Looking out over the sea of beautiful young faces, I recalled my early college years--the commute from the farm, the new friends next to me...and my dreams.
When I was a freshman in college, I wanted to become a medical doctor and travel the world helping those most in need. I could not have imagined the life that actually unfolded for me. I was young--naïve, and did not know life's complexities.
My presentation began with a discussion about secrets, about how we hide our traumas deep within our hearts. We want others to see us as perfect, and so we smile when we are actually distraught. To illustrate my point, I introduced them to two students--one wealthy one not, one light one dark. Each young woman had became pregnant while attending the prestigious college at which I worked. Neither student sought help; neither student shared their secret--one of an abusive boyfriend, the other of rape.
One had her baby alone and nearly died; the infant did not survive. The other student gave her baby away to someone who did not know of the rape. Both had secrets that had gone awry.
Think about your secrets; we all have them, we all try to ignore them, we all pretend they don't exist. And yet we judge others for theirs--when the terror becomes public. What if our secrets--of rape, of an unwanted pregnancy, of incest, of domestic violence.....were exposed? Would we still point our finger at someone else?
Two young women multiplied by thousands experience violence every year. Most keep this experience a secret. Why?
The simple answer is--"I" was not there. "I" had died inside; "I" was a mannequin going through the motions of life. The complicated answer is I was afraid--of my former spouse, of what the church-you-society would think, of whether or not I could support my children, I was afraid of life.
It was when I began writing my book, that I was guided through the corridors of my heart, which I had sealed decades before. The years of abuse were long past and in tow—its numbness, and so it was that tears and gasps came and went--because they could.
The dramas that once controlled my life and held me captive are no more; and, the person I was decades ago lives only in ashen memories. But I wonder....about you, and you, the 1.3 million women who are victims of physical assault by their intimate partner each year--do you feel safe to share your secret?