Absent fact, people speculate...

Why I am passionate about domestic violence awareness and prevention

In my early twenties, I gave 5 years of my life to domestic violence.  I say “gave” because, as an adult, I made choices that placed me in a dangerous situation. At the time, I stayed silent. And absent fact, people speculate.

In my case, those around me did not know what was really going on in my life – only the bits I was unable to keep secret. They speculated that my situation must not have been too bad, that I must have been ok with it, and even that I must have liked what was happening.  The fact is: I never accepted, let alone liked, the escalating violence, sexual assaults, or isolation I experienced.  I never liked the increasing hyper-vigilance that became a habit because my home, the place that should have been my sanctuary, was the most dangerous place in my world.  I stand in my truth every day knowing these facts.

People assume they can look in my hazel eyes and know what inspires me to be passionate about ending domestic violence. Absent fact, people speculate. They speculate that because of my personal experience I want to help someone else; true, but that's not really what motivates me. The fact is: last year I found out that my ex-husband had been convicted of a crime, was incarcerated, and added to the sex offender registry.  I found out that his crime was a sexual act against child under the age of fourteen.

Today, I am passionate about ending domestic violence for that girl who was too young to make choices or defend herself. For that girl whose future was irrevocably changed.  For that girl I will never know but I see in the faces of other young girls.  I will stop when I have either done enough or when the burden becomes unbearable, but I will not stop today.

I know first-hand that absent the facts, people will speculate.  My call to action for you is to stop speculating about domestic violence. Arm yourself with facts, and fight to find the truth beneath the surface. Join the effort to end domestic violence and build a future where there are no more stories like mine, like hers.

Domestic violence flourishes in silence – break the silence, take action, and stop the violence. 

#EndTheSilence

Dr. Debra Bentson