October is here + it's time for that spooky shit + all things pumpkin, Halloween, + harvest. But this month also represents Domestic Violence Awareness. Aside from the @csnvw challenge I will be posting on my social media, I wanted to share snippets of my experience dealing + healing from domestic violence.
Surround yourself with people who love you.
It may sound overly simplistic, but it really does make a difference, especially because many abusive people seek to isolate their victims. Abusers can be complete assholes. But there are also reasons we love them. Some may be unhealthy, and many feelings may be based out of fear, but there are genuine feelings too. Nothing is black and white. So having family that realizes this and allows you to talk about the good times as well as the abuse, can help to have a more realistic view. The key, though, is...
Don't let your memory fool you.
Personally, good friends and family were so important because they reminded me that, despite the good memories, these did not outweigh the devastating effects of stress and abuse like loss of income, controlling behavior, isolation from friends and family, emotional distress, lack of concentration, and physical illness.
Pray and smudge. Seriously.
This is super important, especially if you are still living with a toxic, abusive person. Pray. Smudge your home and self regularly (I did this in hostile living situations, and both times within two weeks the situation was somehow resolved: either they changed or left). Your experience may be different. Your abuser may also have stalking tendencies (i.e. If I can't be with you, no one can). Ask your helpers for guidance. If your partner is willing to get help, make sure YOU are safe during this process. Seperation may be necessary, especially in extreme cases of emotional or even physical or sexual abuse. If they cannot respect this, you need to weigh the pros and cons of being with this person and see if you are willing to continue living within the situation. Which brings me to my next point...
Find your healing place, even in the storm.
If it is safe to do so, find your healing space(s) even while in the relationship. Depending on the relationship dynamic, options may be limited. But if you can, try counseling, exercise, crafting, reading, anything you find therapeutic and helpful. This may have a positive impact on your partner, but irregardless, you are taking the steps to take care of you.
It's not an easy process. Going back and forth is common. Be kind to yourself.
I cannot stress this enough. How many of us, even in healthy relationships, make up and break up? This can become even MORE complicated when dealign with an abusive relationship, especially if the person(s) being abused have abandonment issues. However, if and when you decide to leave the situation, know that there is life after the pain. It takes time, and you will still love them and you may be hung up on them for sometime, maybe even a long time.
Safety isn't guaranteed.
Victims of abuse understand this. Family and friends sometimes do not as much. About 4,000 women die each year due to domestic violence. Approximately 75% of women who are killed by their batterers are murdered when they attempt to leave or after they have left an abusive relationship. If someone you love is in a abusive relationship, please realize that this is a complicated and dangerous situation, in the relationship, and perhaps even more if they leave. Please do not oversimplify this or pressure the person in the abusive relationship. Offer not only emotional support, but physical support as well. If they are ready to leave, help them find a safe living arrangement as they transition, whether a shelter, safe house, or, if circumstances allow another friend or family's home.
Do not blame yourself. Do not let others blame you.
This is not your fault, but you are the key to your freedom and long-term survival and happiness. If you find some people around you are blaming and shaming you: those aren't your people.
It takes time to find safety + to heal.
Remember that people who have been in an abusive relationship have an increased mortality rate up to two years after they have left the abuser. People who have been abused are also likely to acquire post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or even complex PTSD. This can cause the victim to acquire abusive traits such as the need for control they lost in the relationship, flashbacks, anger, and rage. If someone you love is dealing with symptoms of PTSD: get help. It doesn't get better over time with time alone. You can do a lot of damage to yourself and those you love, even to those who have helped you. It may even cause you to repeat the cycle of abusive behavior. I know it's not easy. It will take time + a lot of support to heal. But healing is possible + you are so very worth it. Abuse is about control, and you can take yours + your power back. You are not broken beyond repair, but you are the only one who holds the key.
Dominique (Afro Sappony/Norse-Irish/Polish descent) is a poet/spoken word/hiphop artist, short story writer, clothing line boss babe, + aspiring recreational therapist. She is also the co-founder of Indigenous Womxn In Solidarity Empowered + Rising. She is currently working on her B.S. in Nonprofit Leadership Management with an emphasis in American Indian Studies, and lives between the southeast + southwestern U.S.