Let me start by stating that there will be nothing funny, tongue-in-cheek, flip, smart-ass or suggestive about today’s post. Today I will be addressing a topic that sadly hits (absolutely no pun intended) very close to home and that is the catalyst for many major decisions and actions in my life. This morning, we will be addressing the continued epidemic of abuse.
For those of you still reading (as I am quite aware that for many reasons, including guilt, being confronted with this topic makes many uncomfortable), thank you. I say “thank you” because I understand and recognize that eradicating this scourge requires many working together; this truly will be the stuff of villages. So, from a woman, a victim, a survivor, please know that your presence signifies hope. It conveys strength. It offers solidarity. It reflects unity. It lends courage. And, trust me when I say that all these are the tools that a victim needs… from those outside.
I say “outside” because quite frankly, most of the work and the effort belongs to the one on the inside; the rest of us can talk until we are blue in the face – nothing happens until you know, you are certain, there is no more doubt that (1) you are indeed being abused and (2) you know that you deserve better than that. Because my friends, sadly there are many of us walking around making excuses for our abusers: “he just had a really bad day. We’ve been under a lot of stress lately. I started it; I knew I should not have said that to him. I swear… that was the first time he’s ever done that to me”; and on and on and on. I have heard so much of it. I have said some of it.
Before I go any further, let me say this to ALL victims: the only culpability you have in an abusive situation is the fact that you remain in an abusive situation. There is absolutely nothing that you could have done that allows for your abuser to curse at, spit at, strike, kick, punch, degrade, belittle or disrespect you. And make no mistake, someone who verbally berates, belittles, humiliates and disrespects you is an abuser. My God… I just realized I am crying. Please hear me – there is nothing that you could ever do, that warrants being mistreated. There is much that we can do that deserves being angry at or even left. But there is nothing that should permit a man (used in both the gender and neutrality sense) to stay and destroy your sense of well-being, your source of strength, your entitlement to peace, or your ability to cope. Trust me when I say that God has not yet fashioned the human being that is worth giving all that up to.
By now you all should know the things that matter to me; you know that this does. My heart no longer aches for my own story; that pain was transferred to the fuel I needed to get me here a long time ago. So to him again I say, “thank you”. But, I continue to hurt for those whose names I know and for the anonymous victims of abuse; I will forever work toward their enlightenment and eradication. I am educating myself in the disciplines I will need to help and to heal; but I hope that in the meantime they/you will hear me when I tell you that you deserve better. You deserve more. Because trust me, if your partner is an abuser, you truly couldn’t have done less (than him).
Language must change. Before we can truly affect this epidemic, the victims’ languages must change. Collectively, we must stop erecting the veil that these offenders depend on and hide behind. This is the epitome of the circumstance where it is true and encouraged to say, ‘it’s not me; it’s you”. Please stop making the excuses; again, there are none. Put aside your hurt, your disappointment and your shattered dreams for long enough to do what is necessary… before he shatters your face. Trust me when I say that I am not being dramatic – the anatomy of abuse dictates that behaviors escalate – the more you take, is the more they will give.
Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we forget. Our lives matter. Our hearts matter. Our souls matter. Our peace of mind matters. Our safety matters. Our well-being matters. Our children and what we are invariably passing on to them matter. Our love matters. An abuser never matters. Do not let them strip you of you. Never let them drain your light in an ill-fated attempt to infuse themselves with it. Never get lulled by the highs; its bigger badder counterpart, the lows, will be showing up very very shortly. Stop romanticizing the situation – romance is born from the soul – theirs is void.
Listen, I have to go; my heart is too full and I am losing neutrality. I do hope that somewhere in these words, something resonated with someone who needed it – whether you are the victim or the victimizer. Sadly I do not believe this will be the last time I address this with you; but I am hoping it’s the last time I have reason to dedicate it to someone I love. But if not, know that for as long as you need, as long as it may take, I will listen. Today, tomorrow always. I pray to find the words to help you.
I understand. I am here. And, I love you.