Upon seeing the bruises his father had inflicted upon me, my son shrugged and called them “battle scars.” Those words terrified me; my beautiful, gentle child thought this was normal. If it were not for my son, I never would have embarked on the two-year journey of leaving my husband of 38 years. He was the reason I finally went to the doctor after being physically abused.
I share my story because silence perpetuates the myths that surround domestic violence – what it is, what it looks like, who it happens to. Here are some truths about domestic violence that I have learned along the way. It doesn’t care who you are, what you look like, your race or ethnicity, marital status, education, bank account, job, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, politics. I am a nurse and I thought I knew a little about domestic violence. I didn’t have a clue and neither did my family or friends. A good friend of the family, truly shocked by the revelation of violence in our home struggled to understand and apologized before asking, “What part of it is your fault?”
What part of being beaten do I own? None of it.
Our silence strengthens the web spun by a controlling, abusive person. We feel we deserve the abuse, that we cause it, that if we were a better person or just did the right thing, it wouldn’t happen. We feel shame, fear, denial, self-doubt, disbelief, guilt. This journey required strength, hope, and courage; The Retreat was invaluable to me in developing those qualities. I could put out everything on their table – my experiences, my thoughts, my fear, and my feelings of shame and guilt. There, on that table, I could shake it, poke it, dissect it until I could name it, understand it, come to terms with it, deal with it. There was no judgment, only acceptance and understanding, gentle guidance, education, and affirmation.
I am not crazy, I do not deserve to be humiliated, ridiculed, put down, shoved, beaten. I am not alone and neither are you.
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