Tomorrow I will be attending Take A Stand in Washington D.C., an event sponsored by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). This event marks the 30th anniversary of domestic violence awareness month and is meant to spread awareness about domestic violence and lobby for change. To say that this event holds a great deal of significance for me would be the understatement of the year. As a survivor of abuse and domestic violence, I have learned how much misunderstanding and ignorance there still is regarding the severity and impact of domestic violence. I have felt how suffocating it is to stay silent; how speaking the truth is so much more complicated than people want to believe; how difficult it really is to seek justice. And more than anything, I have learned just how prevalent these crimes really are.
I have spent the past year trying to deal with the aftermath of my abuse in just about every way possible – ignoring it, denying it, crying over it, being angry, and trying to “accept” what happened and move on. As friends and family had told me, I had to simply accept what he did, let it go, and get over it. But no matter how hard I tried, I could not seem to just forgive and forget. For quite a while, I thought this meant that I was failure – if I could not accept it, then I could not move forward with my life. However, I have since realized that this is not true at all. There is a reason I do not want to accept this – it is because what my abuser did to me, and what he has done to countless other women, is just not right.
And as I have learned this past year, there are so many women with stories of abuse and domestic violence. They are bloggers you meet on the Internet; they are your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your coworkers. Survivors are everywhere. But you would never know it because society imposes an invisible silence on victims though things like victim blaming, by favoring high status perpetrators such as sports players or celebrities, and of course, by maintaining all of the red tape and legal obstacles that come along with charging a perpetrator and trying to seek justice. And it is these downright disgusting tactics meant to shame, blame, and silence survivors that I will never just sit back and accept. I truly believe that silence is the driving force that allows these crimes to continue and allows abusers to simply get away with it.
I may not have gotten justice for what my abuser did to me, but I am also not bowing my head and accepting that this is just the way of the world. I will do everything I can to change this culture that encourages survivors to stay silent; this culture that teaches us that we as women can be used, abused, assaulted, violated, and degraded, and that we should just “get over it.” It has been one year since I walked away from my abuser and I am most definitely not over it. I have not forgotten what he did to me, what he has done to other women, and what women all around the globe have had to endure. And I pray to God that I will never be over it. Because the day that we start accepting all of this is the day that we refuse change. And the world needs a lot of change when it comes to issues like domestic violence. So, on this 30th anniversary of domestic violence awareness month, I encourage you to reject the attitude that this is just the way things are and we need to accept it and move on. I encourage you to break the silence, to use your voice, and to Take A Stand against domestic violence.
See you in Washington.