Warning: This post contains some personal narrative regarding domestic
abuse. If it makes you uncomfortable, please feel free to skip this one with my apologies and appreciation.
I don’t discuss it often, but I have been on the unfortunate end of domestic abuse in past relationships, and am in many ways the product of it. Though part of the reasoning for not speaking is the most people simply believe I am “too strong” or “too brave” to be a victim, the other portion is that even now over a decade later, there is still shame…and sorrow…
I dated two people who raised their hands to me, one so severely I had no choice but to involve the police. To this day, part of me fears he will show up and I often think I see his face in a crowd. I sometimes think it will always be that way.
But getting into those situations are rooted in many ways in my past. My birth parents were routinely violent with one another and though I didn’t live with them, I saw the after effects of that mania – the broken furniture, and teeth, and hearts. The man who “raised” me was devoted alcoholic, and though he never raised a hand to me, his rages during particularly bad bouts of drinking were terrifying.
In fact, the history of domestic abuse in my family runs far and deep. The secrets and the stories told casually… the uncle who gave my grandmother a concussion, the humiliating tales of assaults and broken hearts is systemic in nature and I knew I was just another link in a long chain.
I didn’t want those things for my own girls. I still don’t.
Though it’s clear there is a theme in this book – domestic abuse – what I did not expect was how poignantly Ms. Hoover was able to take the reader into the mindset of the victim. The pain of domestic assault is physical but far beyond that are the mental and emotional ramifications. Sticks and stones DO hurt, but so do names, and guilt, and sorrow and love.
And you can love someone who hurts you. You can look them in the eye after they beg for your forgiveness, and you can question yourself and your own actions. You can believe that it won’t happen again because in some way, you question your own weakness and poor judgment. If no one else can see the flaws in your partner, maybe you really are the cause.
Maybe you pushed too far. Maybe you said too much, or not enough.
Or maybe you were just trying to take a shower and something you didn’t do or say set them off, and you’re left reeling while trying to fend for your life. One of the single-most important women of my life was murdered by her husband and none of us even knew what she was experiencing. I still feel her loss acutely and in many ways, helplessly.
The reality is the domestic abuse is never the victim’s fault, and yet we have been trained to wonder if it is as both the victim and the public. And even if we paint the abuser as the criminal, situations occur daily where terrible acts are committed and excused by our justice system; there is often no justice for the victim.
In my case, an officer asked me after my attacker’s hearing if I could give him a ride home. Yes, that really happened. My attacker was a “nice guy”. I’m sure he assumed I must have done something to “trigger him”.
But as Lily finally admits to herself, even if she was in bed with another man, there is no excuse to put your hands on someone else.
There is NO excuse.
If you’re blessed enough to neither be a victim, nor touched by this horror, read this book to find a little empathy for those who are and have experienced it. Look for the signs in those you love. Watch for unexplained or illogical “accidents”, changes in behavior and appetite, excessive withdrawl from activity and family
If you’re in an abusive situation – even if it’s “mild” like arm grabbing, shaking or physically-threatening body language, reconsider your safety overall. Reconsider your future and your kids (or future kids). Trust someone.
This book is important if it encourages ONE PERSON to rethink what’s happening in their own home, in their own life. If you are that person, The National Domestic Abuse Hotline is available and ready 24/7 – 1-800-799-7233 – get help and get out now. There is a future and there is life after domestic abuse. I found them for myself, and with someone else who truly loves and respects me.