Saturday, October 06, 2007

October-Domestic Violence Awareness Walk

Recently,my son Dan participated in "The One Voice Walk" in Cincinnati,Ohio to honor a former church member who was murdered in an act of domestic violence.
The church has organized this event every year since to bring awareness to domestic violence and assist the Cincinnati YWCA to help victims when they leave shelter.

Dan had asked me to contribute to his podcast before this event.At that time I couldn't.I had to get my thoughts together on this subject.

Some of you may know I am a victim of domestic violence and lifelong abuse in one form or another. I have spoken out on this subject often.
This year,when prompted it caused tremendous sadness within me.
I didn't want to relive those experiences.

Since,I reflected on what I should say.I want to offer hope.

My life is as different as night and day since I was in shelter.Entering shelter was the best gift I ever gave myself although I didn't see it that way at the time.
When I entered I couldn't have been lower physically,mentally,spiritually and financially.It was maybe the darkest time in my life.
I was hopeless.I entered because I didn't know what else to do.I guess looking back it was the last of what survival instincts I had left.
I was suicidal.Not that I was going to harm myself necessarily but it was more like if I was diagnosed with cancer I would have refused treatment;if I was going to be struck by a car I wouldn't have jumped out of the way.
I was put on a suicide watch for 45 days.
To say I was despondent would be an understatement.

I can recall my first time on the patio at the shelter after completing my intake and staring out into the distance wondering how I got to that place in my life.My life literally flashed before me like a slide show.
I believed I was somehow a bad person because I was the common thread that ran through these experiences.
My intake worker had commented that no I wasn't.It was a set of circumstances set into motion made early on by others that caused me to make wrong decisions in my life.
That was so foreign to me at that moment.

I was raised in a good home by two parents who were faithfully married until the passing of my Mother.I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school.Catholics didn't have these kinds of situations.
In my adult life I fell away from the Catholic faith but searched out and discovered my Christianity.If prayer would fix this kind of situation it would have been fixed 100 x's over.

Two marriages had fallen apart and not because I didn't try my hardest to make them work.
I was involved in my community for many years.On the surface I looked like I had the perfect surburban lifestyle.

Then it just fell apart.It didn't happen one day,it took many years.

I entered shelter with only the clothes on my back and my Bible.
I had literally nothing;I was starting over in the truest sense of the word.
I was fortunate enough to have entered the Montgomery County Women's Center in Montgomery County,TX.
It was a God thing.
I've since learned most shelters were not run as well as the MCWC.
All offer refuge and hope,don't get me wrong.
This one has something unique about it.The facility itself,the staff,the community itself are all components to make it unique.
I can't reveal too much for safety and privacy issues but I will be grateful forever for those who impacted my life at that time.

I learned why my life had turned out the way it did.I learned how all the circumstances came together and I made the choices I did.
It was up to me to take proactive action to make the changes need to be made to stop the cycle of abuse.
I learned abuse comes in many forms,not just physical.
I was in denial about much of my circumstances.
I believed domestic violence happened to poor people in disadvantaged circumstances.
Just by being in shelter I was introduced to women and their families from every socio-economic circumstance,every faith or no faith,every walk of life.
I was not alone.
I learned there are men who suffer this kind of abuse as well.

My life is completely different today because of the help I received at that time in my life.
I will never make those same choices again and can recognize now a toxic situation and remove myself from it quickly.

I now live the best life anyone could have with a man who values me for who I am not what I will do.
I am happy each and every day.I find much to smile about everyday and much to be grateful for that I never paid attention to before.
We laugh everyday.Laughter is the foundation of our relationship.
There is mutual respect,love,admiration and trust between us.

My hope for the victims living the life I used to is to have the courage to implement a change in your own life.
Call a shelter for help.A safety plan will be formed to assist you to get out.

If I could survive it you can too.
I had no money,no car,no home and no self-esteem.Not low self-esteem,none.
I was sick,disabled and my nervous system was a wreck.

There is hope;it doesn't get better overnight but it does get better and better than you could imagine it today.
The help won't come to you by wishing it would.You have to take the action.It may the most courageous thing you ever do for yourself. You may think it just doesn't matter anymore.
It always matters.
You may think you are trying to keep the family together for your kids.
You couldn't be doing something more harmful for your kids.
The cycle will continue.
Love your children enough to break the cycle if you can't do it for yourself.
Be your own best friend.If you were your best friend what would you advise your friend to do?

If you are a member in the community who believes domestic violence and abuse doesn't affect your life you are so wrong and ill informed.
We all are affected.
It happens in your neighborhood,every neighborhood.
It affects the work place.It affects the schools.You pay for it through higher medical costs and hospital fees.
You pay for it through law enforcement and the judicial system.

The effect on humanity is uncalculated but it is high.The affect it has on humanity is profound.How may lives are not reaching their potential because of this situation.Society is affected as a whole.It's a blight on all of us while we stand by and do nothing.

If there is nothing else you think you can do you can pray.Pray earnestly for the victims.
Pray for the abusers.Chances are they were abused themselves.Not an excuse but a reason.

Adopt a family through your local domestic violence shelter and assist them to get back out into society and contribute to society.

Make a donation to your local shelter.Call and ask what way you could help the most within your means.

I can only hope my experience can help even one person to make a change in their life.

5 comments:

Daniel said...

I am so proud to have you as my Mom, and I love you so much!

Len Edgerly said...

This is the most enlightening piece I have ever read on domestic violence. Your honesty and articulate writing made me understand this scourge in a way I never had before. Bravo, brave woman! And bravo to your son, a friend of mine on Twitter, for helping make your story available to many others.

Farouq Taj said...

Thank you for writing this. You might not realize just how helpful and inspiring this is. Domestic violence exists worldwide and I am grateful for your post which comes straight from the heart.

Your fortunate to have a wonderful son.

Connie said...

I think Daniel's comment speaks volumes about the choice you made to enter the shelter: the love and pride of a son. Your bravery in taking the steps to change your life and now, in writing about it, is to be commended. Your words are powerful and can help change many, many lives. Thank you for writing.

Dreamtsa said...

You are incredible. Your post was so moving. I have a blog at http://thelaststraw.wordpress.com that supports and creates awareness for domestic violence. I posted a small part of your post and a link back to your site to read the rest.

Stories like yours are what supports those in abuse, shows them they can survive if they leave.

I am finsihing up a book and would love to include this in it with slight edits if you approve.

I will be in touch. You can email me at dreamfocused@earthlink.net

Love & Peace,
Rebecca