Talking about abuse is hard.
While it was happening to me, I had no words for it. I didn’t grow up with abuse. I hadn’t seen anyone being abused. I didn’t even have the word abuse in my vocabulary. How do you pin down something so unfamiliar? That you have had no experience with and no name for?
At first it was a knowing in my gut that something was wrong. But then I would chalk it up to a bad moment. Then a bad day. Then a bad month. When it became a pattern with my X, I began to wake up. Then quite quickly, it was obvious that I must find a way out. But still, it took my X throwing me out of the house with my baby, for me to understand how serious the abuse had gotten.
It took going to a woman’s shelter and having an advocate read out the different types of abuse – physical, emotional, psychological, verbal, and financial – that I finally understood that I was a survivor of domestic violence.
It was so embarrassing to realize that I was abused. How could I tell people that I, a strong, intelligent woman, was conned, duped, and deceived? That being with my X was like being indoctrinated into a cult. It had started with a feeling of love, and devotion, and complete surrender, and then turned into something dark, menacing, and sinister.
Abuse feels like a dirty word. Domestic Violence sounds as bad as Domestic Terrorism. For me, it conjures up feelings of shame, disgrace, humiliation, vulnerability, and fear.
Domestic violence and abuse have a similar stigma as mental health. We know people out there who have mental health issues. Some of us have compassion and understanding, and some of us think, just cheer up! Same goes with the advice on being in an abusive relationship. Just leave! Duh.
If just leaving were as simple as it sounds, women would be doing it.
To all my sisters out in the world who are living with intimate partner violence, I love you. I send you the energies of strength, clarity, and protection.