No one wants to talk about the time they were abused.
It doesn’t come up in casual café conversations while sipping on a London Fog. “Yeah I was with this guy and he beat the shit out of me. Glad that’s in the past.” Or “I had this boyfriend for a couple of years who emotionally and psychologically messed with my head. I still feel fucked up from it ten years later.” Or “My ex-husband hurt my children.”
This isn’t a hot conversation starter. This isn’t a place survivors really want to go. I’m pretty sure that most people would rather not hear about it either. It makes them feel very uncomfortable. A good friend of mine once went to confide to her close friend about abuse she’d endured from her father, and before she could get to the hard stuff, her friend said, “I actually don’t want to hear this right now.” Woah.
When I talk about my life story, it is a tale of adventure, heroism, and motherhood. I almost never talk about the abuse I endured. I rarely tell anyone the specifics. I leave out the gory details. How can I tell people that I, a strong, intelligent woman, was duped? That being with my X was like being indoctrinated into a cult. It started with a feeling of love and devotion and complete surrender, and then turned into something dark and sinister.
Abuse is a dirty word. Domestic Violence sounds as bad as Domestic Terrorism. For the survivor, it typically conjures up feelings of shame, disgrace, humiliation, embarrassment, vulnerability, and old 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 fabulous advice on being in an abusive relationship. Just leave! Duh.
Some woman are super vague when describing what happened to them. That is because they are either fatigued by going over that horrible, old pain, or they actually fear that somehow even saying it out loud, telling anyone about it, could start up the abuse all over again. There is a heavy paranoia that comes after being abused.
That is why I am so proud of the brave women contributing to my blog. And to the women in the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas. And to Tarana Burke and Alyssa Milano and the #metoo movement. And the women in Hollywood using their fame and power in the Time’s Up initiative. And to the female gymnasts speaking out against their sports doctor. And I could go on and on. It no longer matters that abuse is uncomfortable to talk about. The silence is ending.
Do you have a story to share? Write to me @email@example.com