Many people associate October with Breast Cancer Awareness. However, did you know that October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
Last year I did a whole series of pink bracelets to donate the proceeds
to the cause for Breast Cancer Awareness.
This got me started on making bracelets,
and I've very much enjoyed playing with color combinations in them.
This year, I decided to weave a series of purple ones
and give them directly to victims of domestic violence.
While I have been fortunate to sidestep any direct contact with breast cancer, I have not been so lucky with domestic violence. For 23 years, I was in a relationship which got increasingly worse and finally ended when he held a gun to my head. Since he did not pull the trigger, I was able to pack up my 3 kids and leave, heading to the local battered women's shelter. That was 15 years ago and I've changed a lot.
One of the questions that people most often ask when they hear about someone being beaten or abused by their husband, lover or boyfriend is "Why didn't they just leave?"
As a former victim, I want to answer that for anyone who wonders.
What characterizes these abusive relationships is not that the abuser is just physically violent. He is controlling! And that means that he uses mental, emotional, financial and physical tactics to undermine his victim and keep her feeling helpless. It works. Taking away someone's self esteem on purpose is crippling.
In many cases, as in mine, it comes about gradually. I remember the first time someone said to me "Do you realize that what he is doing to you is abusive?" I didn't. But I learned.
If I had been able to see what was going on and extract myself from the situation earlier, I would have. It took a lot of encouragement, help and support from others to set me free. I couldn't do it by myself.
So, please, if you see that it is happening to someone around you, don't be afraid to stick out your hand to help pull them out. You could save their life.
Written with love and gratitude to those who helped me and with the greatest hope for others who have experienced abuse, that they will have the courage to leave and the strength to rebuild.
Special credit goes to my kids for their understanding and my husband for his help in the rebuilding process.