The Price of Love: An Open Letter to Domestic Violence Survivors

Domestic abuse photo composition

Photocomposition by Thursday Review

The Price of Love: An Open Letter to
Domestic Violence Survivors

| published October 27, 2015 |

By Jennifer Walker-James,
Thursday Review features writer


In the time it takes me to write this article, an average of 1,200 women across America will be assaulted or beaten by their domestic partner. Within 24 hours, more than 200,000 calls will have been placed to domestic abuse hotlines. And by this time tomorrow, three women in the United States alone will be dead—murdered at the hands of their abusers. And the stats will be the same for the next day, and the next, and the next.

Domestic violence is many things; it's psychological manipulation. It involves isolation, control, verbal degradation, harassment, threatening or menacing behavior, stalking, and physical violence. Contrary to what Hollywood would have you believe, it doesn't always lead to a bruised cheek or a black eye. It doesn't always manifest in the most obvious forms. If that were the case, nobody would ever be a victim, right? Because a person would not knowingly get involved with someone who's going to abuse them.

October is a month of recognition for various admirable causes ranging from Breast Cancer Awareness to Stillbirth Awareness. It’s also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. What? You didn’t know? That’s not surprising since the topic of domestic abuse is often swept under the rug. After all, if you ignore the problem, it’ll go away—it’ll fix itself, right? Oh if only that were the truth! If there were no such thing as domestic violence, I’d be happily married and dancing a la Julie Andrews on a mountaintop somewhere in the Swiss Alps. And without medication.

But that’s not the case, however. Instead of marital bliss, I am divorced. And I am constantly looking over my shoulder, and jumping at every single thing that goes bump in the night. Even in my dreams, I can still see his face—that baleful look in his eyes every time he intended to do me harm. Everywhere I look, he’s there along with the lingering effects of what he did to me. And though I’m now free, I live in hyper-vigilance, praying I never have to face that kind of hell ever again. But I'll take my current existence any day over the torture he put me through.

Hello. I am a victim survivor of domestic violence. Because the factors surrounding my story are still pending, I can’t offer much in the way of details, nor can I let my story validate my status as an expert on the subject....yet! There is the issue of due process. But suffice it to say that I have faced the devil himself and lived to see the sun rise again. And it’s because of what I have endured that I find it necessary to spread awareness on this once-taboo subject in hopes that what I have to say will spare the life of another.

The best way I know how to do this without further endangering my own circumstances, is to write an open letter to victims of domestic abuse.

Dear Victim/Survivor,

First of all, repeat after me: I am loveable and my worth is immeasurable! Why do I say this? Because, it's the truth. You are a bottomless vessel of potential and beauty. The very second you forget that is the moment when you open the door for self-doubt and allow defeat to creep into your life. And the outcome of your circumstances depends largely on the choices you make—good and bad! You have to decide if you’re a victim or a survivor. No, you didn’t choose to be abused in the beginning, but over time, you did. I say that because the first time he hit you or called you derogatory names, you made excuses for him and you stayed. And you remained a victim because of it.

Second, if you’re a survivor, you’ll take steps toward, well… in getting out of the relationship where the abuse is taking place. It’s not love that keeps you there; it’s fear. And fear has no place in a relationship founded on true love. The longer you tolerate the presence of fear in your life, the more room it has to grow. And grow, it will!

Now, the first step toward surviving is taken when you realize that you can’t fix him. Did ya get that? Let me repeat it: You. Can’t. Fix. Him. No one can! You can’t love the violence out of him. You can’t save him. You can’t make it all better. Why not? Because, despite what he tells you, or leads you to think, the root of his problem has nothing to do with you. I repeat, the root of his problem has nothing to do with you! It’s psychological, it’s deep, and it may likely stem from his childhood. This may sound harsh, but I tend to lump domestic abusers with pedophiles in that respect. No amount of time served in a concrete box will ever be enough to cure them. Counseling won’t work, either. Why not? Well, because abusers never see their actions as wrong; they’re always justified in the way they treat you. To believe otherwise would rattle the very core of their self-perception and that is something no narcissistic sociopath can even begin to fathom. Oh, by the way, the vast majority of domestic abusers are clinically diagnosed as narcissistic sociopaths. How interesting that their complex would be akin to that of serial killers, yet the current penal sentencing structure offers more lenience to domestic abusers than those arrested for drug charges.

Your next step toward survival is to start healing. And healing starts when you accept the truth: he is wrong; you did not make him hit you, nor did you make him yell at you. His actions are purely the result of his own choices. Therefore, any consequences he faces for doing such are also his fault, not yours. Simply stated, it is not your fault. There is never a reason or an excuse to initiate a physical attack on someone, save for instances lawfully justifiable as self-defense.

Once healing begins, know that if you have children, you’re not the only one affected by the abuse. You’re not doing your children any favors by staying. If anything, you’re teaching them that it’s okay to stay in abusive relationships. You’re teaching them that it is acceptable behavior for a man to hit a woman or verbally put her down day in and day out. If you have sons, chances are greater that they’ll grow up to be abusive to their wives. And if you have daughters, they’ll wind up with an abusive husband. After all, you taught them to.

If anything, it’s that last paragraph that got me to question my own circumstances. All my life, I had been taught that divorce was a sin. So every time I was hurt, either physically or emotionally, I’d cry out to God asking Him why? Why did I have to stay? Why would it be a sin to live a life where I wasn’t torn down and made to question my own worth on a daily basis? Why would He want me to stay? For the longest time, I thought He was ignoring me until the day I looked up to see my daughter playing outside. She was completely oblivious to the hell I was living in. Thank God! But deep down, I knew I couldn’t keep it a secret from her for long—she’d eventually see the truth. And what would I do once she realized how I was being treated? And how would I feel if I ever saw the same being done to her? I couldn’t very well ask her to get out of the relationship if I wasn’t willing to do the same! The more I thought about it, the more peace I felt at the prospect of leaving.

Now, to any Christians reading this and shaking their head disapprovingly at my implication that God’s will is for anyone to get a divorce, I say this: Yes, God hates divorce, but guess what else He hates? He hates sin. Period! He hates seeing his children suffer at the hands of it. He hates pride and selfishness. He hates it when men fail to love their wives as Christ loved the church. And I am pretty sure He hates it when we don’t work out our own salvation without condemning one another.

I started writing this letter at 2:26pm CST. It is now 3:27pm CST. Precisely one hour. Since I began typing, an estimated 1,220 women have been assaulted or beaten, with twenty victims being claimed every minute. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Help and healing are available. It’s up to you, though. One in every four women reading this will likely have been a victim at some point in their lives. Whether or not they became a survivor was up to them. The same applies to you.

Domestic abusers only have as much power as we, their intended victims, allow them to have in our lives and in our children’s lives. So what’s it going to be? Are you ready to take a stand? Will you get out and get help? Tell a friend? If not for yourself, do it for your children. They at least deserve that much from you. It’s the best decision you’ll ever make. Trust me.

With that being said, I’ll end with this quote:

“Too many ‘Ifs’…

Too many ‘When’s’…

Too many ‘Sorry’s’

And ‘Never agains’

Too many lies

Far too many ‘One more tries’

How many were there, before I knew

That actions speak louder than ‘promises’ do?”


A Survivor

PS- If you or someone you know is suffering domestic abuse, please call 1-888-501-8182.