I begin this month with a burden of loss. It was not my intention to introduce Domestic Violence Awareness Month in sadness, but in some ways it is appropriate to begin this month with the reminder of why so many of us feel compelled to speak out against violence in intimate partner relationships. While the seven losses my family, friends, and I have endured over the past five weeks have been illness related, as I go forward into the month with some collaborations and special write-ups, they still serve as a reminder to me of the preciousness and value of life and the holes and despair that can be left behind when someone passes away. The emptiness inside is particularly bitter and hard to battle through when you lose someone to domestic violence.
I have had this post planned in my head for a month and as each loss has come through, it has been increasingly more difficult for me follow through. Instead of the statistics and other information I was going to include, I will leave you with these thoughts.
Throughout this month, I want you to spend some time each day and pause to remember those loved ones we have all lost to this senseless, cruel, and preventable crime. Think of these people not as strangers to you, but family, friends…. as though they occupy a special place in your heart. Let the thought of their loss and how it has impacted the lives of those who love them resonate within you and fill you with compassion. Think about how they suffered and battled against the monster, the shame they carried, the hurts and fears they faced, the pain they endured, and how much they meant to so many someones. Pray for those left behind struggling to heal a wound of loss that will never completely fade away. Cry for them… cry with them. They are not faceless. They could be any one of us.
For those of you have not been abused, think about the urgency in the message we as survivors impart. Awareness and refusal to remain silent can save the life of someone you don’t know, someone you love, and even yourself. Do not think of us as perpetual victims, as people complaining or seeking attention. We are opening our hearts to everyone, repeatedly revisiting the traumas we endured, to break through the wall of silence that allows violence in intimate partner relationships to continue. We are sharing our scars and wounds even as they are still healing so that someone currently trapped or just leaving can know they are not alone, that it is not their fault. Above all, I share mine to give them hope that they will be able to move forward and rebuild their lives and be able to laugh and love again.
For those of you who share the bond that only survivors can forge, continue to support each other and collectively raise your voices that we may shatter the silence and help others make the transition from victim to survivor. Always remember your strength and courage you have always had and share it freely with each other. When you feel your confidence waiver, stop and take stock of how far you have truly come in your journey as you continue to work on healing. Believe me when I say to you that you HAVE moved mountains, and you are amazing. You are lights of hope and encouragement for so many, and I thank and love each of you for stepping forward, raising your voice, and sharing your story.
For those of you who have lost someone to domestic violence, please know that even though I was never able to meet them, their memory will be alive with me each and every time I tell my story. I will tell it always with the hope I can help someone get the courage to leave, so that not one more person has their life ripped away from them. The strength you all show in the face of your loss is a testament to the power of love and the bonds we share as family and friends. Just as you do, I will remember them with love.
To all of you, no matter how you made your way here, I ask that you take this month to remember those we have lost, to learn about ways you can help someone who is now being abused, and to show appreciation to those who share their stories with us all. Domestic violence is everyone’s business, and it is a crime. Love does not clip or break our wings but lets us soar.