"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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  • April Sweazy

    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

  • 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

  • Annetta Ribken

    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.

  • Nancy Kitka

    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

  • Sharen Ford

    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

  • Ann Douglas

    I serve on the Board of Directors for my local YWCA, which just opened a brand new shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence. Last month, the YWCA had a massive celebration to thank the community for their support of the campaign to make it possible to replace our two aging shelters with a brand new shelter for women and children. A video was created to thank the community. In it, one of the counselors talks about the works she does. It is one of the most moving videos I have ever seen. You can view it here, if you are interested:


  • Julie Jeffs

    He thought her fear and that he took her clothes and keys would keep her hostage to his beatings. But he was wrong; she wrapped her naked bruised body in a bedspread and climbed out the window to freedom. She does not speak of it; there is no shame but she will not give him that power over her again. IWS

  • marci alboher

    Happy to spread the word, Debbie. What a powerful way to honor those who have experienced domestic violence.