Being a survivor of domestic violence isn’t easy. There is so much to overcome. Some days you feel like a giant on top of the world. Other days you wake up from nightmares or may not sleep at all. Friends and family may console or ridicule. There’s a constant battle with feeling guilty and wondering if you brought the abuse on yourself.
Despite the many different emotions survivors experience, one thing is for sure: they survived! They made some of the toughest decisions which may include running for their life in the middle of the night; leaving their abuser and becoming homeless; filing a restraining order; cancelling an engagement or calling off a wedding; moving across state lines; changing their names; refusing to answer texts and calls, etc. They had to get uncomfortable in order to reclaim their life. They had to risk losing custody of children and walk away from jobs they loved. Survivors do what it takes to get to the other side of the chaos.
It’s easy to believe you have all the answers to solve domestic violence problems until you are facing the violence and can’t see a way out. This is why it’s so important to be careful about the words you use when addressing victims and survivors. It’s important to be empathetic and to have an open heart and listening ear. Relationships have many different dynamics that we can’t see on the surface.
I urge each of you reading this to educate yourselves about domestic violence and organizations that provide advocacy. Build a positive and healthy support system. Don’t excuse inappropriate and aggressive behaviors. Set boundaries for every relationship and don’t be afraid to address behaviors that violate those boundaries.
Not all domestic violence cases involve physical abuse. Emotional, mental and financial abuse are just as serious. Speak up and speak out. Get help. You don’t have to suffer in silence.