Wednesday 31st May, 2023
Imagine the strength it must take to smile at your torturer, to step outside your front door and go about your day like everything is fine when it is not.
Imagine how brave you must be, to go back to the place where you know you will be hurt, really hurt, but do it anyway, because you know you have to.
Imagine the intelligence, thought and strength required to learn what to say, what not to say, how to breathe, how to move, even when to blink, to stay alive in one of the most life threatening situations you can face.
Imagine how sharp your wits have to be, to be on your guard 24/7, to always be able to reach for an excuse, a reason, a believable lie, no matter who asks and when. To live a dual life, to be who you need to be when you need to be them, and to switch it on like a lightbulb.
Imagine the power within a person, emotionally and physically exhausted, who gets up day after day after painful day to make sure her children are safe, and fed, and clothed. Who does her best to be mum when being constantly undermined and and sabotaged. Yet continues to give her best, never giving up, never giving in, tears held back, arms open wide.
Imagine what it takes to pretend you’re enjoying the sex you are forced to give for fear of your life, or to maintain your sense of self when everyday you’re told you are repulsive.
Imagine the strength of character of a person continuously maligned, insulted and degraded, who still holds her head high and continues to live, even when she wants to die.
What must it take when you fear for your life, I mean genuinely fear that you are going to be killed, to decide to defy, to decide to say “no! Enough”
What must it take when all your resources have been drained, when you have no strength, no power, no friends to call, no money, no control and no confidence, when you no longer even know who you are, to make a plan, to pack a bag, to make a phone call, to gather your kids as quickly and quietly as you can, and run, knowing this could get you all killed.
How patient must you be when you have to explain over and over and over again, when you’re asked “why didn’t you leave sooner?” and “did he actually hit you though?” when you continue to try to get through to those who just don’t get it.
How strong do you have to be to face the judgement, the “I don’t believe you”s and the “but he’s so lovely”’s and the “well you don’t look like a victim”
How tough must it be when you’re right at rock bottom and everyone thinks it must be okay now because you’ve left, everyone thinks you must be happy, but you grieve for the dreams and the hopes that you thought would come to pass as you accept now that they never will.
How brave must you be to start again, from scratch with nothing, no money, no home, nothing.
How brave to choose to relive the trauma in order to see justice done
How brave to do all the things you’re scared of, to choose to recover, to grow, to overcome, even though you feel small and weak and alone.
Never assume a victim or survivor is weak. They are far from it. They are the bravest, cleverest, most intuitive and strongest people alive.
They are badass!