At Vacation Bible School?
Yes and no.
Okay, so three years ago, I asked my husband, Don, to complete one simple task.
I told him, while he was nodding without blinking: “When you drop Donae (our then-four, now seven-year old daughter) off at VBS, don’t forget to give her the Bible on the front passenger seat.”
Sometime I think if I’m animated he’ll actually pay attention when I’m talking.
To my complete and utter dismay, when I returned to pick Donae up, I discovered he’d given her more than just the Bible. Earlier that morning I attended my weekly moms group. This particular day there was a guest speaker on the topic of domestic violence.
She gave us several pamphlets of which I left on the front seat of the car.
Don unknowingly sent our child into VBS with a pamphlet that had a teary-eyed, little girl with the caption saying, “Sad is How You Feel When Mom is Being Beat.’’
I gasped and thought, “Great! Now the church folk think I’m being abused!”
I hurriedly shoved the pamphlet back into the Bible and immediately began to worry what that perception would do to Don’s reputation. When I got home, I shared my concerns with him. He stared at me for a long period followed by a burst of laughter. “That’s a good one!” He said. His reaction made me feel silly and then I let out a little chuckle too.
I can make light of it today because it’s not my reality.
But, there was a time when it was. From my late teenage years through my early twenties, I was abused. The psychological effects of this abuse lingered for years. Even while being in a healthy marriage, achieving academic success and having a respectable career, I struggled with my self-worth for a long time as a consequence of that relationship.
But the good news story is, I survived. Today, I live with confidence and I’m no longer in fear for my life. My only regret is that I didn’t get out sooner.
While some may find it uncomfortable sharing their painful history, I’m actually liberated in doing so.
Survivors can help to de-stigmatize victims by speaking out, especially now that human trafficking is running rampant. Just last year, our President signed an updated version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a measure intended to promote state and local efforts to combat rape and domestic assault.
Over the next five years, there will be increased funding for programs that provide legal assistance, transitional housing, counseling and support hotlines to victims of rape and domestic abuse. VAWA credits its greatest success to be its emphasis on the coordinated community response to domestic violence, sex dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking; courts, law enforcement, prosecutors, victim services, and the private bar currently work together in a coordinated effort that had not heretofore existed on the state and local levels.
The Illinois Department of Human Services has domestic violence agencies listed by city on their website www.dhs.state.il.us if yours isn’t listed, please contact the state of Illinois Domestic Violence Help Line at 877-863-6338 for an agency closest to you.
You can live triumphantly after abuse. I’m a testament to that.
Don’t wait, get help now!