Abuse thrives only in silence. You have the power to end domestic violence simply by shining a spotlight on it. – Leslie Steiner
I’ve thought a lot about what I wanted to say in honor of this month. Whether I wanted to spend time writing out stats and defining abuse, whether I wanted to talk to those supporting survivors, or to speak directly to survivors themselves.
There are plenty of websites that will define abuse and provide detailed information on how to identify domestic violence, resources for it, and what to do if you think someone you love is being abused. So rather than add to the list of already available resources (which I’ll include below)—I want to talk directly to survivors.
I want to say that this abuse is not your fault. I want you to know that you are worthy; and you are not crazy. That yes, you can still love your abuser and know the way you are being treated is wrong. That the positive portions of the relationship do hold value—and that they also do not excuse the abuse.
I’ve worked hundreds of hours with abuse survivors in all stages of their relationships. What I have said to them and what I want to say to you is that you deserve more. Just because they “only” abuse when. . . doesn’t excuse it when it happens. A 1 of 10 on the abuse scale is still so much worse than what you deserve. You deserve to not be abused at all.
I know you want it to be possible for you to be “good” enough to make the abuse stop. I know that you tell yourself, “if I just. . . then they won’t.” And yet—nothing you can do will justify the abuse or change the behaviors of another person. Your behaviors are all that is in your control. You are not responsible for the way someone else treats you.
I want to say that I don’t blame you for staying. That I understand that staying is sometimes the safest option for yourself and your children. I am with you and hear you as you do and say what you need to do in order to best protect yourself. No one but you can decide what that “best” thing is.
Your safety and your empowerment are my number one priority. There are resources available if you want them—some even for free. We can create a safety plan no matter what your relationship looks like. You are not alone.
Even if they have never physically harmed you, you can still say that you are experiencing abuse. Even if they have never raised their voice at you. Even if they have never called you a nasty name. If you feel like you no longer have control over your own life, what you wear, how you spend your money, who you talk too—that is the essence of abuse. That alone counts and is enough.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
I asked my community what they would say to a survivor of abuse if they could say anything. I want to share those responses with you:
- “You were not seeking attention. You were seeking help.”
- “It is not your fault.”
- “You are not powerless. This doesn’t have to be forever.”
- “You are worthy. You don’t deserve this and you are allowed to walk away. Abuse is abuse and it doesn’t have to be physical for it to be painful so never doubt yourself.”
- “You can break the cycle. It doesn’t have to be this way for generations to come. You don’t have to grow up and have that kind of relationship yourself.”
- “I believe you. It is not your fault.”
- “Help is available for no cost. There are Domestic Violence Crisis centers available to you.”
- “The abuse does not define you.”
- “There is hope. You are not alone.”
- “You survived. That was your only job.”
- “You are brave. You are worthy.”
If you are questioning whether or not what you are experiencing is abuse, I encourage you to contact a professional who has been trained to talk about it. If you want help, there are resources.
If you reside in the state of Oklahoma, you can receive free counseling, advocacy, and shelter services at:
For more domestic violence awareness and information:
Victoria James is licensed professional counselor candidate in the state of Oklahoma. She is currently a practitioner at Family Solutions Counseling in the OKC Metro area where she works with individuals and couples struggling with sexual-related matters, trauma, and domestic violence.