This is the only way I feel I can properly thank Kendra for writing such an amazing piece.
As exciting as it is for those of us who have been a victim of Domestic Violence to see the PSA commercials air on television or actors/actresses and public figures speak up about their own stories or use their fame in ads to say this behavior will no longer be tolerated – we’re left wondering… What happens when the camera is no longer rolling? Is the thrill gone? That rush of thinking – this is it – this topic is now mainstream – is kind of lackluster.
I’ve said it numerous times before, the fact that there are so many women sharing their Domestic Violence story truly amazes me. From those who have made it out and those who are still in, the numbers and stories are staggering. And as she discusses, the word courageous gets thrown around a lot. Courageous for enduring it, escaping it, and speaking about it. The real courage is surviving the aftermath once you’re out.
Kendra describes her own feelings about the approach Hollywood has taken, as well as her brush with the judicial system in her own battle with her abusive ex. And damn, if it doesn’t strike a chord. Although she is out of her relationship for 5 years and I’m on my way out – every word she writes I can feel deeply and agree with wholeheartedly. There is something about being in this “club” that unites us in a way no one should be united. I don’t want to know how it feels to be beaten but it’s too late for that. The deed is done. Now all I want is to know is how the hell are we going to stop it from happening to my sister…or your daughter…or your best friend?
Here’s what Kendra Lynn has to say about it:
Now the Public Service Announcement (PSA) commercials on domestic violence (DV) have gone silent.
The award show has ended and most people no longer think about the speech against domestic abuse. Janay Palmer-Rice and Patricia Driscoll (Kurt Busch’s ex-girlfriend) are silent. There’s still no word on the progress of either Ray Rice or Kurt Busch.
What stays the same? The statistics of DV do:
- A woman is beaten every 9 seconds in the U.S.
- 1 in 4 women are victims of domestic violence.
- 3 women in the U.S. are murdered by their partner every day.
- 15 million children are exposed to domestic violence each year.
- The median age for a female to become exposed to an abusive relationship is between 18 – 29.
Real numbers gathered every year by the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.
Nice to know there’s at least a task force.
While social media and Hollywood are great ways to reach a multitude of people, I fear the message is lost. I fear the actresses speaking out against domestic violence aren’t taken seriously because they typically portray a fantasy. In the mind of the median aged target group (females between the ages of 18 – 29), the actress is a glamorous fantasy. Why are the statistics remaining the same? Perhaps because we have unknowingly glamourized the idea of being a survivor of this terrible thing.
If you look at the family history of any domestic abuse survivor, you will find a family tree riddled with various forms of dysfunctional family dynamics and abuse. The 18 year old female precariously hanging from this thin limb sees the notoriety; the center stage presence of the actress courageously speaking out against domestic abuse. A low self-esteem and poor outlook on her future – the young victim of domestic violence perhaps sees only the glory in the story. The roaring applause at an award show and the gleaming lights and the perfectly coiffured actress; a chance for a survivor to be honorably mentioned in front of millions of people. I fear the stage lights are blinding the crux of the words and message of the actresses providing the speeches to end DV.
We all know the reality of any one survivor telling her story on center stage is rare. The real survivors of domestic abuse are sitting at home – still too afraid to speak out and up against domestic violence because of the stigma, the shame, the horror, and the hell that still echoes in our mind. The real survivors speak of our story with a catch in our throat, stuttering words, and tears that spill of their own volition as the story hits the core of our soul.
I am a survivor of DV of almost 5 years and I still cry at odd times while telling my story to those who genuinely care to know. I’ll tell you right now, being a survivor is not glamorous in any sense of rational thinking. It’s taken me nearly all my time of being a survivor to *not* look at all men as abusers.
I remember insomnia clutching my hand with a fearful grip. I remember going through motions; pretending to have it all together but inside feeling like an absolute failure. I remember the heavy sledge hammer memories invoking my first real symptoms of PTSD. I remember finding my voice – a voice that growled and screamed and yelled and cussed vehemently for the simple joy of being able to finally do so (but inadvertently pushing people away).
I remember the cringe I felt when someone hugged me for the first time after leaving my abuser; the foreign feeling that surrounded me in waves of nausea. It’s taken me nearly 5 years to finally learn to love myself and forgive myself for my past choices.
I become silent when someone calls me courageous. It’s at that exact moment I hear my screeching hell hounds – remembering as they chased me during my escape from my hell. I think of the countless victims too afraid and beaten down to leave their abusive partner. To me, that is the heart of every survivor of DV. We don’t categorize ourselves as courageous. We learned very early that labels have a not so funny way of causing a deep bruise. We are our own existence – renaming ourselves outside of our riddled and decaying family tree and relational history. Glamorous? Honey, it’s far from it. It’s its own hell being a survivor.
So what’s my point? Hollywood needs to stop its current form of PSA against domestic violence. It’s not working. The world needs to see more real survivors speaking out against it. The world needs to see a petite girl being punched in the face. The world needs to see real blood, real bruises, real tears, and real fear. It needs to be a power-packed PSA that rocks the core of everyone daring to watch. If I’m going to see a commercial about ending domestic abuse, I need to see a real survivor – someone I and every other survivor can relate to.
Birds of a feather flock together and more survivors will speak up. Everyone watching such a commercial should have tears rolling down their cheeks – much the same thing that happens whenever I decide to speak the harsh truth of my story to someone that wants to really know. The voice of a survivor is a hushed, cracking voice welling up in tears that the listener has to lean into to hear clearly. She’s not dressed up in her finery standing proud. Her voice continues to tell her story but she winces, thinking of any backlash that might occur in doing so. When the world can read past her shame and feel her fear maybe we will begin to make progress in ending domestic violence and Hollywood will become a strategic partner in this fight.
It’s worth your time – please continue to read the rest of her article here: Prevent Domestic Violence ~ Power Punch Words by Kendra Lynn | VoElla