This is a short video clip of April Hernandez-Castillo’s keynote speech at the annual National Coalition Against Domestic Violence conference in 2012. More than sharing a part of her life (in fact the stories of abuse are left out of this clip), she touches on some important subjects that we survivors all need to keep in the forefront of our minds as we continue to forge ahead with our healing. Her description on her upbringing helps to further dispel the myth that there is a “type” of victim. She grew up in a loving home with parents who continuously tried to encourage her and help build within her strength, confidence, and value. Even despite this, she experienced violence as a teen.
She relates a story where she was participating in a group, and the facilitator has the participants brainstorm and give reasons why batterers abuse. The two she mentions are rage and alcoholism. As the group looks at the list and ponders the weight of it, the facilitator crossed them all out and writes in their place one word: CHOICE. I made a point to mention this, because I want you all to remember the next time you start to regurgitate that garbage your abusers fed you about how you made them do it and how you are incapable and devoid of value… that it was NOT your fault at all. It was theirs. It was your batterers’ CHOICE. Stress, alcoholism, drug abuse, financial problems, work, distractions, etc are NOT the cause. They abused you because they CHOSE to. Just the same as you left because you CHOSE to.
April also stands as a necessary reminder for all of us about the power of humor and laughter in the healing process. Run, Cheetara! 😉 (You’ll see… just watch the video!)