The Arena of Violence and Abuse

Good Lord, I never wanted to be here.

Fifteen years old, with a backpack, a few books, and a cardboard box, I closed that door, and I was never looking back.

“No, Sir, not I,” said this cat.

That life of child abuse; of polyvictimization that toyed with torture; that life that held more death than most morgues; that life that made a dandelion of me — that life. I left that life behind. I was moving on.

I knew that no one lived that way.

I knew somehow through the slats in the blinds of brutality that not all kids were starved and had to sometimes eat scraps on the floor and often drink from the ditch. I knew that children could and should brush their teeth twice a day AND floss. I know that bathing was supposed to be a daily thing not a biweekly exercise in soapy, scalding brutality. I knew you were supposed to be able to use the toilet when you needed to, in the actual bathroom. I knew Daddy’s weren’t supposed to grope their girls and Mummy’s were not all that mean. Mine did, mine was, but I knew they weren’t supposed to be. I knew so much, I thought I knew it all. I did not.

I was born in the arena. I almost died in it. Almost.

I was a clever thing. Thats about it. Oh, and I was quiet too. Quiet on the outside is pretty helpful. I had LOTS of words, I just kept them inside, is all.

I made a scholarly study of the neck down. Yes, Sir. If your muscles or bones hurt much, I can more or less assess that and help you to make it better. Six years of schooling and lots of learning how folks bits and pieces are and are not supposed to move. Sore knee? I know. Sore shoulders? Let me see your thoracic spine. I’ll see what we can do. Mechanical musculoskeletal problem? I’m your sort of girl. Sore heart? Whoa… now that is too close to the soul “that aches so.” No thank you.

I did my first public speech in grade seven. Hands shaking, knees knocking — three full minutes of words that I wrote, and I spoke, and people listened. Never before had I ever spoke. Never before had anyone EVER listened. Third prize. Not bad for a last place person.

Years of training. Years of trauma. Years of unlearning what I had learned.

Some folks bloom where they are planted.
Some folks bloom where they were pulverized.

The crushing truth is that while I was victimized early and egregiously, I didn’t see any of this until I was repeatedly revictimized. Victimization and vision don’t necessarily follow each other. I was blind to my own betrayal. It costs to see. It costs dearly.

My victimhood has been 40 years long, arduous, and now — over. I did not EVER intend to revisit the ruins of this place. Yet time and again I was dragged under by another’s deviance. Trauma buried, appears to me, to be magnetic in nature. I am as one compelled and propelled to help.

I am still sorting where to station myself in this arena on violence and abuse. The truth is, I never left it. Backpack, books, cardboard box, and I simply moved locations, lighting candles periodically when the wind died down and the wounds scabbed over.

What are the skills, capacities, and unique contributions I can make to help someone else in some meaningful way? Whatever choice I make must sustain my own safety and stability as I seek the same for others.

I do not, however, think there is a more reluctant advocate than I. I have little that I am good at, but I can communicate complex concepts in simple ways and I can find words for wordless places. These things the confused and speechless need for clarity and agency.

So in the arena of violence and abuse I remain, stationed were I think it’s safe. Reading, researching, and writing of both reality and recovery. Incidentally my knees still knock when I speak.

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