After a few days of staying in the refuge for women and children affected by Domestic Violence & Abuse in 2008, I began to compassionately observe the other families we shared that accommodation with. I pondered about who each individual would emerge to be, and concluded that we all had 3 options – survivor, victim, or perpetrator. I decided to be a survivor!
Emerging from crushed lives, survivors decide to pick up the broken pieces of their lives, and carefully plan how to rebuild their lives using these pieces. They consider areas where renewal is required and stretch their minds searching for who they would want to become. Identifying what they would need for their reconstruction, they also pray for God’s divine intervention in the rebuilding process.
Survivors do not only focus on carefully rebuilding themselves in such a manner, but purpose to restore order in their lives by re-learning (or learning) how to manage every area of their lives successfully. Survival is not only about your restoration as an individual, but the restoration of your whole life. If you are a parent with children, you will be responsible for the rebuilding and restoration of your children’s lives too.
There are those who choose to remain victims. In the refuge I came across women who had been in and out of the accommodation repeatedly over long periods, as if being in the refuge was part of their life cycle. They were not necessary abused by the same man, but some how they ended up becoming victims of DVA repeatedly – “repeat victims”. I have came across more women from this group since 2008.
Some victims, however, are not repeat victims. They are victims of their past. Allowing their experience of DVA to control them for many years, they remain subjected to the “victim identity”, with their lives centred on their past experiences, fears, and stigmas. Even the choices they make, are strongly influenced by the “victim identity”. They some how fail to imagine a life outside victimisation. Their story 10 years ago, will be the same story 10 years later.
The third group is that of perpetrators. They master what their former perpetrators did to them and adopt that as their character, making other people their victims. They find gratification in assuming that role, just like any other perpetrator would. I also saw children, especially boys presenting all traits of abusive behaviour against their mothers, sisters or other girls in the refuge.
Some women reported that their children’s behaviours precisely mimicked that of their abusive partners. With the right assistance, children can quickly unlearn these behaviours, as they become healed and restored. Adults too can change, but their process of transformation can take much longer than that of children. They would need to be unwavering in their commitment to change for full transformation. Both males and females are in this group.
My recommendation to any of you who have been affected by DVA, is for you to raise the bar and purpose to be a survivor. No matter how crushed you are, it is possible to rebuild your life again. Prepare your heart and mind for success – spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, and financially – before you take the steps that change your story. Success begins inside you first before you touch it with your hands and experience it externally. Choosing to become a survivor is a decision you alone can make.
© Kudakwashe Nyakudya 2013. All Rights Reserved.