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If you had asked me when I was younger what sort of activity I would find most fulfilling, I would have never said: “Sharing really personal information on the internet, yo.” Even today I’m a bit surprised how quickly my writing edged over into the intimate, and how much satisfaction it provided. Humanoids…we’re so unpredictable.
I’m not alone in this, as there are a number of bloggers who write very openly about their lives. Telling our stories publicly can be a little scary. The world is full of lions and tigers and judgement and internet trolls. Such candor is probably best left for the intrepid and the blissfully naïve. But if your story is about domestic violence, there may be another really good reason to remain quiet: safety.
This was something I thought long and hard about before putting up my first post about DV. I didn’t know how to keep writing without mentioning this huge, life-changing thing that had happened. And I didn’t want to stop writing altogether, especially at a time when I really needed the support of the community I was engaged with.
In the end, I made the decision to talk openly about what had happened, even though I knew that doing so carried a risk. The truth was that I was already in a great deal of danger, regardless of whether or not I spoke out. Staying quiet, I reasoned, was not going to keep me safe.
It paid off for me. There were repercussions, most certainly, but they were outweighed by the benefits. I received enormous support and, ultimately, justice.
One of the other benefits of telling my story publicly is that I’ve been approached by a few people who have asked to include pieces of my story in their books. One of those books is Living Proof, by John Capecci and Timothy Cage. The book originally came out a few years ago and I read it at the time and loved it. It’s a wonderful book for anyone who is telling their story to make a difference. The second edition, due out in a few months, is expanded and has some additional stories, mine included.
I’ll provide a more in depth review when the new edition is released, but today they did publish a short excerpt on their blog, as part of a series called ‘Moving from Silence to Story’, which is where my story is featured. They discuss this issue of safety in their post. You can read it here.
Despite my own experience, I would not necessarily advocate for a victim of abuse to speak out publicly. It could indeed provoke further violence. Every person’s situation is unique and they have to decide for themselves what is right for them. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again and again – I may even tattoo it on my forehead – you have to trust your instincts. Whether you’re dealing with violence or something more ordinary and mundane, your instincts are always your best compass.