For four weeks I’ve been sitting here trying to think of something to write that directly relates to my experience with domestic violence. One author requested a short memoir from me to include in her anthology. After Broken, I politely declined. I didn’t have it in me. But today I realized, for the last four weeks I’ve been struggling with the term “Domestic Violence.”
“Was I really in a situation that constitutes “Domestic Violence?” If you’ve read Broken, you’re probably chuckling to yourselves right now. “Uh. Yeah, Angela. You were.”
For those of you who haven’t read Broken, I will summarize. I was beaten, raped, subjected to animal abuse, was trapped with a pedophile for five years, raped on 9/11, prepped for human trafficking, and imprisoned and sexually tortured.
But I can’t write or relate to domestic violence.
That is when I realized… literally moments ago. I don’t know what domestic violence is. I think often, “My husbands never beat me.” I had two. “And neither of my parents ever beat each other.” This awareness month isn’t for me.
But people persist and that is when I began to question my own knowledge and do what I always do when in doubt. I Google.
Violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner.
Violent or aggressive behavior within the home.
Now that is something I can relate to. I don’t feel like I’m an expert on domestic violence. I don’t feel right discussing this without more knowledge, and that is when I conceived another angle. One that I do feel very confident in discussing. Trauma.
Now that is something I know a lot about.
A fearful experience that left you feeling completely without control.
That is it. A car accident? 9/11? Spiders crawling all over your body when you were eight? Rape? Abuse? Domestic Violence? A scary movie watched too young? Only the survivor can determine if what they experienced was traumatic. In some cases, PTSD results.
I was surprised at how begrudgingly I accepted Domestic Violence as traumatic. Trauma is associated with war, veterans, or rape. But I am having a hard time linking trauma to Domestic Violence. Maybe I’m not alone in this. But it is. So very traumatic. Not just for the abused, but for the witnesses.
One thing my therapist said to me was “Sometimes, it is more traumatic to witness the event than experience it ourselves.” and this brings me to a line by Michelle Knight from Finding Me.
“The only thing worse than being raped is watching someone else be raped.”
I can vouch for that. It was far easier to be beaten and raped than watch my cats gets beaten. It’s why I chose rape over animal abuse.
We all know about the spouse beating the spouse. Sometimes the children see it. Sometimes the children are on the receiving end of it.
So, I guess… in all my rambling today, I want to speak to those children who are now adults. Who witnessed the abuse of a parent and stood helpless to stop it.
“It didn’t happen to me. Why should I be bothered by it? It’s selfish of me to think it bothered me when my mother/father is the one who had to endure it.”
I said all of these things about 9/11.
“How dare I cry about my own lot while 3,000 people are dying. I shouldn’t be so selfish. I should have been one of them.”
Take it from someone who knows. I was pinned under a rapist while listening to the screams of 9/11 to distract from my own situation.
If there is one thing I have learned very recently, it is what I have to say to you now. It is never selfish to be bothered or upset by anything. It is human. You can’t choose when something upsets us or to what degree. We can choose to address it and get help.
Domestic Violence isn’t just violence within the home. It’s verbal abuse, physical abuse, animal abuse, rape. It is experiencing constant or repeated fear in the one place you should be safe. It is having the security of your home ripped from you while the walls and roof still remain to hide the hell within.
Survivors of Domestic Violence lived without the comfort and security of the family unit. They had no soft place to fall. No security. No comfort.
Humans have two basic needs. Food and Shelter. Shelter provides comfort, security, safety. Domestic Violence strips that from a person while maintaining the illusion that it is still there.
But most… it is being abused by someone you should have been able to trust.
Either way you break this down.