My daughter and I and some dear friends went to Sydney Park last Saturday to pay homage to Kate Bush, whilst at the same time, denouncing domestic violence. I used to listen to Wuthering Heights as a young girl, living under the oppressive understanding that a violent and possessive man would be deciding when my life would end in the near future. I didn’t have to imagine him telling me that I was ‘going to lose the fight,’ nor have ‘bad dreams in the night.’ He told me routinely, and I indeed had bad dreams. I imagined coming back dressed in red, banging on the window, trying to get somebody (anybody), to hear me and welcome me in. Never in my wildest dreams would I have envisioned joining so many others, dressed in red, dancing to this song so many years later! It was a powerful remembrance of how far I have come, watching my little girl twirl by my side. St Peters has a special place in my heart. I was a young poet/artist when I lived there, selling my wares to the little shops up King St. I would take my little dog, Mitzi Winstopple to Sydney Park each evening, and dream of the future.
In preparation, I raided our fancy dress box and my daughter found a 50 cent gown that fitted her beautifully.
It was cathartic, and I felt cleansed. We wandered up King St to the Union Pub, where scores of other Cathy’s gathered. We bought felt hats for $10 at a bargain store, and I told my friend of my life in St Peters, and the sadness I felt at leaving. I came back not only to pay homage to Kate Bush, but to retrieve something I had left behind; myself.
The next day, I paid for my dance. I wept with the pain, but it was worth it. If there is a price to be paid, always make sure it’s worth it. Two days later, my spine is coming good. I can’t wait until next year!
A week or so ago, I boarded a bus with my daughter. We sat at the front of the crowded people-mover. My daughter was listening to music on her headphones, and I caught the eye of the lady across the aisle. She was in her sixties with cinnamon-brown eyes and blonde hair, cut into a bob. She appeared to be on her way to work, judging by her green uniform. A male voice up the back of the bus cut through our greetings, and seemed to become louder and more agitated as the moments passed. The bus stopped, and the driver alighted, a new driver coming on shift. After the bus started again, the man’s voice became louder, his speech laced with profanities and threats to all around him. The driver was busy negotiating his way around road works on the highway, and the lady and I exchanged worried looks. We both knew that we were prepared if he started anything. My daughter was oblivious, in her own world, listening to pop songs. If she had heard, she may well have told him to pull his head in. I was glad she hadn’t heard, as she knows no fear. In her world, if someone is being a bully, a nuisance or menacing, you simply demand that they stop. I had a feeling that the woman opposite had seen this man’s behaviour before, as had I. We knew the unspoken rules, of making no eye contact with the offender, remaining silent so as not to provoke him. If and when he did go on his threatened rampage, I was ready with my walking stick! No way was he going to get near the lady opposite, nor my daughter. Twenty pained minutes passed before he alighted-still ranting- and we breathed a sigh of relief. I escorted the lady to the train station, and she said that he had abused the elderly women waiting for another bus, before we came aboard.
This lady was shaking, and I helped her up the steps. Yes, she had seen it before, and it had indeed brought back memories. I sat with her, comforting her as she debriefed from the stressful situation. She had been ready to tackle him, as had I. Anything can happen in our modern world. You can be attacked for doing nothing, and staying mute. As long as there are ladies with walking sticks and people with righteous indignantion burning in their bellies, we will all stay safe. When I left her, she was past the disorientated stage; past the fear. She was angered, and rightly so. She was just trying to get to work, and I was just trying to get my daughter to her classes. Nobody had the right to interfere with our day in that manner. He was ticked off with life, dumping the toxic waste all over strangers on a bus. He probably felt a sight better afterward, whilst we were left shaken. It has taught me that I must teach my daughter when to stay silent, and when to fight. I pray she never needs to put it into practice.
It was as much my daughter’s day as it was mine. A day of remembrance. To contemplate what was taken and what has in turn been bestowed. She has had her life altered as a result of that July 25th long ago. This term, I can’t commit to taking her to drama classes in the city, as I have to attend to this chronic pain once and for all, and have viable pain management strategies in place. She doesn’t complain when I can’t take her out, nor does she wonder why I fall silent on the way home after a long day. She comforts me when she sees the mask fall and views the agony in my face. I haven’t been able to do all that I want with my daughter as money has gone on maintaining my health. I can’t run like other mothers, nor skate or ride horses with her. Her life has been shaped in so many ways by what happened to me. I didn’t tell her the date’s relevance, yet she knew it was a big, important date.
Being a ham, she had to strut into a bank through its turning doors, pretending to be a banker. To the mirth of the employees, she shouted, “this isn’t my jam!” and ran out. She then discovered this chess set, and was annoyed that a King was overtaking the others. She sought to rectify things.
We spent the afternoon hanging out, having fun. I have learnt that it does no good to not acknowledge the memories, nor try to have an ordinary day on the anniversary. What I needed was to see beauty; to be pulled out of my own mind. It helped!
As we left home at noon, I was flooded by intense gratitude. All those years ago, I would have given anything for what I was able to do this particular morning. Wake in a comfy bed in a secure home, then shower and dress. Have a nutritious breakfast and a pitcher of water. To look forward to the day. All the things you take for granted… As dusk fell over the city, winter began to bite, and I felt the cells in my body grow anxious. Dusk was when the final torment began. We walked to the Lyric Theatre, and stood enjoying the celebrities walk the red carpet, my daughter eating a croissant. I lovingly brushed the pastry flakes from her hair, and tried to avoid embarrassing her by crying out of sheer and giddy joy.
The award show surpassed all expectation. It was thrilling to see Matilda receive thirteen awards. The Australian Theatre for Young People won an award for the sublime Sugarland. Supporting the Arts is incredibly important. It takes us out of the everyday, into a world of unequal splendor. It is no coincidence that musicals hit the height of their popularity during the Great Depression and wartime. We need to transcend the drudgery once in a while. We need the Arts to give us different perspectives and to provide commentary on the times we live in. Griffin Theatre’s The Bleeding Tree won Best Play, and when accepting the award, it was hoped that the piece about domestic violence would be viewed in the future with a shaking of the head, and the utterance of “this is how it was back then.”
When Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director, Stephen Page was honoured the JC Williamson Award, his speech left us spellbound. There were magical performances from musicians, musicals and dance companies. Water escaped my eyes and I gave thanks that I got to see this night of celebration, and as I slumbered that evening, July 26th rolled around without fan fair. I also got to see the dawn. The evening reinforced that we must tell our stories, not only for our own sake, but for everyone’s. I look forward to somebody in the future stumbling across my work and saying ‘things were different back then! Thank goodness we live in better times.’ Times when perfect storms in a young person’s life are abated, before they are consumed by a wave. We are on our way. No more secrets, nor hiding of abuse.
If you have a painful anniversary coming up, I would advise you to acknowledge it. Write about it, or create art around it. Plan a special day with loved ones who get it. If that’s not possible, then go out by yourself. Eat and drink delicious things. View beautiful things. Talk to strangers. Whatever you do, don’t curl up alone with the memories. In my view, such a day has to be tempered by art; it’s potency diluted by loveliness.
I can’t tell you how much the response meant to me after I posted Til it Happens to you. The support was incredible! I was too overcome to respond for a while. People have asked how I got through it all. I suffered status epilepticus at 13, meaning I had continual seizures which couldn’t be controlled. I stopped breathing and was in a coma. It took a long time to recover from this event (it was predicted I wouldn’t). The next year, I met a monster, and was abused. The finale was being thrown off a building at fifteen. My healing has taken over twenty years. There are some things that have helped.
1. I can’t handle violence of any kind. I can’t discuss literature, nor movies, let alone view them, if they are violent. At first, I didn’t want people to think I was fragile. I didn’t want them to see the distress that talking about violence (parcelled as entertainment to the masses), conjured. I would pretend that it wasn’t hurting me. Nowadays, I don’t pretend. I gracefully bow out of conversations and invitations which would bring me into this sphere.
2. I couldn’t leave the house by myself, even to go to the letterbox. It has taken many years and many small trips to gather the strength to go farther afield. I plan ahead, and the apps I have on my phone make my preparations easier. If you are agoraphobic, be kind to yourself. Every little step is a triumph. My major incentive was that I had to get to the IVF clinic early in the morning, and simply had to do it. It made me braver than I actually felt! Now I take my daughter everywhere, and the freedom is liberating!
3. I have had to confront my deepest fears. The ones I was frightened of encountering, as I would surely fall apart. My fears included rejection, loneliness, being left alone and finding out that people weren’t as they appeared. Confronting these fears has been terrifying, and it has hurt. I have uncovered that people I looked up to were abusive behind closed doors. I have been let down and let go, but I have survived. I learnt not to leave myself behind in the process. Comforting myself became of premium importance.
4. People see a smiling, functional adult when you are out and about. They don’t recollect the child kept alive in Intensive Care on a respirator. They came into my life during a different chapter. I know what it took to get to here. The hundreds of hours of physiotherapy, the scores of surgeries… I have to remind myself of my achievements and give myself a quiet pat on the back.
5. Boundaries are a big one for a survivor. I felt as vulnerable as a newborn when I started to make a life for myself. I believed anything anyone said, and believed everyone was a friend. It has taken trial and many errors to come up with boundaries, and to trust my judgement above all else. It was a revelation, to give myself the space to honour my instincts. If a person or situation doesn’t sit right, and makes me uncomfortable, I walk away. It is imperative to do so, as I have a little girl watching me. I need to display good boundaries so she knows that its okay to be in touch with her own. It has sometimes taken me being struck mute in the company of somebody who is toxic, for me to comprehend that my body is trying to protect me by producing physical symptoms. I am free, and thus I get to decide who stays in my life. It may not be anything that anyone is doing. Rather, they remind me of someone from the past. I still have to honour my discomfort.
6. Things will trigger me on a daily basis, and much of it is out of my control. It could be a song coming on in the supermarket, an aftershave I detect in passing. It might be a conversation, or visiting a friend in a hospital where I had prior surgery. Deep breaths are required, and sometimes a visit to the lady’s restroom to compose myself. I tell myself that my anxiety is a natural reaction, and I am doing fine. If I am with close friends, I will tell them that a memory has come up. If I am not, I will breath deeply, find a focal spot to concentrate on, and reassure myself quietly.
7. I will not drink to excess, nor take tablets to blot out a bad day. Sometimes, the memories hit hard, and along with the massive amount of pain I suffer, it becomes overwhelming. Alcohol is a depressant, and thus, is disastrous as an antidote. I will only have alcohol when in the company of friends at dinner, or as a toast of celebration. It only compounds the depression which inevitably comes after overworked adrenals have crashed. Instead, I go for a walk, swim or am otherwise active. It helps tremendously.
8. I will space out at times. When you hardly sleep, and are in pain, it happens naturally. When you put flashbacks or a panic attack into the mix, let’s say I am sometimes away with the fairies! Writing (and preparing for a writing task), also lends itself to spacing out. If you holler at me on the street and I don’t respond, that’s why! I am escaping into my inner world, which is expansive and magical. I nearly jump out of my skin when I am walking along and a car beeps me. I remain jittery for the rest of the day. I am hyper vigilant; always scanning a crowd for danger, even when in my own world. It’s quite a combination!
9. You are allowed to say “no” to a request. You are allowed to rest. I keep going until I can’t, and at that point, I retreat for a bit. I have to. It is a revelation, when you learn that you can keep free spaces in the calendar. Even thirty minutes to sip tea and daydream is heavenly. I need time alone to restore and reboot. Time is precious, and I try to use it wisely.
10. My survival has been an odyssey of epic proportions. I tried to run from the memories. I attempted to smother them, as one instinctively does a fire. The smoke streams from underneath the cloth, and then the flames explode forth in a cacophony of rage. It is like burning off disease, only to have damaging adhesions form underneath. Running doesn’t work, and it certainly doesn’t help. Over many years, I have visited my places of trauma. I have wept and I have released at each site. I only did so when I was ready. You have to be ready. My natural instinct is still to run when triggered, but now I have tools. They come in the form of a laptop, a paintbrush, a pastel. They come to me as bird song, my walking shoes, my friends and my music.
When I was a child, I had big dreams. I had a determined spirit and an acute awareness that what was being done to me was not only wrong, but evil. I felt as though a cannon had ripped through my psyche, smattering me into pieces. Over time, I have laid out all the pieces, and put them into place. I am glued, sewn, fused and grafted together. I was once a china doll. Now I am reinforced and can never be broken again. It takes time to heal. You will want to give up. You will consider yourself beyond repair. You will want to run and you will try to escape your own mind. You will want to give up. Please don’t. The joy of finally accessing the tools to help you cope are worth the fight.
I carry a small girl on my shoulders. She grips on, her little hands threaded through each other, resembling a heart around my neck. She assumes that I have the strength to carry her. I hope that I do. I have been many things throughout this life. Misunderstood. A wild thing, a hermit, an eccentric. A school mum, a student, a broken girl. I have been a patient, a victim of violence, a train wreck and a phoenix. I have been a scorpion, a lamb and a lion. Reinvention has been borne of necessity.
My hand brushes the right side of my torso. It is concave, the result of where they took two floating ribs to graft into my spine. The scars read like a surrealist map. This is where they directed her. This is where it led. This is where they operated, and this is what was said. Nobody tells you that anger can be directed into useful avenues. I am not okay with having been broken. I am not okay with not being able to fall asleep. I am not okay with living with chronic nerve pain and having shards of bone and metal piercing into my spinal canal. I am not cool with a lot of things. So unnecessary and nonsensical. The other day, I was sitting on a bench without back support. I tried to hold my frame up, I really did. Panic set in when I realized that I had to move immediately and lay down on the grass. My spine can’t support my weight when seated at a bench! The pain was out of this world when I attempted to. Here are some more labels, healed, a forgiver, getting on with things…
The pain is like rocket fuel, cajoling me to write. I want to help pave a tranquil path for my daughter and her contemporaries. It makes me strive and makes me determined. It is okay to be pissed off. I came to this earth without scars. I have had to design a life that is manageable and joyful, in spite of them. To devise experiences that go much deeper than the levels of scar tissue and adhesions. To have experiences that shoot through them like a laser and reach deep into my soul.
I have been given a golden key, which only those with wrung-out psyches obtain. It is a marvellous compensation for having lived a dark dream. I am more than all the labels noted above. I have come to believe that labels are meant for containers, not people. I am a woman doing her best. I am a person wanting more for her daughter. I want her to know her worth. I want her to seek validation not from other people, but rather from herself. To trust her own impressions and honour her instincts. We are worth more than a few token labels, you and I. It is a lazy means to describe the intricacies of a person. We all carry a little person on our shoulders, and the way their hands lace around our necks, resembles a beautiful heart.
Today is White Ribbon Day and a plethora of emotions rise to the surface, as do memories. I recall when I was living in a small town, there was a single mum of three little girls. She had been subjected to much violence, and was now starting again. She owned her own business, and she and the girls were finally happy. Her ex-husband starting drinking more, which fuelled his aggression. He was verbally aggressive on the phone and in person, when she dropped the girls to the designated meeting spot for access visits. This lady was a fey-like creature, huge orbital eyes, tiny with long golden hair, and it would break my heart when she recalled the nights of violence she had endured. He was a mountain of a man. I was at her place when he rang one evening, slurring his words. I heard him promise to shoot her when she dropped the girls off in the car park of a fast-food restaurant. He did indeed own a rifle. She had the hide to start her own business and offer her children safety and security. I insisted that I go in her place. It wasn’t an offer, but an order. She was terrified that if she didn’t obey the court order, he would come after her and the courts would again punish her. I got out of the car with the girls, and he appeared startled to see me. This bear of a man was frightened! I nervously offered forth commentary on the weather, and other inane subjects. I got back in the car and my clenched hands were dripping with sweat.
I have had knocks at my door at night, and my home has offered refuge to mums and their kids. One dear lady came by with her little boys, having caught a bus from her house. She had been shoved and she had been hit. I took photos of her bruises. When she went to the bathroom, her seven-year old whispered to me, “he yells all the time.” I drew him close to me, desperate to vanquish this hell from their precious lives.
I have had women come visiting, and delight in keeping me company for ten hours straight whilst I tended the routine chores of everyday life. They have simply not wanted to go home, fearing what may happen. Imagine getting into trouble for talking to a barista at the café, for not having dinner on the table. Imagine flinching when there is silence, and at the screaming to come. Imagine having to deal with rage, not knowing what shall set it off from one day to the next. Imagine being left without money. This heartbreaking pictorial appeared this morning, and I sat and reflected for a while, both on the sketches and also on the description of the women therein. It is up to us all as a society, to be vigilant and to be vocal. It is my dearest wish that the next generation don’t have to be termed ‘survivors,’ for they won’t have any horror to survive.
Many people in my circle would probably be surprised to know that I have PTSD. They would be surprised at its ferocity and how hard I have had to work to have a semblance of normality. It hasn’t been easy! There was years of involuntary shaking when the telephone rang or someone knocked at the door. I would have to talk myself into venturing to the letterbox. I rarely went out alone. I can suffer flashbacks pretty easily, especially in social settings. You are out of your comfort zone and when a “red zone” topic comes up in conversation, I can literally feel my body tense and my brain react. I will sometimes feel welded to the seat, unable to move and get away. Sometimes I look placid and I smile. I have covered up my terror with gulps of wine, but when I get home, the horror hits. It can take weeks to get my equilibrium back. When a group of people start talking about the horror in the news and such, I usually think “there goes two weeks of sleep.”
I began to think that there had to be a better way than to nurse a flute of champagne (well, actually several), to take away my discomfort. There had to be a better way than to stay glued to my seat, listening to horrifying opinions on deeply upsetting topics.
Here is how I cope. 1. Remembering that I am here, not there. I have a little piece of paper that I pull out of my purse. You are here, not there, it reads. I find it deeply assuring when I am feeling myself pulled back into the trauma of the past.
2. I will immediately excuse myself. Whether that be from a conversation or a shop where music is being played that reminds me of the past. I will find a quiet area (usually the bathroom), and concentrate on my breathing.
3. I will watch my diet. Grabbing crackers and dips at a party will not do. A balanced diet is necessary. When I was at my worst, it was found I wasn’t absorbing B12 and needed shots. The difference was quite incredible. Bananas and other foods high in the amino acid Tryptophan are also helpful.
4. I am allowed to state that I am uncomfortable. If the people are unaware, I am allowed to state what my past looked like.
5. I need to have adequate rest. The PTSD (which involves nightmares, flashbacks and panic attacks), escalates if I am rushing from one thing to another.
6. On certain dates, I need space. I wont commit to anything on the anniversary of my fall, for instance. It is a time of reflection, grief and also celebration that I survived. It is a deeply personal time.
7. I take a bottle of Rescue Remedy and lavender essential oil with me in my bag. The act of sniffing them -or putting the Rescue Remedy on my tongue- snaps me back to the present.
8. I carry a photo of my daughter with me and take it out and look at her smiling face. The joy contained in the picture helps me to centre. It could be a picture of a pet. Whatever helps you.
9. I wont over-imbibe. The crash that comes afterward emotionally is devastating.
10. I can leave. Wow! I now give myself permission to leave! If the vibe is going South and the conversation is awful, I can leave.
It is a hard thing to live with. Sometimes the past can seem clearer than now. Every detail is etched into my memory, and doesn’t fade with time. Sights, sounds, smells, touch and taste can take me back. No wonder it happens a fair bit! The most important thing is that I show myself kindness. I need regular time to myself to process what I am feeling, and what I have heard. In a week, people can talk about murder, sexual abuse, child abduction, and crime movies/novels many times over. It sticks to my skin, like they have gone mad with a labeller. I go out to nature and breathe. I need silence to oppose the noise in my mind.
I had an experience the other day, whilst visiting a school on the other side of our city. I saw a lady sitting by herself. Her eyes showed abject terror, her body language stiff and self-protective. She was waiting to pick up her kids. I sat with her, and we started talking. She talked about a man from her childhood, a member of her family. “He was too friendly,” she whispered. Her eyes met mine. She knew I knew and I knew that she knew that I knew. I told her how sorry I was. So very sorry. I hope she is treated kindly in her adult life. You don’t “get over” some experiences, but you can live beautifully despite them.
The Old Guard is going down. The paradigm is finally shifting. I remember a time when harassment was put down to “having a joke.” I recall a time when domestic abuse was laughed off. It was not that long ago. I recall a friend’s uncle making lurid suggestions to me at a sleepover at her home when I was eleven. I recall the grown men thinking that certain commentary was okay.
Years ago, I had a neighbour who was in his sixties. He didn’t give me a good feeling upon meeting him. By meeting him, I mean he peered over the fence at me, and always seemed to be loitering. He studied my visitors, and a conversation outside was never private. He had a weather-beaten face, loved a drink, and chain-smoked. I invited he and his wife in for a meal to break the ice. He drank beer and mumbled. When he went outside to smoke, his wife confided that their marriage hadn’t been a barrel of laughs. She talked of his violence, of his erratic behaviour with money, his unpredictability. He was what one could call a larrikin in the Australian vernacular. He never called his wife by her name, rather she was “the missus.” She was a bundle of frayed nerves.
The thing I have noted about these men are that they take up space. They want more than their share. He introduced a dog to their small yard. This breed of dog is designed to work on farms. It grew insane prowling their small yard and barked day and night. We tried talking to him, suggesting he may walk the dog, get him some exercise. He couldn’t have cared less. He used his power tools day and night, taking up every inch of space he was entitled to. He tinkered right on the fence line. Other men in the neighbourhood visited him, smoking and drinking out the front. “A good bloke.” A good bloke alright.
John Singleton has been in the news this week. He threatened a friend over lunch with the stem of a wine glass. He then joked about domestic violence. The next day, he said they were just mucking around. Yes, it is hysterically funny. It is wondrous to witness the woman next door with her anxious voice continually wringing her hands due to anxiety. It is wondrous to hear him bellowing at her, and prowling around like he is a grand old General. The old guard is leaving the building, and fellows who respect women and children are coming in. “Flirting” with children is out, as is mocking domestic violence. Sexual innuendos and commentary aren’t laughed off. To my mind larrikins are good men with a cheerful spirit and sense of adventure. They are not the above. Not any more. Thank God.
In my travels, I met an extraordinary young lady called Celia. She started Stained Glass Wolves on Facebook. It is for ‘victims and survivors of abuse, homelessness, domestic violence and the people who support them.’ There are two projects on the hop at the moment, Basic Love Packs and Knitting to Spread the Love and Warmth. The mascot is The Mistress of Awesomeness and she certainly is! Apart from everything else she does, she is also a singer-songwriter.
Celia is 28, and lives in Sydney. She is currently an AIN, working in a nursing home, and is also studying nursing at university. She believes in true equality, love, loyalty, compassion,truth, genuineness, dignity and justice. She has three specific missions in life:
1. To run her charity, Stained Glass Wolves, and reach out to the broken.
2. To sing and write.
3. To be a qualified nurse educator specialising in brain trauma and also making specific care plans for individuals; working with families, carer’s and the client to make a manageable plan to give that person the best quality of life.
Celia has qualifications in mechanics, and in the hospitality industry. There is nothing she can’t do, teaching herself to knit via YouTube. As a child, she was abused in every way a young girl can be, and was told that she was worthless. She refused to believe it. How she healed, and what she has done, are truly inspirational. She has suffered depression, nightmares and flashbacks, but miraculously survived. The heart seared with great suffering often becomes the heart with the greatest capacity for love and compassion. Nobody came and rescued her from the thatch of thorns where she lay. She retrieved herself.
She found her calling in nursing after encountering a 104 year old lady in a nursing home who inspired her. She applied to study, and a letter arrived from the ACU. She reluctantly opened it, thinking it was a rejection letter. They instead wanted to know why she hadn’t accepted her placement. She checked her spam, and there was an acceptance email! Check your spam, people! At university, she noticed there was a scheme, offering placement overseas to the student with the highest mark. She applied and was accepted! She went to Cambodia, volunteering in health camps, and also travelled to Georgia College in Atlanta. Like I said, inspiring. She is the rainbow after the darkness dissipates. A survivor in every sense. If you would like to learn more, visit Stained Glass Wolves.
Today is White Ribbon Day. I was planning on going to a function today, but instead I am in bed, in agony. I took my daughter to a Katy Perry concert last night, and the only tickets I could get were in General Admission. I stood for several hours, yet it was necessary. This lady leant my daughter the encouragement to find her voice, not only as a singer but as a little girl. I had to take her. There was no option.I am not in agony because of the concert. I am in agony because I was thrown off a building at fifteen. I have known violence. I have a scar running the length of my left index finger. I have never had (nor will I), a knife block in my kitchen. These were weapons, not cooking implements. As a matter of fact, I have no sharp knives.
Today I raise a toast to all the beautiful girls and women I have known. Here’s to those who rapped on my door, children in tow. Here’s to those who bravely let me photograph their bruises and cuts. Here’s to those who released the contents of the fetid garbage they were trying to contain behind closed doors. Here’s to those too ashamed to let anyone know what was going on. I understand. Here’s to those who did. I think of those who tried to defend their abuser, as the truth at that time was too horrible to bear. I commend you on facing the agonizing truth; that he wouldn’t change and you had to leave. I am honoured to have my story told in White Ribbon Writing 2014, under the title, A Scarred Butterfly. This e-book is available from Amazon and all proceeds go to the White Ribbon Foundation. I am so proud of the White Ribbon Foundation. Their sponsors, Suzanne Grae, dressed me for my book launch, an ambassador spoke with heartfelt passion in front of the guests, and more people are taking the pledge to stamp out violence against women each day. There is no more hiding. No more excuses. It has to stop, and we are the one’s to do it.