Tuesday, August 25, 2015

From Victim to Survivor: The Path to Healing

By Christina Newby, Volunteer, Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence

While more and more people are beginning to understand that escaping a domestic violence relationship can be extremely difficult, it is also important to understand that the path to healing is equally challenging. Often, the survivor is in a state of crisis immediately following her escape. Her entire life has been turned on its head, and she is frantically searching for safety and stability. Even worse, she is trying to understand it all: “Why did I choose him? Why did he abuse me? What did I do wrong? What could I have done to make it work? How could he act like that if he said he loved me?” The questions seem endless.

Too often victims get caught up trying to fix the past. They try to understand the abuse, make sense of the abuser’s behavior. It’s normal and healthy to grieve the end of a relationship. But it’s impossible to change the past. And it’s impossible to change another person, especially an abuser.

In order to move from being a victim to being a survivor, she must focus on the present and the future. She must focus on building herself up, strengthening and educating herself. By choosing life-enriching activities, empowering herself, creating and enforcing boundaries, and realizing her worth she will begin her path to healing. Creating a network of fellow survivors who are focused on empowerment and healing is especially powerful.

Break The Silence Against Domestic Violence (BTS) has been that network for me and many others. With revitalization retreats, empowerment workshops, education conferences, community outreach, an advocate hotline, and much more, BTS enables victims and survivors to connect with one another and transform their lives. At the 2014 retreat, I shared the full story of my abuse for the first time. The workshops opened my mind to self-love and self-care. The weekend-long experience allowed me to connect and form a bond with other victims and survivors on a very deep level. Nine years after leaving my abuser, I finally had a map to navigate my path. The sisterhood of survivors I have built through BTS has been instrumental in my healing. We communicate regularly in trials and in celebrations. We understand each other, support and encourage one another, and we share a common mission: to become empowered, to break our silence, to educate and empower others.

As a survivor of an abusive relationship, Christina Newby is now a passionate advocate in the cause to educate and raise awareness about domestic violence with Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence. She believes her purpose in life is to bring laughter and love to the lives of others, and maybe get them thinking just a little bit about the meaning of life and why we’re all here.