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One of the blogs that I like to read is Maggie’s at Okay, Fine, Dammit.  (One day, I will have a functioning blogroll.  I will, I swear.)  Recently, Maggie started a new blog, Violence Unsilenced, which she created “to shed light on the epidemics of domestic violence and sexual assault by giving their survivors a voice”.  (I couldn’t say this better, so I’m quoting her words here.)

Each and every one of us knows someone who has been the victim of domestic violence and/or sexual assault.  Each and every one of us.

Each and every one of us knows someone who has abused someone.  Again, each and every one of us.

We might not know it, but we do.

Shame is a powerful thing.  It keeps us in the shadows, afraid to tell our truths.  It prevents us from standing up and telling the world and telling our family and friends, about our experiences.  It makes us think that what has happened to us is our fault.

I cannot say this too often or with too much emphasis:  It is not our fault.  If you are the victim of abuse, it is NOT YOUR FAULT.

(I didn’t think about this post before I started it, so I’m a bit all over the place.  And this is a hard subject.  Please pardon me for the scattered post, but keep reading.)

I am a victim of domestic violence.  And I will write my story, to post both here and at Violence Unsilenced.  It won’t be today, but I will do it.

The amazing people who have submitted posts to Maggie deserve to be heard.  Each and every one of us needs to be aware of this issue and the effects that it has on the lives of everyone it touches.  Go there today and read.  Tell everyone you know.  Take the pledge.

Today, I take the pledge.  As Maggie writes, “If bloggers who have survived domestic abuse and sexual assault are brave enough to tell their stories here, the blogging community owes it to them to listen.”

Therefore, If you are brave enough to share your story of domestic violence, I pledge to hear and honor what you have to say.

Do it today, please.

If you were to name the one thing you have the most compassion for, what would it be?

There is not one single thing/person/entity for which I have the most compassion.  But my criteria for who I would have the most compassion for would be those who are helpless, who cannot speak for themselves, who have to rely (for good or for ill) on others for their well-being.  This category would include animals, children, and people who are disabled who cannot communicate or who lack the cognitive ability to understand what abuse is and that they might be experiencing it.

I’ve mentioned that I work with the local SPCA, but I haven’t mentioned my work with the Canadian Red Cross.  I am a certified Abuse Prevention Educator, and we focus on preventing abuse against children and youth (child abuse, relationship violence, bullying and harassment, violence in sport, etc.).  Often, the disabled who are unable to communicate or who lack the ability to understand that they are being abused are targeted by abusers.

All of this work has led me to have the most compassion for those who cannot express that they are being abused or neglected, such as animals, children (who may not even know that what they are experiencing is abuse and/or neglect), and those who cannot express what they are experiencing or who don’t know that it is abuse.

(Sorry that this is a little repetitive;  I’m a little dizzy today.)

It’s been said that, “The best things in life are free.” Do you think this is true?

Somewhat.  Certainly, things like love, companionship, kindness, compassion, friendship, and joy do not come with a price tag attached.  However, things like security, health (both physical and mental), peace of mind, having sufficient food to eat or clean water to drink, and feeling safe in the world are definitely not free.  They all require a certain amount of money to achieve.  Having lived on a very limited income for the past eight years (with the safety net of friends and family who have the resources to help when I truly need it) and planning my future with an equally limited income and perhaps much less of a safety net, I am becoming aware that this second group of “things” are certainly not free.

What is the most valuable thing you own?

It pains my heart that animals are considered property, but there it is (for now, at least).  And since that is the case, I would have to say that Dannan, my furry family member, is most valuable.  To me, having him in my life is beyond price.  If you are interested to find out why, read on.  If not, just skip to the end.

In the past, I have called Dannan my “suicide prevention dog”, which no one seems to find funny except for me. But he surely is.  When I am completely lost in the darkness, he is what keeps me from considering suicide.  Even my family doesn’t enter into my thoughts;  when I’m really low, I tell myself that they would understand.  But I know that my dog wouldn’t, and I could never abandon him that way.  So that’s part of it.

Also, he is the reason I get out of bed on many mornings.  There are definitely several days out of the average month that I might not do it if it weren’t for him.  And he is so happy in the morning at the idea of getting up and out of bed, that he reminds me every day that I should be glad that I’m here.

When I am not feeling well, whether it is the flu or a cold, or whether it is because I am very anxious or depressed, he sticks close by me.  He either lies in my lap, or close enough to me that we touch.  It really kind of seems like he realizes that I need him nearby.  And the days when I am crying, he gets into my lap and licks my face until I catch my breath and calm down.

When I am anxious or depressed, I scratch and stroke him, and this helps me to moderate my emotions.  Having to look after him also brings me out of myself.  His needs for fresh air and exercise are almost always what motivates me to go outside and to exercise myself.  I never feel judged by him;  he always loves me and wants to be with me.

I really don’t think that I would be where I am in my recovery without my dog.  His unconditional love and his very presence in my life keeps me plugging along.  Taking care of him forces me to take care of myself when I might not otherwise.

To see what other people have said about these three questions, check out Manic Monday.

Please visit Violence Unsilenced – Help end domestic violence and sexual assault

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