It’s NOT You: A Letter of Hope in the Midst of Domestic Violence


** I have been an advocate for women and children touched by domestic violence for a long time. One of the reasons I am pursuing my Masters right now is so I can work to develop more family violence prevention programs. Several friends of mine are currently dealing with impossible situations and I not only write this letter to them, but to anyone who feels trapped. You are not alone. –Bekah **

It’s me again, you know, just checking in. I wanted to make sure you were OK, or as OK as you can be. You didn’t answer your phone again so I was worried about you. 

You guys had a fight last night, didn’t you? Something is wrong. You were trying valiantly to hide it the other day, but your eyes don’t lie. Your voice is shaking when we talk on the phone.  I get that feeling that you are scared and hiding something. That you are afraid to talk in front of him. I don’t know if you are ready to talk about it, but I am here for you if you are. You know my story. You know I will move heaven and earth to help you. But I know that you have to be ready to do it. It is a process. It’s not as simple as people make it out as. There is such a myriad of emotions that conflict and battle for your attention. 

I was embarrassed. No one dreams of being in a relationship where you are being belittled and hurt. No one dreams of being made to feel like you are of no-value. Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror after a fight and say, “These kinds of things don’t happen to people like me! They happen to other people, but not me. He just got mad…he’s sorry now…” I did. I worried constantly what people would think of me, if they knew. I wondered, “What is wrong with ME? I don’t leave! I deserve better but yet, I don’t leave.”  How would I tell my family? As soon as people know, they would look at me with pity. I would be THAT girl. You know, the victim. I didn’t want to be “Poor Bekah”, I just wanted my life back.  It made me feel so ashamed.  My dear friend, you don’t have to be a victim. You can be a survivor.

Sometimes it’s hard to dwell on hope. Hope that things might actually get better or change. I spent time wishing he would just get hit by a bus. God did not answer that prayer. I felt down all the time, conditioned by the constant influx of pain and insults, that this was my life. This was how it worked out. I made my bed, I need to lie in it. I gave up hope for a while, it was a very dark time. I know you are near that point, dear heart, because I recognize it oh so well. You hide it better than I did. I never had much of a poker face, but you, you make people think you are ok. You brush off concerns and it works with almost everyone. It takes someone whose been there to recognize it. Your actions become mechanical, not spontaneous. It’s like you are walking on egg shells around everyone. Tip-toeing through life is no way to live, dearest. It drains you from the soul. I know you it is hard for you to believe in hope again, but together we can work to change that. There is always hope and I *refuse* to let you sink into that dark hole of hopelessness. If you can’t find the flashlight to help yourself out of that hole, I will bring mine with me. Plus, as you know, I have a gigantic Maglight…that thing is hardcore. Don’t worry! We’ll find our way out together. I’ve been in this place before, I remember the way out.

Even if you have the hope that things will change, I know the fear still remains. Fear that he will find you. Fear that he won’t let you leave. Fear that you will try and fail and then it will get worse. Fear for your children. Fear for the future. Those are all valid fears, dear friend. You are in a dangerous situation. You are tip-toeing through life with a volatile man. I can’t tell you that the fear leaves entirely. I know for me, I struggle with it still. But,  the best advice I can give you is to take it one day at a time and make a plan. Get your affairs in order quietly. Make sure you have a go-bag if you can manage it. Know where all your documents are: passports, social security cards, medical cards, marriage license. You’ll need them. I wish you felt comfortable enough to go to the safe house. Their advocates are amazing. They take care of you. They can have a restraining order filed in one business day. They can give you recommendations to legal counsel and counseling services.  Remember that quote from the Princess Diaries, it fit’s SO well here: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” This is your life. This is the life that your children live too. I know, in my heart of hearts, that you are strong enough to leave. You are such a strong woman, love, you have endured so much.

This brings me to the kids. They love you so much. They worry about you. I know you won’t tell me right now, but please know that if he lays a hand on you…I am worried he will lay a hand on them too. I know you are scared. I know I felt terrible for staying in a situation that was dangerous for a child. Know this. You haven’t screwed your kids up. You showed them that you tried. You tried to make it work. You forgave instead of seeking retaliation. You showed them gentleness instead of cruelty. You have protected them.  You showed them grace and now you have the opportunity to show them your strength. I know you want them to have a better life. I can tell from the way you look at them. You have that chance. It’s a new year. It’s a new beginning. Let’s work together to help you start it off right. We both can agree, it is time for a change.

There are so many things to worry about, aren’t there? Where will you go? What kind of job will you be able to get? What is going to happen legally? How do you stay safe? What happens to the pets? The house? The cars? How do you raise kids on your own? How do you ever function in a relationship again? Will the paranoia ever go away? Will you ever feel whole again? What if he comes and tries to hurt me? What are my rights? What are his rights? Oh sweetheart, the questions go on for hours don’t they? We are both planners. It’s a blessing and a curse. I have a solution though and you may not like it. It’s called one step at a time. Imagine you are in the basement of hopelessness and staring up a steep staircase that leads to Change. You could sprint up it, but you would be so winded and lost by the time you got up there. OR you could take it one step at a time, calculated and meaningful steps upwards. Some of those steps have assistance attached to them in the form of a lawyer or a safety planner or even the police. Some you do all on your own.

I have every confidence and faith in you that you can climb these steps with your kids. How do I know this? Because even after all the bad nights, the mornings where you wouldn’t quite meet my eyes at work, or the turtlenecks in July…you retained your spirit. You are still there. He hasn’t taken that from you. You have sequestered that little piece of you away from his toxic spirit and you have let it survive. You are still in this, lovebug! You haven’t given up completely. HE HAS NOT WON!  You have the spirit to sustain you through this and you do not have to do it alone. I know he hates me. Probably because I look at him like he is the scum on the bottom of my shoe. I know he doesn’t like it that we talk, I wouldn’t care but I don’t want to make it worse for you so instead I reach out quietly. You just say the word and I am no longer quiet and in the background. I will be first in line to give you a hug, dry your tears and squeal “Oh Thank God, you DID IT!” in your ear. 

You are valuable to me. You matter so much to me. You matter to your kids. You matter to your co-workers. You matter to your friends. We haven’t known what to do for you and I, speaking for all of us, hope you forgive us for not speaking up sooner. We know you have to be the one to initiate this change and we hope you do but know that regardless we are here for you. You have a lot to figure out. There is a lot to consider. This decision does not come easily and either way, it’s going to be difficult at times. But know this, please, your friendship has sustained me through some very dark times in my life and I hope you know that you can lean on me now. Whatever you need, say the word. I can help you get out. I can help you make a plan. I can just listen. But, I am here. So don’t give up. This isn’t how your story ends. It’s time to write the next chapter.

I love you.

Bekah

If you need resources, please visit: http://www.thehotline.org/ to speak with an advocate 24/7 and start your safety planning today.

Day or night, I am always here for you.

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Comments
2 Responses to “It’s NOT You: A Letter of Hope in the Midst of Domestic Violence”
  1. Kim L says:

    I couldn’t say it that well myself but I agree… Where were you at the end of 2009…. Love you girly

  2. Leslie Campos says:

    You write so beautifully Bekah! You are truely an inspiration, and I couldn’t agree more with everything that you wrote.

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