Shades of April

April is Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month.

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Did you know? Here we are midway through April already and I’ve been so busy with school and tutoring work and getting my Girl from the West ready for graduation and beyond that I’ve barely posted, nary had time to shed sunlight and sprinkle water on the seedlings nestled in my drafts folder.

Yet, in spite of the blossoms and beauty unfolding around me, it’s been a month of anguish. Since last fall I’ve written a series of posts that I don’t know what to do with: put in the book I started? post here? post somewhere else? save for my next therapy session?  All month I’ve read the poignant posts written by other survivors and supporters. I’ve thought about their words and stories, examined my resultant feelings, attempted to piece together the puzzle.

All this material, while important, is raw and a triggering mechanism. I’ve not yet reached that place where I can read or write about any kind of abuse situation without reliving it on some level and then shutting down. Not only do I put myself in a vulnerable spot, but I worry that I place my children in precarious places, too, when I am not fully present. It’s important to be present with your children.

Growing up in a household of present-but-absent parents, I know what it’s like to be figuratively bleeding out on the floor, with no one paying attention. Maybe you get handed a bandage, maybe you’re told it’s god’s punishment for something you did, or maybe you stop trying to get noticed, keep quiet, go find a bandage and tend to your own wound. I know what it’s like to gather the courage to speak to someone in charge, only to have that person wave you off as “overly imaginative.” I wondered: why don’t adults listen?

While I’m still learning how to ask, I am acutely aware of the walking wounded around me. I haven’t always had the courage to speak up about my life, but I’m not shy about calling the police or reporting to authorities when I see abusive behavior unfolding around me.

I did it when I saw a young man assaulting his girlfriend in my college apartment complex. I did it when the downstairs neighbors in that same building fought so loudly the walls shook. Earlier this school year I spoke up about some things that disturbed me with certain children at the school where I tutor. I’m not always thanked. My former neighbors retaliated. The teachers and administrators bristled at my remarks, suggesting I lacked the proper training, suggesting I was making judgments about their skills.

But I know what I know and I will continue overstep my bounds if I feel something is not right.  It if means I lose a job opportunity or a reference, so be it. I’d rather sleep at night knowing I did the right thing. I’d rather walk away red-faced, having misjudged a situation, than turn my back on a child who is wishing at least one grown up would pay attention and say something.

Meanwhile, during this month there are heartfelt posts blooming all over the Internet, little gardens of hope and healing hidden between all the bombast and trivia dominating the online world.

Writer Alexandra, also known as The Empress, writes  “A letter to those of you who grew up in dysfunctional homes.”

Thank you, Alexandra, for writing this letter. You are clearly farther along the road than I am. That is OK. It’s all a journey made one footstep forward and three back at a time. If you are beating yourself up over things that were done to you but not your fault (even if someone did a great job of convincing you it was your fault) this letter sets things straight.

Another blogger, From Tracie, dedicates her site to open and honest writing and advocacy. She also hosts monthly blog carnivals that focus on awareness, healing, and survivor stories.

There are many shades of April, but every day should be one of awareness and prevention. 

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