A state of "speechlessness" is seldom the state of choice when you find yourself sitting down to begin a blog entry. This, however, is not writers block. This is disgust. It reminds me of a quote I read once:
"As a child I never imagined that all of the real monsters in the world would be humans.” - Mobeen Hakeem
Obviously, that isn't applicable to the entire human race. I don't mean to insinuate that there aren't some truly amazing people out there, or that the majority of people aren't good people. I know some breathtakingly beautiful humans that I am fortunate enough to call my friends and choose to believe in goodness as the main quality of most people in the world. I just can't believe some of the stories I'm reading while trying to find material out there on the internet to post on my site to show women they truly aren't alone. To name a few:
A man that was convinced by a woman that he would be one of the fattest men in the world and that she was going to feed him to death for her own sexual gratification.
A successful female attorney whose relationship got so bad, her significant other attacked her and poured acidin her face.
A woman that had a wine bottle shoved in her temple while her husband played "pretend interrogation."
A woman had her nose cut off as part of her abusers sadistic amusement.
The list goes on. Humans are a complicated species. We're packed with endless potential from the very moment we come to be but we so often fall victim to the acts we experience and witness by repeating them, often ten fold. We feel, try to justify and understand those feelings, and seek remedies that so often DESTROY others in a search to smother those feelings by carrying out actions that we believe, often completely irrationally, will make those feelings go away or even make sense. Instead, it just creates victims, destroys lives, and leaves a wake of destruction that spans generations.
Elephants, the largest of the land mammals, are used in circuses, amongst many other arenas, around the world. They can be seen standing stationary, obediently, and seemingly contently, with a rope around one ankle that is attached to a little stick that appears to be coming out of the ground. Some of you out there may have even witnessed their human companion stab it into the ground with his or her bare hand. Nothing more than arm strength drove it into the ground. That means inches of dirt holds a sometimes 12 foot, 7,000 pound animal in place. The elephant doesn't even try to escape. Why?
The elephant is trained that way. It's programmed to believe it can't break free. A prisoner is created. Not a prisoner of the stick, but a prisoner of its own mind. During the training phase, that stick is a metal bar, buried in concrete beneath the ground. The rope is tied to THAT stick. The elephant tries to escape. Day in and day out. It then accepts its fate. This is his new reality. He can't escape. He no longer tries.
For those of you wondering, "Why doesn't he just leave?," like victims of domestic abuse, to him, it's not an option.
In some cases, many cases, it's not just metaphorically. Victims of domestic abuse are most likely to be killed by their abusers at the moment it becomes known that they are leaving or going to leave. To make matters worse, when you add children into the mix, the fear of losing those children in either long court custody battles or again, murder, makes an already virtually impossible situation, that much worse. Now leaving is not just about YOU and YOUR safety anymore, but about the lives of those that matter most to you, also. The cycle continues.
Fortunately, some domestic abuse victims do escape. Not everyone is lucky enough to achieve the title of survivor, but, for those that do, as survivors of any atrocity, they have stories. They have very real moments of terror and horror that they are storing in their bodies. Like myself, that toxicity eats away at you. It erodes away at the image you once had of the person hiding behind the pain. Eventually, that person dies. Unfortunately, although sometimes mercifully, that's not just metaphorically, either. In fact, in South Africa alone, more than 1 000 women are killed by an intimate partner each year. That's one woman every 8 hours, in ONE country, by SPECIFICALLY "intimate partners." I can't tell you what that does to my heart, to my stomach, and to my soul.
The many faces of domestic abuse spread across our planet. They are in our communities, they are on our streets, and often even our immediate neighbors. Statistically, it is actually LIKELY that someone you consider at this very moment to be a close friend is being abused and you have no idea at all. You may be entertaining friends tonight that will leave as the evening progresses. They seem like a perfect little couple, sometimes even the life of the party. The facade, like the pain, often knows no boundaries. This very same couple you broke bread with, cheersing away another work day, are just beginning their night - one of abuser and one of victim.
I urge you all to educate yourselves. Learn the signs. Listen to the stories. Know what to look for. Get involved. Together we give each other strength.
As depicted here, I have created a new page to honor the stories of survivors all over the world. It is newly created and consists of only 9 countries at the moment. I have 186 to go. I doubt I'll ever hit them all but I want to get the message out to those that are currently in the trenches living nightmares most of us can't even imagine:
"You are not alone. This is a global epidemic destroying millions of lives. There is nothing to be ashamed of. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. Get out, stand tall, & speak out."
Click here to read their stories.