Yesterday, once again, it was quiet in the home where I live.
Quiet, except for the happy shrieks of children; the busy whirlwind of kids getting ready for their first day of school; the endless singing by my youngest; and the clatter made preparing a supper that would take way too long to cook.
By Ingrid Falaise |File Domestic Violence
Yesterday, before my public coming out, the silence at my home was too heavy to bear… all alone with the secret that ate away at my very soul.
When I broke that silence, I shouted my truth through your radios, your TVs, your newspapers, your favorite magazines. And I healed… just a bit. When I wrote my book Le Monstre, I lifted a weight off my shoulders. I turned my eyes upward and looked towards the light. I became a beacon for others who can’t bring themselves to believe that there is a sun in the sky after all. I can never repeat this enough: The first step towards healing is to break the silence and tell your story. Tell a friend, a relative, a loved one, a colleague.
My story… That of violent love… Why did I wait? Why did I remain mute in my torment for so long? Because deep down inside there was denial, fear, shame, and blame.
Denial shuts down that little voice inside you, the one that says that’s enough, that tells you to make a choice. Listening to it is terrifying. Listening to it means facing up to a sickening, unpleasant truth. A truth so painful that it’s easier to turn your back on it. Frozen emotions are far simpler to live with. But trusting in your inner voice can mean… survival.
Fear of not being believed, of looking like the village idiot. Fear of your head hitting the dresser when your abuser finds out – or if you just hold a smile too long at dinner with friends. Fear of never again seeing your children. Fear that he might kill a member of your family. That’s what he says, anyway. He yaps loud, doesn’t he? Fear is his magic wand. By spreading fear, he saws off your legs. He keeps you under his thumb.
Shame caused by being assaulted by harsh words, or by closed fists. Shame at having bruises up and down your arms. Shame at having his insults etched across your psyche, chipping away at your self-esteem – which was almost zero to begin with. Shame at not having fled for the umpteenth time. Shame that compels your head to bow, your eyes to focus on the floor.
Blame that turns inward. You blame yourself. Day after day, month after month, you are weakened by self-guilt, for not having done enough. Little by little you convince yourself that you deserve all the harsh words, the insults, the violence… You’ve been brainwashed.
And yet… He’s the one who should hide in the gutter, hold his head in shame. He’s the one who should be afraid of reprisals.
Talking about it is the first step in your journey to a world without violence.
There are plenty of organizations out there ready to help you. Women’s shelters are there to welcome you warmly. Don’t buy the stereotypes about these places. I’ve been there: I can assure you, it’s not what you think.
Securely, safely, confidentially, you can pick up the phone and call a helpline, like SOS Violence conjugal. Even if these very words scare you. Even if you’re not visibly bruised on that day… The phone lines are open 24/7.
Denial, fear, shame and blame should never be enough to make you hold your tongue. Break the silence, and stop the violence.
SOS Violence Conjugal
To get help: 1-800-363-9010 24/7
firstname.lastname@example.org (a reply may take up to 2 days)