Hey guys! I know I haven't written one of these in almost a month and I am sorry. Here is the deal. I want this to be a space where I can be completely honest and vulnerable. I know it sounds weird, writing about very personal matters on the internet for strangers to read but the reality is there is a therapeutic aspect in writing and sharing this with everyone, and no one at the same time. It is an added bonus to know that my words, my experiences, could help someone else feel less alone and a bit more empowered, in that spirit I will begin.
Recently, a few days after my last post, I was shaken to my core. This event caused me to shut down a little and the first casualty is my creativity, i.e. my blog. Here is what happened about a month ago, my husband and I decided to catch a late movie on a weekday evening, we left the boys home, nothing unusual about it, my oldest is 17 years old. While we were at the movies, someone knocked on our door, our youngest (13) didn't know who was at the door and decided it would be a good idea to open the door and find out (I know right?!?! scary stuff), not only did he open the door to a stranger, he told said stranger he was home alone. (I hope you are pulling out your hair right about now) Well while the move was not very bright or wise of our 13 year old, any normal response would be anger followed by a teachable moment for a child who trusts openly, that the world can be a scary place and trust must be given selectively.
Turns out the knock on the door was my ex-husband with court papers to serve, not a stranger completely, but my very own "boogey-man". You see I survived an abusive relationship with this person, physical, emotional and sexual. At that moment I was transported into the mind of my former self, that 17 year old girl who was scared and alone and saw no way out. I can't tell you how deeply it shook me, I will just tell you this. I am nearly 20 years past that relationship, happily married with a family and a home of my own, I am an accomplished, educated professional but none of this changes the trauma I endured for five years. One's reaction to trauma doesn't go away with accolades and accomplishments. The truth is the pain of abuse scars us deeply in ways unimaginable and it can present itself throughout our life and affect new relationships. I feel we have this image of what an abused person looks like and it probably wouldn't be my image. This might come as an uncomfortable revelation to you and believe me it isn't easy for me either. I seek to give hope to others who see themselves in positions I once occupied. Too often we keep these truths buried deep within us as if we are to blame. We aren't.
You may or may not already know but April is Sexual Violence Awareness month. Sexual Violence forms an umbrella on a number of issues including rape, harassment, gender violence and discrimination. I am grateful that this has been memorialized, the more we bring it out of the dark corners of our society, the more educated we become, the more resources will become available and less and less women will find themselves in this position alone and scared. It is an opportunity for women who have experienced some sort of violence against them to discuss and feel supported and empowered by others' shared experiences and stories. Silence is a silent killer.
I recently joined a taskforce at my college to help spread the word and educate myself and others on what this looks like, how we can support survivors and begin work to end the stigma. This is an important step for me as a survivor. It often leaves me uncomfortable, unhappy and emotionally depleted, and it forces me to face things that I don't want to face about my past. But the more I face my past, the less power it will wield over me. The more I talk about this, the more support I will gain and the smaller the pain will become. Burying feelings and pain from trauma is often our way to cope and manage life, but the truth is sooner or later we need to take that step because it will reveal itself in others way like depression, destructive behavior, self-harm, detachment etc. I am not under any delusion that the pain or scars will go away forever, I realize they will always be with me. They have shaped me as all experiences do, but I am actively working on those parts of myself. I hope this helps anyone reading who has suffered some sort of trauma to feel less alone. Society is playing catch-up on what we've known all along and that is it is that it happens more often than we are comfortable knowing and it is NEVER the victims fault. The perpetrator made a choice and that is about power. Period. You should know it is in no way your fault and you should never feel ashamed. Making us feel ashamed is part of what keeps the cycle of abuse in place. I hope this opens a dialogue and maybe a first step towards healing.
There is no magic bullet or cure for all. It is different for everyone but its not out of reach for any of us.
Thank you so much for reading.