As a blogger, it seems that I am often flooded with emails.
Emails about giveaways…product reviews…and often, emails asking to help support or draw attention to a cause.
I hate saying no. If I could, I’d do every giveaway, and support every cause there is but sadly, I just do not have the time. I’ve learned over the past couple of years to choose the ones that feel right to me, and are a good fit.
And a few weeks ago, as I was going through emails, I had one from The Pixel Project. Unfamiliar with that name, I opened the email and read, understanding that this organization was asking me to help them give a voice to women who are and have been victims of violence.
And I realized that maybe it was time that I finally told you something.
Because this cause is personal to me.
When I was young, my dad was violent– horribly so, and just a mean person in general. I won’t speak of the things I saw, for that is not all my story to tell, but suffice to say that I don’t remember a time I wasn’t terrified.
I did not live in a safe, loving home. I lived in a house of abuse.
A house of abuse has a floor made of eggshells. A house of abuse hides secrets, and fear, and fosters the hope that “maybe if I be quiet, and sit in my room, and be really good, he won’t notice me today.”
A house of abuse looks like any other house.
I was an Army brat, my dad was in the military, so we moved around a lot. I never made friends that I felt close enough to tell, and even if I did I think I would have been too scared and too ashamed. So it was that I got older, and became a teenager, and things never got better.
They got worse.
Once I hit my teenage years, my dad focused his attention on me. And as shocking as it is for you to hear, it was a million times more shocking to me.
I became a victim of sexual abuse.
I know that this is uncomfortable. I know that we think that this happens to OTHER people. I know this because that is what I thought. That is what I thought as it was happening to me.
This happens in Lifetime movies.
This happens in those videos they show you at school.
This happens to freaks, and weirdos, and people with no friends.
And so I didn’t speak up. I was afraid, deathly afraid that I had it wrong. Maybe I was dreaming it. Maybe there was somehow, an explanation. There was no way this was REALLY happening to me.
But a year went by, then two. And it got worse.
It got, as bad as I can imagine it could possibly get.
There were nights I went to bed and thought “Dear God, if I don’t wake up tomorrow, that is okay by me, really”
Just waking up in the morning seemed like too much.
And then one night, as I laid in bed and prayed, prayed to a God that I didn’t understand, I suddenly knew with all the certainty in my heart that I did in fact, have the strength to do what I was so afraid of.
In the morning, it would be over.
In the morning I would tell.
And so, I did.
The months that followed were extremely difficult, make no mistake. This isn’t the type of thing where you tell someone, and they lock that person up, and you live happily ever after. There were statements to give…and more statements to give…and MORE statements to give…there was proof to be found, and doctor exams, and a difficult and heart wrenching trial.
I had to tell my story to a room full of strangers. And it was humiliating, and it was scary, and I did it all while my dad sat there and stared at me.
It was in the news. It was on the front page of the paper. They left my name out, but I knew, and it was hard.
But my dad was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Long enough for me to grow up and be safe.
The years that followed were trying. We were broke most of the time, and the family was divided into Believers and Nonbelievers. That type of thing is common, I suppose. But at the end of the day, when I laid in bed and said prayers of hope and prayers of thanks instead of prayers wishing for an end, I knew that I was okay.
Having my past makes it difficult when the subject of family comes up. I often lie about my dad, knowing that if I tell the truth, an awkward pause will follow. But having to do that makes me angry.
It makes me angry because I didn’t choose this. This was chosen for me. And now I have to scramble for lies and half truths, like someone who has something to be ashamed of.
I have nothing to be ashamed of. This is his shame. What I am is proud. Proud of what I have lived through, proud of who I am, and proud that I get up every day to a beautiful house, a loving husband, a child who is the light of my life, and I log on to the internet and I make people laugh.
That is who I have chosen to be.
I know that this is a happy place. I know this is an uncomfortable subject. I know there are those of you who might look at me differently now, and I really hate that. But after reading that email, and really searching my heart, I have realized that I have a wonderful opportunity.
I have an opportunity to speak for victims who don’t have a voice. I have an opportunity to show you that you DO know a victim of abuse, this DOES happen to us, and the very person who brings a smile to your face could also be hiding years worth of unspeakable pain.
Don’t let this be something that is embarrassing to speak about. By doing that, we are doing victims everywhere a HUGE disservice. By being uncomfortable, we are saying “this is shameful, I can’t help you with this, this needs to be kept quiet”.
For those of you who ARE victims–past, present or future– I want to tell you that you are not less worthy. You are not a freak, or disgusting, or weird. You’re a beautiful person and someone made a horrible choice and that choice was not yours. There are people who will help you, and you are capable of living a life full of love, happiness, and joy.
The Pixel Project is currently running their Paint It Purple Campaign until November 24, which is the Eve of the International Day of Violence Against Women. If you’d like to help, there are a few things you can do:
Spread awareness. You can help “Paint the Internet Purple” by downloading ONE OF THESES badges and posting it on your site or your Facebook wall.
Help raise funds for victims of violence by holding a bake sale. You can click HERE for more information on how to do that.
If any of the above is out of your comfort zone or you just don’t have the time, I ask at the very least that you have an open dialogue about this in your home. Unfortunately, no one ever asked me, or tried to speak with me about what I was going through and that really would have made a huge difference.
Please know that I have really been on the fence about doing this post. The thought has scared me beyond belief, and it has taken a tremendous amount of strength to sit and write it. But as I watched the events that unfolded on the news over the past few days, it confirmed for me that regardless of how scary it is, I am doing the right thing. Someone needs to be willing to stand up and say “I will talk about this”.
I hope that you will talk about it too.
Thanks so much for reading, and for everything that you do. I have had so many amazing opportunities because of your support, and my life has turned out to be so much more than I truly ever hoped for. I hope that you continue to read, and laugh, and bake my recipes and gossip with me about annoying habits and ugly shoes.
I’m so glad to have you all in my life!!