After you get attacked, you want to pack everything you care about into a van, move across the country, and never talk to anyone again.
My attacker had spent a long time telling me everything was my fault. So, there was a small voice in my head saying, “Maybe this is my fault. Maybe everyone thinks I deserve this.” And I didn’t want to face anyone with my broken nose in plaster and stitched.
I wasn’t going to tell anyone who didn’t hold me in the ER. And I ran on fumes, unable to return to my house for a couple of days. It was as broken as I was. Desecrated. My son’s birthday was four days later, and I wrapped all of his gifts in rainbows I didn’t feel, curled ribbons mocking my bruised face. And we opened them at Starbucks and spent all day out, living an unspoken pact to pretend the day was beautiful, and we were normal.
I tried posting my pictures of the day to Facebook, absent selfies with my boy. But I was angry. All of these people couldn’t see I fought like hell to make it through that day.
Then, I had an epiphany. No one can help you if you don’t tell them you have a problem.
I was so scared of people hurting me again that I was assuming my whole community would attack me. So, I posted the birthday pictures. And then I posted the truth in all of its ugliness for all four hundred or so of my Facebook friends to see.
And a remarkable thing happened–no one attacked me; in fact, my community gathered around me and didn’t leave me alone with my fear, panic, and whirlwind of decisions.
If I could only tell a person who’s just begun the long road to recovering from domestic violence one thing, it would be: Tell everyone you know what happened to you. Some of them might not care. Some of them might help you for the wrong reasons. And some of them might bring you back from the brink.