By now if you have read many of my Blog posts, you understand that my Blog is about two homes. The first and more obvious home I write about (especially when I talk my decorator talk) is the physical space you live in that provides you with shelter. The second home, the one I capitalize, “HOME” is your “being” home – your personal space that is uniquely you containing your heart, mind and most importantly, your soul. Many of my posts are meant to speak to both homes. This one does for sure. Some things, like the topic of this post have absolutely, positively a deep connection to both.
I’ve experienced Domestic Violence. It’s what I call an “Emotional Cancer” that eats away at your very core and if not properly addressed will cause you to die a slow death from the toll on your heart and soul. Certainly, this cancer can strike and cause a physical death as well. Whatever course it takes, it’s a sickness to your HOME. I hope that those of you that are taking the time to read this (even out of curiosity) really, really let my words envelope you in a way that you will forever more understand that no one, no how, nowhere should accept Domestic Violence. Period. Furthermore, after reading this if you or someone you know falls in this category, for heavens sake take action. Do not stay silent or pretend ignorance.
Just so you know, October is the month designated for “Domestic Violence Awareness”. For months now I’ve been ruminating in my head a post to write next October, but something keeps nudging me, whispering in my ear, “Write it now”. And so, I am. When the voice whispers, I take action!
I’m thinking a combination of things (nudges) propelled me to write this now and not wait until October. For one thing, a Facebook Friend (and Blog reader), Maggie wrote something on her wall the other day about Domestic Violence. I shocked myself with commenting back and saying I had experienced it myself. And lately the news has been full of incidences that the legal experts say are clear cases of Domestic Violence, the current murder trial of Jennifer Hudson’s family for one.
Domestic Violence: Behavior used by one person in a relationship to control the other. Partners may be married or not; heterosexual, gay or lesbian; living together, separated or dating.
Facts about Domestic Violence
(Disclaimer: All these facts are ones I have taken from various articles I have researched over the years and are in my own words and really hit home for me. The Internet is full of articles, facts, statistics and information far more thorough than this post contains. I urge everyone to become more educated about this blight on humanity.)
- Domestic violence has no boundaries and occurs among people of all races, ages, socio-economic classes, religious affiliations, occupations and educational backgrounds.
- Many abusers learned violent behavior growing up in an abusive family.
- Domestic Violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the U.S.
- 1 in 4 women will experience Domestic Violence at some point in their lives.
- 1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men have been stalked at some time in their lives.
- Domestic violence against men, often referred to as “The Hidden Crime”, occurs far more than reported. There are more than 200 survey-based studies that show that domestic violence is just as likely to strike men as women.
- Warning signs include (but are not limited to):
- Name-calling or put-downs
- Threats of violence
- Stopping a partner from keeping or getting a job
- Physical Assault
I fit in the description of many of the above facts and signs of domestic violence. First of all, I was in a dating relationship. My abuser and I never lived in the same household. After becoming separated and subsequently divorced from my husband of almost twenty years, you can say I was ripe for the picking. Seriously, I think I had an invisible (yet visible for clever creeps) sign on my forehead that read: S.U.C.K.E.R.
Devastated to be dumped, feeling lonely, old, ugly, deflated, discarded, unlovable, unlikable and most importantly, incomplete – I was charmed by the first man that was nice to me. And believe it or not, I had known this man on a very casual basis for several years. He was kind, compassionate, and attentive and pushed all the right buttons. Once he had me hook, line and sinker the ugliness began. Honestly, it shocked me. If was as if I had entered this place called “Hell” and I felt like I was wrapped up in this vortex and couldn’t figure out how to escape. I’ll never forget going to the Magistrate’s Office to file a complaint. I was told by the clerk that I could go upstairs and for $5.00 get a print-out of any arrest record he might have. Arrest record? Seriously? I can still hear the copying machine click, click, click for each new page it printed off and if memory serves me right, there were 15 pages in all. Paperwork, court appearances and a lot of heartache were the prelude to getting a Restraining Order. At the time I was told it was the strictest Order ever issued in my county.
Now mind you, I could give you some really sordid details of all the ugliness. Suffice it to say I have hidden under my bed afraid to move a muscle when the doorbell has rung, I have come home to find my telephone lines cut, I have found my water hoses ever so perfectly sliced clean away from the spigots,, my boys have been accused of trying to kill this man, my home has been invaded and trashed, co-worker’s lives have been threatened, my car has been damaged, etc. All of these things and countless more my clever creep knew how to do so I couldn’t prove anything! Then there was the horrific embarrassment of it all. The shame. Oh, and most of all- the gut-wrenching fear. For safety I learned to shoot a gun and by the way, I abhor the very thought of violence. I took the classes to get licensed to carry a concealed weapon and slept with a loaded gun by my bed for two years. And believe you me; I knew where to aim my gun – straight for the heart.
For years after things would trigger me and I would cringe in absolute fear – the rev of a motorcycle, an unknown number calling my phone, David calling me one too many times wondering where I was (when I met him I required his Social Security Number) – you name it, somehow I would go back to the fear mode and freak out. In fact, I later learned that I was experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress over and over and over. (A therapy known as EMDR -Therapy really helped with the trauma.)
A Victor, not a Victim
All of this was back around 1998, and I have to say I’ve come a long way baby! On any given day I’m tossing my Mary Tyler Moore Hat in the air while singing, “I am woman hear me roar”. Then I go to the kitchen and make cookies in my fave apron – a complete woman loving who she is! I’ve worked hard to heal and I have much to be thankful for. People like Andy Molatch (now a retired policeman) made me feel safe. (By the way, check his ministry out on his website, www.wildernessscout.com) I also began group therapy at a Battered Women’s Shelter. I will forever be indebted to what I learned every Monday night. I can still remember the one time in a group discussion I felt like each of us was holding in our laps an invisible “How To Abuse” Manual because our stories were so similar. There we were, a group of about twenty women, some in residence and most like me, coming on our own to meet and talk through our experiences. In my group I still remember there being an Architect, a Licensed Psychologist, a Graphic Artist, and a Minister’s wife. Yep, there we all were – a cross-section of America all with the same story and all on the road to recovery.
I call myself a “Victor” and not a “Victim” as it’s the truth and besides, it rings with a positive note. I chose to get out of the relationship, I chose to love myself and I chose to heal from it. I learned through this experience (and a few others like the chance encounter on an airplane I’ve written about in several posts such as, Construction Zone: Rehabbing My HOME) that I am a vessel for my Soul and therefore, I honor it in every way that I can. I also now understand that seeking completion through someone else makes no sense. I became complete in myself and then, only then could someone “compliment” me. (My David does a stellar job of complimenting me!)
Remember my post, Houseless Not Homeless? My dear friend, Kenny was a victim of abuse and thank God, he left. Victory for Kenny! I have another friend, John that left a fifteen-year marriage because his wife was abusive. Victory for John! Both of these men have shared their stories with me and they are now part of what I share with others whenever I am asked to speak to groups about Domestic Violence, something I feel honored to do.
Everything begins in the home
It’s true; everything really does begin in the home. How we treat each other and yes, how we allow ourselves to be treated starts right smack dab in the home. In order for your HOME to be peaceful and harmonious, you have to say no to Domestic Violence. I did. Kenny did. John did. It’s that simple.
Love yourself. Love your neighbor. Love the earth. Come on people, climb aboard the Love Train. There’s plenty of room.
To saying no…