Submitted Poem “Just Keep Struggling” by Lyndsey Collison

(Ed note: A few weeks ago I was at a first Friday Art Show in downtown Dover, Delaware when a poet came in and did a reading of her spoken word work about domestic violence. I was impressed with Lyndsey’s bravery at sharing such deeply personal work in person and face to face with her audience. I was blown away and asked if I could publish it here. Lyndsey has graciously agree to do so and it’s below.  Bravo Lyndsey!)
Just Keep Struggling
I woke up this morning with a lot on my mind
Last night I ignored the warning 
For the thousandth time
Boy I know, I know
That your toxic love is killing me
So why do I deal with one more blow
Why don’t I just let you go
I just keep struggling with these misconceptions 
Thinking one day you will change
Why do I keep playing your mind games
Even though it drives me insane
You keep telling me
To give you more time
To show me you’re mine
That you’re going to treat me right 
I keep telling myself
This is our last fight 
As I listen to your words
I know they sound absurd 
But yet I still hang on every word
I wish someone would rescue me
Take me out of this world
This is swallowing me
Take me far out to sea
Where I can be free 
Free to be me
Without these chains
That enslave  me
Lyndsey Collison
Choose to be a survivor 
Choose you


A new way to share your story!

I’m excited to announce that I’ve finally created a way to share your story without requiring folks to have their photos taken too. There is a link above to share your story anonymously. I do ask that you provide your name and email so that I can contact you if needed,  but those won’t be published. If you’ve held off sharing your story because you didn’t want to do photos, now is a chance to help yourself and others by sharing your story and experience. For every post I’ve done, folks have contacted me and told me how much the story they just read helped them.
If you want to do photos too, great! We can make that happen. If not, then text alone will make a world of difference for someone. I hope you’ll consider sharing your story, your truth, with the world.

If you have any questions or comments, please let me know!

“He Hit Her”: A song by one of the Survivors

ed note: (this post is a little different from the usual posts we do)

I had a very moving experience recently when one of the survivors on this site created some powerful art against domestic violence. Judy is a talented singer and performer that I know from attending some blues Jam’s at a local club. She opened up and told her story as 1:4 #12 on this blog. At the time she chose to do the post anonymously for reasons in the post. She has come to believe that one way to change the domestic violence culture is to step out into the light and share her experience and work against it more publicly. Part of that belief is in sharing her art. Judy and her band wrote the powerful song below, and performed it for the very first time in public at her CD release party for their first CD! Now, to be clear , this song wasn’t on the CD, however the band plans to record it at some point in the future. Anyways, Judy announced on Facebook that  she was going to announce something at her CD release party that had not many people knew about. Judy asked me to come to the show to hear the song. I was 10 feet away when she told just a little about the song and how being on this blog helped inspire her to creat the art and come forward. I could tell she was hesitant… but she did it. Then they played the song below. I was blown away by 1) her bravery 2) the song and 3) the idea that we can make art that makes a real difference. I may have choked up and had some dust in my eye.

“He Hit Her”

He hit her,

he hit her with looks, they pierced her skin like razors and sharp little hooks.


He hit her,

he hit her with words,

She turns away hoping nobody else had heard.


Why, does he mistreat her?

Why, doesn’t he care for her?


He hit her,

he hit her with fists,

in the very same place that five minutes ago he had kissed.


He hit her,

he hit her with force.

She reasons he love her but he knows no remorse.


Why, does he mistreat her?

Why, doesn’t he care for her?


He hit her,

he hit her to the ground,

She prays no one saw as she looks around.


He hit her,

he hit her again,

she cowers and prays her pain will come to an end.


Why, does he mistreat her?

Why, doesn’t he care for her?


She shot him,

she shot him down.

After all it was her neck his hands were wrapped around.


She shot him,

she shot him to live.

The only thing she had left was her soul to give.


Why, does he mistreat her?

Why, doesn’t he care for her?

Why, does he mistreat her?

Why, doesn’t he care for her?

He hit her……..


1:4 #22 , The Butterfly After the Storm

(Editor’s note: I’ve decided to open up the site to do just the stories without photos. I think it might allow more survivors to share their stories. And more readers to see themselves in the stories and know they’re not alone. In the next week or so, I plan to develop a form on the site for folks to submit their stories for publication without photos, with the option for me to do photos if that works for the survivors.  When I asked this survivor how folks might see her for the second part of the title, she said “People see me as a person who has beat the statistic. A child that’s survived the storm of a toxic household. People see me as a butterfly. Completely transformed.” )

Please share what happened to you:

I was not personally abused myself by anyone but, I lived in the toxic household of domestic violence. Over a period of eight years I watched my mother be involved in two domestic abusive relationships. I witnessed each time as they as both unraveled and the relationships went through the cycles. They would make her feel like she was the best thing in the world to have ever happened to them. Then it would be arguments late into the night. Followed by the first shove, spit, or slap. Then when she felt bold enough to fight back they would turn into punches. Some nights I’d be to busy trying to protect my baby brother and other nights I tried my best to protect her. During her second relationship she had completed the domestic violence cycle and had become the final outcome. My mother lost her life to the hands of her abuser on June 20, 2007 after she finally made the decision to leave.

How are you now?

I am healing as gracefully as I can. I am not a fifteen year old teen anymore but, now a twenty six year old mother of two. I am digging deep to heal the wounds that had yet to be resolved. Some days I’m in great spirits and feel better than others. An other days I cry for no reason. I carry the effects of my mother’s decision to stay, the wound from the decisions I’ve made to cope with the loss, and the pain of knowing I will never see her again. In my healing though I am growing. Learning that love is not pain and that what I saw is not everyone’s reality or every mans intention. To help with my pain I’ve advocated sites via social media to bring awareness to the cause. I’ve also begun journaling, seeking all levels of spirituality, and inner peace.

What would you like to tell the world about domestic violence?

I would like to say that domestic violence is a vicious cycle. That the victim tends to think that they are the only ones being hurt by physical pain. As a child without a mother I beg to differ. The child faces abuse on a completely different level and it will take them just as long to heal from the effects of it. I would also like to say domestic violence does not have a face, in meaning, no one type of woman OR man is excluded. It can happen to anyone, for any reason, at any time. Know the red flags, get educated, seek help if you think your in danger. Please for the sake of those who love you don’t wait.

Powerful Podcast About Abuse from a Survivor

I’ve been listening to a powerful podcast series by Jennifer Gulbrandsen that starts here Second Skate.

Jennifer is smart, funny and painfully honest about the trainwreck she somehow made it through. And is still trying to navigate, really.  People that are top performers in some arenas might be going through something you have no clue about. She talks about “blowback” and the fear of it at the end of the podcast and it really struck a chord with me. She goes into a lot of detail about who shouldn’t listen to the podcast at the beginning. Trigger warning: She went through some serious abuse of every kind. She doesn’t go into too much detail, but, it’s not for kids, or those still struggling with abuse and the aftereffects. The episodes are long, but, she has a lot to unpack…


Fighting Back Against Domestic Violence: An Academic Guide to Aid Victims of Abuse

I was recently contacted by a representative of the Frye Education Institute, an organization dedicated to the higher education community and information sector. She pointed out a great resource at Rutger’s University. She said :

I came across your website and resources that speak on domestic violence, abuse victims and violence prevention. Because of this, I wanted to bring this Rutgers University academic resource to your attention. This extensive guide highlights the prevalence and various types of domestic violence in America and how to understand the signs of an abusive relationship. Additionally, the resource provides victims with a list of groups, organizations and hotlines that can help them escape abusive situations, rebuild their lives and recover from the mental health impacts of abusive trauma. Our goal is to use education and awareness to promote social change and eliminate domestic violence while providing victims with the necessary resources to seek help and create a safer environment for themselves.

Rutgers University Domestic VIolence and Abusive Relationships Awareness

It’s a great resource with lots of valuable information with minimal fluff. It might save folks a lot of time on Google to just go the the Rutger’s link above.

I can see this information helping those in the abusive relationship and/or the folks trying to understand abusive relationships and help others they know in bad situations.

Thanks Frye Education Institute!


Guest Post: Fighting Back: Lessons from a Survivor

(ED Note: This article was submitted by Marie Miguel with some valuable insights)


Fighting Back: Lessons from a Survivor

Domestic violence can be a variety of different things such as verbal abuse, intimidation, sexual abuse, mental abuse, economic deprivation, threats of violence, and physical abuse. In the United States, a woman is beaten every 10 seconds. Over 1.3 million women in the United States are victims of domestic abuse every year. One thing that almost anyone who has experienced domestic violence or abuse will tell you is that it is devastating. Having someone you love, that is supposed to love you, hurt you is such a painful experience it is hard to explain in words. Another thing you may be shocked to learn is that the relationship was not always that way. You may think that an abuser is always an abuser from the beginning and that we stay with them because we are stupid or weak. False.


The first thing the abuser does is win you over with their super sweet personality. They shower you with love and never get mad at you for anything. You think you have found the perfect person. Once you are hooked, they usually start by isolating you from your friends and family. It starts out small, and you do not even realize it is happening. One day, you realize you do not have any friends, and you never talk to your family anymore.

Emotional Abuse

Your abuser will make sure you feel as low as you possibly can by drilling it into your head that you are worthless, stupid, powerless, ugly, and that nobody will ever want you. There will be nothing you can do to make your abuser stop once this has started and you will never be able to please him or do anything right according to him.

Physical Abuse

The physical abuse starts next in most cases. It is a constant cycle of your partner hurting you and then apologizing and saying it will never happen again. Then, there is a short period of calm when everything seems like it will be okay. These periods get shorter and shorter until the cycle starts over. You are constantly tense, walking on eggshells, trying to make sure everything is “perfect” so your partner will not get angry. But, it does not matter. You can do everything perfectly every single day, and he will still find a reason to hit you, kick you, strangle you, etc.

It is Not Your Fault

No matter what your partner or anyone else says, none of it is your fault. You may hear people say that you must like it since you stay with him. They think “Why doesn’t she just leave?” If it were only that simple. First of all, you are brainwashed into thinking nobody wants you, and you have no family or friends because he has pushed them all away. Then, he keeps the money, car keys, etc. so that you are unable to leave financially. Also, you may still be thinking that you can save the relationship if you keep trying. Do not listen to others who say that you should stay and work on things. If you are being abused, you need to find a way to get out. Call the police. Get a protection order to keep him away from you legally. Call a hotline, go to a shelter. If you want to fix the relationship, he has to get help first, and you need to be safe in the meantime. Get out. Get therapy. Every day in the United States, three women are killed by their abuser. Go before it is too late.

(Marie Miguel is an avid internet researcher. She is fueled by her determination to answer the many questions she hasn’t been able to find the answer to anywhere else. When she finds these answers she likes to spread the knowledge to others seeking help. She is always looking for outlets to share her information, therefore she occasionally has her content published on different websites and blogs. Even though she doesn’t run one for herself she loves contributing to others.)

1:4 #21, The Alternative Model

Survivor at Waters Edge

Please Share What Happened to You:

I was in a physically and mentally abusive relationship for the better half of 8 years. At first things were great and loving but over time I was worn down by his controlling behavior. Through his hand I was introduced to pain killers and we became addicted. This made it easier for him to control me. I shut out all my friends and family at its worst because I knew I wasn’t strong enough to walk away. It began with verbal threats and mockery and turned into me getting slapped, choked, dragged across the floor and stomped on. When I fought back he hit harder. I became suicidal and self harmed. He once put a knife in my hand and told me to kill myself. He had me convinced no one loved me. This continued until the day he left me.

Survivor showing her cutting scars


How are you now?

Survivor talking about her experience

These days I am doing much better! It took me a while to heal and move on but I am now in a very loving and supportive relationship. I will always have hurt in my heart but I also have much more room left for love.

I’m happy also to announce that I have been drug free since getting out of said toxic relationship. I am healthy and look forward to a more positive future. You can’t change the past but you can grow from it.

What would you like to tell the world about Domestic Violence?

If you are in a domestic violence situation, speak up. You have to be heard to get help. I was cowardly and ignored the signs. Looking back, hindsight is 20/20, I know I should have left before it even began. You are not at fault, and you are not alone. You are loved! (Editor’s note: I told this survivor I didn’t think she was cowardly, rather she had been broken, which is part of the process many abusers use to get their way… )

Survivor with light in her hair

1:4 #20, The Golden Girl

(Editors Note: I’ve said many times that I get contacted after every post by other survivors who are thankful for the project, even if they can’t come forward.  This Survivor came to my first show, and found great healing from it. I have to tell you, I was more than a little proud and thankful for the healing power this site and these stories have…The Golden Girl is a reference to this survivor’s passion for Golden Retrievers, not the 80s sitcom! ) 

Please Share What Happened to You:

When visiting David’s opening of his work on Domestic Violence in Dover, I was flooded with memories, feelings and grief. I knew it was important for me to visit but I never realized the emotional impact it would have on me. I was emotionally and verbally abused by my parents from the moment I was born and probably in utero. I walked on eggshells never knowing when another shoe would drop or when I would be chastised for any number of offenses. To protect myself, I became a great reader of social cues and threatening behaviors. Although food was a great source of comfort for me, reading my parents’ mood was a gift and survival technique. Growing up was not about developing self- esteem, building self-confidence or finding my place in this world. It was about doing whatever necessary to please my parents and everyone I met from a total stranger to family member. It was about accommodating the needs of others. I lived in fear that my cover would be blown and people would find out that I was a horrible person. If my parents didn’t like me then who else could possibly like me? I lived a lifetime with parents who lacked their own self worth and the cycle continued

The sea has great healing power

How are you now?

The abuse did not stop even after I moved out on my own. I learned to handle it better. It was so important for me to grieve my dysfunctional childhood. I cried my heart out many times. My body and my psyche had internalized everything that was said and done to me for a lifetime. It is had become part of the brain neurons. Fortunately, I have learned to love myself and to value myself. I have learned that it is okay to have my own opinion and do what is best for me. I have learned to have self – compassion. I have learned that I can build new healthy, loving pathways in my brain so that I can feel joy. It is a journey. I have laspes. Anxiety, depression, food addiction and co-dependency are still part of my life. The difference is now they are not who I am but just a part of life. They no longer debilitate me. When they do appear, I can say,” Oh those again. That is an old story that I don’t need anymore.” I take one day at a time. My parents are deceased and I love them. I learned that I can believe my thoughts and old stories and suffer or I can check in with myself and find the joy and love that I deserve.

What would you like to tell the world about Domestic Violence?

I want everyone to know that his or her journey and trauma is like no other journey or trauma. The skills and tools I have learned work for me. Each of us finds our way at our own pace and with our own strategies. The priority is to love oneself and know that no one has the right to demean or abuse of us in any way. We are precious and unique and are lovable and loved. We need to hug ourselves and spend time with positive and supportive people who will stand by us no matter what. We can make a positive, joyful life for ourselves and the kindness needs to start at home in our hearts. My hope is that we can have compassion for others and more importantly compassion for ourselves.