"I Will Survive": Domestic Violence Awareness Month Writing Prompt

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Deborah Siegel asks for your inspiring slightly-longer-than-twitter-length stories of women who’ve survived.

Most of us know a woman who has been a victim of domestic violence. We may know her from afar. We may know her up close. The thing is, we know. And over the next two weeks, by participating in the DVAM Writing Prompt here at She Writes, we can serve as a witness and celebrate her strength and survival through our words.

Because writing, we know, can heal and transform. Good writing reaches across the void and holds another’s soul. “Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine,” writes poet Mary Oliver in one of my all-time favorite poems (“Wild Geese”). As writers, as lovers of language, not all of us are lovers of Twitter. But writing short—with the aim of writing well—can be a fertile exercise. Trim the fat and your reader imbibes what’s core. So if you’re still with me, let’s try it together. Follow the rules below and write—it’s She Writes, after all! The editors over here will choose a range to feature over the next two weeks here on the blog.

Here are rules of the road:

1. In 300 characters or less, narrate a nugget about a woman who survived. She may be your sister, your friend, the woman next door. She may be a character in your novel or a figment of your mind. She may be a woman in an existing work of literature or a song. She may be…you.

2. End with a punch line, if possible. Or at least make certain it’s clear why this woman, her strength or her survival, inspires you.

3. Conclude with the letters IWS—for I Will Survive.

4.Post your entry in comments and/or on your SW blog with the tag IWS, so we can find it.

And please spread the word.

-If you tweet, tweet her name (if, and only if, it’s safe), or the first few words of your entry, the link to this post (http://bit.ly/96nHyn), and the hashtags #IWS, #VAW. Here's one ready to go: SW Domestic Violence Awareness Month Writing Prompt: "I Will Survive."Be witness. Honor survival. Pls share: http://bit.ly/96nHyn #IWS, #VAW

-If you FB, post the following: Do you know a survivor of domestic violence? Participate in the She Writes Domestic Violence Awareness Month Writing Prompt: I Will Survive. Be her witness. Honor her strength. And pass it on. http://bit.ly/96nHyn

Ok now, some samples, to get us going:

The first below is from me, true story; the second, from a writer you know.

When I was fifteen I babysat for the family next door. He was abusive. One day, he pushed her down the stairs. She broke her arm. She left, her cast the only remnant of the hardness of his soul. IWS.

Janie did what she had never done before, that is, thrust herself into the conversation…. “It’s so easy to make yo’self out God Almighty when you ain’t got nothin’ tuh strain against but women and chickens.” (Zora Neal Hurston) IWS.

Your turn. Let’s hear you, She Writers. Send a roar of support, sisterhood, and good ole fashioned solidarity out into the world this month. Let her know you're aware, you honor her, you care.

See also: The Survivor Chronicles group

(The image above is a poster for sale from the National Coalition against Domestic Violence)

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Comment by Bonnie Joy Sludikoff on November 17, 2010 at 10:50pm
Twelve is not always old enough to know how to cry out no- so I didn't.
I lay quietly and wait to wake up from a nightmare, but I didn't.
I expected support when I finally came forward- I thought for sure someone would put an immediate stop to the abuse, but they didn't.
In hindsight, I'd think someone would tell me it wasn't my fault before my mid-twenties, but they didn't.
Learning the statistics, I'd think that the 60 percent of women who are abused and the other 40 percent who all know someone who has been abused would could forward, but they haven't.
Still, I work daily to build an organization to be the change in the world. It's difficult, and I constantly want to stop and give this fight up forever, but I haven't.

Please support That's What She Didn't Say on youtube and facebook.
Comment by Kate Gould on November 5, 2010 at 7:12am
She never knew why her mum did it, crept into his room to smash his hands his head. Blood bone mush. She knew from school every bad thing that could happen between men and women. No bruises. No shouting. No fear. Like a checklist. Mum used the suffering of women who were beaten, knowing if she said self-defence the jury'd believe her. She walked. He never would. IWS
Comment by Melinda Freeman on October 29, 2010 at 1:10pm
As the barrel pressed against my temple, my two year old son screaming at his father to stop, I felt something shift inside my soul. I looked him dead in the eye and said, “Either shoot me, or get that gun the fuck out of my face. But if you shoot me, you’d better make sure I’m dead.” In that moment, his reign of terror ended. It was then that our lives began. IWS
Comment by Natalie Collins on October 29, 2010 at 11:47am
Every inch of my being ripped apart by the love of my life. Every part of my soul torn to shreds by him. He tried to kill me, but I would not die. He tried to destroy me, but I would not be lost. I am no longer a victim, no longer a survivor, but I am a conqueror of domestic abuse IWS
Comment by Nichole Payton on October 28, 2010 at 11:46am
Broken heart, Broken nose and broke financially, every day she went through hell and back. Numbness filled her emotions. She cried no more although physically seen was her face painted black and blue by her abusive boyfriend. Faith warmed her soul, no one but her heavenly father could give her the strength to press forward. Seven years later, she owns her own business and volunteers at her local woman’s shelter. (Author, Nichole Payton) IWS
Comment by Charlie Tyler on October 26, 2010 at 8:04am
It was the perfect story of boy meets girl.
He was a wonderful artist, a talented sportsman.
I fell madly in love.
I forgave the beatings and rapes.
Then he nearly killed me.
I woke up; I walked out.
I decided: never again. IWS
Comment by Charlie Tyler on October 26, 2010 at 7:55am
The woman you left bruised and bleeding is gone. In her place I stand. A testament to the power of survival, healing, acceptance and love. IWS
Comment by Laurel Mills on October 25, 2010 at 8:00am
Her husband's fists and verbal put-downs have reduced Michelle to a shadow of the woman she used to be. She's lost all self-confidence and self-esteem. Then she meets Sydney at a bird club meeting, and her life veers sharply in a new direction.

In my new novel TAKING FLIGHT (Intaglio Publications), a woman caught in an abusive marriage risks everything by falling in love with another woman. The book is available at amazon.com

Comment by Karen Bain on October 23, 2010 at 7:41am
I turned the corner into the bread aisle and nearly collided with her. She grunted, each time her fist struck flesh. The sound. The blood. A child cowered, whimpered, pinned in the grocery cart. Rage exploding in my head, I gripped the woman’s arm with such strength I could have snapped it in two. The cruel blows stopped. Her head swung my way, and her eyes bored into mine.

They were the hateful eyes of my mother who terrified me until I was big enough to duck and run like hell. Years later, I saw those eyes one last time, one… last… time… when I caught my mother beating my 12 month old daughter senseless. My grip on her arm was so painful she cried out and dropped to her knees. “You ever touch my daughter again, and I will kill you. Kill you.” The child abuser in the grocery store was silent. She stared at me. I growled, “Do you understand me? You ever strike that child again, and I … will… kill… you.” Silence. She was rigid. I shook her arm. “It is wrong. Do you know what you are doing? It is all wrong?” Tears rushed down her face. “I know. “She said, “I know.”

Security arrived, I released the woman and she was led away. The adrenalin, the fury, the talk of killing ~ engulfed my 65 year old body, bled out and left me dizzy.

“Good God, I despise them ~ bullies ~ abusers.”

And then I asked myself, “Where the hell did that come from? Years of therapy? Decades of leading a successful and normal life? Scars of childhood domestic violence lurk. Forever. ” In any case, I survived. Quite well. Thank you very much. IWS
Comment by Marie Cooper on October 21, 2010 at 1:27am
In the beginning, she did not feel brave or deserving enough to get out.

Then she tried asking her parents for help. She sat in their living room weeping, with a black eye, and her mother said “You made your bed, now you have to lie in it.” They sent her back to be beaten and threatened with knives and choked and dragged through the house by her clothes and endlessly berated.

She went for a restraining order. Maintaining composure, for some sense of dignity, she was subsequently doubted. “This isn’t a joke, you know” the woman in charge snapped. She couldn’t reply. In the courtroom, the judge never even looked at her. “How many children?” “Four.” “All his?” Big swallow, “Yes.” Inside, “OhmyGodOhmyGodOhmyGod…”

And then he violated it anyway. Three times. Went to jail, got out, cycled over again. Defeated, she finally gave up and let him back.

She had no money for a divorce, so she went back to school. The first day the class was asked to write on a piece of paper why they wanted to go into nursing. Sixty people wrote they wanted to help people. Only she truthfully wrote “I need a good job.”

She got her good job. She was saving her money. He looked at her one day and said “I will never love anyone as much as I love you.” Her heart sank. And he added “And I will never forgive you for trying to throw me out.” She knew then she was doomed. Except two weeks later he collapsed with a fatal coronary.

She survived because he died first. He was absolutely going to kill her one day, it was just a matter of time. Sadly, his death was the beginning of her life. She has survived. IWS.


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