by Kathryn Sees
I am in the process of writing a book of my experiences surviving domestic violence.
| This book is going to be a journey of discovery for both of us. You may not have ever thought about it, but our own personal journeys are only a small part of a never ending cycle. One that has already been influenced by countless factors. Factors that were completely out of our control. Events that happened, decisions that were made, paths that crossed without us having any knowledge of them. Long before we suffered the abuse, long before we fell in love, long before we were in school, long before we could walk or talk. It is also so important to remember that what we are doing right now could influence and change the ultimate journeys of those closest to us. Possibly even the journey of someone we may never meet. Possibly someone who will be on their journey long after we are gone.
For several years now, I thought I had been out of my abusive marriage long enough to write down my experiences. Those several years are in reality ten. The thought of reliving it all in my own memory has continued to stop me from achieving this. As I write a current draft of this introduction, I couldn’t bring myself to describe what I was in as an relationship, I suppose because of the connotation of the word. It was difficult enough to call it a marriage. A relationship, I have always thought, is a positive thing. What I was in could never be considered a positive thing. I do feel, finally, that I can take on this emotionally enormous project, and finish it with much more understanding and insight that continues to reveal itself as I write. Make no mistake, I go through periods when I don’t want to talk about any of the things that happened to me. Then at some point, I tell myself that I can deal with it without shutting down like I used to. No matter how hope to react, I cannot help but be taken back in time, churning up the same raw emotions. Every time I discuss it with someone, allowing those memories to come back, I always find a way to grow and heal. Seeing my story reveal itself on paper can often make what I went through all too real again. When it’s locked away in my mind it’s much easier to ignore. Trying to pry details out of my brain reminds me how awful and insane the abuse was from the very beginning. I am always forced to feel the same feelings that I’ve wanted to keep buried. Fortunately this time, I can sort out why things happened the way they did, knowing that I’m safe to do so. I don’t have to worry about how I’m reacting or about the reaction of anyone else. I can cry if I need to, instead of being told I shouldn’t do where people can see me. I can finally feel and express the feelings that I couldn’t, that I wasn’t allowed to at the time. That’s where the healing has a chance to take place.
I have no idea why you are holding this book in your hands right now. Maybe you are a survivor searching for anything that will guide your healing process. Maybe you’re concerned about a loved one, afraid about what you suspect is going on behind closed doors. My family and neighbors wished they would have asked me if something was wrong so much sooner. They all told me that they had a feeling that something was going on, but since it can be such an awkward and sensitive subject, they didn’t want to say anything. Maybe you’re reading this while your abuser is out of the house for a little while. Your hands trembling as you struggle with what your next step towards freedom will be. You may not believe that that next step is even possible. I honestly believe that the fact that you are taking any sort of risk should show you that you are ready to make a change in your life. It will be an incredible, overwhelming change. It will feel like you are trying to do the impossible, to reach the unreachable. But when you start taking those first small steps, they will become huge steps, and you will never feel so free.
No matter what your current situation is, there is a very important reason that you are reading this book. There is also a very important reason that I am writing it. I am writing it for you. If I can help one other person by putting my experiences on paper, the purpose of this book will have been fulfilled. My past has taught me what my reasons for being really are, and this book is a huge part of that.
I am finally proud to say that I as a survivor of extreme physical and emotional abuse. Yes, some days I still feel guilty, ashamed, and embarrassed, but is has taken years to find any sense of pride in the strength I found to end that abuse. This healing process will undoubtedly be painful, confusing, and sometimes traumatic, but at least I can say that it’s all in my hands now. The same way your healing process will be…