humans thanks to this breakdown in humanity. 

I was once one of those children. I was once even one of those women. 

I'm not a shell of a person, most of my pieces are intact. It's taken me well over a decade to heal and I'm still not sure where I am as a person sometimes. Having my own children and allowing them to teach me how to love something unconditionally has helped me in so many ways. I still have the nightmares and the triggers, but I'm not broken. 

I survived. 

But what about the others? The ones who are still victims? The children who are living under the thumbs of the monsters who don't just come out at night? How can we help them?

If you know someone in an abusive situation, let them know you are there for them. Yes, you are possibly risking your life by helping. But driving someone to a shelter, a safe home, some place, should not feel like a burden to you. For as hard as it is to watch a loved one be battered, imagine how hard it is to be that other person. 

If you are reading this are you are that person in that abusive situation, or that former child, you're not alone. You can crawl through Hell and come out. I don't have the answers as to how, but I do know that it can be done. You have to break the cycle of violence, because that's what this is, a cycle. 

Know the domestic violence laws in your states- are you living in a non aggressor state? Does DCS get involved any time there is a domestic violence related call? Do the women's shelters near you accept women and children? Do you have a safe place? Have you spoken up? Do you have 9-1-1 plugged into speed dial?

Most importantly, male or female, know that it's unacceptable for someone to violate your body, mind, or spirit.

Be a survivor. Please. 

Listed below are links for help and information on domestic violence.

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