I firmly believe that the only person that anger poisons is yourself.
And maybe this is better for a personal blog, but this is something that I feel strongly about and I guess it's time to start giving back because I'm so grateful for breaking the cycle in my family.
Without going into too much detail about specific events, I grew up in house full of yelling, name calling, flying objects, and hitting. Not many people outside of some family - even my friends - knew until the summer of 2002. I was in my 20s.
In 2002 I was married to someone I really shouldn't have married. The wonderful and amazing man that I'm married to now was just my very good friend at that point. That summer we were taking a photography class together. (How funny) You should always examine what you spend 99% of your time thinking about or doing - it's what you really want. One afternoon, he was dropping me off from a gym outing and my husband was on the front porch holding the phone. I had a phone call.
The phone call that changed everything. My mother was at a friend's house and hurt. Could I come up? My husband asked if I really needed to go up there. (He didn't like my family) Andy said he would go with me. We got there and my mother was in a state I had never seen. The worst event of the 25+ years my parents had been together. The image will be burned into my mind forever. I'll spare you the details...Once we determined that my mom was settled and would be sort of okay, Andy took me home. The next day, I told my husband I was moving out. Life is too short to be something you don't want.
Sometimes the worst events can lead to the best and most amazing things. There was a backwards slide for my mother (read: she took him back), but a few years later she got out and even though it was and is hard and she still struggles, she has been successful on her own with my sister and brother for ~7 years. Andy and I are married with a family of awesome. He saw the worst of my family on the first day he met them, so you know...it could only go up from there, right? haha
That photography class Andy and I were taking together had a self-portrait series as a final...just before everything happened. The images I made for that final:
Obviously, these aren't representative of my current photography. But they remind me that when I have issues, I used to put them into my art. And I've been being safe...
Here's the thing...this is still pretty quiet, aside from billboards with shocking photos of bruised and bloodied women or the occasional movie on 'that network for women'. (Does anyone really watch that?) And be honest...when you see those billboards, you probably look away. I'll admit it. I do. I don't think they do their intended job. Shock value doesn't really work for me. I think when people hear about domestic violence or emotional abuse, there are probably some stereotypes that pop into their mind...economic or racial or whatever. Those shocking photos don't really help with that either. What people don't realize is that the family that lives right next door could be one of those families and the secret is so well protected that nobody knows it's going on. My family was a middle class family that seemed pretty normal from the outside.
So what to do? We can stop looking away. We can recognize that this happens in families that might surprise us. Women, children, and men are living with this quietly. They might not have visible marks and the main form of abuse may be emotional. Physical abuse that doesn't happen regularly is still abuse. Nobody should feel like they have no option but to continue to live with the person that continually calls them names, screams in their face, and blames them for all of their shortcomings.
I have some ideas for the one thing I know I can do. As I said in a previous post, I have a few series in the works. The one dealing with this is going to be particularly difficult for me, so it will probably take some time.