From shame to sharing: Recreating myself after violence

  • May 13, 2016
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1 Year 10 months ago, I experienced first-hand the trauma a violent relationship can cause. I kept the abuse, initially manifesting as malicious words and demeaning slurs but gradually progressing to verbal and physical abuse, a secret from my family and friends. When my partner and in-laws promised they would change, I wanted to believe they would, I was horribly wrong!! The sweet memory of the relationship lasted for about 4 months and finally became particularly violent. The videos from that warning, when viewed by any person would send shivers down to their back seeing a HUSBAND and his parents being a victim of Physical Violent and Verbal Abuse at the hands of wife, in-laws and her relatives: In retrospect, I realized I was fortunate to have even survived the whole ordeal. Whereas I no longer experienced immediate threat as she has left me approximately 10 months back with my son, the atrocious time period left me forever changed and the memory of the traumas endured never quite seems to fade. The experience sent me on a long journey into forging meaning and building identity through my experience. Initially, I thought my story was an exception, but soon became acutely aware of the painful prevalence of domestic violence across culture, time and space. I learned about the grim statistics, as well as the social structures and systems that perpetuate and give rise to it. I also learned there was a reason, weaved deep into the social dynamics fueled by victim blaming and shaming, which I somehow subconsciously sensed, why I initially kept my abuse a secret. As a result of discovering the world of violent trauma previously hidden from me, I became curious about questions pertaining to human ability to endure significant stress and persevere through extreme adversity. Who survives, how and why? What can we learn from those who have managed to transform their personal barriers into frontiers? I also wanted to understand the social systems that enforce the deadening silence around domestic violence towards males (too often literally).

Speaking about the violence I endured, the struggle of forgiving myself for not somehow supernaturally seeing it coming and the intermittent moments of depression that still come and go, was once the most courageous thing I had ever done.

Not anymore.

The moment I spoke about my abuse the spell broke (I would lie if I said it wasn’t hard to break it. It still is on some levels). Over time, I transformed into an outspoken non-violence and anti-domestic violence advocate for men’s rights. Now the violence I once experienced has become but one story among the many that are part of the accumulated narratives that comprise my life. However, many who have endured or still are suffering abuse are not so fortunate. One of the reasons why violence perpetuates in our communities is through the silence that surrounds it, and because of the shame that the society imposes on the victim (it really doesn’t make any sense, and we must work together to change the culture). This is also one of the reasons why I chose to share my story, and will keep doing so as long as there is a need for it. In the years to come, I hope to see male survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence gain access to similar levels of social acceptance, emotional support and empathetic understanding as experienced by survivors of other adversities. My greatest wish is for a massive decrease in the prevalence of abuse of any kind towards men and their families, and to witness the birth of an increasingly compassionate world, where humanity is freed from the binds of psychological harm to be able focus on making the most of our precious lifetime on earth. I, am on a mission to break the silence around topics that are often deemed too shameful to be discussed (e.g. depression, family abuse, and interpersonal violence).

Culture influences our narratives in a grand way and implies (through clues that are more or less subtle) what kind of topics are welcome in the public arena of collective discourse. That way, it may also enforce silence and secrecy around certain experiences, and therefore, devaluing stories that do not align with its arbitrary set rules. I use the word ‘arbitrary’ because culture is not something that magically descends from Mont Vesuvius, but is human-made. We create and sustain it through our daily actions. This means, that through sustained effort, we can also seek to change it, update it and ultimately, embrace a new kind of a world <3

Thank you so much for reading. There is hope. There is healing