In the police blotter this week, a woman is nearly strangled to death by an intimate partner.
Last night, I read about a man who attempted suicide and took his seven-month-old son with him. His son died, but the man did not. Previously, the mother of the child had asked for a restraining order, but the longterm one was denied. And now her son is gone.
My heart aches for these stories, for these lives changed forever…and so many of them just gone.
I woke up the other night from a bad dream wherein my ex-husband showed up on my doorstep and announced he had never died after all, that he was back. The dream itself was calm and nonviolent, but even within it, I felt the panic rising in my throat. I woke up sweating, confused, scared. Almost 18 years later, he still haunts my dreams.
The week before, I dreamed that one of my abusers showed up at an event I was hosting, and I just kept looking at all my friends and screaming, “That’s him! That’s him!” and no one could hear me, and he was getting closer and closer. I woke up from that one panicked. He really is still out there.
That’s why I walked 1,000 miles to raise awareness for abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and more. Because even when it’s over, it’s still with us. We may get better, and we may be strong, but the scars remain. And sometimes we just need to be reminded that we’re not alone.
I walked 1,000 miles because:
- I lived through my own pain and will not sit down and shut up
- Others needed to feel loved and seen
- Abuse and domestic violence is still a topic of shame
- Too many victims downplay their own pain
- Too many survivors have never told their own stories
- You need at least one person to believe you
- Society doesn’t understand you can’t always just leave
- Nor does it understand why you can’t just snap out of it
- I see you, there in the dark corners of your pain, hiding, ashamed, blaming yourself
- So you’ll understand why your sister/cousin/daughter/friend won’t have him arrested
- You are not alone
I flat-out failed where meeting my self-imposed deadline of one year is concerned, but as I walked the final miles on the last day, six months later than I had intended to finish, I knew this was one of the biggest wins of my life. This is one of the biggest pieces of my healing.
I am proud to be the face and voice of a surviving victim of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and more. Never would I have wished this past life of pain on anyone, but I am thankful for the strength I have been given to not just survive but to also come out and use what was meant for bad and turn it into something good.
Throughout the challenge, you usually saw a picture of my hand holding a card with a name on it. You saw the miles add up. And you saw the passage of time.
What you didn’t see are the dozens of conversations I had and continue to have. The numerous friends and strangers who have reached out to me to share their own pain, or that of someone they love. What you didn’t see was a close friend sitting across from me telling me I have forever changed her view of domestic violence victims. What you didn’t see were the tears when I walked for someone who has the same name as another, and how it affected them enough to finally admit how much pain they are in.
This whole challenge was never REALLY about how far I could walk. Oh sure, a goal was wonderful and motivating to keep me going on the hardest days, but this was never about miles…or me.
This whole thing was – and still is – about putting a face on abuse, speaking into the darkness, and standing up for the voiceless. This is about helping others find a safe place to tell the very first person ever about their rape or abuse or even…how they were once the abuser.
What you have never seen are the steps toward healing for so many.
So many battles are fought on invisible battlefields, but I see you. And I will continue to walk because I know that getting out or growing up doesn’t mean your pain has ended. Even if you smile. Even if you seem just fine. I See You. And I will keep walking for and with you.