I’ve spent the last few days writing scenes of violence.
Animal violence. Domestic violence. Psychological violence.
Control by threats of animal violence.
Screaming. Yelling. Barking. Punching. Head slamming. Flinging. Growling. Kicking. Threatening to kill.
I procrastinated on it all year.
Not because I was scared to go back and remember it.
Even though it was so scary, and incredibly heart breaking at the time.
But because of the deep shame I held for so many years about enduring it.
About not taking the dogs and running.
I was paralysed with fear.
I knew if I left I would be hunted down.
And I mean H U N T E D.
I knew it. He knew I knew it.
I also knew that if I took the dogs.
His dogs that had risked their life for me on more than one occasion and vice versa, I would be signing their death warrant.
He’d have killed one in front of me out of spite. He threatened it enough. Maybe he wouldn’t have. I wasn’t going to take that risk. Better I stayed so I could mediate. That was my thought process.
He hated that they defended me against him.
The first time it happened I thought he was going to kill one.
I conceded immediately and begged for the dog’s life. I made promises to never leave him if he’d just stop.
I was so ashamed about so many things that happened when I was in an abusive relationship, but the thing that brought me the most shame was being part of episodes of violence towards the family pets and the feelings of complete powerlessness I felt.
When I was in that situation I was already judging and punishing myself so harshly that to admit it to anyone else and open up to so much shaming and judging from others was unbearable.
Writing my story down has been very cathartic for me.
Getting it out to the world feels like an act of bravery.
An act of defiance to all those who wanted to snuff out my light and wish me ill.
An act of empowerment because I am no longer controlled by fear or shame.
An act of empowerment for anyone who has ever suffered at the hands of another.
Andra my co writer recently pointed out this book is going to need a trigger warning.
It never occurred to me because I don’t really consider that I get triggered.
Of course I do and I have.
We all do. PTSD or not.
If I get triggered nowadays I look at it as an opportunity to get stronger.
To do more healing.
I view it as a spotlight shining on where I need to concentrate my healing energy.
But that’s because I have come out the other side.
Back then I was so scared and ruled completely by fear and shame.
When you are living with such intensity in your life you have no perspective.
I truly didn’t believe anyone could help me.
I know now that there were places I could have gone. Back then I felt like there were no options open to me.
At the time I was so embarrassed to be in such a situation.
How crazy is that? Feeling embarrassed about being beaten up.
Not wanting anyone to know how bad my life was.
Trying to keep up appearances so no one would know the deep shame and pain I had inside.
Victim shaming just perpetuates that cycle.
I was scared of leaving. I was scared of staying. I was scared of my deep shame being discovered.
My shame and my fear of judgment, combined with my fear for others safety stopped me from reaching out and asking for help.
In the end I was nearly killed.
If you or someone you know needs help, reach out.
There are places you can go. There are people that want to help, and can help.
There are people that won’t shame you or judge you for the experiences you have had.
If you are in New Zealand and you want to get away from an abusive relationship you can call 0800 REFUGE.
The photo is Cash and I in December 2001.
The worst was yet to come.