Here at Cherokee Family Violence Center, we strive to create a safe space for survivors of abuse to share their experiences in a healthy way. For many, that means working with an Advocate, attending a support group, or participating in a class. Others, like survivor B. Baldwin, who shared her story in our last blog post, take a more creative approach to their healing. We are proud to share some of her work here, including her own introduction:
“The following piece of writing depicts a few things that were done to me during the relationship. Most of what he did cannot be shared on this site. But know that I was beaten, drugged with Ambien, photographed and filmed during and after the abuse. Only recently have I been able to tolerate the flash of a camera – and it took at least 6 months before I could go shopping and not have a metal cart to hold onto while I search the aisles for food, etc. I still have nightmares – but not as many. I was stalked via the internet and with emails. Oh – one more thing, he worked for the Department of Justice – so it was as though I was fighting a “two-headed” monster when I tried “hide in a safe place” and tried so desperately to get others to listen – let alone believe me. [This was around 15 years ago – and thankfully, things have improved.] But more important than any of the above – I am a Survivor – I stood up to him – and he pushed me down the stairs – but I stood up – and I spoke out. I am still standing – I am still speaking out – and he is not part of my life now.
From 10 years of journal writing, I gathered some of the facts and wrote a story of what it was like living with a man that I once loved. I have entitled this work: ‘Masquerade – The Realm of Violence.’”
MASQUERADE . . . THE REALM OF VIOLENCE
FIRST DANCE – CHAMELEON – FRACTURED – MOSAIC
First dance = following his lead
Chameleon = becoming what he wanted
Fractured = the state of my broken mind, body, and soul
Mosaic = my redirection of light and the healing process of my mind, body, and soul
Reflecting back to those dark days, I remember
and I sometimes still feel the pain.
I remember perfecting the art of being and becoming
whatever was necessary for that particular moment of time
. . . to keep me safe . . . to keep me alive.
No matter where I went, no matter what I did,
he was with me – I loved him
I wore what he wanted – and made sure each piece of clothing matched.
Each strand of hair in place – perfect makeup – perfect weight
perfect everything . . .
Day-by-day the real me was slipping away.
It was as though I had become “him” in the form of a woman.
I began to hate the new me – “his new me.”
So there I was … alone – broken – fractured,
No one knew how deep I fell –
No one knew how loud I screamed
In his arms –
In my dreams.
No one knew how hard he kicked me –
No one knew how many times he told me that
No one knew he spit in my face –
Kicked my back after I fell – No one knew.
No one knew the mind games he played.
No one knew that his words felt like razors
Piercing through my soul . . .
No one knew he whispered threats in my ear –
Instead of soft kisses –
No one knew.
No one knew what a monster he was –
No one knew what it took for me “just to stay alive.”
No one knew what it felt like to dance with the devil –
Around and around . . .
Leaving me upside down and inside out.
No one knew that living with him was like living
In the middle of the ocean –
Treading water non-stop – just to stay afloat – alive.
No one knew the invisible fear that consumed my heart –
The unspeakable things he did –
The photos he took of his “proud moments” after defeating me –
Like a hunter takes pictures of his “prey” – or his “kill.”
No one knew what he did – until I left him . . .
Now they know what he did…..
Because I am no longer with him . . .
But he is still with me . . .
still with me . . .
still with me . . .
still with me . . .
still in my heart . . . still in my mind.
* * *
Today I know that love is like a vine. A vine comprised of hopes, dreams, memories and promises that become entwined with every aspect of our being . . . . . like DNA.
It is no wonder that it takes time to overcome this horrific betrayal.
From the broken and fractured soul came a mosaic-like soul
with pieces that have been molded together, forming a new, stronger soul.
He is no longer in my heart – he is no longer in my mind
HE IS NO LONGER WITH ME.
One of my favorite songs by Nina Simone sums up how I feel
and what I believe about myself right now . . .
“It’s a new dawn
a new day
a new life for me
and I’m feeling good.
Freedom – oh freedom is mine.”
©2012: From a Survivor’s Journal: B. Baldwin