Okay, let’s get right to it. I was a victim of domestic violence for a very long time. I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor. BUT, it IS possible to continue to be victimized by domestic violence without continuing to live in it. If we continue to give the abuser power and control over our emotions, he is still victimizing us. If we relive, over and over again, the abuse we endured, we are maintaining the victim mentality.
You see, I was divorced for many years, yet still a victim of domestic violence. The victimization I continued to experience was emotional and mental, coming from within my own self. I still felt and thought like a victim, therefore I continued to act like one, speak like one—live like one. I was easily intimidated by most people. My self-esteem was pretty much in the toilet. I didn’t think I had the capacity to put two good thoughts together, much less lead a conference or appear on a prime time television special.
Then something changed. It didn’t come instantaneously, and it did not happen overnight. It was a progressive thing. I finally grew sick and tired of playing the same recording over and over again in my mind: “You are stupid!” I had been told that for so many years, I still believed it to be true. I could continue to accept it, or I could prove to myself it was a lie. So, I registered for college—at the age of 40. I had not darkened the door of an educational facility as a student in over 20 years. The closest I came was being room mother for my kids when they were in elementary school. It was a whole new world for me. At first I was terrified and quite sure I’d totally screw up. But there were nice people there to help. They were everywhere. Deans, counselors, staff in the bookstore, even the young kids who were now my fellow classmates were quick to assist. The professors were kind, too. Well, okay, there was one quirky guy, but he taught American History, one of my favorite subjects. He hated “true or false” and “multiple choice” tests, preferring essays. We got along well.
This was all for me. This was something I had to prove to myself. I took Sociology, Public Speaking and, of course, American History I. I also worked a full time job, putting in about 50 hours a week, and was the single mom of two teenagers. I loved learning, always have. We took tests. I made excellent grades. Hey, I could do this thing!
At the end of that semester I aced all three courses, actually carrying a 103 average in the public speaking class (Some would not be so surprised at that one, but it was much more than just talking!). I figured to get a 99 for a public presentation on “How to Cross-Stitch” went a long way. It was something I knew well and loved doing. I shared the “how to” speech with fervor and confidence. The young ones in the room actually had questions afterward. Go figure!
In the movies, Mr. Smith may have gone to Washington, but in real life, Ms. Hennecy went to college, and it started her on the right path, away from control and victimization where domestic violence had continued to grip her so tightly. What path is yours? Where will you find your own freedom and empowerment? Are you ready? If not, then just start thinking positive thoughts about yourself. After all, you ARE a great work of art. You really are!
Somewhere along the way I came to a valuable realization—I WAS NOT STUPID—and I was no longer a victim. I had taken back my life . . . and it has felt very good ever since.
Carolyn is an advocate for sexual/domestic violence and assault awareness, also focusing on child sexual abuse. She is a Life Direction & Empowerment Coach, working with victims and survivors of molestation, sexual assault, domestic violence or spousal abuse, and bringing training to organizations seeking to help victims. Hennecy spent much time during October 2011, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, with media doing radio and television interviews. See Carolyn’s interview with Gayle Guyardo of NBC Channel 8 News Today Early Morning Show and her featured segment on the ABC Action News Emmy Award winning “Taking Action Against Domestic Violence” at orangeblossomwishes.com.
- Domestic Violence – Verbal and Emotional Abuse Are Progressive (cshennecy.wordpress.com)