Friday, 18 November 2011

Speak out against domestic violence!

"One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. That is way too many. The aim of this event is to bring awareness to the cause and encourage victims to speak out and seek help."
- Wanderlust and her Speak Out campaign.
One in four women will be physically and/or emotionally abused by a partner - somebody they love or trust. I am a 'one in four'. But of the many 'one in four' women out there, I am one of the lucky ones because I was able to walk away.


I was 18 and in my first "real" relationship. I was in love, as most people aged 18 in a relationship are. We don't know what warning signs to look for and we don't really have a benchmark for what a healthy relationship looks like. As it turns out, nursing your boyfriend's hangover every Saturday morning after he left you, his underage girlfriend, at home is not a healthy relationship. But ignorance is bliss and I was blissfully happy.

But one night after an argument in a pub, I stormed off outside. I had only recently turned 18 so I was finally able to join in with the Friday night drinking sessions. But I didn't enjoy it. Drinking to get drunk every week is not my idea of fun. So I was happy to leave and walk the few blocks home. It was still daylight.

Well my boyfriend followed me. He called out and I stopped. Words were exchanged. I'm not one to call names as I know how much they can hurt. But he had already started drinking and he yelled names at me. Many names. I don't even remember what the fight was about. But I do remember him practically spitting these words at me: "You are scum." And he hit me. It was one of those half punch, half shove motions that forced me to the bitumen in the carpark. I hit the ground hard. I was too shocked to scream. Or cry. Or say anything for that matter. I just stumbled back to my feet and I ran.

I ran towards home. I could hear him yelling at me to come back. He yelled that he was sorry. He yelled lots of things. But I kept running. There was no force on Earth that was going to make me face him but since we lived next door to each other, I quickly realised I had no where to go. So as soon as he'd safely lost sight of me, I dashed into a random backyard. I sat against a stranger's house and that's when I was finally able to cry - sharp, racking sobs that I desperately tried to muffle. I heard his voice getting louder, and louder and then fainter, and fainter.

I don't know how long I sat in that backyard but eventually it got dark. I snuck out of the yard and made my way home. I peeked into his bedroom and saw it was empty. He'd gone back out drinking. I dashed into his house and grabbed everything I own and ran back to my own house. I locked myself in my bedroom and refused to come out. Late that night, he knocked on my door. He yelled for me to come out. He yelled that he was sorry. Again, he yelled many things. I hid under my pillow and I cried.

The next morning I did the bravest thing a girl in my situation can do. I called for help. I asked my Mum to come get me... and my stuff. I left uni. I left my friends. I left my boyfriend. It was one of the hardest things I'd had to do in my life so far. But it was also the easiest decision I've ever made. Because no girl should ever have to put up with domestic violence. And I Speak Out against domestic violence.

'Sorry' doesn't heal grazed hands.
'Come back' doesn't wipe away tears.
And 'I love you' should never, ever, ever leave a bruise.


Miss SAMawdsley xx

PS: For the record, seven years later my ex-boyfriend contacted me. I felt enough time had passed that I could see him. My only justification was that if he needed the chance to say sorry, I would give it to him. I'd heard through mutual friends that he had changed a lot. And it's true, he had. Apparently his act of violence and my reaction had shocked him so much that he'd become the ultimate peace-loving hippy. He'd not had a relationship since and is now so anti-violent he is a vegan. I'm glad I gave him the chance to say sorry.
But I did not, and never will, forgive him.

9 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story and supporting Speak Out. Here from the link.

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  2. Thank you for sharing you story and for being strong enough to ask for help and get out of the situation. I admire your courage.

    Love, hugs and positive energy !

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  3. A powerful story. I'm so glad you had the strength to leave, even at such a young age. Thankk you for speaking out and supporting this initiative. x

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  4. good for you honey for firstly writing this and having such insight on what needed to be done at such a young age.

    However, for yourself, you must forgive him. Forgiveness does not ask that you forget. Forgiveness acknowledges that we are suffering when we hold on to anger and hurt and bad memories.....

    Forgiveness is needed at two levels: first that I am forgiven, which frees me from my guilt;
    and secondly, that I forgive which frees me from my anger.
    Unless we forgive, we cannot be free.
    ~Esther de Waal, Living with Contradiction: An Introduction to Benedictine Spirituality

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  5. Thank you so much for reading and especially for your sweet comments. :)
    @TheLakeHouseWriter, thank you for your email. You're a wonderful person and you're right, I should work on forgiving him. xx

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  6. wow who would thought. A survivor as well. It bought tear to my eyes. Emma

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  7. Thanks, Emma! I hope you've had the strength to get through your own struggles. :) xx

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  8. Thank you for sharing your story, it takes a lot of courage to speak out against violence. Speaking out can encourage others to seek help, because many women who are abused just need to know that they are not alone, that others understand, and that there is life after abuse.

    I work with women and children who have experienced family violence, so I am familiar with the long-lasting effects of abuse.

    A note on the forgiveness conversation above: I agree, forgiveness does not equal forgetting. Forgiveness does not necessarily have anything to do with the abuser, but rather for the victim/survivor to let go of the anger, resentment, blame and guilt within herself. Forgiveness must also start with yourself, to recognize that you did not do anything to cause or allow the abuse to happen.

    I am also a firm believer that not all acts should be forgiven. If you find yourself holding on to the negative and often harmful feelings I listed above and they are getting in the way of your life, then perhaps you could work toward forgiveness. You can still learn to let go of those feelings without forgiving an act of violence. You can also forgive someone within yourself without ever speaking to the person and forgiving them 'verbally'. Forgiveness does not have to be black or white, there are various types in between. Do what feels right for you, and consider and be true to what this life experience has taught you.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment. You do amazing work and I'm sure you make a huge difference to many people's lives. Thank you for that. And thank you for being there for women who have not left their situations yet, but will hopefully soon find strength in knowing someone like you will be there for them. xx

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