In the last 2 days after the local news came out that we lost another amazing woman to an abusive spouse, it has really surprised me how many people have stepped forward in the many non-abuse related groups I belong to. Tiffany was not just a “local” for me, but also someone I connected with on Facebook so it’s rocked my world on many levels. It’s also brought an awareness and willingness to share DV stories that I’ve not ever seen.
It surprises me how many people are hiding out in these little groups on Facebook. A month or so ago, I posted in the Pathetic Runners Group on Facebook a question about how many runners were migraine sufferers. I was shocked that there were actually quite a few. In my migraine groups it seems there are not very many runners, so this was an interesting turn of events for me. However, I’ve been taken aback by the sheer number of people in my running groups and other non-abuse related groups who have stepped forward and spoken abuse in their past or present in light of recent tragedies.
I understand that abuse happens at many levels and to many different people. However, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with men and women alike to whom abuse has touched their lives. As we focus on the atrocities that take place in other countries, I wonder exactly how wide spread is the abuse epidemic in the United States? Sure, there are statistics, but those are numbers they aren’t stories. I’ve talked to people who have had stalkers enter their lives, frightening them and making them look over their shoulder constantly after just a few dates. I’ve talked to women married 20 years or more who were just too afraid to leave until one day they just did it. The stories I’ve heard and shared myself are heartbreaking. I want to reach out to everyone touched by abuse and take away the pain, but that’s not going to happen.
Many of us suffer in silence, but its not always out of fear or shame. I’m not really ashamed that I’ve been abused, well, maybe I am just a little. I’ve allowed it to happen when I should have run away. I gave him more chances than I should have, etc. However, I refuse to give up my belief in the basic human good of people and I’m currently working on balancing that with the harsh realities I’ve encountered in life. I think women especially are fixers at heart and so we are easily sucked into these situations which often escalate before we even realize what is going on. Finally, we are so deep into them that it is difficult to get out.
I’m not a victim, I don’t know about you. I’m also not a survivor. I’m a person who has experienced abuse and I’ve learned from it. Honestly, I’ve been one of those in the cycle of abuse a few times, but one day I know I’ll be free of it. Every experience we have makes up a bit of who we are and how we approach the world around us. I don’t think I know many DV Survivors who label themselves as such nor as victims. We are belly dancers, runners, moms, wives, nurses, medical lab technicians, Walmart Greeters, CEOs, cashiers, drivers, teachers and so much more. Male and female alike, we hold our heads high and focus on the positive. We focus on what we can control. In our hearts we hurt or are scared, but in our outside lives we are strong. Many try to bring light to those around because the smiles somehow bring us hope.
No matter who we are or what we do, it’s time we stop running from abuse, it’s time we all speak out.