Surviving Is Not Enough

October is domestic violence awareness month and every year since 2011 I have been doing my best to help raise awareness about it. Many of you know that I am a domestic violence survivor and that is why I am so diligent about raising awareness. I did not go through a lot of physical abuse in my experience, which is what most people think of when they hear the words “domestic violence”. For years I dealt with verbal, sexual, and financial abuse from the man that was supposed to be my partner and the head of my household. It did not get physical until we decided to divorce. I have told my story plenty of times and I will tell it many more.

I was treated like less of a person in my marriage for most of the time. It was very difficult for me to live in peace because I was constantly working hard to avoid confrontation and additional marital problems. I was that ideal housewife. I cooked, cleaned, did yard work, took care of the kids, maintained the house, and whatever else he wanted me to do. I was the wife his friends wanted to have. Regardless of what type of wife I felt like I was, he wasn’t interested in having that type of wife. He wanted to control me and everything I did.

He would make me pull down my pants so that he could smell my panties and make sure he didn’t smell another man’s semen often when I left the house. He made me ask for money when our children needed diapers or anything and required me to provide a receipt of what I spent to make sure I didn’t spend more than what he said. He would treat me like his secretary instead of his wife. He did not treat me as his equal but as his subordinate. Regardless of how he treated me I was always upholding my end of the bargain as a good wife. When we decided to end the marriage and that is when he became physically abusive.

I was doused with bleach, my clothes and accessories were cut up and bleached, and a few months later my truck was set on fire. I had to fight with my ex-husband about child support for years. He refused to discuss custody during the divorce and told the judge “she can have them, I’ll pay whatever you want me to pay” and there was a permanent restraining order against him.

As a survivor I feel like surviving is not enough. I feel like there is more that needs to be done to change the narrative for men and women across the world. I remember what it was like staying in a safe house attempting to protect myself and my children from my ex. I remember what it felt like to not have anyone to talk to about what I was going through. I remember what I felt like when I was being mistreated and discarded. I vowed to make a difference for others who are surviving what I went through.

About 3 years ago I started putting things together for Rhythm & Hues, which will be a pivotal program of my non-profit organization The P.E.A.C.E Movement. Rhythm  & Hues seeks to break the silence about domestic violence and support survivors in various locations. Rhythm & Hues Georgia was started in middle Georgia to support the local safe house because I had to stay there as I was going through my situation.

The first year I tried to do this it was just gathering donations for the safe house. Things like baby items, cleaning supplies, toiletries, and so on. The year after I did the same thing. It wasn’t until my third year of trying to put something together that an event actually happened. I collaborated with some amazing people and we raised money and received additional donations for the survivors residing at the safe house.

This year there will be 2 events in 2 states across 4 days. This is a big deal. In addition to the Georgia event there will also be Rhythm & Hues Tennessee. I am so excited to have this event spreading. I hope that it continues to spread and that the silence is broken and people start to discuss the issues that lead to domestic violence and work towards ways to reduce and eliminate it. If you want more information on either event, click the links above or email Rhythmandhuespr@gmail.com with your questions or comments. If you see me promoting this event please like, share, or donate to support the cause. I know what it’s like to be abused and I know what’s it’s like to survive. Help me to help others know what that feeling is.

-Shayizms

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