October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is the time to honor victims and increase awareness of the impact in our community. My name is Lindsey, and over the next four weeks, I will be sharing my lived story. Before you continue reading, please be aware that what follows may be triggering for some. I am sharing my story to demonstrate resilience and bring hope to those still impacted. I am able to lead a full, happy life, but my account could have changed at any moment, as it has for the hundreds of persons killed through family and intimate partner violence this year.
This is the second piece in a four-part series, read the first piece.
Early age trauma disrupts the brain’s development and impairs executive functioning. The general public understands child abuse as terrible, yet 1 in every seven children has experienced abuse or neglect within the past year. I, too, am a survivor of child abuse.
Domestic violence was always normal because the abuse I endured as a child created an unhealthy attachment to the trauma cycle. While my father never hit me, looking back on what I suffered as a child, it breaks my heart now, especially as a mother.
Presently, I experience dissociation from many of the experiences I endured. Dissociation caused many memories to become colors and strange associations to mask what was happening in the room around me. In this space, I had no bed, I had no room, I had no cleanliness, I had no escape. The only way I could soothe myself was by running my finger down the crumpled lines of a vintage sofa.
As I slept on this floor, I would hear loud arguments, sexual assault, and glass shattering during conflicts between my father and his partner. Blood stained the bathroom walls from the number of times she had to clean up her face after the abuse. We lived in a small apartment complex across the street from Ramona High School. I remember wondering how all these people could hear this happening, yet it seemed like no one could make it stop. The police often came, but things only got worse after those visits. Eventually, they stopped coming at all.
The trauma I experienced was so deeply rooted in me that it took years of unhealthy coping mechanisms throughout my teens and early adulthood to finally recognize the pattern established at an early age. These patterns and harmful coping mechanisms lead many others to dangerous, risk-taking behaviors such as drug addiction to alleviate the distressing emotions.
With years of intentionality and awareness of my symptoms and cycles, I can now show up and be the best mother I can be for my children. Looking at their beautiful faces reminds me why emotional healing is so important.
The Riverside Area Rape Crisis Center (RARCC) served two hundred thirty-three children last year. Child abuse awareness programs, like RARCC’s, provide education and increased preventative measures, creating strong public systems to protect our children.
If you or anyone you know needs help, call their 24-hour hotline at (951) 686 – RAPE (7273).