Purple Song Project

Beyond Violence

“Count your blessings. Once you realize how valuable you are and how much you have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play, and you will finally be able to move forward the life that God intended for you with grace, strength, courage, and confidence.”

Og Mandino

Tonight I had the very exciting  opportunity to attend my second taping of  Beyond Violence (hosted by friend Christine).   Although I have only known her a few months, Christine has made a tremendous impact on my life.  Like many amazing women, she has know idea what a positive impact she has on others.  She is incredibly modest, kind, and caring- and a terrific advocate of women and victims of abuse to boot!  The first time I was on her show, she had asked me to read a poem I had written after the My Avenging Angel Workshops.  When her second guest didn’t arrive, she inquired if I’d be willing to share my story to fill in- so I did.  I left with a migraine (it was difficult to go back to that place and talk about it), but also the determination to do more to help other women.  That is when I started this blog.

I had no idea how, so I called my sister and asked for her help.  Initially, it was difficult for me to open up and write about what I had been through, but it was so important to me to speak up and address the stigma associated with abuse.  So many people think it only happens to poor, uneducated women with low self-esteem.  That just isn’t true.  There’s a tremendous amount  the public just doesn’t comprehend about the mechanics of domestic violence and abuse.  It’s time for women to start talking about it and not be ashamed.  Domestic abuse affects 1 our of 4 women- so why aren’t we doing more about it?

This time around, Christine just wanted me to read a poem for each of her tapings (2 in this case).  Her guests included an organization titled Not for Sale, committed to ending Human Trafficking; and the uber gifted singer/songwriter Vanessa Stevens (check out her projects including her Purple Song Project and blog).   Vanessa is someone I truly admire, and I was looking forward to getting to see her again when I agreed to come back on the show.  I choose The Revolt and I cried to read.  I got a lot of positive feedback, which I appreciated (despite not really believing it was deserved).  Listening to Vanessa speak about all her projects and accomplishments made me realize that I’d like to be more like her.  She really has her you-know-what together; and, on top of it, is incredibly committed to benefiting others (I’m so lucky to have such great role models at this point in my life!).  I also  want to help other victims and survivors heal and realize their self-worth again.  I’ve moved beyond the point of focusing on the abuser and what I’ve been through.  My mindset is completely focused on creating a positive future both for myself and others.  It was time to address the victims.  Here is what I wrote:

To The Victims of Abuse,

I come to you from a happy, self-accepting place; but I know your struggle all to well.

I know how it feels to hate and blame yourself.

I know how it feels to be stripped of your identity and self-esteem.

I know how it feels to have your sanity hanging by a thread.

I know how it feels to not believe you have the strength to endure another day.

I am here to tell you that you can. 

You don’t need to believe it now, but you will.  One day you’ll realize that the pain and suffering isn’t worth it.  The house, the security, the companionship, his love- aren’t worth itHe isn’t worth it.  He doesn’t deserve you.  He doesn’t know what love is.  He isn’t capable of love- not of loving himself, and not of loving you. But, you are capable of love.  You are worth more.  Your life is worth more.  You were intended for greater things than this.  You are a beautiful, powerful, perfect child of God.  You were born unafraid and full of curiosity.  You still embody these things- they are just buried deep.  Let them loose!

Free yourself.

Love yourself.

Heal yourself.

You deserve to be happy.

You deserve to feel safe.

You deserve to love yourself and to be loved by others.

These are not things that are earned.  They are what every person is entitled to from the moment he or she is born.

Fight the negativity in your head.  That’s not how you or the rest of the world perceive you.  That is how your abuser sees you.  It is a pack of lies designed to make you feel small, to bring you down to his level.  Shut him out of your head.  You are an exquisite light in this world.  Don’t let him or anyone else put it out.  YOU DESERVE TO SHINE!

With Unconditional Love and Understanding,

Jenny

Thank you again for reading!  Feel free to share any information on this blog (just give credit back to the site please).  Comments and Feedback are always appreciated and welcome.  Questions can be directed to runningthriver@gmail.com.  If you like what you’ve been reading, please consider ssupporting my cause.

Be the Change you want to See…

“Be the change that you want to see in the
world.”
Mohandas Gandhi

Reclaiming my life after abuse has been both the most difficult and rewarding experience of my life.  Last night I took a huge step toward becoming the positive change I want to see in the world.  I was officially voted onto the board for CT-ALIVE, and even graduating with a degree from Yale does not compare in the sense of accomplishment.  I have come such a long way on this journey!

From the time I first left my abusive relationship, I have wanted to get involved and give back to other women.  Participating in Susan Omilian’sMy Avenging Angels Workshops” has only served to intensify this desire.  The women in her follow up group are all amazing, strong, and beautiful people (both inside and out).  They have so much to offer, and I wanted to be like them.  So many of them had gone on to obtain degrees in social work and counseling in order to help other victims.  Several work in healing and advocating for victims of violence.  There is an amazing energy in the room whenever they are together.  It’s palpable.

It was at one of the follow sessions that I got the idea to use my passion for running to help raise money and awareness for victims of violence.  I told Susan how I could use the races I was running to raise money for her scholarship fund and sent an email to CT-ALIVE to ask for their blessing (without realizing that I already knew many of the members of the board).  Susan replied back on both accounts with great enthusiasm and even extended an invitation to join the board.  I was honored.  Then she asked me for my résumé, and my heart sank a little.  I had never volunteered on a board, or even for any organization focused on domestic abuse.  My entire resume had to do with medical work.  I sent it to her and attached the following cover letter:

Dear Members of the Board:

My name is Jenny W; and as you can see from my résumé, I am currently employed as a physician assistant in general surgery.

I have never functioned as part of a board, and have limited experience working with victims of violence.  However, I do have experience at being a victim of violence and speaking out against it.  I have always been a compassionate person, but surviving abuse and living with the daily struggles of PTSD has given me the ability to empathize with other victims.  It is important to me to let them know they are not alone and there is no reason to be ashamed.

I have recently started a blog titled “The Running Thriver” to raise awareness about domestic violence and provide resources and hope to other victims.  I am also planning to use my passion for running to raise money and awareness for victims of domestic abuse.

What I lack in experience I can more than make up for in sheer drive, determination, passion, and enthusiasm.  As someone with the strength and resources to speak out and advocate for others, I feel it is my duty to do so to the best of my ability.  Violence and abuse destroy lives.  I want to be a force in this world against them.

Sincerely,

Jenny W. PA-C, MMs

As I typed the letter, I had a slight sense of dread that I would show up at the board meeting and not be voted in.  I was unsure of how they would react to my lack of experience.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I should have know better.

Stepping into the meeting was like walking into a bubble of positive energy.  In addition to the many delicious snacks, the room was filled with enthusiasm and ideas.  They were eager to hear what I had to say, which I found very humbling.  It was like being in a room full of giants.  They have all accomplished such great things, and here I was just starting out. (Check out my Blog Roll for further info on their individual projects)  However,  everyone was extremely gracious and made me feel completely welcome  as part of their group.  I felt like I was part of a terrific think tank with a single mission to reach victims of domestic violence and improve their lives.  It was completing energizing, a feeling that I typically only associate with working out.

As horrible a situation as going through the abuse was, it would be difficult for me to say that no good has come from it.  After all, it’s given me a tremendous opportunity to meet some incredibly amazing women and find volunteer work that I am truly passionate about.  I also have a new found appreciation for exactly how much inner strength I possess. People who are never challenged in life miss out on ever realizing their full potential.  I, on-the-other-hand, have had the privilege of finding out exactly what I am made of; and that is something I don’t regret at all.  It has made me a stronger, more self-aware person, and (among other things) a better runner.

I would encourage everyone to visit the new and improved website for CT-ALIVE and read more about the work they do.  They are making a terrific impact on women’s lives and provide their services free of charge.  Please consider donating to help support their ongoing work.  If you know anyone who you think may benefit from reading this blog, feel free to share.  Also if you have any questions or comments you can either leave them here or email me at runningthriver@gmail.com.