A breathe of fresh air

So I did an interview today. And I think it went really well. In fact, I think it went great. I have done a number of interviews regarding dating violence and my experience as a survivor and now an advocate. Usually the interviews go about the same way, same questions. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I’m not comfortable sharing some things, and other times I’m an open book. But today’s interview today was..different.

Today, I felt free.

There are a lot of things about my experience that I have never really shared with anyone. I haven’t really had the opportunity. To some people close to me it’s probably hard to ask the questions. To some it’s probably hard to hear. And to others, maybe they just don’t care. That’s understandable. But when I get the chance to do these interviews, I just get to talking.

The woman I spoke with today had a very welcoming soul. She was actually asking me questions that I felt mattered. There have been times before when the interviewer had certain questions in mind or a direction that they want the interview to go. So I don’t really feel I can say what I really want to. This time it didn’t go that way…And I loved it.

Some of the questions that I’m usually asked are: What was your experience with dating violence? How does it affect you as an advocate? What is the toughest part about your job? things you would expect. But this time, I was asked questions that I had only had in my head. Here were some:

How did you feel after your experience?
What was the hardest part?
What was your healing process like?
What was the hardest aspect of your experience?
Think about your darkest moment, what would you have wanted someone to tell you then?
So many of her questions seem simple, but I had to visit a part of my life that I don’t go to often. A very dark and sad time and that’s already hard. So when she is asking these questions that are actually making me do some self evaluation, I couldn’t handle it. For once, I had to take a break because I was so emotional. Pretty crazy for something that happened almost 5 years ago.

There were a couple of responses that I had that shocked me, and finally gave me some peace and here they are:

1. After my experience, I felt ashamed. I felt like no one really cared what had happened to me. I felt judged, like I did something wrong. I felt alone.
2. The hardest part was the shame, and the realization that I had no clue what to do. No one had the conversation with me how to handle dating violence. There was no preparation. I felt…lost.

3. My healing process is doing interviews like this, being able to talk about what I experienced. Putting the burden of shame back on the person it belongs.

4. The hardest aspect of my experience, besides the pain and humiliation, was the response from friends and family. I felt a lot of blame was put on me, as if I didn’t handle the situation right. And that wasn’t fair. No one asked me how I was, or if I was okay. That was hard.

5. This question was probably the hardest to answer. So many things ran through my head. What would I have wanted someone to tell me? Hmmm. A hug. That’s what I said. I would have wanted someone to hug me. And tell me “you survived. You made it. It’s over”. I would have wanted someone to tell me it’s okay, and it gets better. I would have wanted someone to remind me: there is no right way to handle this type of situation. Lastly, you did your best.

So to anyone that might be in this situation, or going through a similar experience: You are doing your best, it’s not your fault, and it does get better. Here’s a hug.

Never forget to SHARE Love,

Anitra.

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