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January 23, 2016

I am a Domestic Abuse Survivor.

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Leaving the Past in the Past:

There was a time when I would have called myself a victim of domestic abuse.

But, I have finally, truly realized that by calling myself a victim, I was handing over my power and control. I refuse to give what happened any more power.

No more!

I am not a victim.

I was in a relationship in which I was abused. I do not believe that anyone is a victim of domestic abuse—just situations that are abusive.

It took me 10 years to be able to talk about what had happened to me.

It took me 10 years to be able to write about it, which has been cathartic for me. It’s funny: I started out wanting to write children’s books. I never imagined I’d be writing about domestic violence. I never imagined that I would have the experience of being in an abusive relationship.

No one ever does.

I never witnessed abuse; not growing up, not with relatives and not at friend’s houses.

After getting away, I knew I had to help others to know that they are not alone. There is help out there. You do feel alone. You think you are the only one going through it. You don’t know who is safe to talk to.  You are embarrassed and ashamed. It’s a lonely and scary place to be. Some of us have our families and friends turn away from them. Some of us are distanced from family and friends by their abuser.

Every experience you find yourself in, always remember: it’s happened to others. You may feel alone, but you are never alone.

If our society can begin to stop blaming and start fixing the problem, maybe we can put an end to domestic violence. It needs to stop, of course. It is a generational thing…one family, then the next and so on. But this is not normal. In these abusive homes, girls (and boys) see their mothers (or fathers) called names, being physically hurt and they think it’s like this in every family. Boys (and girls) see their dads (or mothers) physically harming their mom (or dad) and saying things, so they grow up and do it. It’s a normal way of life for them, and it continues…on and on…generation to generation. We need to break the cycle. This is not normal. This does not happen within every family.

I’ve heard and read many times, why didn’t she leave?

Really?

Most of us do not know how to leave. They need help. We need to point them toward help. There are resources out there. There are shelters. There are court advocates to help them manuever through the paperwork and the system. Many women have no money, no friends and have been disengaged from family.

We need to slow and then stop this abuse. Too many of us are physically hurt, or even killed. The statistics are staggering.

Many of us have lost our self-confidence and self-respect. We have had their dreams crushed. We have been disrespected and treated badly. We give up, our spirit crushed. We feel trapped, with no way out. We, as a society are responsible. We find it acceptable. Many of us turn our heads away. We don’t want to get involved. We don’t want to see it.

We have become desensitized.

Many things helped me. Many people helped me.

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One thing that helped me: Yoga. It really does. With yoga, we can regain a connection to our fundamental self-esteem, self-respect and overall sense of self. Yoga makes you feel good. If you feel good about yourself, you are not going to want to be around someone who makes you feel bad about yourself. Yoga builds your confidence and strength. Yoga helps in healing, and it’s a wonderful release. Yoga breaks down the shell that the abused surround themselves with. That protective shell. That protective shell that shuts down everything, so we are watching the chaos, and our lives, from a distance.

Every abuse shelter should offer yoga, by a qualified teacher. If they had yoga teachers’ teaching, who have been trained in helping the abused, the healing effects would elevate.

Any healing takes time, but by doing yoga, we may find we can reclaim one aspect of our lives. Once that is established, our confidence begins to get built back up. We begin to feel in control, or at ease. We begin to rediscover a healthy sense of self. The heart who has been hiding begins to poke out and resurface.

People are always saying yoga helps. If taught by a yoga instructor who understands how to teach yoga with love, understanding, empathy and self-love, those who have been abused can begin to rebuild their broken spirit. They can learn the tools and how to apply them. All healing begins within. We can’t heal another, or take away the pain and hurt. We can, however, provide tools so others can begin to heal. The tools to help them in decision-making, in the courage to move forward. 

I turned to yoga. You will find yourself on the mat and find you are present in your movement. A small step for many, but to someone who has been abused, it’s huge! Finding that you can take control, even if it’s just of one pose…well, with continued support and through yoga, the possibilities are endless.

Reach out.

~

Author: Marylou Webb

Editor: Waylon Lewis

Photo: JD Hancock/Flickr

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