This particular post has been a long time in the making. Today marks one year since I sat down at the computer and decided…what the hell. At the time I figured, who’s going to read this anyway? No one wants to know about someone who is in an abusive marriage. I’ll write a few posts and then forget all about it. How do you even blog?
That pretty much sums up everything I was thinking at the time – and as I started to write my very first post…the beginning of my story…that would eventually lead down the road of becoming a battered wife…I thought…please do not let anyone see this. I don’t really want anyone to know. I don’t want to be questioned about this. Just let me write this and get it off my chest and that’ll be that.
Instead, so much more happened. Yeah, people read – and yeah, they commented. They asked – I answered. We talked – I learned. More importantly – people shared. Women AND men….shared their personal stories of abuse. With me. On the blog and behind the scenes. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so embraced as I did the first time someone said…“You’re telling my story.”…“He sounds like my ex.”…“I’ve been where you are.”
It was then that I realized….I’m not alone.
Of course, we all know someone in a “rough” marriage. Whether they’re vocal about it or we just assume. It’s not necessarily physical abuse. It can be verbal, psychological, financial…there are so many subcategories that people are completely unaware of. I’m not going to use this post to start spewing facts and figures – just one.
1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
ONE in FOUR.
We know the math.
That means when you see a group women – count – 1, 2, 3, 4. Stop.
One of them HAS been, WILL be or IS now getting beat.
Plain and simple.
Before I decided to blog, I had no idea. I never even thought about it. My father hit my mother but it was barely anything. Growing up, one of my neighbors hit their wife. I remember seeing her, a beautiful woman, with a black eye. The mother of one of my childhood friends got beat, all the kids too. That was the one family every one knew that stuff was going down when the door closed. I was only a kid but I doubt anyone ever said anything to her, or to my mother or my neighbor. None of these ladies left….well, actually, they all did but that was decades later. Back then, families stayed together. People minded their business. And “What goes on in our home, stays in our home.” That was the code.
I’m not exactly sure what the worst part of all of this was. That is seemed to be a normal occurrence or that no one ever said anything about it. It just was what it was. Normal.
Fast forward to me at 18. We know that story but back then NO ONE KNEW. No matter how loud he was or how many people passing by heard…that was my secret. A few years later, a good friend of mine tells me her husband hit her. She has a similar personality to me so I’m like…yeah AND? Did you call the cops? Did you leave? Sometimes – not every time – but sometimes the answers out of her mouth were YES. She called the cops, she packed up and left, took her son, went to her mother’s, got a court order – and then – went back! The next time we went through the cycle again. One day, she threw an ashtray at him. Called the cops…again. The cops came and told her if they were going to arrest him then they’d have to arrest her. She…like me…is nuts. And she is screaming…arrest me then! If you don’t I’m gonna hit him with something bigger and then you’re really gonna have to come get me. The cops got back in the car and left. And…they stayed together. For many more years. Her husband had a cycle. He’d get depressed around Halloween and this nonsense ensued and continued through January. Then they’d make up for their anniversary – ironically – on Valentine’s Day. They did love each other though. I think so, deep down. But she too…finally left for good.
The common thread with all of the above – myself included – there is always an excuse. A reason it happened and a reason why we stayed.
Speaking of which, for those of you who don’t know – last week Twitter pretty much was taken over by the hashtag… #WhyIStayed. This was in direct response to the Baltimore Ravens Running Back “Ray Rice Incident”. Author, Beverly Gooden, is the women who started this movement, solely because seeing the Ray Rice Video triggered her own experience with domestic violence and she felt the need to speak up. I have some definite opinions about this incident but that’s not was this post is about.
Over this past year, things have changed. It has nothing to do with my leaving. That is still and always has been my main and ultimate goal that has not and never will waver. What’s changed is my resolve. It’s not enough for me anymore to just get out. For several months now I’ve been thinking about my role in all of this once I do go. I’m not a shy, stand in the corner kind of gal and by nature I’ve got a big mouth and always have something to say. The phrase – things happen for a reason – has always resonated with me. Maybe because no matter what goes on, good or bad, the only thing you can say to truly make sense of it all is just that.
When I started this blog, it was right off the heels of a trip my Ex and I took (The Flip Side) to visit our friend R. And it was the first time since I was 16 that we were able to be…us. The pair. Calm, comfortable, caring and most importantly being out in public without worry. That was so overwhelming for me. Within a week of being home there was something within telling me the only way to truly move forward was to let go of everything I had been holding in. I needed to purge. To say the things I had never said. And so at the time, the trip, the people I was surrounded by, even the state I was visiting, was without a doubt the catalyst to me starting this blog. And with every person I came in contact with (virtually), it was easy to see that – everything happens for a reason.
Case in point… #WhyIStayed. As I joined in with the rest of the twitterverse and gave a few of my reasons…I came upon so many other women and young girls who were me. A few of them posted that they stayed because of the shame they felt about being a victim. All I could do was post a reply to tell them I knew how they felt and that the shame was not theirs. Something I only recently learned myself, but because they were so much younger maybe I could help them make that realization that much sooner. So I shared with them my post Shame On You in the hopes it could possibly do something for them.
Instead, two young ladies did something for me…
In speaking shortly with Mandy, 3 years out of her abusive relationship and suffering with symptoms of PTSD, she says to me: “Thank you for sharing your story…others like you help inspire me to stay strong.”
In another conversation, Brittanie, who was trying to find the strength to finally tell her father about the abusive relationship she just got out of, says: “You’re giving me support and helping me…to stay strong.”
Does being in an abusive relationship automatically make you more compassionate to others who have been in the same place? How on earth can these girls be thanking me and saying I am helping them? That can’t be possible. Their words truly touched me. Not any more or any less than others who have posted similar comments on my blog. It was only different because I could see their beautiful faces on twitter. I could see their youthfulness and it made me feel overwhelmed that these young girls may have been involved in these abusive relationships, but – they got out. They. Got. Out.
There were multitudes of #WhyIStayed posts and two that just jumped out at me was one from Kat who said “Because after being stuck in an abusive relationship for a while I started to believe I deserved all of it.” I thought, my God…I was so there. In the very beginning, with the abuse at its very worse, I thought for sure I deserved it.
However, the one that really caught me was from a girl names Katie. Very simply put “Because every time was the last time.” This is it. Whether this is what they’re telling us after they hit us or if it’s what we’re telling ourselves – we’ve all believed this at one point or another.
By the end of the first two days of a tweeting and retweeting frenzy, it was quite clear that again – everything happens for a reason. It’s taking so much strength to not blurt my story out to pretty much everyone (which would be fine and dandy it I was already out) but I need to keep it contained to those select few that know me in the real world. I’ll tell you though, the more of these posts I read, the more I could feel this anonymous name tag rattling within my rib cage. It’s so hard for me not to get up and say something. I’m not one to hold my tongue. In fact, I’m usually the first one to speak my mind. Loudly. I’ll wait my turn though. I’m so looking forward to being on the other side. Domestic violence is going to regret meeting me.
Thanks to all of you that have read, commented, offered counseling and a good laugh.
I’m in my therapeutic poetry phase as of late, so I couldn’t help but throw this little ditty together …
I am a daughter, a sister, a mother and a wife.
I am trying to stay sane while getting through life.
I am the scales of justice and the year of the dog.
I am so much more beyond my story and blog.
( I hope all of this made sense. I’m in desperate need of sleep.)
To read from the beginning… my story starts here.