December 4, 2009

Knight in Tarnished Armor

One of our members shared the link to a story written by a Domestic Violence Survivor, and I've since talked to her and gotten permission to share with you the below.  Not many Survivors are able to put in book form what they went through for many various reasons, and it's always amazing when yet another Survivor is able to do so.  I not only thank Erin for writing this book, but for reaching out to others that are in need of her courage!

Knight in Tarnished Armor

I often have said that if domestic violence was going to happen to anyone, it was a good thing it happened to me.  I was raised in a very loving, kind, stable household.  My parents are the best, and there was hardly ever a voice raised in our house, let alone people beating on others.  I grew up with a strong sense of self, fierce independence and a lot of self esteem.  I had supported myself for years before I got married and really wasn't all that interested in getting married, until my "knight" came along.  So when it came time to get out - I did - after almost three years of abuse.  But I couldn't get off my mind the women who have gone through similar circumstances and didn't have the fortitude or the support group that I did.  I didn't have children, didn't have to go to a shelter, didn't have to go find a job or place to live.  I had it easy - and still almost ended up dead.  I just kept thinking of the thousands and thousands of women who go to bed at night praying they will wake up in the morning and almost wishing they wouldn't because they will have to go through another day of abuse.  So, this book kept writing itself in my head.  Heck, I'm not an author, but I wrote a book about what I know, and I know domestic violence.  I'm stronger for it and my goal is to help anyone, woman, man, child, whomever, make it out and live life the way it should be lived - without fear of being abused, beaten or killed. 

In addition to my book, I've taken classes and courses and attended seminars and have read countless books on abuse.  I co-founded a support group for women which meets once a month.  This group isn't just for abuse victims, it's for anyone woman who needs the support of other women. Then I have "Sit and Sip" - which I call comfort sessions. These are conversations - either e-mail, phone or in person - with domestic violence victims where basically I let them talk.  I have found that I'm a very good listener and have the knack to ask questions that draws out what a victim needs to get out without making them feel pressured.  One woman, a stranger, called me out of the blue and talked for 4 hours.  At the end, she said, "You know, I've never told anyone my story from beginning to end before.  My life really sucks!" And she left her abuser right after that and is a very successful real estate agent now.  All she needed was to see her life in perspective, for someone to listen, and that's what I do.

The Knight has been out since September 8, 2009 and the feed back I have been getting is exciting and humbling at the same time.  I wrote this book for one reason - to help other victims - and I'm glad to say what I have been hearing is that it's doing just that.  There is a safety plan (compliments of Focus Ministries - a WONDERFUL organization for victims) and encouragement after my story.  One woman ordered one for herself and after she read it she ordered four more to send to each of her granddaughters.  I've have done a few radio interviews, but I do have to be careful with where I do what because my ex is still out there and if knows I've revealed his dirty secrets for all the world to see...I'm dead...he WILL kill me, no doubt in my mind. 

I guess the best way to sum it up is to read what I have written on my website and I'll include it here:

Welcome to my World

During the years of marriage to the man I thought was my knight in shining armor, the violence that quickly escalated took me by surprise.  I had no idea the man he truly was, was not the man I married; sweet, considerate, loving and gentle.  There were reasons for the abuse, I was told, so I waited, hoping it would stop. As the violence increased, I started a journal to document what  was happening.  I would document our latest "encounter", make a copy and give it to my mother to hold in a large manilla envelope - just in case he killed me, there would be enough proof to put him away forever.  Sounds a bit sad, but when you are a victim, you think like a victim.

What you will read in my book are those actual journal entries, as well as letters I had written to my husband and his doctors.  I have filled in with facts between the entries to flesh out my story and give you a glimpse into the world of a domestic violence victim.

But the important part of Knight in Tarnished Armor is not my story.  The important part is the advice at the end, the safety plan, the encouragement, and hopefully the realization that if you are a victim, you are just one step away to being a survivor - that one step out the door that will lead to your freedom. I'm not saying it's easy, but believe me, it's worth it.

I have my life back. I've never been happier and I'm stronger for having walked through the fire.  You can do it too and become the woman you want to be.  Take that step, we are here to help.

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