"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 E. Joyce Moore on October 16, 2010 at 7:17pm
Domestic Violence Awareness month. For those who are unsure of what constitutes abuse, please visit
Comment by E. Joyce Moore on October 16, 2010 at 7:13pm
In homage to Yvette Cade*

And here I stand.
Quiet whispers silenced
by the desire
to see you as my truth.
messages went unheeded
while I danced to your music.
Problems, warning signs ignored
because the you that I adored
remained my fantasy.
Staying because of what I wanted it to be
not because of what it is.
Embarrassed to admit I might be wrong
Stubbornly believing I could make wrong right
I chose to stay and fight.
the internal whispers begged me for flight.
whispered slivers of scorn
cut like a knife
when made to feel less than,
smaller than life.
The bond between us
made, when promises were spoken
now permanently broken
forsaking all -- family concerns, my child's cries
I took all your controlling lies
and made them a part of me.
I forgot what my daddy told me:
Love is as love does. Love doesn't hurt.
Crisis now a true disaster
Help me God, make me run faster!
Now I see that
He'd been offering me a ride all along.
But like Phoenix from the fire
Again I shall rise, much the wiser.
Purposed now to
change your mind
when you think that you will find
love, when all the warning signs

*Yvette Cade, a beautiful African American woman, who heeded the warning signs too late. Her husband came to her workplace, doused her with gasoline and set her on fire. She survived, incredibly burned, to share her story as a cautionary tale about love and ignoring the warning signs.
Comment by Carrie on October 16, 2010 at 5:04pm
He beat me black and blue with his words. Hundreds of texts. The endless threats, the extreme mood swings and drinking, hacking into my e-mail and contacting my family and friends. Such sad attempts to exert control. I almost pity him. Promising he loved me and he'd never do it, again. I went to Alanon and worked on myself. I learned the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. When he threatened to have me gang raped, I left for good. Obtained an order of protection. Although, he is still trying to make my life hell I know IWS.
Comment by Dawn Nickel on October 16, 2010 at 4:49pm
Looking back, I think that it was that last punch to my head that finally knocked me to my senses. It must have finally just slammed open the thought that I didn’t deserve to live that way any longer. I don’t know what he saw in my eyes as he stepped back, but I do remember the feeling that came over me as the ringing in my ears stopped. I thought to myself, I will get out of this. I will not be here in this place, with this person, one year from now. IWS.

Postscript: I did.
Comment by Kelley Harrell on October 16, 2010 at 2:51pm
I survived what you did. I survived your family's blame and the years of healing, mostly. What left is me? Regardless, now I know if someone dislikes me, it’s not because of what you did, but because I've become what I had to. You are purged. Now to survive me. IWS.

~Kelley ~ Soul Intent Arts ~ Intentional Insights ~The Saferoom Project
Comment by April Sweazy on October 16, 2010 at 2:28pm
At 10 years old her main concern was staying invisible so she might elude her mother’s drunken rage, but still most days ended in bloody battles that she was too small to fight. The fear may have silenced her then, but she survived and today she has a voice. IWS
Comment by Lisa Martinez on October 16, 2010 at 1:40pm
She was my strength and the center of my universe. She is my mother. He tried to beat her soul from within her body, but it refused to leave. Her soul found a quiet escape to a new life. In her escape, I found the will to live again. It was too late for her sons, but not for me. Thank you. IWS
Comment by Annetta Ribken on October 16, 2010 at 10:18am
Forged through the fire of blood and the black purple of a bruised heart, the woman that once was is no more. Tempered by undeserved blows and mitigated grief, I am not a survivor. I am not a victim. I am me. IWS.
Comment by Nancy Kitka on October 15, 2010 at 6:35pm
Life warped my soul. As a victim, I was an abuser. I dished out abuse and invited it with my behaviour. I am not saying it was my fault. Rather that each person plays more than one part in abusive relationships. You trade yourself for something: Shelter, money, security, but at what cost? I got real, took responsibility and I did more than survive. IWS
Comment by Sharen Ford on October 15, 2010 at 4:11pm
His hands around her throat as she struggled beneath him on the floor, he tried to prove who was in charge by squeezing the spirit from her. In his crib, the baby screamed in terror. I will survive for you, she promised him. You will never have to witness this again. And you will not grow up to be like him. IWS


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