October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month… It has been a tough month for many, even for those who have healed.
If you noticed, I haven’t written much for a long time, not because I didn’t, but because I couldn’t. Sometimes life throws surprises (nasty ones) at you and drags you a little lower than you thought you had been. When October befalls, it gets even worse…
I had chosen to leave in September three years ago, and by the time I was on the journey out of hell, October was here and the campaigns had begun. Signs were everywhere no matter how far we tried to run. It was hard, and though I thought I had toughened up, October still hurts…
We were on the run for 12 days straight with no more than a few hundred dollars to spare and lodging bills quickly running through the roof. I had gone meals without eating so the children would have enough. Some days, all I could afford was broth- the kind that came with nothing in it and meant for pancreatic patients.
For 12 days straight, we relied on any monies close kin could give – it was all we had. Every meal paid for was a blessing. Thank goodness, I recall, for family and friends that took such a deep concern to our well-being and continued to support all three of us. We forgot what it was like to have our own stove or pot, our own bathroom, toys, dishes, even a closet. We skipped from place to place to survive based on what we had.
As all this was happening, someone else was sleeping in our home, grilling out, and taking warm showers. The entire 12 days…
The pain eventually got better, never completely healed, but with the support and love we were given, it was enough. The memories though have not faded. It wasn’t until toward the end of September that everything came creeping back in, like it has every year. The little condescending voices inside my head, the bags of nothingness worth packing except to clothe us for days, the harsh words spoken, the physical pain and torture of moments that seem to last forever.
It took me years to leave, to gather enough courage to wrap both the children in the early hours of the morning and head for sunshine. It took me years to recognize what our somewhat sweet and cyclic marriage had become. It took me years to understand that I didn’t deserve it, not one bit, and neither did the children.
No matter how the story goes, it is never right and acceptable for violence to happen to anyone. Even emotional, financial, and verbal abuse matters and it only matters because you are special, and every one of us has a right to live free of fear and torment.
October is important. I remember the large hanging banner in front of a church we had never seen before and instinctively walking, with both children in hands, into the solitary hall and the silent pews of what we now call “our second home.”
I remember a priest relieving me of all the grief and responsibilities I thought was once mine when the abuse started. I recall the lit statues that my children gratefully reached out to touch and the questions they would have about whether they were protected at the time.
It didn’t help that I was weakened, run down, distraught… that my belly was growling with as much ferociousness as a mama bear protecting her cubs. It didn’t help that our clothes barely matched anymore as we had to reach into whatever pile was left without a washing machine that could keep us looking sane. It didn’t help that my eyes were swollen constantly and each time I tried to speak, my head would be bowed down in fear of some sort of retaliation or reject.
Three Years Later
I grew strong and brave, fighting tirelessly, sometimes wishing I exhausted myself. Yet I continued, many times breaking down in pain. I thought it was over till each time October comes around and I realize my journey has to continue so that others can and will get help.
If no one spoke up, another person gets torn apart, many times physically that it kills them. It’s important even in my tears that this is heard.
It is never alright to be abused. No one can ever tell you that you aren’t good enough. While I struggle to constantly keep those wicked voices out of my head till today, I also try to remind myself that until I can speak about my story like many others have done, some other person is still being hurt and there isn’t enough help to end this catastrophe.
This, again takes a whole other level of courage and bravery to accomplish.
If you or anyone you know is being abused, please never hesitate to help. Even after October ends, we should be constantly reminded that abuse continues throughout the year and into the next. We should be reminded that it is never ok to live this way.