Thursday, March 1, 2012
March 11 is the date that commemorates my sister's 6th year of incarceration.I had a chance to see her briefly last week and it was wonderful. I have only been able to get to see her every 2 years so when I do see her it is a great thing. First of all we hug for a very long time, and we usually start to cry. I have a hard time letting her go because we can't touch after she sits down so that hug has to last us for the entire visit.
Every year around her anniversary date I try to write something for her to commemorate her incarceration and to bring to my readers a little slice of something new and interesting. This year I want to write about abuse. I firmly believe that if my sister had not been in a debilitating and demoralizingly abusive relationship she would not be where she.
My sister and I were abused as children. I care to not go into every detail but I can tell you that as a survivor of abuse it has a firm foundation in my psyche and makes up who I am no matter how much I do to box it up and bury it under everything else. My sister was not as lucky as I was and married a man who reinforced to her in every way that she was exactly what she thought of herself, which was nothing. She left that man and married another man who made the first man look like a walk in the park.
For those of you who know something about abuse, it is something handed down from generation to generation. It is not something people share with outsiders. Many times it is subtle and begins gently ramping up until the person being abused wonders if they are losing their mind. It comes in many forms, from body language to verbal abuse, emotional abuse and mental abuses. In many ways it can be as devastating as physical abuse and the scars never heal. There are two children in our neighborhood who were being abused and when it was brought to the authorities attention they removed the parent that was abusing, temporarily. It is overwhelmingly obvious when these children play with others that there is something that sets them apart and makes them different. It is heartbreaking to watch them at play and to listen to the way they talk to each other and other children.
It is silence that hurts the most in all of these situations. The silence of parents. The silence of teachers. The silence of the church. The silence of society. The silence of shame. When I visit my sister she will spend a portion of each visit pointing out different women in the room who also have visitors they are meeting with. Each woman's story is one of abuse and the crime associated with the abuse. It is terrible to think that many of these crimes could have been avoided if the issue of abuse was addressed and handled instead of hiding it and being silent. One thing that really sticks with me when my sister and I talk about her abuse and why she is where she is, she reminds me that the good thing about her situation is that her ex-husband is also put away and won't abuse again. She reminds me that he can not get to her where she is. And I have to agree with her on that.