I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Sad Reality

The above is a photo of my face two days after I fell down at work (yes, I know, flattering, right?). In this picture the bruising is pretty bad but the swelling has gone down - it started out as a big golf ball right under my eye. (Note to my family: I am *fine*, it just looks horrible, please don't panic.) The sad thing is, it looks like I have been beaten - and everyone I've met has made the assumption that I'm a battered wife. The truth is, it really was a work accident - but that explanation doesn't satisfy most people, who feel the need to joke that it must have been my DH, or that I *wink* *nudge* "ran into a door." Now to be honest, at first I made those jokes, too - saying that DH "didn't like dinner last night." I suppose after years of hearing about spousal abuse and seeing various video and media representations of what happens to battered women, we're sort of 'conditioned' to look at females with bruises and to think the worst. In my stupidity and desire to cover up my embarrassment about it all, I joined in the joking.

It's a few days later now, and several things have happened. Firstly, I've been out and about in public with people who don't know what happened to me. These are strangers to whom I cannot explain what happened. I've gotten a lot of strange looks, a lot of "gee, that looks like it must've hurt" comments, and plenty of people who you can tell are dying to ask me what happened. Secondly, I have been totally surprised by how I feel about all this attention. I am embarrassed. I feel humiliated. I feel ashamed. I feel self-conscious. I feel hurt. I feel depressed. I feel helpless because I can't make it heal any faster. I feel like I want to crawl into a hole and hide my face, because I feel all those feelings I just listed. I try not to look in the mirror to be reminded of how ugly it is, and I desperately wish my workmates would not stare at it, or ask to see it up close, or say silly things like, "Ooh, that looks NASTY!" I can't crawl into that hole, though. I still have a job to go to, children to pick up at pre-school, and a life to lead. I have no choice but to try and hold my head up high as I go through my daily activities.

Now imagine if this injury really HAD been the result of being battered by my husband. Dear god, just imagine. The pain, embarrassment, humiliation, self-consciousness ... all of that would be a million fold what I am feeling right now. In addition to my face injury I have a big bruise on my arm...and every morning I'm thankful that my sleeve covers it so I don't have to explain that, too. Add all of that to the terror of having to go back home to a partner who might do it again, and again and - just typing this is taking my breath away. How many women are out there, suffering like this? How many feel helpless to stop it? How many have survived this, only to fall into it the trap again? How many hide it well enough so that we don't even know it's happening to them?

Here you can find some statistical information about domestic violence in Australia - and these are only those people who speak up about it. Here is where you can find some help if you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence.

I am so very, very lucky. My injury was the result of clumsiness on my part, and nothing and nobody else. I have a loving, gentle DH who wouldn't dream of lifting a finger on me - no matter how much I annoy him. This experience - of walking around looking abused, even though I have not been - has been a humbling one. I've been given new insight into just how horrible abuse must really be - and I've only really experienced a tiny, tiny bit of what it must be like. This post is just to wish strength and hope to the people out there who are suffering this for real.

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