While at the CISM training this past weekend, I met a gentleman, Gordon Leeks, that works for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in their Heatlhy Marriage Program of the Family and Community Services (Office of Family Services). We were discussing some the projects that I am working on with the domestic violence arena and mentioned, too, that I am (as a co-chair of the Texas Survivors’ Caucus, a member of the Survivor Voices, and the creator of Domestic Violence Voices & Beyond Worlds Live!) focusing this year on the storytelling aspects. To clarify real quick here, I’m not encourage those to tell a story (fib) about their circumstances, but instead, I am encouraging those victims/survivors to find the tools to be able to tell “their own” story and share their voice.
With the right tools before them, I feel that they can try to put the jumbled pieces in the brain together to make sense of what happened to them, so that they can move forward with their lives, share their stories with others, and be able to talk to the legislators without being traumatized again in just telling their story out loud. No matter what their personal journey goal is — whether just for peace of mind or being able to enact laws for change in the legal system — there are tools needed to make sure that happen.
A lot of the way the system currently works is that they are trying to get justice served by proceeding to prosecute against the abuser, finalize the divorce proceedings, finalize the custody hearings — which is very much needed — but, I don’t feel that enough attention is given to allowing the victim to tell their story more fully (male or female) to be able to put all the pieces together. True, at the time of the initial assistance, they may not be able to do so even then because of the turmoil and the shock that they are initially undergoing.
At some point in time, one must be able to be allowed to do so.
Therefore, at a time that the victim feels ready for them to do so, tools should be provided to be allowing them to tell their story in their own words. Counseling is great, and often offers them create outlets for healing processes, etc. — however, I don’t think that the true healing process begins until they start putting the pieces together to tell — what exactly is their story and where do they see their journey of healing taking them.
I know that part of the success of my healing process is being able to figure out what my story was, is, will be in the future. I developed some techniques of my own as a child advocate and a paralegal, but they weren’t professionally designed by those with hundreds of initials behind their name.
In formulating my next step and vision for myself — to plan a day of a workshop for survivors to come together and be presented with several tool options so that they too can experience what I and many other survivors have been doing for years and years past our abusive environments. Although, even we may face an occasional trigger moment from time to time, as time continues to pass, we find those moments more and more rare as time moves forward.
For me, the last abuse I had was in early 2000, and I am moving towards being out of those environments for thirteen (13) years, and closing upon the 15 year anniversary. This is way that I can, now, be such a strong advocate and proponent in the domestic violence movement. My visions are many and I have to realize that I have just so many hands — and need many out there to help.
The theme of my Domestic Violence Voices (http://facebook.com/domesticviolencevoices) and the Beyond Words Live! radio show (http://blogtalkradio.com/oralhistory) have, and always will have, the essential theme of “sharing your voice!” loud and clear. To do so, helps educate others (not only the family and friends that are so unaware what really goes on in a domestic violence victim’s mind) but also gives others still in those environments, a sense of hope that they too can get out of the situation — as well as pride for the survivor who did because the victim knows the insurmountable courage that it takes to leave in those circumstances.
As such, I am looking forward to learning more about what are some of the storytelling tools available out there and cannot wait until I hear back from the lady that Gordon is putting me in touch with. This material, at first glance, seems more on the level of educating the community though rather than just the victim/survivor; however, with every new thought process, it starts the wheels of change moving in the right direction — right? We’ll see. I’m waiting to hear back from the person coordinator the program.
In the meantime, and a side note, if you know of anyone in the Greater Austin Texas area who would be perfect for such a workshop (whether it is to speak and present some tools for telling the story OR if it is someone (even you) who is a recent victim or survivor of domestic violence and is ready to learn some new tools for living and moving forward through development of the tools of storytelling), please let me know. You can either comment below and/or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS The site that Gordon originally directed me to was (not a Texas site, but a Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence site),which also directed me to this site YWCA event breaks down domestic violence | The Columbian and this site to purchase the materials In Her Shoes: Living With Domestic Violence.
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