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Soup Supper Success!

Ahhhh....finally a moment to breath. Saturday was my local shelter's annual soup supper. Everyone at the shelter has been working overtime in order to make sure all went well and I am honored to say that I was asked to be the quest speaker. Below I'd like to share with you my speech: Hello.

I hope you are all enjoying your dinner and the excitement of the auction this evening. It’s wonderful to see the turn out here tonight, not only to raise money for support against domestic violence and sexual assault, but also to bring awareness of the existence of these issues in our very own community.

If you don’t already know me, my name is Dawn…and I am a survivor of violence.

I was fifteen years old and surrounded by adults when I fell into the hands of a thirty-two-year-old porn star. In my ordeal with my abuser I was repeatedly beaten, sexually assaulted, verbally, emotionally and mentally abused. When my abuser became addicted to cocaine, he made sure I was addicted too. The situation escalated quickly with the drugs, and it wasn’t long before I was violently forced to walk the streets and traded to drug lords for a score. Four people died one summer because they double-crossed the wrong person, and my boyfriend stood in the middle of the crime with the bloodiest hands. I was in constant fear that I would be next.

I was in what I knew was hell. Not only was I trapped, but due to the brainwashing I received by my abuser, I BELEIVED that even if I did escape, no one, not even my family, would ever want me again. Still the need to survive prevailed. I had to get out and I tried to run. Not once, but many times. Yet he was always two-steps ahead of me, ready to beat me back into submission, proving that any attempt to leave was futile.

I desperately needed to escape the insurmountable pain my life had become and although my mind occasionally provided a temporary solace of disassociation, the continued abuse pushed me to the ultimate edge -- attempting suicide. Fortunately, my attempts were unsuccessful. However, I again remained trapped in that terrible cycle of abuse. At the end of almost seven years, I was finally rescued from my abuser by an intervention of neighbors. They were strangers really, who were shocked to witness the “nice guy” they knew as my boyfriend, beat me at the pool while they were having lunch. That year was 1981.

Like so many others of domestic violence I had no idea my life was like a page from a psychology book -- full of classic scenarios and syndromes. I never really understood that I was not to blame or that there was any help out there for “someone like me”. I was left in a lot of trouble and with a dependency to drugs and alcohol. But the most debilitating residuals of the abuse were the remorse, guilt, shame, incessant sense of worthlessness, and post-traumatic stress disorder that clung to me like an ominous shadow.

Twenty-five years have passed since I last saw my abuser and in those initial years I stumbled through life. By trial and error I found recovery, counseling, and spirit, what I consider to be turning points for me.  I carried a quote by Anis Nin in my purse for years. The words, although simple, encouraged me to keep going on some of my darkest days:

"And the day came, when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk to bloom."

Today, I have walked through my fears and dealt with my past trauma. I have a beautiful daughter who I adore and live a good, full life. I'm also a hotline volunteer and have the honor of working with other survivors as well as caring individuals whose lives were never touched by aggression – all of us dedicated to advocacy against domestic violence and sexual assault.

At Shelter from the Storm I have witnessed the commitment to raising the bottom for a victim and can truly appreciate how they provide opportunities to wellness. From the after care counseling programs, attention given to children, assistance with restraining orders, shelter, the amazing SART program, teen advocacy and much, much more. Services that weren’t available to protect me when I was fifteen, or help me after I escaped in 1981.

I have tremendous gratitude for the intervention that saved me from my abuser’s grasp, and the shelter I received afterwards. It was the beginning of stepping out of hell for me. I believe that we all have the ability to speak out against violence. We can all be the eyes, ears and temporary voice for someone who is in trouble. We CAN all be aware.

I’d like to end with a great quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

Thank you.


It was a bit difficult to get up and speak to an audience of over two hundred people, but the warmth and gratitude of many, made it worth it. We really CAN all be aware!

Happy Fat Tuesday!

Blessings, Dawn

Rally Up!

Dawn and Friend

April ended with a march on our local campus to raise awareness of Sexual Assault in our community. Everyone was encouraged to wear denim (jeans) as well, in protest of a 1999 Italian ruling where the judge claimed that because a rape victim was wearing denim, she must have aided her assailant! The women of the Italian Parliment wore denim in a unified protest of the ruling. The movement grew and every year since, during April (Sexual Assault Awareness Month), women are encouraged to wear denim in a similar act of protest against ignorant myths of violent acts.

Here I am hugging our local shelter's volunteer coordinator in front of the sign we marched behind. "Not On Our Campus!" Afterwards, we listened to many department heads pledge their support as well as hear many victims stand up and speak out! An emotional day.....


April -- Sexual Assualt Awareness Month.

A Great Speech!

Recently I watched Mystic River, putting it off for months after it's initial release. From the previews I knew it would be an emotionally painful movie...I had no idea. From the start of the movie I was uneasy...I could tell... For someone like me it was a given. With dreaded anticipation of what I knew was bound to come, I alternated with sitting and watching the screen through a couch pillow and running into the kitchen with shouts to my husband to call me when the murder scene was over.

"Oh my God!" I yelled out, "I can't believe I'm watching this movie!" I circled the wooden floor, pacing like a caged animal. The mortifyingly cruel injustice Tim Robbins character was subjected to, scorched my senses. 'This is a fictious story', I kept telling myself, but my gut knew better. What my gut knew, was the terrible pain of the scars of a victim and the double-edged dagger of being misunderstood to the point of persecution. Wow! This movie really pulled my triggers.

When my husband finally called me back into the room, I was emotionally drained. I don't remember what I did next, probably ate a big bowl of ice cream, but I know I wanted to forget...forget the emotions this movie had stirred in me.

Then, only a few weeks later, a quote from a poster named "Joe", caught my eye and my heart. It is beautiful, and because it had such a warming effect on me, I wanted to share it with everyone at the top of this weblog.

"I always thought this Oscar acceptance speech (for “Mystic River") by actor Tim Robbins had a great message for abused people: “In this movie, I play a victim of abuse and violence and if you are out there and are a person that has – had that tragedy befall you, there is no shame and no weakness in seeking help and counseling. It is sometimes the strongest thing that you can do to stop the cycle of violence. Thank you.”

Wholeheartly I agree. For me there was no other way out of that hell. And I am out, I know it. Come to think of it, that bowl of ice cream wasn't as big as I thought it was anyway.

Thanks Joe, for sharing.


Domestic Violence Vigil

A Proud Presence! A proud presence. Some very special people make a stand at the Domestic Violence Vigil on October 1st. Every "nine seconds" an act of violence is committed against a loved one/partner. To the victim, it is an indescribable hell with no safe way out! Help create awareness in your community. Contact your local shelter and find out what you can do. You can make a difference...we all can. Blessings.


October isDomestic Violence Awareness Month. This is huge to me. In my town, there will be a small parade and vigil. Men in particular are asked to stand up and be counted a "good man" by wearing a purple ribbon and represent themselves as a role model for young boys. I will be there. I will give a ribbon to those good men in my life. I will light a candle for those who have lost their light and those who seek to find it again. I will say a prayer...and I will say thank you that I have found mine.