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The Power of Speaking Up

I had always heard that abuse is life changing. Whether you are in it for 1 year or 20 years, it can change your perspective dramatically. For an outsider, it may be difficult to understand how one part of your life could change the way you see the entire world. I was with my abuser for slightly less than one year, but yes, this one year changed everything.

And what other people do not always realize is that things are not just magically resolved as soon as the relationship ends. Dealing with the aftermath of domestic violence and abuse can be just as grueling as the actual relationship. For me, what I remember more than anything was that unrelenting fear of telling the truth. My abuser was in my graduate program. Like most abusers, he was well liked, charismatic, and charming. And this made it so incredibly easy to fall for him in the beginning, and so incredibly difficult to speak up when it all came crashing down. No one saw who he became behind closed doors. The fear that no one would believe me felt insurmountable, the risk of speaking up felt simply not worth it. So for quite awhile, I stayed silent.

In a way, I felt like I was back with my abuser - walking on eggshells, so afraid that the truth would slip out, and that I would pay the price. Because unfortunately, as hard as it is for survivors to speak up, it seems that it is even more difficult for the world to actually listen. For whatever reason, people still think it is okay to re-victimize survivors, to retaliate against us, to blame us for what happened, and to simply not believe us. They think it is okay to corner us into silence by fostering a culture where it is so undeniably terrifying to just speak the truth.

But silence can only last for so long. For me, the fear of staying silent eventually started to outweigh the fear of coming forward, the fear that no one would know who this man really is. And as I started speaking out, whether through my blog or by confiding in people, I found more strength, support, and connection than I have ever known. It is with this support that I have been able to heal and to find what I really love, which is helping other survivors and spreading awareness. And now, telling the truth suddenly feels a lot less scary.

Abuse is life changing, that is for sure. But so is speaking up. When it comes down to it, an abuser robs you of your voice and your ability to speak for yourself. Claiming your voice back can be a difficult, downright terrifying process. But our words have power, as do our stories. And as we have seen with #metoo, there are so many people out there who have stories to tell. Speaking up is the first step to ending this, to fighting back against a society that does not want to deal with issues like domestic violence. I truly believe that we can change this culture when we come together, take a stand, and let the world know will we speak out, one voice at a time.

 

I am @speak766 and I’m a survivor of domestic violence. I have been in graduate school studying neuroscience for the past several years, which is where I met my abuser. However, over the past 6 months, I have realized that my passion is domestic violence advocacy. I started a blog where I share my experiences, the issues we face as survivors, and encourage other survivors to speak out. I also recently decided to quit my PhD program, take a master’s, and fully commit to spreading awareness and empowering change (needless to say, my advisors were pretty surprised when I told them I am abandoning our projects to help end domestic violence).  Perhaps the one positive out of all of this is I have found what I really love and what gives me meaning. And for me, that is making all the difference.

Posted by Lynn Brewer-Muse at 8:59 AM

Comments

12/19/2017 at 11:11 AM by Kari

I am a survivor of Domestic Violence and now my adult child is currently in one too. After the deaths of adult children of a few of my friends and acquaintances due to DV, I feel it is important to do something to save my daughter BEFORE she is killed. My friends are devastated and ALL tell me if they had known the abuser was going to go as far as to kill their child, they would have killed the abuser BEFORE the abuser killed their child. They say if I do not do it, I will one day be burying my child. I do not wish to kill anyone. However, I am currently trying to do everything I can to save her. So I find myself search for ways to save her and have come to many closed doors! There must be other parents out there that feel as desperate as I? I find no legal ways to help my daughter. She is stuck and I am just sitting here waiting for that horrible phone call. I'v tried everything to get her away from him but she believes 1. he will change 2. the kids need a dad 3. She cant pay the bills on just her income 4. ect ect ect you know the story! So I am seeking the way to help myself and other parents of adult children in DV! If only we could have a say in court! Maybe they could keep the abuser locked up longer? Maybe we could block her from dropping any protection orders put into place? Maybe we could use the severity of the abuse to determine whether it is a felony or not, not the fact that he's done this 3 or 4 times? Maybe, just maybe... I can find a way to save our adult children from certain death? Maybe even help someone who wants to change to learn others ways of dealing with their problems BEFORE they become felon's or end up in prison for killing the mother of their child? What do you think? My name is Kari Wardlow and I can be reached at 406-214-2229.


12/26/2017 at 05:40 PM by Nancy Janitz

I have been a Domestic Violence Survivor since I was eight years old and my life experiences have always had emotional and physical abuse and the police would not even come to help me and my infant daughter! I have been diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety depression and it is because of the violence that I experienced all of my life and the very very difficult and suffering from the mental health effects have been devastating to my life!


12/26/2017 at 05:41 PM by Nancy Janitz

I have been a Domestic Violence Survivor since I was eight years old and my life experiences have always had emotional and physical abuse and the police would not even come to help me and my infant daughter! I have been diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety depression and it is because of the violence that I experienced all of my life and the very very difficult and suffering from the mental health effects have been devastating to my life!


12/29/2017 at 06:47 PM by Ron Johnson

I am so far Right I may be off the edge, however I do support your fight against domestic violence to pets.... It may be the only thing we can agree on but I am all for giving jail time to anyone who harms a pet. Let me know how to help. I am in North Idaho.


1/19/2018 at 11:18 AM by Tana Chinault

Speaking up cost me everything. :(


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