The bathroom posters

It’s not always easy to access victims of intimate partner violence if you want to help them. You never really know what the abuser will do if he/she finds out.

In giving and getting information about ending the abuse, privacy and confidentiality are so, so important.

I found a pleasant surprise on the back of the door when I went to use a toilet in a hospital the other day. It’s a perfect place to display information for anyone and everyone. And those who are in an abusive situation can see it, and perhaps choose to seek assistance. He/She may not have done – or been able to do – anything about it otherwise. You never know.

Because when you have someone who uses violence, intimidation, and manipulation on you, they’re always there. They find a way. It would almost be amazing, if it weren’t so bad.

The one place, the one time you can be alone. Washroom. Bathroom. Rest room. Toilet. Whatever you want to call it. That’s one place where you may have a moment to catch a first glimpse at potentially life-altering information.

It may be the first step for someone.

For me, it was a pleasant surprise. And I stood there, looking at it, wondering if things could have been different for me, had I seen something like this three years ago.

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There’s an app for that?

They say there’s an app for everything… and I’m starting to wonder if it’s true.

SmartSafe+ is an app that helps women safely collect evidence of family violence. It looks like it’s actually pretty decent. It’s disguised, it’s requires a password, and the information is stored in a cloud so the contents can’t be deleted. The app lets you take photos and audio recordings, and even tells you what kind of information is helpful to collect. And it’s free.

But.

Not everyone who experiences violence realizes that it’s violence, and that it’s wrong, that it’s not normal, that it’s not their fault. Not everyone wants to prosecute the perpetrator – or even realizes that it’s possible to do so.

Not everyone is able to stand up for themselves. (Yet, at least)

Also… wouldn’t it be hard to do an audio recording?

But.

It’s so much better to have the app than not. It’s so much better to have that choice, to have that knowledge. To have that access. To have that power.

今なら「生」を素直に選べられるよ

2016年の秋に書いたこと、考えたことを見返してみました。今なら素直に「生」を選べる。
だから今は大丈夫だよ。

今、これを読んでいるということは生きているということ
今、知ってる限りでは「生」と「死」の二つだけ。
その二つのうちの一つしか進めない。

必ずどこかで「死」を選ぶ者もいる…
でも特に考えもしないで生き続ける者も多い。
何となく時間を過ごしてただ「親にもらった命だから」と言って生き続ける
それを本当に「生」と呼べるのだろうか

ただ命があるから生きるのではなく、
いつか胸を張って
「生」を選びます
この言葉を言えるようになりたい。

今はまだ迷う。

どちらも選ばないからどちらも進めない。

誰だって死ねる。けど、誰だって生きれる訳ではない。

私は「生」を選べるようになりたい。

こう感じていた私は今なら笑って
「生」を選びます
って
そう言える、そう思えることに最近気づいた。
ちょっと嬉しいような、照れるような、新鮮な、でもちょっと違和感のあるような不思議な感じでした。

The goal is to live violence-free

I was reading about the Survivor-Centred Approach to gender-based violence intervention, and at one point, I saw that the goal of this approach is to live violence-free, not necessarily to leave the abusive relationship.

A little ray of light shone within me. The dark, heavy clouds that had been looming for at least a few hours didn’t seem quite so bad with this little bit of warmth.

I’m sure there are a number of people out there who do or did want to leave their abusive situation, who want to get away and stay away. Far away.

Some people though, don’t necessarily want to leave. They just want the harm, the violence, to stop… to go away. To… have things be different.

That had been me.

But I knew it wouldn’t end. I had tried to learn how to influence him, to calm him, but there was nothing I could to to lessen or prevent it. That was difficult, and yet also freeing. No matter what I did, he got angry, which therefore meant that it was easier for me to finally understand that it wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t triggering it, unless of course, he was just aggravated by my existence and hated me. But, you know…

Anyway, it didn’t matter what I wanted or how I felt. I didn’t really have much of a choice. I had to leave.

I don’t regret that choice.

I just wish things could have happened differently.

The second post

After breaking the silence to my online community on August 2, 2016, I didn’t post anything more about it until January 4, 2017. Like the first post, I wrote, re-wrote, edited… edited again, thought about it… thought some more… and finally made it visible to most of my online connections a few days after the new year began.

And like the first time, the outpouring of love, patience, and understanding was more than I could handle. It took multiple attempts to read the responses I received, let alone even allowing myself to become emotionally invested in the messages.

Thank you for creating a safe space for my reality in its raw form. Thank you for accepting it for what it is and what I have become. Thank you for taking the time to send kind words.

2016 began with me finally realizing how bad my situation really was. Since then, I’ve left him, feared half the human population, left my job and friends and moved across the world – again.
I also met the best therapist I could ask for, and relied very heavily on her and a hand full of others for a number of months. I finally started to be able to talk about some of the things that had been going on, at least what I could remember.

I went from loathing everything about myself, and being embarrassed about my existence, feeling guilty for breathing the oxygen and eating the food that so many others could be putting to better use…just wishing I could disappear into nothingness… to finally being able to sing again. For every step forward I take, I often feel like I’m taking a step or two back… but I still manage to wake up every morning to another day. I still have the life that so many are fighting to keep.

I told a friend a while ago that I want to want to choose life – how wonderful of a desire would that be? We talk about choosing death, but how many of us choose life, rather than simply living because we already have a life? The friend responded that me saying this already meant I did want to choose life. Although I’m still not sure if that’s true, it’s a good desire to strive for.

Guilt is what kept me alive before – guilt of leaving my parents behind with things to clean up, organize, and pay for after I’m gone, guilt of knowing I’d let them down, guilt of knowing I would hurt them forever, guilt of leaving my boss suddenly in need of a replacement and needing to investigate what happened.
My guilt now often relates to not “recovering” fast enough, although I don’t hope to be the same person I was before.

As I wander and float from place to place, I’m realizing that the beauty I see on planet earth is what keeps me going and wanting to wake up to another day.

Perhaps now in 2017, I’ll find another reason to want to choose life – that luxurious choice that not everyone can make.

Health Outcomes of Violence Against Women

I wanted to share this image, the second slide from Creating Trauma-Informed Services for Women with Co-Occurring Disorders, a presentation by the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE).

This is real.

These health problems are being experienced by women because of the violence caused by their intimate partners/ex-intimate partners.

Violence can happen to any one at any age. Although overall, men are more likely to be victims of homicides, 13.5% of homicides are committed by intimate partners: 6.3% are male victims, and 38.6% are female victims… Women are six times more likely to be killed by their intimate partners than men are.

I must admit I’m not really that surprised, but if anything, that makes it worse. I should be surprised.

Although I wondered if he’d end up killing me, I was only in serious danger once, when he grabbed my throat. I think he let go within a few seconds. It was late, and dark. It was probably Saturday. We were outside. It happened in the middle of what probably ended up being the most fearful and emotionally charged night I can remember.

I’m lucky that I haven’t experienced most of the outcomes on this list, but many women do and have experienced them.

We are all statistics, but we are also people.

Why is this still a thing?

Confessions

I have a good family. And yet, I first learned how to handle being controlled, sacrificing, and feeling sub-par, as a small child at home. It snowballed over time, but it began with my parents and with my siblings.

I still struggle with it, but I don’t hold it against them.

I am still often unable to stand up for myself. And I know it, so I do my best to avoid being in a situation that could become one where I need to stand up for myself. (It’s mostly about recognizing the signs and the possibilities.)

I was often told as a child that I was too nice. I was practically scolded for it. But I didn’t know what ‘too nice’ meant, I didn’t know what the potential consequences of being ‘too nice’ were.

I worry that the ‘better’ I get, the less I’ll be able to support those who need it.

I worry that if I’m not well enough, I can’t support those who need it.

I worry I might forget the tough times and how far I’ve come.

I worry I may not have learned ‘my lesson’, trip and fall into another deep, dark place.

I wonder if he’s gotten in touch with his ex-girlfriend again.

Part of me still wonders if I should try to get in touch with her some day.

I wonder if he’s found a new partner. I wonder if he’s treating her worse  – or better – than he treated me. I wonder if she has the support that I had. I wonder if she’ll survive her time with him.

I hope he’s well enough to work and lead a good life. And yet, I hope he’s not well enough to tear apart someone else.

Sometimes… I miss him.