Dirty Laundry - #WhenIBecameFree

I absolutely hate the term "Dirty Laundry."

"Don't air your dirty laundry."

"We don't air our dirty laundry."

That is basically telling someone to keep carrying shame, in silence.
That should the dark secret get out they would be seared with a Scarlet Letter.

It is the very same thing, tactic, abusers use to keep control over their victims. It is what keeps victims in a cyclone of self doubt, and self hate.

It is why so many generations before us never spoke about child sexual abuse, rape, or domestic violence. It is one of the "whys" victims stay in abusive relationships - It is one of the "whys" there is a higher than average suicide rate for those who have been abused - Carrying that shame, all that dirty laundry, can be the reason some choose drugs or alcohol to numb their pain.

The last time someone told me that my life experience was "dirty laundry" was in 2007 and just after that final assault from my now ex-husband.  I, at the time, was on a surge of self empowerment, and that came with the assistance of sexual assault advocate.

She was a woman who flew into my life as quickly as she left it. That short time she worked with me she expressed to me how my story, especially how I reacted that day of that last assault, was a display of courage and one that could help others.

I had all the evidence I needed to prove what happened - something most victims do not have unless they are literally left shattered with bruises and broken bones. I had an hour long audio file of that last attack.

My advocate told me that a story like that would be empowering to many, one that would show others exactly what domestic violence can sound like - she wanted me to share it with the world, my story.

It took some sleepless nights of deep reflection before I found the strength to say yes, but I did. Considering I was a reporter I had an in that most do not have - so, with the support of my advocate I approached my then superior. I explained that I was willing for the story to be told. All the reasons why my ex was facing (3) counts of 2nd Degree Sexual Assault, (2) counts of Causing Mental Harm to a Child, (1) county of Battery and then the bail jumping charges. I was willing as a victim of sexual assault and domestic violence to let my name be public - and that I wanted to do so to empower other victims.

"We don't air our own dirty laundry," was their response. "No one needs to know." 

Words that were like a punch to my stomach embedding that dreadful shame back deep within -
I recoiled, drove home as tears flowed. Shame took hold.

I was returning home to my children who had been dealing with bullying from other kids who thought they knew our story via their parents' small town talk.

I was returning home to the very place that last attack happened - every room, and every turn around every corner reminded me of it - walking through those doors with "dirty laundry"  weighing heavy on my soul as I collapsed on the bed where that last assault occurred.

I felt like I was crawling back into a dungeon  - a dungeon that was dank, cold, and oh so very isolating.

Just writing about that experience brings back those feelings, feelings that I never wanted to ever experience again.

"Dirty Laundry" - Yes, I hate that term.

Thankfully, I had a couple of friends I could talk with during those long sleepless nights. Their continued support and concern over my well being kept me going and some hope alive that all of this...my story...was for a reason. It was during one of those chats one of them suggested I write a blog. Back then I didn't even really know what a blog was so at the time the comment went in and flew out but during the trek it did leave a remnant in the back of my consciousness.

It would take one more incident of others displaying ignorance before I did what I needed to do...get mad. I had to get angry at and about how victims/survivors were mistreated and talked about - how society was blind to what they do and how those blind actions actually help feed the cycle of abuse, keeping the abused in a frozen state while their soul gets battered about.

That is when I remembered when I was an advocate for students in special education and what I used to tell parents of children with special needs when they hated the word "disabilities."  I told them to reclaim it and own it so that no one else can ever use it against them and their child. Take it and show that a negative can be a positive - once you do that, no one can ever take it away from you and they can no longer claim ignorance in what they may say or do.

I then took back my story - all of that dirty laundry I hated carrying about and displayed it for all to see. It was the best decision of my life as it allowed me to clear my conscious, letting go of laundry that was never mine to carry, placing me on the path towards healing - it was the start of my personal journey..#WhenIBecameFree.   Join me in telling our stories and ridding society of their fears of Dirty Laundry! Email me at Chewedupspatout@gmail.com


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