Why I Speak Out - A Guest Post By Stephanie March
Speaking out about your story, the good and the bad, is definitely not for everyone. People are afraid of judgement, being attacked, and losing all sense of privacy. And with good reason. What began as a blog about the mundane and funny aspects of my life soon morphed into something very different as I left an abusive relationship.
I began to share what I was going through and what I had experienced in the past. Writing it down was cathartic but sharing it with others that understood was life changing. To receive the kind of feedback I receive is something I never expected but am grateful for with every article I write. It encourages me to share more and helps reduce my own feelings of shame and stigma about issues I’m facing.
And as those feelings of shame and stigma began to fade into soft whispers in the background, I kept going. I began to share about other issues that breed in silence beyond the topic of domestic abuse. I began writing for other, larger sites with bigger audiences. I still get nervous or anxious at the publication of certain articles but the inspiration I get from the readers is worth every ounce. Sharing gives me the strength to overcome and conquer my past and my present.
I have faced angry people when writing and I have written articles that I later wasn’t proud of. I deleted them and moved on. I forgave myself for being an emotional human being that felt things no human should have to feel and coped in the only way I knew how. I was angry, I was hurt, and I was grieving. I lashed out and the backlash wasn’t pretty.
Speaking out in general opens up the possibility of offending angry strangers and distancing loved ones. It is a risk. But I have always been inspired by those that take risks, those that dare to dream the world can be a better place. So dream I did and continue to do. It is this hope for the future that helped me pull through the dark days I spent living in safe houses for women and children survivors of domestic violence.
Many people end up in shelters when they leave violent relationships, like I did. According to this article published by Bradley University Professor Kelly Schwend the homeless are often homeless because of “mental health issues, addiction, physical health issues, and domestic violence”. They are often “single adults with a variety of complex medical, mental health and addiction issues”. After being suddenly among them it has become one of the issues I openly write about in hopes that it will educate and bring awareness to the cause… and perhaps a bit more kindness.
And so I write. About mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. About being homeless. About surviving abuse from childhood to adulthood. I share my story and hope that someone out there finds it when they need it the most. I close out the fear of retribution or backlash and silence it just as society silences all survivors and people that suffer. I close it out, open up, and let the light in. My greatest wish is that it lets a little light in for you along the way.
One of my favorite characters is Will Smith’s portrayal of Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness. He goes from poor, to homeless, to successful and it is based on a true story. The story itself and the writing are simply beautiful. It gave me hope that I too could bounce back and possibly inspire others along the way.
“The future was uncertain, absolutely, and there were many hurdles, twists, and turns to come, but as long as I kept moving forward, one foot in front of the other, the voices of fear and shame, the messages from those who wanted me to believe that I wasn’t good enough, would be stilled.” - Chris Gardner, The Pursuit of Happyness
Stephanie is a writer, survivor, and advocate. You can find her on Twitter.