Thursday, October 22, 2015

Playlist to Freedom

It's Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It might seem unnecessary to have a month dedicated to something like this, but the reality is that there is more to Domestic Violence (DV) than the obvious physical abuse suffered by married women. DV includes emotional abuse, psychological abuse, gaslighting, verbal abuse, and control. DV is perpetrated by husbands against wives, wives against husbands, girlfriends against boyfriends, adult children against parents, and parents against children. It occurs in heterosexual relationships and it occurs in same sex relationships. In fact, any regular emotional relationship that can be thought of can be touched by abuse.

I'm not here to give you statistics, but you can get them at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website. Today, I want to share something with you. If you know me in person, you are likely to know already that I am a survivor of DV. I met and married my abuser when I was in the Air Force. We were married for eight years, during which I suffered treatment I had never known could happen between people who professed to love one another. That's why a month like this month is so important. It is possible for a person to come out of such a loving and supportive childhood that they are unaware that DV exists. I am sure there are many others who, like me, were innocent until their partner broke them down. I had no idea I was being broken until he threw the first punch. I wrote a little bit about my story in my first book, Phoenix from the Ashes. It took years to write the book. The first chapters were slammed out on a manual typewriter, keys flying off with the heavy strikes of anger. The anger was at him, for putting me through what he did, but it was also at myself for allowing myself to fall victim to him.

As a poet, I had always wanted to perform my works rather than just read them off the paper at public readings. My memory isn't equal to such a task, nor am I as dramatically developed as I'd like! Still, one day a few years ago, I finally got up the courage and the insistence to speak a piece about my experience in DV and the power I have claimed as I moved from victim to survivor. I was slated to speak at a workshop on Domestic Violence for pastors and other church people, and I decided that would be a good time to perform the piece. I rolled it out at a local open reading for practice, and I videotaped myself doing the poem, which I called Regret.

It was art that saved me. Poetry and music became my refuge. The poetry was my own, and through writing I found myself, the self that had disappeared over the years. The music...well, it was the 1980's and MTV was playing videos. The music encouraged me. It gave me power. Today, I want to share a playlist with you. This is a list of the songs that gave me the power to leave. They opened the door for me to step out into a new world. 

The Eurythmics - Would I Like to You?
Til Tuesday - Voices Carry
Pat Benatar - Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Madonna - Into The Groove
Rolling Stones - It's Only Rock-n-Roll

There were many more, but this handful of songs are the foundation of the strength that took me out the door.  The road was not an easy one, but these songs inspired me to reclaim my life. Perhaps they can inspire someone else. Maybe, they can inspire you.


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