Here are some of the things that I hear whenever people talk about domestic violence:
- But she (the abuser) always seems so nice and sweet!
- They seemed like such a great couple, who would have thought!
- Why does she put up with it? I sure wouldn’t! I’d just leave!
- I never would have guessed that was happening in their home.
- But he’s a minister! And he’s abusing his wife!
- But she’s a policeman! And she’s abusing her boyfriend!
- Why doesn’t she just leave?
Yes, the voices of well-meaning, but uninformed folks who really want to do and say the right thing, but don’t quite know how. Once they find out a person has been the victim of abuse…and the abuse has probably been going on for a while before they find out because victims don’t talk…things get uncomfortable and awkward. Relationships change. They aren’t sure how to help. And it’s mostly because they are uninformed.
Victims keep silent, abusers yell, well-meaning people give their suggestions and hurt the victim even further. Voices all around us, but then the survivors and advocates step in and relate, talk to the victims, and their friends and families. They give guidance and hope and encouragement and eventually the victims talk, their voices are heard when they step up and hold the abuser responsible. Then the healing can start.
Yes, we, as victims of domestic violence, keep silent for so many reasons, not the least being, we still love the abuser, hard as that may be to understand to some.
When I was in an abusive marriage, I was actually trying to protect the reputation of the man who was trying to kill me! But once I broke free, stood back and looked at what my life had become, I started talking and I haven’t shut up. I’m appalled by what my marriage turned out to be, and I see it happening over and over again in the lives of the victims I work with.
Let me be your voice – the voice of the victim, the voice of the survivor and the voice of the advocate. Don’t dare try to silence me now. My abuser is dead, I’m safe and I’ll not stop being a voice for the abused until the day my lips are silent in death.