No more hiding. No more shame. No more embarrassment and no more GUILT. It’s time to share your domestic violence story and take back your power!
Domestic Violence survivors are often treated so poorly. I know because I am one. I’m both a child and adult survivor of abuse so I feel more than qualified to speak on behalf of all survivors.
Over the years I’ve felt all the feelings – all of them. In the early days post abuse, I was judged. People made assumptions about me. I was looked down on. I faced uncomfortable questioning. I had people tell me I’d never have any money. I even had people tell me I ‘belonged in a women’s shelter’. But that is a whole different blog article!
For today though, right now, I choose to share with you a moment that changed my post domestic violence life like nothing else ever has.
That is, the day I chose to share my abuse story publicly.
It took me years to get to that point. Years of pain, psychological torture and confusion. But, when the time was right… when the frustration of staying silent and trapped in my story finally outweighed my absolute gut wrenching fear of public speaking…. I jumped in the deep end and went for it. Approximately 30 people heard my story on the first occasion and then, at a later event, I spoke to 60 odd people.
Was I nervous? Uhhh … YES…. like sweating bullets nervous!
But in that moment when the microphone was mine I held my breath, surrendered to my strength and waited for my wings to carry me through. The wings that had been clipped for too long. Finally they’d grown back in finer form than ever. And this time, I had 30 sets of eyes as my witnesses!
On that first day of sharing, I chose courage over comfort. Just like Brene’ Brown tells us to. And boy is she on the money with that quote…
It was one of the most liberating experiences of my life delivering a moving speech to these people who had chosen to hear my words. I cried. And they cried. And when I cleared my throat and regained my composure, so too did they, as if an act of support from a distance.
If you too are a survivor. If you too are trapped in your story and find yourself looking for ways to escape it’s often suffocating plot… this is one way forward. A way to stamp your place in the world and honour the survivor that you are. This isn’t about telling your ‘side’ of the story but rather a right of passage to liberation.
Here’s 5 Ways It’ll Help…
It’ll Help You Process Your Feelings
When we sit and ponder our experiences in a constructive, reflective way we often have awakenings. We may remember things we had forgotten. We may make peace with younger versions of ourself. We may even experience extreme catharsis purely from confronting repressed emotions. Reflection as a part of speech writing is particularly powerful as you can finally re-write the story from a survivor mindset rather than from that of a victim.
It’ll Help You Feel Stronger
Living with domestic violence is hard enough but sharing it… risking further trauma stemming from humiliation, victim blaming or ignorance… that stuff takes raw empowered guts! It is both vulnerable and courageous. When you face strangers with the most personal of personal stories to share you are both a deer in headlights and a warrior on a mission! The sheer contrast of those two allows for a refreshing sense of ‘It’s now or never!”.
It’ll Help To Educate Others
Let’s face it, the average person really only knows ‘a bit’ about domestic violence. Unless they have lived it or directly helped someone through it, they only know what the media or ‘that person down the street’ has told them. And, we all know… what we don’t know we just don’t know! Which of course means – what we don’t know we can’t change! So…. when we share the intimate details… the fear, the anger, the control, the heartache, the feelings of being trapped, the ‘what-ifs’, the unrelenting guilt, shame and embarrassment …. we allow them to take informed action if they feel so called. As survivors we need allies. Allies who will join our quest to have the true complexity of domestic violence known.
It’ll Help To Inspire Others
I believe we as survivors have a duty to others who are yet to make it out safely. A duty to shine a light on their path forward through an act of our own bravery. They need us. Just like we needed a light to guide us out. When we share we normalise domestic violence as a topic of conversation. Not only this but we give hope to those who feel hopeless. And if you’re a survivor reading this, you know first hand, just how vital hope is when your world is falling apart around you, day by toxic day.
It’ll Help You To HEAL
My healing journey was long and lonely. I had little support other than that from a few close friends. Life was tough for a while as I slowly rebirthed as the woman I am today. During those early few years I did so many, soooo many things, to rebuild and redefine. But if I’m honest… therapy and self-help books aside, the single most powerful step I ever took in recovery was the step onto that first stage, microphone in hand. Healing is hard but getting uncomfortable and challenging your pain eventually propels you forward.
To wrap up… I can’t let you leave without another Brene’ Brown golden nugget of wisdom… “You either walk inside of your story and own it, or you stand outside of your story and hustle for your worthiness”.
So there you have it… 5 Reasons Why You SHOULD Tell Your Domestic Violence Story.
I hope this article inspires you to be brave and to buck the trend of burying your story along with your power. What happened to you is only part of your life story. Only one chapter, if you like. And the best way to start writing your next is to release the pain from the past. Slowly but surely. For me, speaking is the way forward.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, support is available. Information on how She Counselling can help is available here. You can also reach out for support via the contact page. My services are available Australia wide. As a survivor myself, it would be my pleasure to help you.
If you know someone who would benefit from reading this article, please share it using the links below.
Until next week…
Yours in better mental health,
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Erica has a passion for Women’s Health. She works with women who want to be heard, supported and empowered! Erica is a survivor of many life experiences. A Mum. A travel lover. A green thumb in training and an eternal optimist!