The following survivor story was written by Cary, a registered nurse. Her blog is Big Grey Birds.
“Violence, Domestic or Otherwise”
I am a Registered Nurse with a Bachelor’s degree. My peers respect me; I have been inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, the Honor Society of Nursing. I have raised a terrific, compassionate, hilarious son. I live in a very nice neighborhood in a good-sized home with a terrific husband. Prior to this awesome life, I lived another one.
I have suffered at the hands of another human being who hurt me intentionally. I have been throttled. Literally hands around throat, head banging on the steel door behind me when I was a 105-pound teen girl. I have been terrified of a loaded weapon in the hands of an angry man threatening to shoot my boyfriend. I have been intimidated by a loaded weapon in the proximity of an abusive spouse. I have been demeaned, belittled, hit, kicked, cussed out and stifled. I have been sexually abused. I have been all of these things and most people who know me are completely unaware of it.
I am just like you.
I grew up a tomboy in a medium-sized Iowa town on the Mississippi River. I did not come from a broken home; in fact, my parents have been married 45 years now. I was not born from an accidental pregnancy. My family comes mostly from Midwestern farms. Everyone in the family graduates high school, many go on to college. We have multiple Master’s degrees and even a PhD. Many of my family members are devoutly religious. They are not drug users, they have good teeth, and they are polite. My relatives are the neighbors who help you with a basement flood or watch your cat while you are out of town. They are normal.
When I was a kid, a family member molested me. I am unusual in that as an adult, I confronted this person. I experienced recovered memories and thought perhaps what I remembered wasn’t true until the confrontation at which time my molester admitted what he did and blamed it on my child self. I am unusual in that the person who beat the hell out of me and called me names while I was growing up, who threatened to kill my boyfriend and me, apologized and got counseling. Too late for me, but not for others he might meet. I developed post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder. These were both likely triggered by the abuse I experienced.
This type of childhood echoes through a lifetime. I chose partners based on what I perceived as normal male behavior, thus carrying abuse willingly into my adult life. I had no close female friends because I couldn’t relate to women. I drank and abused drugs for a while, considered killing myself many times, and forced myself into therapy, which I have no doubt saved my life and probably others. I was angry from the time I can remember. I wanted to hurt other people when they upset me. I wanted to kill my parents, beat my sister, burn down and destroy property. Counseling helped me deal with these feelings, which I often did not understand.
In US culture today it is okay to see violence on TV or in movies. It is entertainment. It is all right to preach against violence in a general way. It is seldom acceptable to admit publicly specific details of having experienced abuse personally. It is a source of shame. I have felt ashamed. I have felt that shame for varying reasons over the years; it was my fault, I deserved it, he couldn’t help it, I encouraged him, I should have stopped him, what will people think of me? Will my family disown me? The list can go on indefinitely.
I have known people of multiple faiths who were abusive. I have known atheists, lapsed name-your-religion here; I have known people from all walks of life, all socioeconomic backgrounds who were abusive and abused. Let me tell you something: it happens everywhere. It can happen to anyone. We need to get over the shame, get over the fear of tainting ourselves as victims or whiners or anything other than strong, determined survivors who have experienced abuse and put it in its place.
You know someone who abuses others. You know someone who is or has been abused. Help end the acceptance of personal violence, domestic or otherwise.
As for me, never again.
Huge thanks to Cary for being my brave first poster. Don’t forget to enter yesterday’s contest, grab a badge for your site (if you had trouble yesterday I believe they are now fixed), and spread/Share/Stumble/Tweet/email/Kirsty/Digg this word far and wide. Many, many thanks.
Thank you for visiting Violence UnSilenced, a speak-out platform for survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and sexual abuse. If you are a survivor and it is safe to do so, we encourage you to share your story here. If you are not a survivor but you want to support those who are, please click around this site and find out more about what you can do.
Thank you so much for speaking out. I love one part of your post in particular; "As for me, never again." I am so glad to see the resounding strength of your spirit and I hope so desperately that we may all have that strength.
I first read your story a few years ago, and it was the last few words that stayed in my mind: I know people who have been abused. Since then, I've been a little more aware, a little less eager to dismiss 'wrong' signs. Thank you for opening my eyes.
Thank you for sharing your story. You are very brave for speaking out and especially for being the first story here. Your strength and resilience is evident.
The longest journey, and the courage to take that one terrifyingly large first step...
The louder the voice, the farther the message goes.
Keep shouting to the skies, Cary and others. You will be heard.
thanks Cary for sharing your story, having been there myself i know the pain behind this and why its so hard to speak out, if your story saves one persons life then you have done your job...Glad you got out alive.
Wow, Cary...you are amazing! I love the fact that you were able to confront those who hurt you. You put the responsibility of their actions on them...hard to do in any situation.
Violence Unsilenced: http://violenceunsilenced.com/cary/ Because bravery always deserves our attention.
Thank you for sharing this. I am really moved and impressed by your having confronted your abusers. I admire your courage and strength for this, for sharing your story here, and for making your life into a success story.
I think its great that you were able to confront the person who molested you. I am working myself up to that point.
Thanks for sharing your story.
Thank you for sharing your story. It's so important that these stories are told so that others, can come forward.
Thank you for sharing your story, Cary, and for helping to illustrate that domestic violence lurks everywhere.
Showing nerve we all can envy @CaryRN speaks out about HER OWN experience of domestic and childhood abuse: http://is.gd/jUwT *PLEASE RT! *
Maggie: I am in awe of your inspiration and determination to commence on the journey to eradicate Domestic Violence!! I commend you and admire you. This proves to be a powerful site for anyone, whether survivors or educating those who have not witnessed it first hand.
Cary: Your story is heartbreaking and inspiring all at once. You have immeasurable courage for contributing the first post and sharing your ordeal. I commend you for being capable of shedding tears. Crying can be a release. I, unfortunately, have been unable to cry for quite some time. Maybe because I have cried too much for too long.
Much luck to keeping this site alive and educating the masses. My thoughts and prayers are with you all :-)
Cary, Bravery and courage doesn't ever come easily, but has a reward all of its own. I have discovered throughout life that if you turn the light onto something dark it doesn't have the same power as if you let it stay hidden. Well done telling your story and who of us ever can say they have never experienced dark thoughts or actions, none; I believe. All the best for the future.
I tried to pick up a badge, but none of them would show on my blog...not sure if it is my internet or your badges...have had internet hick ups for the last few days.
You are an amazing, strong, inspiring woman. Thank you for sharing your story -- and for being the first one to step onto an empty stage. We're here with you, filling the cavernous hall with sound, lifting you into the light.
Please be sure to read the first domestic violence survivor story, courtesy of brave & lovely @CaryRN : http://violenceunsilenced.com/cary/
Cary, you are amazing. Thank you for sharing your story and letting everyone know that horrible things happen to "normal" people.
And Maggie, as always, you astound me with your awesomeness. :)
Thank you for writing this, Carey. Thank you for being the first voice here – a voice that resonates so loudly and strongly. Your strength is admirable. May it also be madly and wildly infectious, encouraging women everywhere to stand up. For themselves and for each other.
I stood by a friend who confronted her childhood abuser (also a family member) and it was heartbreaking, yet empowering. Kudos to you for standing up for yourself then, and now, here.
you used your voice and confronted the silence. every time we speak, we take away a bit of the cover that protects them.
(((CARY))) I found it interesting that we've crossed paths elsewhere and here you are, being so brave. Thank you...
Though I don't spend time on blogs anymore, mine or other people's, I came out of hiding today to say two things:
1. Thank you, Cary, for sharing your story. As Lao-Tzu said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Huge gratitude to you for being that first step.
2. Thank you, Maggie, for being brave and strong and true to an issue that needed a voice. You ARE the change, no matter what you think. This is a powerful thing you're doing. I am so damn proud of you.
Thank you for being brave enough to take a stance against your abusers! That alone is so powerful. But its true that we often look for "the bad guy, the evil face" when really abusers are just as likely to be our neighbors and so-called friends. You will no doubt help many with your story!
Thank you for sharing your story. Though it is in your past and you have a very different life now, it has to be one of the braviest acts to open up your past and share it with others in hopes of giving them the courage to see life can change and no one deserves abuse. Hugs to you. And huge thanks to Maggie for giving this site so that many stories can be told and lives can be changed.
Thank you for being the first to tell your story. I've always said it wasn't a matter of intelligence, plenty of us are intelligent...we were just lost in our pain. Each story that is told is one more added to the chorus of no more, never again. Soon the silence will be a shout of defiance.
I saw me in you, and I know so many more will see themselves here as well.
I hope this Voice has a long and helpful life. As a retired Law Enforcement Officer I have seen first hand the futility of a victims cry for help when it reaches the court system. I have cried with children over the loss of a parent, I've cried with women who had been convinced that they deserved every kick slap and insult hurled in their direction. I have counseled women (and a few men) to leave their abusers then threatened by that abuser. Luckily I was in a position to ensure that the threat maker landed in jail...with me turning the key. If every woman (okay, and some men too) could just realize their self worth, if it could be taught in the schools if not learned in the home, what a different world this place would be. How sad that there is no Self Worth vaccination to be had. Please, count on me for any thing I can do to help with this blogsite so that we keep it going.
Cary, thank you. I can see so much of myself in your words, and I'm sure that hundreds of other women will, as well. Thank you for having the courage to share this. Never again, indeed.
Never again. I echo the thanks to you for being so brave and open about your experiences. We *need* to talk about this, openly and constantly.
What an incredible site to help others! I am so impressed. God bless you for doing this. I am glad I found out about your site from Mojo. I am adding it to my Favorite Blogs today.
Please feel free to share the story of my mother and I (located on my blog) at any time you would like. I would be honored. Yes, there is a life (a wonderful life) once you escape this hell of domestic violence.
Wow...I'm sure I don't have the words to write what I'm feeling right now. How very brave and courageous you have been. I'm happy you have fought back and found a good life, despite how horrible yours was at times. It scares me to think that I know people who are being abusive or abused but I don't KNOW. I want to stop it.
I am a little overwhelmed by the response here and on my blog. I just want to say thank you so much to everyone. I'm reading all of the comments. Amazing.
Your courage and candor are inspirational. I hope that other women who need help read this and see that they really aren't alone.
My sympathy and deepest admiration go out to you, Cary. I can relate to a lot of what you described, and I'm here to corroborate: never again.
Thanks to Cary for Sharing and Maggie for creating the forum for Sharing.
This is a huge step forward.
The silence cannot be broken until those who have been abused realize that WE ARE NOT ALONE; there are millions of survivors out there who also need to tell their stories. This website encourages me to move forward with my "truth telling" which has begun but is not yet complete.
Huge Kudos Cary - this blog spoke volumes about how we are all so close to the very people who are involved and taht we may just not know it... that our pre determined ideas of who is abuised and who is an abuser is way off...
Great job, Cary. I'm glad you got out, glad you got help, glad you know it wasn't your fault... and grateful that you had the guts to be first.
I was working on a promo for Maggie and trying to sum up the message here in one simple sentence. What I came up with was "You are not alone, and you don't have to live this way."
And this post positively reverberates with that message... so I guess I'll stay with it.
Thank you so much for your bravery to share your story. I hope it can help some that may be in the same situation. Kuddos to you Cary. xoxox