I'm a survivor. I've been sexually and physically abused in my lifetime and I'm not alone. I'm one of many who have experienced these traumatic, life changing moments.
My abuse came from intimate partners. One partner felt rejected when I ended the relationship and felt he had the right to hit me and the other partner didn't like me challenging his infidelity. Both situations were very traumatic. I never thought I was the "type" of woman to have this experience. In my ignorance of what domestic violence really means, I was arrogant and was one of those, "it can't happened to me", people. But what is most important is that I understood its impact. I knew I couldn't allow these experiences to damage me, harm me, or continue to fester within me. Healing had to occur and not just physically. My self-esteem was effected. My approach to relationships was cautious and I wondered if I didn't know how to pick healthy, sane men. I blamed myself. What did I do wrong?
Nothing. I did nothing wrong. Nothing.
I choose to be a survivor. I choose healing. I choose to release all of the hurt and trauma from those experiences. I choose not to be bitter and angry. I choose to forgive those men. I choose to be open to love.
Prospering in your healing is living in joy. Its no longer dwelling in the victimization. I am not those circumstances but they are a building blocks for my greatness. I know that I'm stronger, not because I experienced it, but because I fought to come out of it.
We have to be aware that many of our friends and family members have experienced or will experience some form of intimate partner violence. We respond to this with love and understanding. We offer support.
Rhonda L. Bayless is the Executive Director/Founder of the Center of Wellness for Urban Women (CWUW) in Indianapolis and an HIV/AIDS advocate. Through addressing the intersection of race, class, and gender and other social determinants of health, Ms. Bayless works to empower women and their families to live healthier lives.
Domestic Violence Resources