I’m walking because, when he hit me, my skin bruised, but no one asked me what happened.
And when they did, it was easier for them to buy into my lies. “I was climbing a tree, I fell.”
I’m walking because, maybe it was the oldest lie in the book, but it gave them permission to set aside their worry.
I’m walking because, what started off with a bruise quickly became more, and I didn’t know how to get away, and when I told anyone, I wasn’t offered help—I was judged for staying.
Every time I told someone how he scared me, how he didn’t let me spend a night alone in my apartment, how he made me buy him food because he’d spent all of his money on one drug or another, all they could hear was, “I let this happen to me.”
I’m walking because I was only nineteen—just a kid, but I knew by the reactions that it was my fault, and I had to deal with it alone.
I’m walking because, back then, I didn’t know there were people out there who would help me, who would listen, who would understand that leaving wasn’t as simple as walking out the door and changing my phone number.
Trigger warning, rape culture, victim-blaming—these weren’t internet buzzwords yet. Abusers were tattooed, muscular men on the 5 o’clock news, not skinny Liberal Arts majors.
I’m walking because abuse and isolation go hand in hand and I didn’t know that organizations like SafePlace existed, that there were places for people like me, who maybe don’t need emergency shelter, but for whom a kind word would make all the difference.
I’m walking because we can all do better.
On February 22, I will stand side-by-side with a community of people who won’t let violence stay in the dark. When I was nineteen, I didn’t know there were people like that. I’m walking so that other kids can see they are not alone. Someone understands.
I’m walking to bring abuse and violence into the light.
Visit illuminateatx.org to register.