When I first started this blog, all you saw when you read my posts was text. I at first refused to have an about page. Eventually, I grew tired of not sharing personal things with my readers and felt that by proxy you were being punished because I was still so desperately afraid of Kevin, I felt like I had to hide. I had to ignore the knot in my stomach when I published it. Not long after that, I became disgusted with myself for hiding my face, like I was the one who should stay buried in the shadows in shame and humiliation for what was done to me. I had to ignore that nagging fear then as well as I hurriedly uploaded a photo that I felt was dark enough to not allow my identity to be completely obvious but enough of me could be seen. I wasn’t ready at the time to come out of hiding, but if you default to the fear will you not always hide? Will you not always cling to the darkness as though it was your only lifeline? Was it not that darkness that almost allowed him to take my life? Did I not give up everything in return for the possibility that I could live? So why was I hiding? Was I was hovering and lingering in the shadows? Why was I the one who felt shame?
At first, I had to make a conscious effort to reveal things that would point to my identity, making it easier for him to find me. I felt uncomfortable, I felt insecure, but I loathed the darkness. I despised the fact that I was constantly juggling around my life in an effort to avoid having a run-in with him. To avoid having to be forced to look upon his very face, now permanently contorted in his trademark sneer. To never have to hear that hissing voice of his raising up in assault on every part of my being. I grew tired of feeling like I needed to constantly look over my shoulder, always worrying about whether or not he would appear out of nowhere and catch me unaware. Off-guard. Did I not leave so that I could live? How was this living, this censoring every move, every word down to the smallest of details? Why was I continuing to edit myself out of life when I risked everything to have it? Why was I hiding like I was the one who did something wrong? Why was I?
Accursed fear, more blinding and inconsolable than anything I have ever felt or ever shall again. I dreaded having to be confronted with him so much so, that my fear of him, of the danger he represented, of the hatred, anger, cruelty, and malice that burns off him hotter than an inferno, controlled me like a puppet, and I again sacrificed my life, my freedom, all in the name of avoiding him. Of avoiding detection. Of him not discovering that I have revealed the secret he would kill to protect.
I woke up this morning thinking about this. How I have wasted so much time obsessing about his vileness, the threats I have seen him carry out against others for the sake of vengeance (and only that) alone, the threats he made to me, some of them carried out with reckless abandon, and the possibility of the things he could still do. I thought about all the weeks that blurred into months, turning into years that I shrunk back in silence. That I hid in the darkest corners I could find, both being removed by force and by concession from the world, mistakenly believing that this offered up some protection from his sadistic, limitless cruelty. But this, like the life I stumbled through with him, was, too, a lie. There was no safety, no security, no hope, and not one smallest ounce of life. There was only fear, chaos, humiliation, degradation, shame, desperation, and pain. At times unbearable. You never truly know what you can survive until you somehow make it through the most terrifying night of your life…. dozens upon dozens of times, over and over again.
And I became incensed that a year later, in some respects, the monster was still pouncing its way out of the closet, making child’s play of the levels of reinforcement I erected in hopes of keeping it at bay. At keeping it in the past where it should stay. I became angry that I was still allowing myself to shrink back in fear of something I realized I have no control over. Whether you have seen my face or not. Whether you know where I live or not. Whether you know his name, what he does for a living. And whether or not you know my name. Hiding these things does not erase or minimize the target on my back. Holding myself back from living my life the way I want and need to does not keep me safe. It only plays into his hands and allows him to have power, and I am woefully tired of this tedious game.
So tired, in fact, that I am going to take this opportunity to begin again, and make a proper introduction. Here among family, among friends, and among those who do not feel safe enough yet to take that risk and reveal who you are just yet. I am going to take back the last piece of myself and put it back where it belongs. At some point this weekend, I will be re-writing my about page, but for now, this will have to do.
I live in Central New York in a fairly poor county where they are few resources and options for victims of domestic violence. As the area is fairly remote, many here don’t like to risk coming forward until it becomes either a danger to their children’s lives or they almost die. Everyone here seems to know everyone, and even if you don’t travel in certain circles, you can never forget a face, because you see the same people day in and day out. Survivors duck and dodge acquaintances, friends, and family of the their abuser by reworking their life, by hiding. And those who feel they cannot simply move away.
I refused to move away. He came to the area because of me. He isn’t throwing me out of my life just because his family doesn’t want him in theirs. Doing this where I live is risky, because there are many incidents of inadvertently bumping into the abuser you left. Such is the way of life in a small town. But I refused to shatter the connections I have had here since I was a child. My family is well-known in the area because of my father and grandfather. People know me just by looking at me. I had no real chance at successfully hiding. Still I refused to move away. Why should I have been the one to sneak off like a thief in the night? No, this girl isn’t going anywhere. Not at the moment, but when I do go there is a very good reason for it. Not because I am trying to hide from him.
I am the middle child of five, the last of my father’s and mother’s marriage that she discarded like it was worthless. I have witnessed abuse of three of my siblings and experienced it myself as a child. I have struggled with my identity since my earliest years, because my parents pushed me into being what I was not so I could be offered up with bragging rights. My stepfather was an alcoholic who abandoned his responsibility to care for his family, so I took over. My virginity was taken from me as a teenager by someone who felt they had a right to it. I am not the only one, but that is her story to tell, and I know she never will. I have seen friends suffer with and in some cases die from different forms of cancer. Some of them as children and teens. I have had friends of varying ages attempt suicide but thankfully they all survived. On two occasions, I myself attempted and failed. I told no one and fumbled through alone.
Not a very fortuitous beginning to a stellar life. Most people would throw their hands up, but fortunately for me, there was a spark in there somewhere underneath all that garbage heaped on top of me. I made my own way. I discovered a love of languages, writing, music, art, travel, and drama. I devoured books like a fiend, carefully committing crazy amounts of stories to heart. But most of all, I became a woman set on being an example of how friends and family treat each other. What compassion and mercy look and feel like. I became me.
I speak, read, write and dream in three languages: English (or something like it), Spanish, and Japanese. I have a list of others waiting for their turn to enter into my brain. I play flute and piccolo, and a little piano. I tried oboe, but I am not a fan of the vibrating reed. I got perfect scores in two solo instrumentals competitions. I was in chorale ensembles, chorus, and band all through high school.
I am a geek and always got good grades without studying. I hoard books. I tested at a college reading level in elementary school. Knowledge and intelligence run in my veins, so yes, I would die without it. In fact, intelligence is the top draw in a partner, so you also know this means Kerwyn is smarter than I am. I like to be able to learn new things, and my partner in life has to be able to fill this role.
I hate dirt. In fact, this should be extended to include, funk, gunk, bugs, and slimy things. But I adore being outdoors. I love sitting for hours watching the wildlife on the refuge by my father’s house. I love it when it rains, and hate it when it snows. I will whine about the cold even when it is 90, so just learn to accept this. Ever since I went to Japan the first year, anything under 80 makes jeans and a sweatshirt a necessity. Speaking of clothes, I like to shop, pretty much to the point of overkill. The sales people say a prayer when they see me coming, and I don’t mean in hopes that I spend money. They want to survive the tornado that is about to descend upon them.
I have worked in fast food. I have been a foreign language AND English tutor, a teacher’s assistant, and a retail slave of fifteen years. And then I decided to move into accounting. YEsterday during lunch, I began collecting applications and information to begin the process of incorporating a 501c3 for domestic violence services which will hopefully also include shelter issues in my county which need to be addressed. That option wasn’t there for me a year ago. It should be there for someone today, but it still is not.
I value honesty, trust, compassion, love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, respect, and love for Jehovah above all else. I will give yo the clothes off my back, my last meal, my last sip of water, and my last dime. I cannot allow people to go without, suffer, or be alone. I love people. I adore people. I also protect them and am willing to risk my life to do so.
All of this tells who about who I am, but one very important thing remains. Perhaps the most important statement of them all. I am done hiding.
My name is Amy Thomson, and I am a survivor of domestic violence. May your day find you at peace and content with your world. I think I finally am with mine.