To The Woman With The Bruises

domestic violence

To the Woman with the bruises,

I know you. I don’t know your name, where you live, your age or phone number.

But I know you.

I know that look in your eyes. That frightened, defeated, depressed, broken look.

I know you, because I once saw that look in my own eyes.

I know what it’s like to live with someone you’re terrified of. I know what it’s like to go to sleep sick, and wake up scared.

I know you.

And I want you to hear me, as one survivor to another:

It’s not your fault.

I know the psychological warfare you’ve been besieged with. I know how your self-esteem is non-existent, replaced by a constant stream of negatives. I know that you’ve come to believe that you’re so useless, damaged, stupid, lazy, that you deserve every word hurled at you in anger, every blow that’s ever landed upon you, be it emotionally or physically. I know you believe that if you could just be BETTER, this would all go away, that you’d meet with approval, that finally, he’d be happy. And love you.

After all, he can be sweet, can’t he? You have memories that you treasure in your heart, that you keep close and turn back to, time and again. There’s hope there. Proof that he can be loving, and kind, and gentle, that the rage that takes him over, that’s what’s to blame. At heart, he’s so loving, isn’t he?

Here’s the truth: No. No, he’s not.

His rage is just a part of him as any good you’ve ever seen. And the reality is, no amount of enduring his rage will ever get him to stop. Nothing you say or do is responsible for his behaviour, and therefore, nothing you say or do will ever make him stop lashing out at you.

Because, it’s all on him. You bear no responsibility for his abuse of you. None.

It doesn’t matter how angry you make him, what you’ve done. Burn dinner, late home from work, decided to go out for a girl’s night, put a dent in the car. Doesn’t. Matter. As an adult, HE has the responsibility to control his emotions, because he’s the only one that actually can. And, unless you’re physically attacking him, and he’s defending himself from you, there is NOTHING you can ever do that would justify him putting his hands on you in anger. There just isn’t.

It doesn’t matter WHY he’s abusive. It just doesn’t. Be it mental illness, addiction, or just being an evil abusive jerk. The end result is the same. Someone that abuses their partner is not someone who you need to be with. You can’t heal him, save him, fix him. You need to attend to your own safety.

And as for all that crap he’s drilled into your head? Think about something…if you’re so lazy, stupid, ugly, fat, or whatever load of psychologically damaging crap he’s hammered into your head, ask yourself…why would he want to have someone like that around? Considering how high his standards are, makes no sense at all, does it? It’s because you’re none of those things. What you are, is a wonderful person, who has the right to be treated by a partner as a blessing in their lives.

He breaks you down, psychologically and physically, because he knows he’s not worthy of you, so controlling you, keeping you caged by fear and self loathing, is the only hope he’s got. That’s why he ups the stakes the way he does. Finding fault with something he’d praised before, be it a meal you cooked, a dress you wore, he needs to assure himself that no matter what he does, he’s in control.

There is never, ever a way to satisfy him.

I’m praying you get out. Leave him. There are women’s shelters that you can run to. Or, like the Superbowl commercial aired this year, call 911. Please, get help. Get to safety. Get yourself some therapy to undo the damage he’s done. Be the woman you were made to be.

And I promise you, that woman? She’s nobody’s punching bag.

And if you do these things, you’ll look in the mirror one day, and the woman gazing back at you will have joy in her eyes. Peace. Excitement. A love of living again. And strength. There will be a strength there, that you recognize.

I know you..I was you…I am you. I got out. I stayed out. You can too.

Be it a violent partner, or abusive parents, there is hope. There is a way out.

You can do this. Reach out. Ask for help. Domestic violence hotlines in your area can give you a wealth of information, and are there to help, to listen.

You can do this.

If you’re in Canada, a bit of research indicates that it seems domestic hotlines are broken down by province. A link here will provide information on each province.

In the US, there is both a hotline and a website with chat available. 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE), 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) Site, with chat function availability is here


 I wrote this piece because no woman, child, or man should ever live in fear. No person, regardless of age, gender, socio-economic status or any other label you’d like to use should EVER be a victim of domestic violence.

I chose to write about a woman, because statistically, women as victims do outnumber men. I gravely suspect that the statistics for men to be abused is even MORE under reported than even the experts are guessing. I hope and pray that as more people speak out, more cry and yell about domestic violence being a crime in our world, that there will come a day when nobody lives in fear from someone who supposedly loves them.

This is my cry out. This is my yell. This is my banner waving furiously. No. More. End domestic violence.

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To The Woman With The Bruises — 46 Comments

  1. We’re part of a group of women who sees right through the mask domestic violence puts up because we used to wear it, too. One thing escaping an abusive relationship and rebuilding myself taught me the hard way: The only actions we control are our own. Our actions, our reactions. Abusers don’t have the strength to own theirs, so they lay blame. But once we own ours, we are unstoppable.

  2. This is so powerful even to someone like me who has, thankfully, never been part of an abusive relationship. What makes it powerful is that abuse has affected people close to me, and even if it hadn’t a lot of us feel concern even for strangers, for those we don’t know.

    These words have their greatest impact when they come from someone who knows, though, and it’s heartening to know they’re being repeated. One thing I do know is how hard it is for a message this difficult to get through. Hearing it once isn’t enough, but when it’s repeated it can eventually get through.

    • Thank you for your comment, Christopher. One of the biggest problems, imo, is the stigma surrounding domestic violence. Victims are ashamed. Questions about why didn’t they leave, etc only further to keep this in the shadows.

    • Thank you so much, Marcia. The idea that someone might read this, and could start on the path to safety and healing is what made me write the post. If I can get the message to just one person that they don’t deserve the abuse they’re living with…Well, that’s one step closer to ending domestic violence, isn’t it?

  3. This is a very sobering and honest post. Thank you for writing it, Melissa. I hope your words of encouragement will empower everyone who’s in a abusive relationship to really seek a way out.

    I agree with you, parents can be abusive too–physically, emotionally, and/or verbally abusive. Someone who’s close to me has a verbally abusive parent. The parent berates him, mocks him, judges him, and basically just belittle him in every way. I witness that again and again. I told him that his parent should not talk to him that way, but he just shrugged his shoulder. He told me that he’s been ignoring the parent’s words ever since he was still a little boy.

    It saddens me that so many other kids are probably in this kind of situation with their parents. I do really hope that domestic abuse will end.

    • The most common factor in being in an abusive relationship as an adult is to have grown up in an abusive household.

      Honestly, I don’t think that physical abuse can exist without emotional and psychological abuse. I think it starts with the verbal/emotional, and grows from there. That’s why those being abused don’t get up and leave the first time they’re physically assaulted.

  4. This is so incredibly heartbreaking. That Superbowl commercial really took my breath away this year, and I was so glad that they aired it. More people need to know that they too can find the help they need. I’m so glad that you got out; and I hope this message reaches other women who need to do the same.


    Stopping in from SITS Sharefest.

  5. Thank you. This is such a “hidden” secret and even society has a difficult time confronting it head on. This was beautifully written and so needed today. Thank you. Thank you.

    • I truly believe that domestic violence, like so many other toxic things, can only live and thrive in the darkness. Shining a light on it, pulling it out of the shadows and into the sun, is the only way we’re ever going to truly combat it.

      If the post was of any help, support, or comfort, I’m so incredibly glad. Thank you for your comment, Elizabeth.

  6. I can’t understand why someone would do this to someone they love or what happens in it but I am certain your words will help someone. It has to be helpful to know there are others who have walked your path and come out the other side.

    • I don’t think anyone really understands what motivates someone to abuse another. Sure, power, control, even enjoying subjugating another person can be motives, but to actually *understand* it? I can’t.

      I really, truly do hope that someone, somewhere, is helped by what I’ve had to say.

      Thanks for your comment, Jack.

  7. Your words are so powerful and uplifting, and it takes courage to write this. Hell it takes courage to leave the situation you were in and just SURVIVE. This will help others, keep writing and keep empowering other women to find their peace!

  8. Wow, what a powerful post. It’s easy to be on the outside looking in and think, “Why doesn’t she just leave?” but you describe it perfectly. The physical abuse is horrible enough, but there is so much more going on that we don’t even see. Thank you for sharing your story and for offering hope to women who need it.

    • Thank you, Lauren. Yes, the abuse that damages self worth, self esteem, the belief that you’re to blame for what happens, that you DESERVE it, and then there’s the ‘Devil you know’ aspect. When you’re convinced of being stupid, lazy, useless, how can you possibly make it on your own?

      That’s the reality of many abuse victims.

  9. Such an important topic. I’m glad it’s getting light in the media, and personal/honest stories like yours need to be heard. Thanks for being brave and sharing your story!

    • I don’t think there’s anything brave about sharing my story. I’m just sitting behind a puter screen, many years away from that time. I’m just simply trying to do what I can, in hopes of encouraging other women.

  10. I love this post. That woman was me, that woman was my mother. Domestic Violence needs to be nonexistent, and I can’t express how empowered I feel knowing the world is beginning to fight the silence.

  11. Such an important post. As someone who has been down that dark road in the past and then spent a few years working in a women’s shelter, I cannot stress enough how important it is to get the message across that it is not okay, that it is not your fault, and that there is help out there. We must break the silence if we are to see change.

    Thank you so very much for sharing this with us at #MommyMeetupMondays

  12. Wow this was deep. Your bravery is strength. I know this will not only help you but help others going through the same. I wish you the best.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was a victim of domestic violence for 11 years and your description of “the woman” resonated with me so deeply. It’s a definite must-read for anyone who is suffering from the hands of another.

    • Thank you so much, Michelle. I’m sorry that you went through it for so long but I’m so glad you made your way out.

      I’m hoping those that think my words are helpful will share them so that others who need to read it, will be able to find it.

  14. ***It doesn’t matter WHY he’s abusive. It just doesn’t. Be it mental illness, addiction, or just being an evil abusive jerk**

    YES. Yes. Yes.

    After my sister’s murder, some people were trying to excuse the murderer’s behavior.

    I stopped them, “NO MORE EXCUSES for him. Not One more. Shut the F*ck up.”


    • I’m so sorry about your sister.

      And yes, I’m a firm believer in the ‘why’ doesn’t matter when it comes to domestic violence. The ‘why’ isn’t the problem of the person being abused. It’s the problem of the abuser, and on them to solve. The person being abused needs to focus solely on their own safety (and of any children that may be involved, of course)

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  16. I am going to print this out for my daughter to read. I have said everything you wrote to her, but maybe the 100th voice I give her will help. I particularly like the point you made about if she is so “whatever” why his he with her. Her b/f has not escalated to a serious point yet but he is working up to it and I see it in her eyes. Thank you for a wonderful post.

  17. I love this post!
    I think there are always times we think we’re alone, that there’s no one else that understands. It’s so important to realize, to KNOW, that we’re not alone. And there are people who can help.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you for your comment!

      One of the primary tools of an abuser is isolation. Socially, emotionally…that feeling of aloneness is such a huge issue. Anyone who’s a target of domestic violence needs to know that they aren’t alone, that there are ppl who will understand, who will accept them, support them.

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