Do you know how to fracture the cycle of abuse?
It starts when we break the silence.
Abusers keep secrets, are controlling, and manipulate our perceptions and reality. They don’t often begin that way at the start of a relationship, or we’d likely recognize it and run. Or confront with a response to crazy-making behavior with the words, “What?” or “Stop.”
In the workplace, harassment or verbal abuse is often in a situation where there is a power difference, and intimidation or fear of repercussions stop us from speaking up.
At home, we may be afraid for our own safety, questioning what we did wrong to provoke someone to holler or hurt us. We may believe it when we are told, “It’s your fault.” or “You deserve this.”
We may want to protect our children or family members, not know where to turn to for help, and so we lose our voice, we suffer.
We don’t speak up. We are silenced.
It’s very scary to admit our truth to ourselves, a trusted friend, and speak up to break the silence. And then when we do we have to be very, very brave, and it’s very, very scary in the unknown of what. comes. next.
The first step is to #BreakTheSilence.
Find a trusted person to talk to about your reality, doubts, convictions, and confusion. Agree to no longer stay silent when we or someone we care about is being hurt in this way. And remember we only move as fast as the slowest parts of ourselves.
There is help, and hope. And it is possible to come out on the other side and say with conviction, never again. Not on my watch.
Author Patricia Evans reminds us, “Verbal abuse is a violation, not a conflict.”
Decades ago, I was 21, maybe 22. I’d already known him three years when his right fist punched into the wood closet door I’d backed up against. First to the left of my face, then the right. I stood very still, eyes gazing at him, attempting to comprehend his rage.
It took a while to extricate myself from that relationship, with my self-esteem and self-worth diminished. I healed, or so I thought.
Fast forward to Alaska. Eight years ago, I was living with a “go” bag packed in my car, which consisted of a toothbrush and toothpaste, PJs, flip flops, mascara, a tank, and yoga pants. I knew the prearranged location I could flee to if that time came, where I could park my car in a friend’s garage, at an address where I didn’t think he could find me. I flew to Washington for a work retreat, and late one evening, sipping adult beverages by a fire with friends, laughing and catching up. I matter of factly shared about my marriage, how I lived, and my exit strategy if it came to that. The laughter stopped. Abruptly. They both said, “What?” Concern was palpable. Their facial expressions shocked me into an appalling reality check. And a new sobering conversation began.
Months later, his rage screamed at me, when I “could have burned the house down” by taking a work phone call and leaving rice on a slow boil on the 1953 Wedgwood stove while he watched his evening television shows. (I swear I’d turned the stove off, but he said the water in the pan had evaporated.) The rice that night was edible. I wanted to believe in my marriage, I trusted him, I did not trust his anger.
- Bullying, verbal attacks, physical harm, and sexual violence is not acceptable whether it is from a partner, family member, coworker, or leader.
- I value life. I value the words I carefully choose, and the actions I make. I choose respect. I will not be silent.
- I believe together we can heal and create safe homes and communities.
How can I stand with you? Will you stand with me?
#BreakTheSilence #TellTheTruth #YouAreNotAlone #FeelYourStrength #BeBrave #resilience #hope
This is the first time I’ve written about this part of my life. In 2008, I stayed up all night reading The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans. Tears dripping, I recognized myself and what had slowly happened to me.
I will be writing more. #EndDomesticViolence
ps: Looking through my blog tonight, I saw this. It might be helpful: Inked. Day 11 | The Verbally Abusive Relationship