“If you give me any problem in America I can trace it down to domestic violence.
It is the cradle of most of the problems, economic, psychological, educational.”
Anyone familiar with this blog knows that October is an important time of year for me. It’s the month in which I married my abuser (and the abuse escalated dramatically), and it’s also ,ironically, Domestic Violence Awareness Month… Clearly my ex had missed the memo.
Normally this time of year I find my PTSD symptoms tend to rev up. I get jumpy, anxious, and depressed. I don’t usually put together what’s going on until I’m well into the month, but this year is different. This year I’m taking on October head on! This year I am determined to live my life to the fullest! I will not allow PTSD to rob the joy from my days. This year I am determined to push myself to new limits and raise money and awareness for victims of violence in the process.
For the past several years, I have been choosing a race each fall to run as a fundraiser for CT-ALIVE (the charity I work with). Susan Omilian and CT-ALIVE were there for me when I was struggling to move on with my life after abuse, and I can speak first hand to the value of the services they provide free of charge to victims of abuse. Rather than discuss what had happened in our past, Susan used her My Avenging Angel Workshops to help us rediscover our talents and establish goals. She created a safe atmosphere where we could recognize that we were not alone and that abuse happened to women of all ages, ethnicity, and economic backgrounds. We were all so different, and yet we all had an instant bond over what we had been through. Instead of focusing on just getting women out of abusive relationships, the objective was instead on breaking the cycle of abuse. By rediscovering our self worth, we were able to let go of the past and embrace the future.
I truly believe that the work CT-ALIVE funds saves lives, and not only the lives of these women, but also their children and their children’s children. Children who grow up in abusive homes are far more likely to enter abusive relationships. That is why ending the cycle of abuse is so important.
And that is why raising money for CT-ALIVE and raising awareness is so important to me. If I could change one thing that was the most damaging about the abuse, it was the reaction of the people who found out. The comments about how “It takes two”, “There’s always two sides the the story”, and the people (primarily my abusers family) who just flat out called me a liar. Not to mention the officer who made it a point to try to publicly humiliate me for reporting it, insisting I would just get back with my ex anyway so I was just wasting his time. If I could educate just one person to how ignorant and damaging these types of statements are I would feel like my efforts have been worth while. No one asks for or deserves to be abused, and they certainly don’t deserve to be blamed for it when it happens.
I think it is unfortunate that we live in a society that is so bent on victim blaming. If a women is raped, there is always the implication that she did something to provoke it. We never stop to take a hard look at the perpetrators. Somehow, they seem to escape blame in the public eye. Where is the outrage when a man murders his wife and posts the photos on Facebook and then blames her for making him do it? OR at the judge who over looked the mandatory sentence and only gave a man 30 days for raping a minor because he thought she looked older than her age? Why are we as a nation not crying out for change? One in four women will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime- ONE IN FOUR. So why is domestic not in the news as a national epidemic the way obesity is?
In today’s society, it’s so easy to convince oneself that there is nothing we can do to change the way things are. However, I refuse to believe that I cannot make a difference in this matter. On October 20th, I will be lacing up my running shoes and taking on Bimber’s Bluff, a 50 K primarily self supported trail race in southern CT. Every inch of that 33+ mile course I will be running for victims of abuse. I want to show other women just how much they can accomplish in life after overcoming domestic violence. I want to show the rest of the world that survivors of abuse are some of the strongest people on this planet. Enduring and overcoming the 5+ years of mental and ultimately physical abuse was by far the hardest thing I have done in my life: harder than Yale, harder than PA school, harder than the Ultra Beast. The fact that there are people out there who have suffered so much worse than I did and are still able to pick themselves up every morning and carry on is a testament to their strength- whether or not they realize it.
Every year I pick my hardest race as the fundraiser for CT-ALIVE, and I do it intentionally. The people I am fundraising for deserve nothing less. Furthermore, it is a reminder to myself every October of just how far I have come from that day I left in the pouring rain. Every step of physical pain and exhaustion is a reminder of the psychological torment and suffering that I and other survivors of violence have endured. It’s a reminder of what kind of strength it takes to endure abuse and how if my abuser didn’t break me, then nothing any race has to throw at me will. I don’t know if I will complete Bimbler’s Bluff within the 10 hour times limit, but I do know that I won’t quit. I also may just have the best motivator of anyone out there. 🙂
This month I would like to encourage you to go purple! Do something to honor victims of domestic violence whether it is something as simple as wearing purple or making a donation to support a local charity. Help spread the word that domestic violence is not ok and it is certainly not cool or funny. After all, the person you are helping to make a difference for may be your own sister or daughter.
If you are interested in learning more about CT-ALIVE or donating to support Susan Omilian’s work you can check out our website.