In honor of today being the sixth anniversary of my “Freedom Day,” I thought I’d write an account of a recent meeting of another survivor. This day is going to be emotional for me, so I’d rather spotlight another survivor, well, “surviving”…she’s incredible!
***TRIGGER WARNING! Contains references to violence, trauma, and harm. Please proceed reading with caution! ***
Recently, I had the honor and privilege of meeting the bravest person ever, I do believe. In my social services job, I had the distinct pleasure to meet another DV survivor that I’d only read about in a highly publicized story. You see, this person was shot in the head by her domestic abuser and left for dead last Christmas. The abuser then took off with her toddler, after the fact. Nothing says “happy holidays” like attempted murder and kidnapping. The court case is still pending, hence the vagueness. Sorry. Once it’s decided, I would love to feature her on my Blog!
She and her mother were in our office, to take care of safety-type business, related to the aforementioned case. At this point, I had no idea whom she was. When I called her ticket number, she walked very stiff-legged to my window. Her mother jokingly gave her a hard time, calling her “Frankenstein,” at one point. I thought it was unusual, but I carried on.
In describing the nature of their visit, I got to listen to her story, which was equally horrifying and gratifying. I’m pretty sure at one point my mouth physically dropped open. I know I had tears welling in my eyes — not sure if from joy or sympathy, but they were there. I was in the presence of a true kindred spirit and earth angel, to be sure. I had previously read about her story late last year and my heart broke, because Laura’s Law, might have been able to help her more, but my heart broke all over again, hearing details that were never disclosed in the newspapers and on the news broadcasts. She stepped into my office and she was real — and thankfully still alive and fighting.
“Sorry to lay that all on you, “ she apologized. Her speech was a bit choppy and slurred, but still very understandable.
“No apology needed. I am SO glad you survived!” I gushed. “I survived DV too, but I think you are the most courageous person I’ve ever met.”
She looked at me, quizzically. “I’m not brave,” she joked. “But luckily hard-headed.”
I heard the heartbreaking tale of what she endured, as she recounted her story. When she had regained consciousness from her injuries (she nearly died), she was understandably upset and hurt, which turned to anger, which then turned into steeled strength and determination. I too went through that progression. However, this young woman turned her pain and attention simply to surviving: that is, re-learning how to talk, how to walk, and to perform simple care tasks to her young daughter (like giving her a bath and reading to her). I was in awe.
“I’m not about to let him win, you know,” she said, candidly.
“I should hope NOT,” I replied. “You’ve come too far to let the devil win. Stay the course. Your sister-survivors are rooting for you! And praying!”
She and her Mom nodded in unison.
“Also, I find this interesting,” her Mom said. “He is now not in good health and is now petitioning the court for understanding and for trial continuances.” She shook her head. “That makes me angry. He’s acting like he’s now the victim. He’s just trying to avoid going to prison!”
“Aren’t they all victims?” I replied. That got a giggle out of the young survivor and her Mom.
I continued, “All abusers, in my humble opinion, are victims of circumstance, never claiming any accountability. That’s part of the Narcissism. They are literally never at fault. We are always the problem. As long as you realize that (I winked at her, as I said this), you’ll always be prepared. Well, at least, never surprised at how they react and respond.”
“ I hope I get to be as funny and healed as you,” the survivor admitted. I had to stop the almost-formed tears in my eyes after she said that. To be honest, she caught me off guard and that comment almost overcame me with emotion. Sweet girl, the ‘funny’ hides my pain and I’m not as healed as I’d like to be, but I’m constantly improving!
I finished up the tasks that she and her mother had asked of my agency and I thanked them for coming in. “Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any other questions or concerns, or if we can help any further. Okay?”
She and her Mom got up to leave, but Mom stopped and turned around. “Thanks for being so kind and caring and supportive. You’ve made our whole year! We’ll ask for you again, should we need to come back.”
It was in that moment that I realized: ALL survivors make a difference, no matter how small. I acknowledged her struggle and praised her for it, because I’d been in a similar situation myself. Encounters like that affirm that we must continue to fight for victims and survivors of DV. People are literally dying, folks. We need to push for more abusers to be punished and more victims to be protected and more survivors to be acknowledged. We must not let abuse lurk in the shadows, nor do we need to victim shame. We must do better as a society and the only way to achieve that is to not be silent. I will continue to push, even when I feel unworthy or like giving up. I simply cannot stop. Period.
Love and light! <3