I did not know it at the time, but starting to speak out about the abuse I suffered just two months after leaving was the most critical act that helped bring me back from the edge of the abyss. First, it is the silence that enables the abuser to thrive and to continue perpetuating the destruction. It is the silence that nurtures shame, humiliation, and isolation. Silence breeds a failure to thrive and makes life unbearably small. Only breaking that silence can one slowly reconcile and understand the gravity of peril and depth of destruction left in the aftermath. It lifts an incredible burden from your shoulders and helps you rebuild. Second, through my blog I began to connect to other survivors, and that was important in breaking me free from the shame I was carrying. I could realize that I was not the only one, that I was not at fault, and that by taking the risk to disclose my abuse, instead of being weak or broken or shameful, I was bold, courageous, and stronger than the fury of your fists. These connections are so often the glue that holds us together as begin to work to put ourselves back together. These connections and freeing myself from the silence you forced me to accept together helped free me from you.
You need to know that I continue to keep the promise I made to you when you had me on the kitchen floor with a butcher knife in my face. Do you remember what I said? “If I ever get away from you alive, I’m going to tell everyone what you are.” And that is exactly what I’m doing now and will continue to do until I breathe my last breath. Each time, it gets easier. Every day, I take back more of all those things you ripped away from me. Every minute of every day, I live my life in defiance of you and use my voice to deny silence a return, to support others who’ve been abused, and to continue to move forward.
Here are some ways I willfully continue to disobey the commands you forced upon me:
1. I grew my hair back out, wear makeup and jewelry, and wear women’s clothes again. My collection of skirts and heels would anger you.
2. Not a day goes by that I do not tell others about the abuse I endured from you. I share everything, including some of the things you did to humiliate me as a woman, because you never know when someone around you is going through abuse but is too ashamed or afraid to talk.
3. Most of the doctors you had in the area know you are an abuser.
4. I went back to school and am currently working to complete the remaining half of my degree that you forced me to abandon. I maintain a near perfect GPA and expect to graduate six months early.
5. I retrained myself to be able to talk to men without wanting to projectile vomit on them and hide.
6. I stopped living my life around where I think you might be. You are the one who did wrong, and I refuse to hide.
7. I let myself figure out the things that I like, and I make my choices based on me, not my conditioning.
8. I listen to the music I like in whatever language I feel like.
If you were to read the first open letter I wrote to you, you would notice the change in tone. Much of the anger I had toward you is gone, and I carry no shame for the choice you made to cause deliberate harm.
This is not to say that I don’t feel anger. I have just shifted to focus on the things I can change – my welfare, my health, my finances, and my choices. You are immovable, stubborn, and angry, and in all this you do not want nor do you see a need to change. I lost over four years to that indomitable will, and I can sacrifice no more for you. I have no interest in giving you anymore than you have already taken.
I am no longer under your control. I am vital, I am strong, and best of all, I am free.