Out of the Darkness, Into the Light, Let’s End Domestic Violence
I thought it was hard to write the Behind The Scenes post, but this one is proving even more difficult to write.
Telling the truth can be really hard sometimes. Speaking up about some things can be really scary. But after you take that first step, after you reach out for help for the first time, an incredible sense of relief comes over you. A realization that we are not as alone as we had thought becomes clear.
I spent years in darkness, pretending everything was ok, focusing on raising my children and keeping what was going on from them, creating a picture-perfect life for them. I thought I was keeping my pain and humiliation to myself, I thought I was doing a good job, I thought I was protecting my children.
But I was not.
All those nights I spent in tears, all those mornings where I covered up to drop my kids off to school, all those offers to meet a new girlfriend for coffee/tea that I had to decline to keep the peace at home, all those excuses I made for why I was hurt… It was a dark time.
I felt all alone. I had been separated from my family and close friends. I was scared and convinced no one would understand.
When I left after nearly losing my life, I will never forget the huge flood of relief I got as I sat on that plane heading to safety, alive with my children.
But the darkness continued for a while longer. Because once I was out of the situation, I had to face the reality of it all. I had to accept the truth, I could no longer pretend. And the chain of events that followed darn near sank me.
And though I had my children, and they were/are the only thing that got me through, I felt a loneliness that I can’t yet even describe. I thought there was no one who could help me or who would ever understand what I had been going through.
I was wrong.
I am not alone.
Saddly there are 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men who are just like me, domestic violence victims. I was soon to find out that there are so many unknown resources for domestic violence victims. That there are many people out there who have not only survived, but have truly thrived.
If any of this sounds familiar, please know you are not alone. Reach out, send me an email, open up to a close friend, call the domestic violence hotline, there is a way out for you. I promise, it just takes you knowing you are worth a healthy love (because you definitely are) and wanting that.
Stepping into the Light
Though it was warm and wonderful to be alive and free, it was scary as hell. I was very blessed to have my parents to run to and who helped tremendously with my children during that first month when I was pretty much a basket case, I’m not even going to lie here! I was so broken. The police did not investigate or help, the courts ordered minimal help to protect my kids and I basically realized that with domestic violence, unless you call the police immediately (which I had tried to do, but the phone got smashed), there is no legal action or recourse for help on this issue.
I realized it is up to us to help ourselves and to seek resources outside of the courtroom, like the Coalition for Family Harmony in Ventura County. They can help. We can choose to pick ourselves up, listen to their guidance as well as that of other victims who have spoken out, and to lead a healthier, happier life.
For me, forgiveness came first. I needed to forgive myself and the person who had hurt me. Not to make the other person feel good, but to start the process of letting go and moving on. That is how you fully get control of your life again, by removing any bit of emotional power the other person had over you. And it does take time. But with the help of family, close friends and the vast amount of resources available to battered individuals, I got there. I forgave. I am staying positive and moving on.
End Domestic Violence
I’ve mentioned the vast resources available and simple ways to start your healing. Here I’m going to list out some of them.
- Dial 211 and ask for help. I know you have heard of 911, 211 works similarly and is available nationwide. I had never heard of it before. You can call from any phone. 211 is a domestic violence hotline with trained professionals, many of whom are survivors themselves, with loads of resources to help. If you are in a heated situation but too afraid to ring the police, dial 211, tell them and they will make the call and send help. If you are leaving and need a place to go or some money to help, dial 211 and tell them – they are prepared to send you to a shelter or get you funds to help you onto a healthier path. If something happened last night that has set of alarm bells with you, dial 211 and they can talk to you about it as well as set you up with a counselor.
- Visit DomesticShelters.org, enter your zip code and find a place local to you and read all of the valuable information there. Warning, there is a lot! But it is therapeutic to read and will only confirm to you that you are not alone and help is right there – if you want it.
- Visit TheCoalition.org. If you are local to SoCal, this is a great resource for you. They have helped me. Read their website, reach out to one of their counselors, don’t be afraid to ask or share – they have been through it all and are there to help you.
- Talk to a true friend. I hate to say this, but they probably already know and are just waiting for the opportunity to talk to you about it and help you how they can. My inner circle knew and once I opened up about it, they showed me more support than I could have ever imagined.
- Call the domestic violence hotline to talk. Sometimes it is easier with a stranger. The phone number is 800-799-7233; 800-787-3224 (TTY), click thehotline.org to check out their website. They receive over 200,000 phone calls a day from people just like us who need the help. You have nothing to be embarrassed or upset about, they have heard a lot and have the power to help you.
- Talk to yourself. I know it sounds silly, but it does help. Start off by every morning looking at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself this ‘Good morning gorgeous/handsome. You have value. You deserve love. You are a good person.’ Say it to yourself as many times a day as you can and you will be surprised to see your self-esteem start going up. This may be what gives you the strength to reach out for help.
Even if you are not a victim, you can still help by donating either money or your time (both equally valuable) to one of the above places or your local domestic violence resource center. Or take that chance and speak privately and openly to a friend whom you think is being hurt. Let them know you are there to help them, send them this post with all of the ways they can reach out for help. Most importantly, let them know that they are not alone.
Please pin this to spread awareness:
Together, we can get through anything. Together, we can help each other grow and succeed. Together, we the families, can bring great change not only for this country, but also for each person in our community. Together, our voices can be heard.
Together, we can end domestic violence.
Malibu Mama Loves Xxx
A special thank you to Janet Barnett Lifestyles Photography and Paris Cut Salon for sponsoring this post and making me look and feel beautiful and valuable, reminding me that I do deserve love. #ittakesavillage