I’m Speaking Out about Domestic Violence on November 18th 2011. Speak Out is a collaboration between BlogCatalog and Wanderlust and is an international Domestic Violence awareness campaign and fundraiser. My post will not make pleasant reading and may be triggering for those of you who have suffered traumatic events. SPEAK OUT!
Eight and a half years ago my Daughter Number One, my fourteen year old, beautiful girl, left with my husband of almost ten years, her stepfather, to go to the movies to see The Matrix Reloaded. She was wearing jeans with a black stretchy skirt over them, and a fleecy blue jacket with New York in red across the front. Her hair was dyed a purple/maroon colour. On her wrist she wore a silver love knot bracelet with the loop in the shape of a heart. She attended a selective performing arts highschool, and was also gifted academically topping her year in Italian the year before. She was an amazing big sister, and she gave the best hugs. Her bedroom was full of Winnie the Pooh stuff.
On that night, eight and a half years ago, my daughter was repeatedly raped and then murdered by her stepfather, my husband of almost ten years, in a murder suicide. On the night they died I found out that when he was around thirteen or fourteen he had been forced at knifepoint to have intercourse with his mother, by her extremely violent de facto partner. I had not known about the sexual abuse. What I had known about was that he and his mother had been subjected to years of physical violence, as well as the associated psychological and emotional abuse, at the hands of his mother’s partner. Violence that as a child saw him beaten with vacuum cleaner pipes and cricket bats amongst other things.
I say none of this to excuse his actions. He made his choices. What I know though, is that his mother decided it best to keep their abuse a secret, and not speak of it, and his sexual abuse he took with him to his grave. What I also know is that my Daughter had been touched inappropriately during her earlier childhood and that she, whether she was threatened or misguidedly wanted to protect her family, kept her secret. Secrets and silence protect no one. Secrets and silence hurt many.
Secrets and silence mean one day stepping through the looking-glass, which splinters into a million itty bitty shards that pierce your skin and become embedded there. It means life as you knew it is over and everything you thought was real, including who you thought you were, is gone. It means you walk into your sons bedroom one morning to tell them that their Sister and their Daddy will not be coming home. That you have reporters on your doorstep, asking for photographs, and telling you to be glad they weren’t printing all they’d heard about the case (the things they just alluded to) when you refuse to feed their frenzy. It’s having the ballet school your Daughter had attended six years previously take it upon themselves to release a photo of her, and make a statement, because any publicity is good publicity, right?
It means liaising with your Daughters thirteen and fourteen year old friends to organise her funeral. It means not being able to view her body or dress her in a favourite outfit, because they hit a rock face at high-speed on the freeway and the car was incinerated; the love knot bracelet melted into her flesh. It means decorating a coffin in glitter and Winnie the Pooh stickers because it is the very least, and the very most, that you can do. It means dressing your sons in the Spider Man and court jester outfits they elect to wear to the celebration of their adored big Sister’s life, and looking out over the sea of her friends dressed in all colours of the rainbow, as they are forced prematurely and brutally to confront their own mortality. It is hearing her friends speak, so eloquently and with such love, of the person my Daughter was.
It is knowing every year, as your eldest Son celebrates his birthday, that ten days later is the anniversary of your Daughter’s death. Knowing that eight and a half years ago she was by your side helping you decorate a Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cake, and then she was gone. Gone forever. Gone for always. It is being glad that the Harry Potter series came to an end because you used to read those books together and every book released after she was gone was like a physical blow. Things that were the source of much joy now cause such pain. Christmases – oh I used to be a Christmas freak! Watching her friends finish school, get jobs, get married, have babies. Watching her siblings grow older than their elder Sister ever did.
The sheer waste of it. The absolute and complete waste of it. This beautiful, talented, intelligent, compassionate girl. Gone forever. Gone for always. That is such a very long time, when her story had just begun.
So, I will stand. And not in silence. I will speak, because she can’t. And I ask you too, to speak. Speak Out for those who cannot speak for themselves. Speak Out for yourself, because you can. SPEAK. Please.