The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

13256494_1057993907616031_3195574131118398619_nWe are in the cross fires of a political situation that shouldn’t be political at all. I know there are people who will call me brainwashed and misguided. They will say that George Orwell is turning in his grave because 1984 has come to fruition. I know these people well. Some of them have my same blood. Some of them know what happened to me back in 1984.

I was taken advantage of by a guy from a prep school. He locked me in his room, laid on top of me and hurt me. He took my virginity. I cried for him to STOP! He didn’t. When he finally got up, he put his pants on and leaned against the wall of the darkened room, the candle light was flickering across his evil face as he said in a very flip way, “What do you expect? I have wanted you for over a year?”

I was staying with my best friends family at the time. I was bleeding heavily. I was terrified. However, I didn’t call my parents. I didn’t tell them when I got home. I didn’t tell anyone. I tucked that experience away inside of me for years and “forgot” about it. Funny thing about trauma…it likes to pop up every now and then in the worst of circumstances. When I turned 22 I finally told my mother. She took to her bed for 3 days and cried the entire time. My father doesn’t know to this day because I saw how my mother reacted and I just knew it would kill my father.

People have been blaming the victim forever. Seriously, it is the culture of the world. A victim can be your mother, father, sister, brother, child, friend, and yes, even you. To add insult to serious injury it is also made clear that the victim is in someway responsible for the attack. This creates a wall of isolation and shame. This wall can barricade a victim behind it’s tall chalky cold walls for years. Sometimes for life. The mind is a mysterious thing. We have learned some about what trauma does to a persons mind though. I can speak to this because I am not only a survivor of rape, but of domestic violence. In an attempt to protect you, your mind will selectively shelf memories. It’s as though it opens a door within and shoves the trauma into it, and then it slams the door. Sometimes the door opens up again. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I live with debilitating PTSD. If you were to ask me what I struggle most with day to day I would say, my memory. I have big blocks of time missing due to domestic violence. I can’t remember much of my child’s first years. This is because during this time his father was so abusive to me that in order to survive my mind shut the memories away. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

I am not mad about my situation. Rather I have chosen to channel that into helping other women recover, reclaim their lives, and move on after abuse and assault. This is how I heal. I run Rebel Thriver and this has become my life’s work. One of our agreements is no politics and no religion. This is because we know that this type of trauma doesn’t discriminate. I do not want to alienate any survivor over a political opinion or a religious belief. I believe that a victim needs to be heard no matter how long it takes for them to find their voice. And when they do finally speak they should not be shamed for it.

You do not know the path another has walked. We really need to start taking a step back at how things have been so that we can make changes and learn to move humanity forward in a more positive way. I believe that education is the only way. People can learn to become more understanding, better listeners, and develop empathy. We are capable of re-framing our thinking and doing better than the generations that came before us. We need to move towards coming together to tear down the old ways that allow isolation and victimization. We need to try to make this a better place for our children.

All I can do is continue to help the people who are trying to rebuild their lives and heal after trauma. I do not take political sides. I will never make a victims story divisive. It’s hard to stay out of the firing line these days. I pray the truth comes out and that people in powerful places are no longer able to wield their power to hurt others. Perhaps I am a bit idealistic, but that’s how I am and I will never give up striving to do better. My calling in this life is to help heal the wounds of survivors. It’s not fancy work, but it is everything to me, for how can we heal the world if we don’t work on healing it’s wounds?

xo Ella

Don’t You Dare Give Up.

Stay

The Christmas Holiday Season has arrived. This time of year can often be the WORST time for people in abusive relationships. I know this because it was that way for me. I wish I had the freedom to really tell you all the details of when and how I left, but I can’t. One day when I am safe I will spill.

The holidays can be so joyous for some and so dark for others.

I remember the last holiday that I was married to an abusive man. I was terrified because Christmas was looming closely ahead. Stress levels were running high and every where I turned I felt more trapped then ever. We all know how tough it can be when thrust amongst our family on certain days of the year. Imagine having to hide your brokenness when you are feeling completely isolated. My mother told me I deserved an academy award.

Isolation is one of the favorite tools of an abuser. They slowly and methodically separate you from your family and friends. Ultimately, you end up lying to all of them because how can you even begin to explain how your life has fallen apart. How you have fallen apart and have become a prisoner of sorts. That you have lost your freedom to be who you are meant to be. That you are losing your identity more and more every day. That it’s slipping and you can’t seem to tighten your grip.

Today my boyfriend’s sister had to be rescued from an abusive situation. I don’t even know all of the details yet, but what I do know is that her husband is an abuser. It got so bad that she took her child and split. Thank God she had an opportunity to get out and luckily for her she has two brothers who were able to go back with her to get her stuff. For those of you who do not know, this is the most dangerous time for victim’s of abuse. This is when the abuser feels they are losing control. Out of desperation they react and can do the worst imaginable things. I’ve been terrified all afternoon because I understand this better than anyone. I didn’t want him to go, but I knew he had to. They are on their way home and safe. Thank God.

I know that life can be hard, and at this time of year it can be almost impossible to hold on to even the tiniest spark of hope. I am here to beg those of you reading this that might be in the same situation to hang on.
Don’t give up because there is always a way out. Even when you feel like you are completely alone there is always help. I know that if there is NO reason to stay then that alone is a good reason to go. I also know that you have to leave if you are being abused. It will never get better…only worse. Sometimes you have to leave with the clothes on your back. Know that there are shelters and people to help you. You deserve to be happy, safe and loved. I KNOW how scary and hard it is to leave, but I also know how beautiful and free life can be once you do.

Be brave. Find your voice and speak up. Please know that there is no shame in this for you. There are so many people in this world (both men and women) that have experienced abuse at the hand of someone they loved. You have to trust and take that step to get out. There is never a good time. I kept waiting for a “better time” and it never came. I ended up leaving at the worst possible time, but in retrospect it was the perfect time. It was the perfect time because I got out alive.

If you know anyone that is in an abusive relationship please share my blog with them. It’s hard to talk to people who haven’t been through this because so often your reality starts to get muddled. If you can let them know that they are loved and worthy of that love, and that there is always a way out. Don’t you dare give up. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

xo Ella