“I am not my captivity”

It happened slowly, creeping in undetected.

Little warnings that were missed.

Whispers of fear delicately surrounding him.

It never occurred to me that I could be a victim of domestic violence. I’m not sure when I understood that I was trapped, held captive in plain sight. Maybe when there were knees pushing down and pinning my arms, long fingers encircling my neck, squeezing tighter, I can’t breathe. Chest so tight…so this is it, this is how I will die? But not that night, and back to the facade, smile say good morning passing people on the street. Fielding questions “how come we never see you out at night anymore?” Lies and excuses flow easily. Living in such fear, protecting this child, this gift. Every attempt to disengage met with sabotage and punishment. A bullet to the head, a beating with a chain a puppy swinging from a tree lifeless. Did they know now, could someone help me? An entire island was living in fear with me and everyone remained silent. I was a captive in plain sight living with a murderer unable to breathe, tight chest, and fear running circles in my head for so long that it has become my friend. Escape dark of night, speedboat, and plane but still not safe – never safe.

I struggle with my story. As soon as someone knows it seems to be all that they see. I suddenly become something else to them I’m used up, destroyed, foolish, damaged. I feel damaged too; I am damaged, every day the fear peeks out in little ways. My whole being has been altered. It is part of my fabric as though my DNA. But I want to be seen as strong and powerful and resilient because I am all those things also. I am so much more than my captivity, my abuse. The strength I have, who I am it’s all interconnected. Where I was when this happened to me there was a saying… people would pass by and you would ask them “Hello, good day, how are you?” And the response would be “I’m sufferin’” It’s true we are all suffering in some way, life is a struggle – wonderful, amazing, hard and devastating at times – life is a journey and the journey is not always what we planned.

Surviving not suffering. I want you to see that I am a survivor, damaged but a survivor too.