Wednesday (9/10), would have been my 17th wedding anniversary had I not found the courage to end the abuse. For 9 years my identity was eroded, my voice was silenced, and my soul was dismantled. During those years everything that made me – me – was broken and discarded, the pieces buried in an internal graveyard (or so I thought).
I played small to survive.
I said nothing.
I became a shell of a person.
To know me now, is not to know me then.
In October of 2004, I had what I call my Tetris moment, when all the fractured pieces of information, advice and experience finally came together, clearing the board. In that moment, for the first time in a very long time, I heard my voice from that internal graveyard, and it said, “End it, now!” I knew I couldn’t stay in the relationship another day or I would die. Ending the relationship was terrifying. For my safety and to break the trauma bond, I severed all relationships that were ties to him. It was a harrowing and painful time.
It was a very long journey to break the domestic violence cycle. With the support and love of my closest friends and family members, my faith, my art, and a lot of therapy, I was able to finally hear my voice over his, to trust it, and use it.
The aforementioned graveyard was actually a garden that needed nurturing. Creativity nurtured my soul, was a healing balm and the earliest manifestations of my emerging self.
Art is the primary way that I bring awareness to the fact that 3 out of 10 women are the victims of domestic violence. I wish my story wasn’t common, but it is. So, I talk about it. I tweet about it. I create theater about it. I create works of art about it. And now, I blog about it.
But why now? Ray Rice is enough of a reason. However, the motivation comes from something that happened on Wednesday. My ex-husband, whom I haven’t seen nor spoken to in almost ten years, made a contribution to my Life’s Echoes Creativity Coaching, Indigogo campaign. As a person of integrity and who is an informed consumer (minimizing my financial contribution to labor trafficking as much as possible), I refuse to accept this contribution. I have returned the funds, however, Indiegogo is unable to remove the contribution from my campaign page. Thus it looks as though I’ve exceeded my goal. When in fact, I’m still $145.00 short with 3 days left to go (September 14, 2014).
My original plan was to send a simple reminder and encourage you to contribute, even if it was $5 or $10 because those contributions really do add up. Instead, I found myself in an awkward situation and felt shame wash over me. I felt myself go small again and wanting to hide. Interesting how when triggered, some coping mechanisms come right back. Thankfully, I’m a hell of a lot healthier now and was able to bounce back emotionally within minutes.
Today, I was reminded that: I was a victim, and then a survivor. Now, I’m an advocate.
This is an opportunity for me to stand in my truth and tell my story.
All those things
That you taught me to fear
I’ve got them in my garden now
And you’re not welcome here
-Poe, excerpt from Control
So, if you can contribute to the Indigogo fund I would greatly appreciate it. My story is a huge part of why I advocate for creativity and nurture it in others. It’s a necessity to living a fulfilling and happy life. It can heal individuals, communities and the world. Again, I’m $145.00 away from reaching my goal and have 3 days left. (The new goal on the campaign website is $1,045. This factors in the unacceptable contribution).
If you are a victim of domestic violence or know someone who is, know that you are not alone. There is nothing to be ashamed of and there are lots of resources available to help you. There is a way out and a lot of joy on the other side.
I will not stay silent. I will not stand still.