A love letter to my abuser

Today I was a bitch,

I was stupid.

A waste of space.

An idiot,

Bad.

A witch,

Horrible.

Insane.

Fat.

Ugly

I was a bad mother.

You combined some of them to call me a fucking stupid bitch. Idiot.

That you are going to have my children taken off me. Incapable insane whore.

You are so clever, your mind is sharper than mine after all the hours of broken sleep and breastfeeding your children.

After I  juggle jobs and childcare. You are cleverer than me.

After I clothe your children and kiss their boo boo you are cleverer than me.

After I get up early, again, a second job to pay the bills. You are cleverer than me.

After I wait in queues and fight for assistance.. You are cleverer than me.

After I parent for 24/7 when you refuse to come pick them up for weeks, you are cleverer than me.

You have used the courts as a new weapon and your words as a control. You are cleverer than me.

You’ve silenced me,  and I’m tired.

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So this is my Love letter to you, my abuser.

The only name I can call you.

Because these days that you back me into the corner and pummel me with words and hit me with insults and try and cut me to the core with your barbs until I just don’t think I can go on any further,  these days when I have no tears left so that I wish you would go back to just abusing me with your hands instead of your words because at least then you stopped, these are the days that I howl into the night and cry out to my sisters in whispered message boards and I am remembered…

That I am a deeply  loved and loving mother.

That I am a smart, valued, wise, and kind,

That I AM good,

That I’m sane, healthy,

A beautiful woman.  

I am a wonderwoman.

And it might just be enough…

From the writer – wonderwoman

I have written this after a day of unrelenting insults and disgusting words that have got me so down. So low. After weeks of failing to pick up his children and childcare arrangements and beginning of year school costs and all those stresses that get the average functioning family down.

But these men; that hold esteemed positions in our community, that you know, that you admire. They use their brains and their contacts, their resources of courts and systems and privilege as their new weapons. The other men around them continue to hold them up to, even if they know. They use the fact that they are “too important “ for anyone to criticise.

This man learnt instantly he was not allowed to put me in hospital, I gave him no second chances yet he still put me there more than once, and finally the police agreed it was enough so now he does it in other ways.

Yet sometimes when I am especially low and fragile I wish for that over this, because at least then it is short sharp and over (I apologise to other women that have suffered ongoing physical violence that would of course disagree). But for me, and so many others this is torture. Emotional, verbal abuse and threats that just keep coming, The NZ courts system can or will do nothing, and they often add another layer by silencing or imposing a gag order so the abuser can legally and freely continue to abuse with the permission of the courts.  

It is a life time sentence.

Somedays I feel strong and I want to shout it from the rooftops but I am not allowed. I am silenced. Somedays it is all too much and I really don’t think i can make it through.

Today I am tired of it all.

Meeting A*

Sometimes,  in this job, you meet someone very special. Someone you know you will likely have in your life for some time. Someone who deeply touches, and moves you with their honesty. Today was one such day. Let me tell you why.

Yesterday, when I went to the refuge, K told me about A* and a little about her situation because she wanted to know if The Aunties could help getting A* some furniture. So I talked to the Board, and we decided to try and raise $3000 so that A* could have what she needs, and not have strangers delivering their second hand furniture to her. Because that’s normally what happens – if someone offers furniture, I put them in touch with the woman who needs it, and they coordinate delivery themselves. But not in this case. A* has newly left an intensely dangerous situation, and would prefer that strangers not come to her house.

And then today, K asked me if we could organise A*’s drivers licence for her, and sent me A*’s phone number. I rang A* after a long day, and we talked. And talked and talked and talked. She has what I call shut in syndrome – something that is particularly noticeable in women who are naturally bubbly, but have had to shut their mouths for a long long time.  In the course of our phone call, it transpires that she’s been waiting all day for delivery of a washing machine, and fridge. Her children, two older, are there to run interference. They’ve been waiting since 8am, and they’re still waiting at 7pm. She doesn’t want to leave the house without them so they’ve had no food all day. Horrified, I offer to bring her some food. And she cries. “Come and see me!”. She lives not very far away, and so I do. I pack a bag with food for her and the kids, just enough for a snack, and I drive down the road.

She greets me with a huge hug, and lots of laughter. She introduces me to her kids, her niece. She and they and I, we laugh. She talks more about her story. She wants to tell YOU her story. She wants to tell you her name. Because, she says, she wants him to know she is not defeated. And primarily, she wants other women to know it’s not too late to leave, it’s never too late to leave. She doesn’t quite believe it when I tell her that you will all believe her. That whatever she says, you will know it’s true. Because nobody has ever believed what he did to her, nobody has ever heard her voice. And she wants, most emphatically, her voice to be heard. She has agency in her own life.

So one day, in the near future, I will take my laptop to her house, and she and I will sit down and she will tell me everything she wants you to know. If you are still living with domestic violence, if you’ve left that years ago, or whether you have never known what it’s like, she wants you to hear. She wants you to see her. “These will be my words, Jackie, but you must write them for me.”

And so, I will. And you will hear her. She deserves to be heard. We owe her that.

Aunty *A – a love letter

I want to tell you about Aunty *A. They are a person I love very much, and they are going on a big adventure very soon, so this is my way of paying tribute to them.

Aunty *A came into my life a few years ago. They mean the world to me, because at a time when I lost my way, they were there, and they have helped me to be the very best me I can be, and they keep me centred in a way nobody else has ever been able to.

Aunty *A  is an integral part of The Aunties, has advised me, warned me, counselled me, and moderated me all the way to here. They have heart, compassion and wisdom. They have calm, and tranquillity, and thoughtfulness. Sometimes their calm is maddening, but I always listen.

Aunty *A is a finer human being than most human beings I have met, and it is because of them that I stand tall, sure in my knowledge and heart.

Aunty *A and I know what it is to live with domestic violence. And both Aunty *A and I have struggled back from that brink. We know what this is. We see each other. We feel each other. We hear each other. We love each other.

I love you Aunty *A.

Forever and always.

On the road – guest post by M

At the end of 2013, I met M at the refuge Xmas party. She was a beautiful woman, and Kris was keen for me to talk to her. She had left the refuge by then and had enrolled in a social work degree. We talked about her time at the refuge, and her hopes for the future. As she left, she said to me: I’ll see you again.  I wasn’t sure that I would but sure enough, last year, she was employed part time by the refuge and so every Monday she and I catch up, and we are fast becoming friends.

She has a great facility with words, and she told me the other day that not only had she kept a journal through the years of her relationship and her time in the refuge, but that she’d also been writing a play. She said she started writing it the moment she left the refuge, and after she finishes her studies this year, she’s going to go back to it and keep writing.

Many of the Aunties have met M – in fact she came to speak at our first big Aunties meeting in May this year – and I know they took her to their hearts. I have offered her this blog so she can, as she puts it, start “a new part of this expressive journey.”

NB Te Whare Marama means The Lighthouse, or house of light, and this is the way she speaks of it.

ON THE ROAD…. revisited.
2012, a lady came to see me about coming into a women’s refuge, immediately I went into denial and told myself, ‘no I don’t need it’ … ‘I don’t have any black eyes’… ‘he ONLY punched me once’… and politely said I’d think about it. After moving into a situation that forced my little family of four to sleep on a mattress that measured 2 metres wide and 3 metres in length cushioned with blankets, I agreed, NOT BECAUSE I THOUGHT I WAS EXPERIENCING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE… but for a real bed. This was the beginning of my learning journey …ON THE ROAD… ki te ao mārama (to the world of light) and the name of my Journal.
Anyway, it is now 2016 and that day changed my life. That day I made one of the best decisions of my life. I chose LIFE, I CHOOSE TO LIVE!
…. on the road x