My following blogs will touch on the lost voices of domestic violence, including men, POC, LGBTQ survivors, and children. I will start with children as I write what I know with the greatest surety. I reflected on this topic, and I realized that white women are often the voice of domestic violence because they make up the largest group of statistics. I want to use my voice to bring awareness and a voice to those who are lost statistically. I know that the statistics do not represent the reality of those affected by intimate partner violence.
I have attended recent survivor photoshoots to gain insight into what different people have survived. I am always amazed at the beauty, magic, and resilience of the people who speak out against abuse. I brought along my youngest to a photoshoot at Klyde Warren Park, and it struck me that he was as much of a victim as I was. I looked down at Bean (his nickname), and my heart plummeted. I think I am often willfully ignorant of what he experienced. It hurts to know that he got hurt, possibly even more than I did.
The truth of the matter is all four of my children suffered from my two back-to-back IPV relationships. Luckily, my three older kids have a father and stepmother that helped them heal. Bean, he has me. Well, we have each other. I do my best to guide him towards compassion and kindness, but it is not easy. He has come a long way in the two years I have been single, which keeps me grateful. He does not have a father because they made terrible choices. Domestic violence is a betrayal like no other. I work hard to deal with my resentments, but it takes constant evaluation of my behavior because the last thing I want to do is repeat the behavior they subjected me to.
One of the worst aspects of all that happened is my older children resent Bean. This makes me angry and disappointed, but I am doing all I can to turn this around. I want my four sons to be good humans more than anything in the world. I hope that watching me conquer deep depression and alcoholism will show them that it is always possible to do better. Because when I know better, I do better. And so can they.
My story is of redemption and resilience, just like each survivor model. Each model’s story inspires me; the courage, bravery, and vulnerability it takes to speak out leave me awe-struck. We are often single parents, sometimes only parents. Being Bean’s singular parent is difficult; I question every decision I make, and I do not have anyone to back me up. He is starting trauma-based therapy, and I look forward to continuing to help him overcome what he went through.
I have been single for two years, and I have gone on dates, but I had a revelation recently. I find myself giving to people and not getting anything in return, and I know my worth. I decided to embrace my independence (one of my best qualities) and embrace being single. My kids deserve to have the best version of me, and that is what I will focus on being. When I find myself lonely, I just remind myself that I have an amazing family and friends that I love. I am the happiest I have been, and I will stay that way. I say: if I can do it, so can you! I have learned to fall in love with myself, which takes courage that I am proud of.
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” -Anne Lamott
One in three women and one in seven men will be victims of domestic violence in their lifetime. CCF advocates for courage in the face of this travesty through survivor photoshoots, events and spreading a message of hope and courage throughout the community. If you are in a domestic violence situation, please reach out to someone. There is help, and it is not shameful to seek help because nobody deserves to live in pain. One anonymous phone call to 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) will put you immediately in touch with support.