Abuse hurts. Stop it.

This is the second-to-last Friday of November. Black Friday to some. Blue Friday to others. It is also, the second-to-last Friday of Family Violence Prevention Month.

Family violence kills. Spirit. Hope. Dignity. Trust. Life.

Last night, I attended a fundraiser put on by the Campaign Associates of the United Way of Calgary. It was wonderful to spend time amidst these caring and committed individuals who organize the events at which I speak almost daily. Many of them are ‘on loan’ from Calgary corporations for the 4 months of the fall campaign. All of them are funded by Calgary corporations. All of them make a difference.

What was significant for me about this event however wasn’t just the people, it was the place.

It was held at a venue where, once upon a time, I tried to end the relationship that was killing me.

It was fall, 2002. Life was spiralling out of control and I was falling. I had no money, no job, no home. My daughters were living with their father and I was falling further and further into the darkness.

‘The man’ was clinging to me in a desperate attempt to have life look as if it was normal. I don’t remember where he was living, but I was staying between the home of one of my dearest friends and at the time, house-sitting another friend’s house in the same townhome complex in which she lived.

I wasn’t sure what would happen next. ‘The man’ kept promising to make it all right. He kept promising that he would fix it, get my home back, get all my belongings out of storage, get me stable once again.

I didn’t really believe him but I couldn’t quit listening to his promises. I was so tired. So lost. So helpless.

And then, he made a scene. We had gone to a local pub (the same one as last night)  for a drink and he acted out, accusing me of flirting with another man in the bar. Yelling at me for destroying his life. Calling me names.

I left. Grabbed my coat and walked out.

I walked and walked in the cold, dark night.

The pub was only a couple blocks from the river, about a twenty-minute walk from where I was house-sitting.

I walked down to the river and along the path that skirts its shoreline. I don’t remember if there was a moon, or if the stars shone. There was snow on the ground. The air was frosty.

I felt so hopeless.

I wanted him to follow me. I wanted him to leave me alone. I wanted him to disappear. I wanted to vanish.

At one point, I took a path down to the water’s edge and sat on a rock watching the water flow past. I imagined what would happen if I could simply fall into the water. I imagined what it would be like if I could disappear. I knew his presence was choking me. I knew being with him was driving me crazy, that there was no truth in anything he said. And I knew I was lost and had to do something to find myself again.

Somewhere in that relationship he had given me a heart-shaped ring set with tiny diamonds. I had worn that ring ever since he’d given it to me in the belief that as long as I wore it he would not disappear from my life and my daughters lives would be safe.

Sitting beside the river that night, I knew I had to let go.

I took the ring off and hurled it into the river.

I broke the ties. In that act I rebelled against the bonds that tied me so fast to his deceit and abuse.

I walked back to the house where I was staying. I let myself in and went to bed.

It was over.

And then, the doorbell rang.

I didn’t want to answer it. I told myself not to.

But he started yelling. Pounding upon the wooden barrier that stood firm between us.

I capitulated. I told myself I didn’t want to wake the neighbours. I didn’t want him to cause a scene.

I told myself I would let him in just so I could tell him it was over. I didn’t care about the money, the home, the stuff. I wanted free.

It would be six long, terrifying months before I got free again.

I remember that night. It was the night I gave up on me completely. It was the night he threw back at me everything I had ever told him about my life for which I held shame or sadness or regret. In the reminding me of all my misgivings, he affirmed my deepest fear. I was not worthy.

I lost my spirit that night. I lost my direction completely in the darkness of knowing, I was not worthy.

It is the reality of these relationships that take such a toll. To be abused we must believe abuse is all we’re worth. We must believe they are right, we are wrong. We must give up on ourselves, and give into the who they tell us we are, what they tell us we’re worth.

To be abused we must believe in the one who abuses us.

And it is in that belief we die.

Abuse hurts. Stop it.

17 thoughts on “Abuse hurts. Stop it.”

  1. I have never suffered anything like what you describe here so I am gobsmacked at what you have been through and how you have come out of it so shining and new. I bravo you, Louise, a thousand times over – you are so beautiful – thank you for your inspiration. Juliexx

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  2. Thank you for your courage to speak these words, they continue to give me courage and hope. I am so grateful God saved you from that time and brought you to where you are now. You are a blessing to me, I value you greatly.

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  3. Your story inspires me to know that there is a way out of abuse for many women in my life. Thank you so much for being who you are. A beautiful soul. (:

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  4. “To be abused we must believe abuse is all we’re worth.” What a powerful statement of truth, and within it lies the answer. We must begin to value our own worth and to help others find their own self-worth too. When individuals reach that point, abuse and violence are no longer acceptible in their lives. I am so grateful that you didn’t end your life at that point, because you have gone on to touch hundreds of people with your story and your compassion. For them, you have been the doorway to finding their own way out of hell. I am blessed and honored to have met you, there is not a day that your writing and sharing doesn’t inspire me to be more of who I really am!

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  5. I knew I was free when I leaned over and said to my “un”boyfriend, “I owe you an apology…I am very sorry I taught you it was acceptable to treat me less than I deserved.” I followed that statement up by leaving with my head held high, right out the front door to my car. This action reminds of a song called “Blackbird”, 2nd verse, “Take these broken wings and fly away”.

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  6. Everytime I hear bits more of your story I am more and more amazed at what you’ve been through and how you now reach out and help others. I love you Louise and what you stand for!

    On another note, are you not observing Friday the 30th?? 😉

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  7. I am with the others here that every time I hear more of your story I cannot believe he far you have come. I think telling your story helps other understand that it is possible to recover and rebuild our own new lives. You are truly an inspiration for those of us in the throws of chaos or its aftermath.
    Thanks for sharing what must have been a painful experience and ending it on a positive note for us all and at the same time deliver the message that it is all our responsibility to act and end abuse – which of course it is.

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