For years I stayed. I stayed through the emotional and physical abuse. The beatings. The condemnation. Being told that I was not good enough. Being told that he did not want me and that no one ever would. I stayed.
When I had finally had enough was when I had the broken ribs and the gun shoved up my vagina. That is when I realized that I had a child that needed me and that I valued my life even more than I wanted him, but it was not as easy as typing that sentence.
There are many of us survivors of domestic violence out there. What pisses us off more than anything is people sitting around thinking that they know why we stay. Some blame us for staying. Some think they know but they really don’t. Many survivors like myself come from a long line of victims. We were either abused physically and emotionally as children which makes our very existence, one filled with low self esteem, or we are just fucked up so much psychologically that we are not even aware that we are fucked up psychologically. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I look in a mirror and all I see is a fat ugly woman. It does not matter how many times people tell me that I am beautiful, in those years (and even now at times) I never saw it. All I saw was a fat girl that was lucky to have a man and therefore I had to put up with whatever I got.
When Janay Rice posted on Instagram that the media had intruded on her life, she was not being delusional. This is her truth. Don’t you think she asks herself every day if this is love? Why do you think she apologized for what happened? Domestic violence and those who suffer in these type of relationships have a whole host of issues going on that many of the so-called defenders of these women (and men) have never experienced. We don’t wake up in dread every day thinking that today is going to be our last day on earth. We wake up every day thinking that today is going to be different. Today, I am going to make sure that I do everything the right way and all will be right with the world. We are sometimes delusional, but it is our delusion and it is how we keep from going crazy. The constant deriding of the men in our lives does not give us a wake up call. Constantly pitying us in the media does nothing to help with our self-esteem. If the truth be told, some of us hate it. We already know that we are powerless. We don’t need you to constantly throw that in our faces.
You ask us why do we stay? We stay for many reasons. The main reason we stay is we don’t know how to leave. We are constantly bonded to our abusers. We don’t see that open door and even when we do see that open door and put one foot through it, we will go back because we are so bonded to our abusers, that we really and truly believe that going back will change things.
I don’t know Janay Rice. I don’t pity her. I don’t feel sorry for her. I don’t know Ray Rice. I don’t pity him. I don’t feel sorry for him. Janay and Ray Rice are living their truth. Whatever you think of their situation, that is their situation. You don’t get to condemn it. You don’t get to condone it.
The only reason why we are feeling like this is because we all saw the video, but how many other women out there that don’t have their abuse being broadcasted 24/7 do we stand up for? How many of those women who live in shelters, or on the streets do we help out? Did you hear the screaming next door? What did you do when you heard that? Did you call the police? Did you intervene?
The people who perpetrate abuse in relationships do so because society does not do one fucking thing to help. Governments the world over spend little or no money to enact legislation to protect women who are the victims of abuses. In Jamaica, where I am from, it took decades of lobbying efforts to actually get shelters established and domestic violence legislation enacted in order for women to be protected. In the Cayman Islands where I work, the facilitator of the Crisis Centre, was herself raped and murdered in the most vicious way possible. It took years of lobbying by Estalla to actually get domestic violence legislation on the books. Even worse, there are people who don’t even want a crisis centre in their communities.
The Rice situation is not the only high profile case of domestic violence that has made its way into the mainstream media. Earlier this year, Nigella Lawson was photographed being choked by her now ex-husband who then later on accused her of using cocaine. The downside of Nigella Lawson’s situation is that she was refused entry into the US because of the drug abuse allegations. Not only did Nigella get screwed by her husband, she got screwed in her professional life as well.
That is the downside of women like us, survivors and victims of domestic violence. We usually get fucked by the system because we stay. I can give you hundreds of situations where women who lost everything, including their children, as a result of domestic violence. As a result, women will stay in these situations because the law is just not on their side. Thank goodness things have changed, but even more needs to be done.
Finally, to those concerned persons out there who want to help out. Here are some tangible things you can do to help.
- Offer assistance. It does not have to be monetary, but a kind word goes a long way;
- Buy her a cup of coffee or tea or just offer to help out around the house. She will not leave until she is ready. Your job is not to judge.
- Volunteer at a shelter. That extra money that you are going to spend on an iPhone6, how about donating it to a women’s shelter. You will feel better for it.
- In the middle of the night you hear a woman screaming for help, you don’t need to put yourself in danger, use that iPhone5 and call the police. If they don’t get there in 5 minutes, keep calling them until they get there.
- If the woman has no place to go, offer her and her children a night’s rest.
If you have read this far, let me tell you, it is very hard to see a woman or children being abused and not want to intervene. Don’t play a hero. A domestic violence situation can escalate in a heartbeat. Always call the police. If you really want to help, volunteer at a shelter or a domestic crisis hotline. It is heartbreaking to listen to the stories, but just knowing that if I pick up the phone there will be someone on the other end who cares enough to listen is all that separates a victim from a survivor. Remember domestic abuse starts in the mind and ends in the morgue.
Thank you for reading.