Kat wrote -
I am cycilng 4232 miles across the USA from Astoria, OR to Yorktown, VA because it's a rite of passage, and to give back by raising awareness and money to educate and support those affected by domestic abuse.
You can follow my progress across the country at http://www.crossingstates.blogspot.com
People don’t like to talk about domestic abuse.
It’s not that we condone the actions of the abuser. We know they’re wrong. And yet something inside us can’t help but blame the victim. Question what it was she did to provoke it and cast judgment on her character for allowing it to happen, for being weak and pathetic enough to stay when anyone with an ounce of self-respect would simply have walked away.
I used to entertain those thoughts too… until I found myself in an abusive relationship.
My stormy, passionate love affair bore no relation to the abusive relationships I had seen portrayed on the TV or by the media. It wasn’t seedy or grubby. I didn’t sit in stained jogging bottoms watching daytime TV while he got drunk in the pub. And the abuse didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t wake up one morning feeling confident and together, only for him to come home that night and hit me for burning the tea.
It was much more subtle. It built up gradually, imperceptibly, with such a level of stealth that, by the time I came to realize what was happening, I was too far in even to contemplate getting out.
Instead I wanted only to disappear, to stop breathing oxygen that could be used by someone who wasn’t as despicable and worthless as me. To recognise, as he so succinctly put it, that I didn’t even deserve therapy for “my issues”. What I deserved was “a bullet in the back of the head”.
And yet I did get out, eventually.
I walked away from a dream of everything into a reality of nothing. A world where I no longer knew how to interact with friends or family, where I had lost not only the person who I once thought was the love of my life, but where I had also willingly relinquished my home, my job and my sanity. I had neither the energy nor the ambition to replace any of them. I didn’t really see the point in putting myself through it.
It’s taken a long time to repair and rebuild, with the love and support of amazing family and friends, and a great and patient therapist...
I will never be the same person again. I still have nightmares and flashbacks, bad days. It's just that the bad days no longer turn into bad weeks, and they’re manageable. I can do more than merely function. I can hope and dream, rise to a challenge, stand up for myself without being terrified of the consequences. And I’d like to think that, ironically, the person who has emerged is wiser and more at ease with herself than she ever was before.
And so it is time to forgive him, and myself, for what happened. To be grateful that it is in the past, and to start to give back. To help those who are still in abusive relationships, who desperately need support and understanding to keep going until they can find their way out.
I am cycling solo 4,232 miles across the USA from Astoria, OR to Yorktown, VA raising money and awareness to help those affected by domestic abuse. After I started my ride, I found out about Tamron's campagin and would like to add my support by fundraising for her.
While this ride will be a rite of passage for me, a way to prove to myself that I have truly moved on, it is perhaps more important for other reasons. Because when bad things happen you have a choice. You can continue to be a victim, to remain bitter and angry and powerless. Or you can use what has happened to make things better, for yourself and others.
Abuse can happen to anyone, whatever their sex, race, class, age, intelligence or apparent strength. It happens to people we love. To our daughters, mothers, sisters, grandmothers, and in some cases to our men and boys. It happens to those who appear in every other aspect of their lives to be strong and confident, but who are too ashamed to admit the truth.
So I ask for your help to support and educate, and to remove the stigma.