More Than a Survivor

morethanasurvivorIt would seem I have acquired the right to bear the title “Domestic Violence Survivor” — but what does that even mean?

This term still causes discomfort in me. For multiple reasons. For one, I don’t like to identify myself as a “survivor” because that is not my identity.

I am Naomi.

I shine.

I am bright.

I am light.

I am a seeker of peace.

I am a mom.

I am a mentor.

I am a lot of things. But being a “survivor” feels like a lower vibration, even if it may be technically accurate.

I also don’t fully identify with this because I was never near death from the actual, physical abuse. I have had two abusive husbands, but the first one never struck me, yet he still made me feel unsafe when he would rage and intimidate through violence around the home. My second husband, though, he did strike me. He got physically violent with me, directly, or rather involving contact, only five times. Very much not ok, but not like the extreme stories that you hear. And that was a big part of why I never called the police on him or reported it, or left right after. He gave me two black eyes one time, the other times there was no evidence. At least not the kind you can photograph.

dvsurvivorBut as I’ve pondered on this, I realize that what makes me a “Domestic Violence Survivor” is that I got OUT. He didn’t get to crush my spirit. Not completely anyway. Because if I would have stayed in there I would have died. Not necessarily at his hand, but from the crushing weight of not being able to be me. Just to simply be myself, day to day, in my own home. Even as I write this that little voice in my head shouts back at me that it’s overly-self-focused to need to be “me” and since I’ve gotten healthy enough I can finally see that this little voice is WRONG. And no longer gets a voice. You see, I was dying in that marriage. Physically I was walking around and functioning, but my spirit would have died, eventually. And perhaps I would have finally been convinced enough of all the things he would feed me about how I was powerless and ineffective and I would have taken my own life.

I shudder to think that I was truly so close to that gravely place in my head and my heart. I have such empathy and compassion for myself from that time. I want to rush back to her and scoop her up and give her such a sweet tender embrace and let her know that she is so strong, and she will find a way out and it will be GLORIOUS.

I love this 9-minute video about being a survivor. It really shifted the way that I thought about this. This is with Carol Tuttle, a leading expert and passionate and fierce woman who has fearlessly spoken out against abuse. And, Summer the woman she works with her, is actually a very dear friend of mine. And since I know her in real life, I can say that she truly has the most horrific stories of abuse that I have ever personally heard from the mouth of the person who went through it. She is so brave to work though this on video and I believe this is an immense service to so many. You can follow along and apply this to your own life and situation:

One of the biggest reasons I feel compelled to speak out about domestic violence and my experiences with it is because I judged my own situation to be “not that bad” and that kept me from taking action. I never ended up in the hospital, I never had any broken bones, I never had to a gun held to my head. But I HAVE experienced using make up to cover the bruises. I have experienced the shame of walking around for days on end while the bruises heal. That every time you look in the mirror this woman who has been injured by someone that professed to love her was staring back. And I know what it’s like to find all the reasons to stay in spite of it.

Please know that you are worth it!! Please know that you deserve SO MUCH MORE!! That it is never, ever, ever ok for someone to hit, slap, strike, or hurt you. Or even intimidate you by throwing things, smashing stuff, blocking you in a room or in any way making you feel physically unsafe. CALL THE POLICE if you feel unsafe. It’s ok. You are not the one to blame for his behavior. Let the consequences fall where they will. I know I didn’t call the police because I was afraid that the report would “ruin his life” and I didn’t want him to have to deal with that. I’m sure there’s many reasons why women don’t call, and sometimes it CAN make the situation worse, especially if you’re not willing or ready to leave in tandem with that call. But if you have felt unsafe with your partner, please know that you deserve so much better. And please share this, even if just privately or from your own computer or mobile device, with someone who may be in crisis right now and need to hear it.

I had a dear friend once make it very clear to me that should I ever feel unsafe that it was ok and even necessary for me to call the police. It only took another couple weeks before I followed through, and that was the beginning of the end of my first marriage. I thought I’d gotten so strong and thought I knew how to set boundaries. It’s ok that I didn’t do it perfect. I’m just so grateful that I’m out and free NOW. #stopdomesticviolence

JoyManagementMentoringI’m now doing mentoring groups around Stress Joy Management even after divorce. If you are looking for more support and help as you progress and want to feel more JOY in your life, I sure hope you jump in on the next mentoring group. It’ll change your life, I promise you.


How do you feel about this post? Do you identify as a “Survivor?” I’d love to hear about it!


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