DVAM Code-Purple: Day Eight

What he did not take from me
Through violence,
He took from me through shame,
mental punishment,
And by stripping me
Into a peerless, hollow reflection
Of my once beautiful self.
He ripped my clothes,
And forced me to call my father
To proclaim myself a whore.
A friend once paced outside my room for hours,
And he threatened to break down the door…
But he never did.
NOBODY ever did.
He proclaimed my enemies
Were the friends whom I held close,
So he plucked them,
Like feathers from my back,
Until my wings could not catch the wind,
And I could no longer see beyond the fences
That were built to cage me in.
We eloped,
Therefore no one could speak out in protest.
I carried our child for nine months,
Whispering love and sonnets
Into his unborn ears,
But he failed us both
Long before our son was even born.
I was threatened
That he would take our child,
Though no love had been spared
Nor one liberty removed.
I was to be deemed unfit,
I was to forget
And to be forgotten
For his carnal need to control
And his requirement that I submit
To a life of silent servitude.
I have been tripped, choked, and slapped.
I have been raped, degraded, and denied intimacy.
I have been belittled, objectified, and isolated.
I have been stolen from.
I have been diminished.
I have been unearthed entirely.
All by the man who vowed
To love, honor, and obey.
DO NOT ask me then, why I stayed.
Instead, explain to me why
YOU didn’t help me go.

©2012 Jessica Stephenson All Rights Reserved

(Finally complete, with about a half an hour to spare!  This took a lot out of me, but so far has represented my usual work most accurately.  I came out of a six month dry spell to work on this project, but I feel my strength in the written word returning.)

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About inpotentia

Hold Fast.
This entry was posted in Domestic Violence, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to DVAM Code-Purple: Day Eight

  1. Feminist Rag says:

    excellent poem, so heartbreaking. Love the last 3 lines!

    Like

    • inpotentia says:

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting on my writing. I went into this as a simple act of dedication to the cause, and as an attempt to bring light to the much overshadowed topic that most people continue to look past with general disregard. Are we really that numb to it, people? Grrrr. Anyway, here I am just shy of the halfway mark, and the topic has been staring me in the face. I can’t run from it, and I especially can’t control the catharsis once the floodgates have opened. This is quickly becoming about healing. No matter how much I thought I had healed from the distance and the passage of time, the DV counseling, the occasional angry poem or journal entries and worksheets assigned in therapy, it is still thick in me, and no matter how hard I wash myself, literally or figuratively, I just cannot seem to get clean. And I can no longer fool myself into thinking that I can write about this topic objectively. It was a slow, uninspiring start this month because I did my best to do exactly that, which is entirely not me. Thank you so much for your continuing support. This is personal, I am a survivor, and I will someday be out there helping other survivors make sense of this senseless phenomena.

      Like

  2. Feminist Rag says:

    It is my pleasure to support this important work of yours, thank you for your courage in sharing it with the world! I imagine that other DV survivors will find your blog helpful. From a readers’ perspective, I think the more personal the writing is, the more powerful it is, which is what draws me to blogs such as yours. You are so brave to have gotten out of it alive, and to write about it now. This kind of writing work seems like an important part of healing, though as some trauma survivors say, ‘healing’ is a catch phrase used in psych, and some hurts are just so deep that they can’t be totally healed, just time to distance oneself from the trauma, and more and more coping strategies developed. May I ask, how long were you in the r.ship, and how long has it been since you got out? Are you safe now? Is he in prison, or at least, far far away, with no way to find you?

    Like

    • inpotentia says:

      I met him at 17. We married when I was 23, and I gave birth to my wonderful son at 24. I spent nearly nine years dealing through this relationship, and even longer still, outside of it. We will have been divorced for three years this January, but I had a judge who was absolutely insufferable– he cancelled my emergency custody hearing, and used a money monopoly to force me into staying silent and filing joint custody with my abuser, as I could not afford a court ordered Guardian Ad Litem to represent the best interest of my son. It was then two years of watching and waiting, dealing with his abusive behavior which, even from a distance, is too much to bare. When my son was only three and a half years old, he took it out on my son. He came home to me bruised and mentally battered. Another year and a half has passed, and I finally have full custody, early on he was indicated by Child Services, he spent a total of one night in jail, he was given a paltry plea bargain in his criminal case, and he now has unsupervised visitation rights. He is at my home once a week to return my son from a short visit, and has a measly 12 month probation to complete and less than $1,000 in fines to pay. You can put the pieces together in your own mind by now, I am sure. He is not actively abusing me any longer, because I do not give him the chance. My boyfriend comes home from work every time that he will be at our home, just to be sure that he knows that we will leave no room for it to occur. I am terrified for my son, though. Often. And I could go on and on in every which way about all of the terrible feelings I have, all of the injustice I have faced and continue to face, and the suffering I continue to endure as a result of the past and the potential of the future, but that is what my writing is for and as long as people like you keep reading then I will continue expressing it without having to make this comment anymore ridiculously longer 🙂 Regardless of the situation, I will not stop doing what I do, or stop reaching out to help others do the same.

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      • Feminist Rag says:

        Wow. I am so sorry for all that you’ve been through, and that you’re still going through with him in your life. Your strength is admirable. I’m so glad you have full custody now. How old is your son? Does he want to visit with his dad? I’m so glad you have your boyfriend for support, that’s good that he makes sure to be there when your ex comes, the more reinforcements the better. Have you ever considered working with women in abusive r.ships as a counselor or something like that? I strongly believe that true experts in the mental health field are those who have lived through experiences themselves, whether it be addiction, DV, grief, etc.

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      • inpotentia says:

        I am glad you mentioned it, actually! After years of being convinced of how stupid I was and that I can’t finish anything I started, I finally overcame that brainwashed mindset and am now working on an Associate’s in Social Work, and plan to finish a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Social Work or Psychology, and plan to become a DV counselor. I am doing a fine job of fixing my GPA, and have actually made the President’s list for my 4.0 performance. We are also in the beginning stages of starting a Psychology Club and Honors Society at our community college, so I hope to begin my service early in helping current and future generations find ways to help out in the community prior to finishing a degree and landing the job that they are seeking!

        Like

      • Feminist Rag says:

        That’s wonderful! You are obviously an intelligent woman, and coupled with your personal experience, I have no doubt you will be a great counselor, good for you! Your schooling is proof in the pudding that a) you can do anything you want, and b) it’s a huge step in debunking the lies your ex told you.

        Like

      • inpotentia says:

        Thank you! It is a huge step for me, but I have no doubt in my mind that I have what it takes to make a difference for many in this difficult position. I’ve faced a lot of adversity concerning my choice of profession, but what others say and think no longer have the power to hold me back.

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  3. Feminist Rag says:

    It is surprising to me that despite all that is known about DV and Battered Woman Syndrome today, much of the public still holds the idea of “why didn’t she just leave”, which must be so hurtful and frustrating to hear. That’s why the last three lines of this poem struck me, they are so powerful and TRUE! The community should be helping when they see this going on around them, instead of turning a blind eye and “minding their own business” — I think numbness, as you mentioned, may be part of it, and I think fear too, people are so scared of “butting in”, especially men, that abusers have so much free reign to keep terrorizing their wives/gf’s. The common-ness of DV and the death toll is just so upsetting, it’s a real crisis in our own backyards. As a society, we’re all responsible, we must do better, for ourselves and our neighbors.

    Like

    • inpotentia says:

      You just summed up EXACTLY where those three lines came from. I have a personal vendetta against the “why didn’t she just leave” mentality. It is true that people are scared and don’t know when it’s their business or not. But even if people aren’t witnessing it happening to someone they know, even just the topic scares them away. It is too big. It is everywhere, and it is in every society, it is in everyone’s hometown, and it will only get worse so long as the mentality stays the same. And if I hear one more “supporter of DV awareness” say “Why is Rhianna going back to Chris Brown?” I am going to blow a WTF fuse…

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  4. Feminist Rag says:

    So true @ people shying away from the topic period. It is too big, so big that it’s invisible…It seems that this society is so “positive” obsessed that they get freaked out talking about real, less than happy happy joy joy stuff. Let’s just keep it on the surface and keep moving! There has to be more that neighbors and the community can do other than call the cops cuz we all know how unhelpful cops can be with DV until it’s too late…would you consider writing a piece on how neighbors can help when they witness or are aware of a DV situation beyond calling the cops?

    Like

    • inpotentia says:

      I will not only consider the challenge, I will take it! I love to be given a challenge It may post tomorrow, it may post on the 31st, but I will get to the topic of how to help before the month is over. Thank you for offering a very valid point and area of weak follow through for many– survivors, neighbors, friends, and family alike. This is a very difficult question to answer and address, but as advocates we MUST address and find some kind of common ground for these difficult discussions.

      Like

      • Feminist Rag says:

        Right on, I look forward to it! Years ago I was dating a guy who lived in a basement apartment, and one of his coworkers was a six foot plus man with a tiny, tiny wife. They worked in mental health with people with mental disabilities and had a live-in client who was mentally unstable and very sensitive. Well one time we overhead the couple fighting and the wife screaming for him stop, not to hurt her, and things were being thrown around. I was alarmed and wanted to call the cops, but my boyfriend (who was over six feet tall and 240 lbs), said we should mind our own business, when HE in stature alone could have easily put an end to the situation by going upstairs and telling the guy to stop. I did end up calling the police, and their live-in client ran away from the house crying and with a kitchen knife saying she was going to kill herself. The cops came, things settled down, they were able to keep the client in their care (!) and I think had to undergo some kind of anger management. I don’t know what happened with the couple because we ended up moving in together in a different neighborhood. But this convo reminded me of what probably happens a lot, in that MEN seem to too easily take that “mind their own business” attitude while women want to do something but physically are probably not feeling too safe to.

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  5. trickydozen says:

    I am thankful for this poem. Although I am usually not very keen on poems at all, somehow every line ended with such a BOOM.PERIOD.LISTEN.FEEL for me. That scares me, but it comforting to know I’m not alone.

    I am glad you are doing what you need to do to recognize your inner beauty and strength.

    Like

  6. inpotentia says:

    I am grateful that I am making an impact. I am grateful for you. And thank you very much for your kind words. Feel free to drop by anytime should you need someone to listen to your story, because telling it is one of the first steps on the path of recovery. YOU are strong and YOU are beautiful. Thank you.

    Like

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