THE INNER PAIN OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Domestic violence always carries with it a level of inner pain. After being interviewed by one of the local newspapers and reading the article last month, I found some of the comments others left nothing short of amazing. It was obvious many readers just don’t “get” the inner pain victims experience from sexual abuse or domestic violence. Inner pain cannot be seen on x-ray. You cannot go to a pain management clinic to get an injection that will relieve the inner pain. Unfortunately, far too often the inner pain is so well hidden that the only one aware of its raging existence is the victim or struggling survivor.
Victims deal with present fear of physical harm. They deal with acute depression, even to the extent of suicidal thoughts, or God forbid, the worst result of excruciating inner pain, actually attempting suicide. Many are successful. For these, it seems death would be the most reasonable “treatment” for the emotional and mental pain that is being endured. A victim usually reaches a level of hopelessness, along with total loss of self-esteem. At such a point, it is most difficult to relay it to others, much less relate to those who are emotionally healthy. So, many times a victim will simply retreat into a world of their own, shrouded in darkness, with no hope of light. It is a very bleak place for the soul, the mind and the emotions, and inner pain runs rampant, though unseen.
Struggling survivors also hit potholes after they have escaped the abuse. Inner pain will oftentimes come back for a visit. Sometimes it is by revictimization. Something may be said or done, perhaps a song will be heard or a road sign may trigger recall of the times of abuse. As I often share: Wounds heal, scars remain. Healing can come to the wounds that came as a result of the abuse or battering. The scars will always be there. I still have a scar on my right index finger that has been there since I was a young child. The memory of what happened has passed, but I know at some time in my early life I was wounded, I was hurt. I bled. I’m sure I cried. Does it affect me now? No, but it still remains, and I can’t do anything about removing it. It’s there to stay. That was outer pain.
Struggling survivors sometimes have what I call a “perpetual replay button.” The least little thing that comes along to remind them of the travesty they endured is a cue for them to begin an endless dialogue of what happened to them, what “that horrible person” did to them. It is then I draw the conclusion that perhaps they are not actually survivors, but still victims—victims of their past, still suffering from that inner pain. And let’s not ever forget the innocent victims—the children—far too often becoming collateral damage of the domestic violence going on around them. They, too, must deal with the inner pain caused by the abuse, whether verbal, emotional or physical.
The good news is that we can escape that victim mentality. We do have the capacity deep within to overcome the wrongs that were done and become a strong, empowered woman. We can regain our hope, trust and faith. The hardest part is reaching that point where we are ready to make the choice, make the decision to pick up our baggage, hoist it out the door into the trash bin and leave it there, ridding our lives of the inner pain. You see, that’s just what it is—trash! It keeps us from moving forward, walking into the path of the true purpose for which we were created. None of us was created for the sole purpose of being abused. For those of us who have been abused, let us take those terrible events and use them as a catalyst to learn, heal and help others.
I see two chains. Every victim of sexual abuse and/or domestic violence is a link in one of those chains. The first chain is formed by victims hooked together, either still stuck in their horrible circumstances, or those who have escaped but still play the “song of my life” over and over again, for some viable reason unable to break free from victimization. The other chain is made up of survivors helping victims and struggling survivors. Each time a link is taken from the first chain and added to the second one, we all grow stronger and the world becomes a bit safer.
Just remember this: There is a big difference between reliving your past, and sharing your testimony for the benefit of others. One may bring others down while the other will hopefully lift others up! Let us all be aware of the power we can hold in helping others become free of the specter of inner pain.