Yesterday, I posted a story related to the book I am working on: “Chattahoochee Child.” The post I published yesterday was written months ago, revised a bit yesterday and published. I suppose the articles I am reading lately, a series from the Post and Courier newspaper titled, “Till Death Do Us Part,” http://www.postandcourier.com/tilldeath/ has really hit home with me. Why? Simple. My mother was a victim, along with my father. For years, I watched both of them brutalizing each other…sometimes with their fists, slaps, and most especially, with their toxic tongues. As the second born child, I stood up to them…unafraid of another slap. I said to myself, “So what if Mommy or Daddy slaps me…it isn’t the first time.”
Yes, it is true….I grew up in a household where slaps, angry words, and volatile tempers ruled the nest. Instead of praise, we learned at an early age that violence makes a statement. For me, the violence left me cold and alone. There were many times I hovered inside my closet. I covered myself with clothing so no one could find me. When thunder roared from the heavens, I screamed. When lightning flashed, I curled my body tightly into a fetal position, comforting myself because I was so afraid. Never did I share my fears with anyone. After all, the domestic violence brewing inside our home was a ‘family matter.’ No one else wanted to get involved, and so, I remained in the closet. Alone. Afraid. Horrified, especially when I listened to the shouting voices of my mother and father.
When I started dating, I apologized to my boyfriends…if I was late…if I was too quiet…If I didn’t please the boyfriend. I suppose I had stars in my eyes, wanting to please everyone. I am happy to say, I no longer behave in such a manner. Years later, married for fourteen years, I learned to stand up for myself during a fight with my husband. After he used abusive language, calling me disrespectful names I shall not repeat, I turned towards him…tears dancing inside my eyes, I said, “If you really loved me, you would not disrespect me in such a way. I’m tired of you belittling me. Stop it now!”
Dumbfounded, my husband glared at me, then he did something totally out of character. He apologized?!?
I suppose our marriage took a turn for the better on that date, after I finally found the strength to stand tall and not take his verbal abuse any longer. For years, I was blind-sighted to his verbal abuse. After all, when a child grows up with criticism and abuse, that is the only behaviors she expects as an adult.
Today, our marriage is better…stronger…and when the fits of PTSD escape from my husband’s body language and lips, I find myself speaking a little softer…and much wiser, telling him he needs to apologize to me because I am a worthy, decent and special person. I deserve better. I surprise myself at times — by the courage I have now to stand up and become an advocate for domestic violence…domestic abuse…and verbal abuse. I am so proud that I chose to turn my back on domestic violence and child abuse and not repeat that vicious cycle.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse or verbal abuse, please — PLEASE find a way to escape. Read the articles on the website, http://www.postandcourier.com/tilldeath/, a series of seven articles worthy of your time. If you are dating someone who is cruel to you, contact – http://www.loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/dating-violence-statistics?gclid=CjwKEAjw4PCfBRCz966N9pvJ4GASJAAEdM_KXkD41t_tfyDkHDeVmXwIwmILULyyF6nBN0_atjBskhoCDFXw_wcB or call 1-866-331-9474, text – “loveis” to 22522.
For women, I found this site — http://www.whbw.org/education/the-stages-of-breaking-away/ — call 1-800-abuse95. Hopefully, if you are a victim, you will have family or friends to turn to. That isn’t always the case. As an advocate against domestic abuse of any type, there have been several times I came to the rescue of a victim. On one occasion, the abuser threatened to hit me, if I didn’t shut my mouth. I moved closer to him, daring him to hit me! Much to my surprise “Brutus” turned away, stopping the abuse. Later, this couple divorced.
I suppose these articles touched me in ways I never anticipated. Perhaps bringing back the memories of how I stood between my parents — serving as their referee from the age of five-years-old until I was fifteen. Yes, it is easier to lock those memories away, but I cannot. I have too much passion to do what I can to stop domestic violence…domestic abuse…or whatever titles the ‘good ole boys’ call it. I do not believe that a woman belongs in the home, or two steps behind a man, and I do not believe that a woman is a man’s property. I detest those types of comments and when I hear them — let’s just say — my Julia Sugarbaker charisma kicks in. Just the other evening someone said something demeaning about women and when I heard it — I stood my ground and let him have it! He called me a feminist. I replied, “Yes…thank you for the compliment. I am a feminist and I am proud to stand tall as a feminist. Any questions?”
Please, if you know someone who is dying inside from domestic violence…do not turn away. Encourage them to get help. If you live in South Carolina — well, let’s just say — our state is still behind the times…antiquated. Let us make some noise to get our legislators to awaken — to end domestic violence…Welcome to the State of South Carolina — Number One in Domestic Violence. My…ain’t we proud?!?
Please love yourself by remembering — to love — you must first love yourself!
1 Corinthians 13:4–8a
(New King James Version)
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.