Since coming out as a victim of domestic violence nine months ago, one of the most important things I have learned is that the shame of it all is not mine. Instead, the shame is my abuser’s cross to bear. The first time it was said to me, it was like a veil was lifted. I had never thought about my situation in this light before. Even still, it took me a few days to really consume the words. They made sense but I didn’t recognize how I could not hold some blame. After all, I stayed. Surely, there is some shame to be held against me for that. At least I thought so.
These are the words a friend, one of the first few to read my story, said to me:
“The more people you let in the more you free yourself. The shame is on -your husband- not you!”
When thinking back on all the screaming and fighting that has gone over the years, one thing my husband always threw in to the arguments was that he would get louder on purpose so that everyone could hear him. He said this way the next time I went outside I would be embarrassed in front of all the neighbors. It’s funny though, I don’t think I was ever embarrassed. I would walk out of my house as if nothing ever happened. Most likely I was in denial. I may have even imagined that no one really heard us arguing or him screaming at the top of his lungs or my shrieks of pain each time a part of my body connected with his fist.
However, if I am being honest, in some ways I felt like I helped to perpetuate this lifestyle – by acting as if it wasn’t happening. I’d make excuses for having to cancel plans, or for him not showing up to parties or holiday dinners with my family. There was always something to cover up and I became a pro at it. I could come up with a story for anything almost instantly.
Now that I’m a little older and a little wiser, it’s clear that shame was a heavy burden that I carried with me over the years. I just never realized it until I was told I had no reason for it. Silence was the stigma. Staying quiet for all these years is what fed the shame.
Once I decided to open the closet and let the skeletons fall where they may, with each post I felt a huge sense of relief. Eventually, I felt safe enough to start letting people in. The same friend also said to me:
“Glad you are letting more people in…it means you are moving closer to liberation!”
To date, it’s only six people. Some days I think…I can’t believe I told “so many” people and on other days I feel like I should be telling everyone. Those days are few and far between. I’m careful not to get ahead of myself. I still haven’t shared the blog with my sister or mother. I’m a little nervous about that. And I haven’t really talked about all of this out loud. I’m not sure I am ready for that just yet.
Regardless, just knowing I have one less thing to stress about makes me happy. The shame is on YOU loser…not me!
To read from the beginning… my story starts here.