Creative Writing from Survivor: B. Baldwin

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 mask



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,

believing that,

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


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

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