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Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Woman Like You

This blog is a re-post from a year ago. I wanted to send it
out again, because I think it's such an important topic. The
information in this blog may have the potential to help other
women who are in trouble. I apologize to those of you who have
seen this before.

If you know anyone who might benefit from this blog, please feel
free to pass it on. Soon I will be writing a follow up article
on this subject.


A Woman Like You

by Angela C. Orlando

Five years ago yesterday, I finally made the decision to leave
my abusive husband. It was a child's stark honesty that woke me
up. My five year old son said, "Daddy is bad because he hurts
you." With those words echoing in my head, I knew I had to leave
- for his sake.

During the weeks after my sudden move, a friend worked on
scanning books about abuse and domestic violence for me to read.
She wanted to help me understand what I had been through and the
difficulties that were still to come. She knew I was trying to
cope and thought the books might help.

There was one book in particular that my friend thought would be
good for me. That book was A Woman Like You by Vera Anderson.

"You MUST read this book," my friend told me. "It is so amazing.
I can't believe what these women have been through, and they
still look so normal."

But I didn't read the book. I couldn't read it. I wasn't ready
yet.

Now years have passed. I'm free of my abuser. But I will never
be free of the horrible memories of that experience. The pain
and fear will always be with me.

I found myself wondering about other women and what they have had
to endure. So I finally began reading the book. I am so glad I
did. My friend is right. It is an amazing book.

A Woman Like You is a photographical journal. The author's
purpose was to portray "the face of domestic violence." But what
she shows us is that battered women look just like everyone
else. They are our sisters, daughters, mothers, friends,
co-workers and the strangers we pass on the street and barely
notice.

If you are sighted, I ask that you find this book in a library or
bookstore. Study the photos. Read the stories. Become aware
about the truth of domestic violence.

If you are blind, you can still appreciate the book without
viewing the pictures. The interviews are so strong and moving.
You will find that the words alone will touch your heart. I
know that this book is available at bookshare.org, because my
friend put it there.

As I read this book, certain quotes kept jumping out at me. I
read what these women had to say and I thought, "I could have
written that. I could have said that. That's exactly how I
felt."

So I collected quotes from the book that I would like to share
now. I hope as you read these words, you will begin to
understand that battered women are not a certain type of person
or different kind of woman. They are just like you. And it's
even possible that you are one of them. Maybe you just haven't
told anyone yet. If that is true, I hope you will find some
comfort in knowing that you are not alone.


aA WOMEN LIKE YOU

THE FACE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Photographs and Interviews by VERA ANDERSON

Vera: Friends would say to me, "I never knew. You don't look like
a battered woman." I agreed. I didn't think of myself as a
battered woman. But then, what did a "battered woman" look like?
I started studying the faces where I had been volunteering at a
domestic violence shelter, looking for the answer to that
question. What I saw were the faces of my neighbors, my mother,
my sister, my daughter. I saw myself. The truth is, battered
women are all around us. We just don't recognize them, because
they look like us.

Patty: When it's somebody you make love to every night, who's
treated you like a queen, who loves you to death, and you share
every part of your being with him, and that person turns around
and hits you, it's the most shocking thing. And you know you have
to go, logically, but you know that when it's good he makes you
feel beautiful, and you love him. So you stay, you just want
things to be normal. And then he hurts you again, and it starts
tearing you apart bit by bit by bit.

Joanne: He would make these promises, and I really wanted to keep
our family together. It kept getting worse, but I just didn't
know how to get out... I'm angry at myself that I didn't wake up
sooner. Why didn't I leave and stay gone? Why did I keep coming
back? I know the answers, but it still doesn't make sense to me.

Yoshi: I needed help but I was so scared to tell anyone. So I
went to ask what I should do. I thought it was only me, it only
happened in my house. At the shelter they told me it wasn't my
fault, and they told me about the cycle of violence.

Sandra: I don't think I ever would have left of my own free will
if it had not been that my oldest daughter started getting sick.
The pediatrician asked me, "What's going on at home?" I said,
"Nothing." And he said, "She's seven years old, Sandra. Why does
she have an ulcer?" My daughter had seen a lot of violence.

Bernita: His anger escalated... I found myself having sex with
him to keep from getting hit, to keep from getting raped. And the
violent times, I prayed. I didn't end it because I thought he
would hurt me. Finally I decided that if I was going to die
because of this relationship, I would die getting out of it and
not staying in it.


Jane: When he started telling me what to do and what to think, I
didn't see it as a control issue, I just thought it was his way
of telling me to take care of myself. Toward the end it was like
waiting for a pat on the head. He had me reduced to a child, I
was so brain-washed I think it was the repetitiveness of hearing
how stupid and useless I was, that I was never good enough. What
I thought didn't matter, what I wanted wasn't important, I was
never right, I was always wrong.

Connie: He told me, "If you try to go out that window I will kill
you and I will kill your child." I stayed because I believed him.
My son says he doesn't remember much of it, but I feel it had a
big influence on him. For a while he displayed a lot of hostility
towards me, sometimes in a passive way and sometimes more
aggressively. Even though he knows better,

Beatriz: The ugliest for me was when it carried over into our
intimate life, I was just something he owned and could use at
will, and kick aside when he was done. I knew it wasn't right,
but I was afraid to say anything to anybody because he was so
well liked in the community.

Linda: When I finally reached the breaking point where I saw my
kids suffering and I was willing to die to get away, how I
finally did it is, I made a plan and I kept focused on that plan.
I got help from unexpected places, like the parents of my
daughter's school friend. But people think you can just leave and
it's over, and it doesn't work like that.

Jae: I felt so isolated and confused, and every time he raised a
hand to my kid, I became dead inside, much deader than when the
abuse was directed at me. Looking back on it, I feel sick. I
can't explain how it could have gone on for years.

Barbara: The abuse started almost immediately after we were
married. It was like we got married and now he had me and could
do what he wanted to me. The first time, I guess I was in shock,
I didn't believe it had happened. He never apologized, never
mentioned it. I was always thinking it wasn't going to happen
any more. I thought I was the only one, the only one in the world
this happened to. He made me believe it was my fault, that there
was something ¬thing wrong with me, that I couldn't give enough
or be enough to make my marriage work.

Peggie: I don't remember exactly what happened; I do remember his
motorcycle boot connecting with my face. I woke up in the
hospital, with doctors and nurses and lights everywhere. But
there wasn't any sound. I didn't hear any sounds again for two
and a half years. I had to go to school to learn to sign, and to
learn the deaf culture. My entire life changed because of what he
had done to me. I decided to turn what had happened to me into
something construc¬tive and began teaching self-defense classes
and creating community support groups for deaf abuse victims.
Just imagine the isolation a battered woman must feel when she
can't communicate with spoken words. I knew I could help.

Esterlina: I went to a women's shelter, and I was awakened,
because I got to talk to other women. I realized there are many
stories worse than mine, many more years of pain, but the cycle
is the same. And even though all the stories are different, they
are also all the same.

Jo Ann: He started getting abusive with the kids, and one day I
just looked at my children's faces, and I couldn't take it
anymore. They had seen so much violence, it breaks my heart.

Patricia: After we were married, I kept making excuses for his
anger and thinking it was me. Because if it was me then I had
some control over it, I could change it.

Kathi: More than your bones, it's your innocence, your trust,
your spirit that gets broken. There isn't any surgery to fix
that.

Brenda: It's not right that I took a life and I'm very sorry for
that and I wish I could take it hack. But it happened because I
feared for my life and I believed I had no other choice. That's
the state of mind I was in at that time after being so physically
and mentally abused by this man.


WHERE TO FIND HELP

National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-SAFE (7233) TDD
(800) 787-3224

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (800) 537-2238

Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Child Protection and
Custody (800) 527-3223

Battered Women's Justice Project 206 West Fourth Street Duluth,
MN 55806 (800) 903-0111

Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence 1914
North 34th Street, Suite 105 Seattle, WA 98103 (206) 634-1903

Domestic Abuse Awareness Project P.O. Box 1155 Madison Square
Station New York, NY 10159-1155 (212) 353-1755 (212) 353-8645 fax

Domestic Abuse Project 204 West Franklin Avenue Minneapolis, MN
55404 (612) 874-7063

Family Violence Prevention Fund 38 Rhode Island Street, Suite 304
San Francisco, CA 94103-5133 (415) 252-8900

Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project 647 Hudson Street New
York, NY 10014 (212) 807-0197

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) National
Office P.O. Box 18749 Denver,CO 80218-0749 (303) 839-1852

National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence 1155
Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 400 Washington, DC 20036 (800)
222-2000 (202) 429-6695

Revised August, 2100

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