Friday, November 18, 2011

Speak out! (Or: We all have a voice)

Today is Speak Out day, where bloggers across the world are posting, or speaking out, against domestic violence.

That's violence of all kinds towards women, men, kids, parents (and to my mind pets as well. Because violence towards pets is often used to intimidate victims of abuse into staying and/or keeping quiet. Research shows that people who abuse animals also go on to hurt children and vulnerable humans as well).

And Speak Out involves domestic abuse across the board: Emotional, mental, physical, financial, and sexual. Sometimes a combination of the lot.

Some time ago, my lovely friend Wanderlust, a survivor of domestic abuse and international ambassador for the Speak Out campaign, asked if I'd be interested in joining the cause, and of course I put my hand up.

And, as in my participation in the online campaigns about depression and suicide awareness, I intended to share my own experiences in a bid to let others know they are not alone. That even if you're in the worst place imaginable, there is a way out, there are people who will help you, and you can be happy again.

And that's all true.

But, one of the first rules of participating in a campaign like this so personally, is that you have to be in the right head-space to begin with.

And this week, already exhausted from moving home mostly on my own, I used the time packing to write my post in my head. This time, reliving the past, of times when I was the victim/survivor of abuse of the kinds of all of the above at different times in my life, I found it was all too confronting.

The realisation that I'd been a victim/survivor? far too often in my life and not quite dealt with it, was far too much to deal with right now. And I realised the first person I needed to share it with properly was a professional, not the world wide web. I hope you understand.

Many flashbacks were experiences I have not yet shared with my loved ones, and things I do not yet need my children to know. (Some of their friends now read my blog, can you believe it?) So I'm going to have to censor it a little.

Oh sure, I'll share my stuff with my children one day, if they need or want to know, but only when it's appropriate. And now is not the time.

So instead, my message for Speak Out day is to reiterate the Things I Know about domestic violence. These include:

No one ever has the right to hurt you, punch you, hit you, throw you, slap you or throw things at you. (Well unless you're playing sport or something and it's in context).

They don't have the right to deliberately break things, including toys, punch holes in the walls, hurt your pets or threaten to, or to threaten to hurt your kids or parents if you don't do what they want.

That goes even if you're having an argument and you've said or done something nasty or naughty.

No one has the right threaten you, call you names, put you down, call you swear words.

If they do hurt you or abuse you verbally, you don't deserve it. You are not a fxxking idiot, it is not your fault.

If you wear a short skirt, or low-cut top you do not deserve to be sexually abused or raped.

If your partner/parent thinks you've been flirting with someone (even if you have, but usually it's in his or her mind), you don't deserve to be raped, sexually assaulted, bashed, locked up, and/or attacked or punched or glassed.

We all know that when it comes to sex, no means no. But that goes even if you are in a consenting sexual relationship. That goes even if some sex acts are okay, but some are not. The ones that are not should not be attempted by anyone, even if it is by your husband.

You should not have to do anything sexually that you do not want to do. Particularly if it hurts or is humiliating.

Children never deserved to be hurt or assaulted, physically, sexually, emotionally or otherwise. No matter what they do.

Even if you're not working, you deserve to have the freedom to make phone calls, to come and go as you please, to shop without showing the receipts to someone and accounting for every cent.

If you are in crises ask for help. A friend, neighbour, a doctor, the police. Speak out, and don't stop until you get help.

You may have to leave with nothing on your back but your clothes. In the scheme of things, does that matter as long as you (and if applicable, your kids) are safe?

1800 737732 is a free confidential service for any Australian experiencing or who has experienced domestic or family violence and/or sexual assault. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For other countires, google domestic or family violence. Or just go ahead and read some more of the posts from the other wonderful bloggers who have joined up with the Speak Out campaign cause.

Here they are:


Denyse Whelan. said...

Bronnie, you are a woman with such strength & guts that it astounds me that anyone. Anytime could have indeed put you into that awful and scared place of vulnerability thanks to the nature of hid acts and words.
I can only say this:
You are not the sum total of what he has done to you...., you are a woman, a daughter, a mother and more.
Look into a mirror and see you as those people who love you see you. Worthy of people's affections, respect and more.
Much love Denyse

Diane - It's All Good Until You Burn Dinner said...

Wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing and for "Speaking Out."

Alice Shaw said...

I'm glad you've spoken out. It is difficult to do but the more of us who speak out the better. I will one day speak out about what I have been through, how every day I walked on eggshells, how even now I have flash backs, how much pain and fear can come out of abuse that isn't even physical. It took me a long time to understand that it wasn't my fault. It is never the victim/survivor's fault. I hope there will one day come a day where no one is subjected to domestic violence.

Miss Pink said...

I think you've hit the nail on the head.
It is easy, as the victim to make up excuses. A verbal fight is because you stuffed up but "he never hit" you. Suddenly he is hitting you but "I got in his face, so I deserved it" etc. etc.
It is very scary how quickly these things escalate. How we know what is wrong, we would scream at someone else to leave, but yet our own personal situation is different. More complicated.

Ms_MotorbikeNut said...

I'm all for no violence against anyone or anything not for just one group in society but for EVERYONE & EVERYTHING

I've seen so many cases where husbands are the victims and the wives/girlfriends/etc get away with it.

Also I've seen so many cruel cases against animals.

Till the Government plus society understand it doesn't just happen to one group in society our courts will still just slap people over the wrist instead of giving them a tougher punishment.

(((( Hugs )))) XXXX Kisses XXXX

Ree @ Little Aussie Travellers said...

What a great post. It's so easy to think that domestic violence is all about hitting and bashing, but it's not. You've captured here so many instances where men, women and children experience abuse often without even realising it's happening. I chose not to write anything specifically personal for my post, it's a confronting subject that I live with every day, it's one that I watch people I love suffer through, and I must admit that sometimes I choose not to think about because it gets too much.
It's really sad that our society has so much violence within it, and it's heartwarming to know that so many bloggers, including those with personal stories have stood together to try to initiate change. Well done on your wonderful post xx

Wanderlust said...

Hi Bronnie, thank you so much for posting for Speak Out and supporting the initiative in the months leading up to it. I realize how hard it can be to write about personal experience when that experience has been so painful. But just defining DV and reiterating that it is not okay is excellent. People need to read that. Wishing you peace and comfort in the coming weeks, and strength to continue to deal with the fall-out of your earlier experiences. xo

Me said...

Thank you for Speaking Out - every point that you make is a valid one and I hope that someone, somewhere will read that and realise that staying in a relationship where they are not valued and respected is not worth it.

Take care and go safely !

vegemitevix said...

Bronnie I completely understand where you are and think you made the right decision for you. It was simply I found very difficult to do and considerable time has passed since they happened, it must be awful if they are more recent. Domestic violence is all about one person controlling another person in whatever way they can - be it sexually, physically, taunts, financial control, obliteration of confidence etc. What's more there are so many different experiences that sometimes they go unrecognised as abuse and therefore the victims live with it, because 'it isn't that bad'. If someone who supposedly loves you makes you feel bad, or scared or worthless, irrespective of what the behaviour is defined as, it really is bad enough to leave.