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:
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