1/ As Domestic Violence Awareness month is approaching and my feed is filled with the #Metoo and #WhyIDidntReport stories. I’m inspired to share a little of my own story.
I don’t remember exactly when the abuse started, mine or hers.
2/
There are fuzzy memories of loud voices and her crying. There was always fear.
I must have been about 6 the first time he forced himself on me. I later learned that he told her he was drunk and thought that I was her.
3/ He was often drunk but his threats when it was over proved he knew exactly who I was. He said that he’d hurt her, I believed him. I’d seen the bruises and the way she shrank when he was near. He said that nobody would believe me.
4/ Those words proved true when I told a teacher in 2nd grade but the investigation never went anywhere. We stayed for years after that. Years of seeing her tormented, beaten, held at gun point in our basement. Years of touching and kissing that were anything but fatherly.
5/ Years of hiding in my closet when he was angry, lying about the marks he sometimes left on our bodies, smiling when I went to bed almost every night praying that I wouldn’t wake up. Nights spent in secret shelters only to return in the coming days.
6/ Threats that if she ever tried to leave again he’d put a bomb in her car and they’d never know it was him. Fear ruled our world. As a child there was very little I could do for my Mom. I couldn’t protect her. I wasn’t equipped to comfort or counsel her.
7/ That helplessness haunted me. After we left it took years to fully understand that none of it was ever my fault, that the guilt I felt wasn’t mine to carry, that I wasn’t irreparably broken... That I was a survivor, not a victim.
8/ I don’t know who I might have been if life had started differently but I’m proud of the person I turned out to be in spite of the abuse. I’m proud of the volunteer work that I do today to support other survivors, other women like my mom.
9/ If you’d like to know about the project I’m currently working on for survivors in Chicago, please check out my pinned tweet. I want to end by saying thank you to every survivor who’s shared their story and send out love to every survivor who still suffers in silence.
10/ I may not know your name but I stand with you. I believe you. You are not alone.

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