She sits by the window and looks out. The song, ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ pops to mind and her heart aches. That song has always haunted her. She can hear the longing in the lyrics. Deep down she senses that there truly is a place where happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow. But she has no idea where that place is or what steps to take to get there.
Growing up in domestic violence lends you to spending a lot of time in your bedroom, tucked away in the safety of solitude. It was an escape, a place to plan for a better future and to get lost in your imagination; dreaming of a life outside of what felt like a prison.
As a little girl, she felt that there was no one for her to talk to. Even friends saw only what she dared to reveal. She focused on school, sport and friendship. These things kept her steady, feet planted to the ground and gave her a sense of safety, control and security.
One afternoon, a little bluebird perched itself on her window sill. Her heart leapt but it flew off quickly. The next day she eagerly waited with a handful of seed. The bluebird returned. She scattered the seed and the bluebird tentatively pecked. Each day the bluebird would linger longer and longer, until it sat happily listening to the little girl whisper the secrets of her heart. She shared her troubled mind and layed down her burdens.
To speak up and to share the stories of her household would cause significant pain to everyone involved. It could shatter her family into pieces. Where would everyone live? Would everyone be safe? Where would I go? She wondered. She sat thinking about what adult she could speak to. Maybe a teacher? But then, what would happen? So many unknowns for her young mind to wrestle with. She felt helpless and powerless, and she longed to protect everyone, who she loved dearly. She wanted desperately to stay together but without him in the picture.
She could speak to family but they all lived so far away. And when family did visit, they witnessed the outbursts yet said and did nothing (that she was aware of). Even when visiting family herself, there were times she would crawl up and cry in a fetal position; family would see but still nothing would change. She wrote down her own will and then was in trouble for thinking such dark thoughts. Even Police would visit regularly and nothing would change. No adult seemed to be able to peer through the windows and see what was going on. No adult seemed willing to step into the mess.
Domestic violence is so loud on the inside of a home but deafening in its silence on the outside of the home. Generations have been affected and are often unsure of what to do with the information. I’ve grown up in a large family with the motto, “We don’t talk about that”. “Let the past be the past”. “Chin up, move on, it happened to me too”.
I see the hidden damages. The loss of confidence. The loss of trust. The struggles with healthy boundaries. Relationship dysfunction. Addiction. Mental health issues. The silence costs a lot. And the damages live on; many, many years into the future. Childhoods robbed and dreams squashed. A silent killer of joy and faith.
One day the little bluebird stopped visiting the little girl. She cried. Who would she talk to now? So she started to write. Poems, songs and stories. Along her bumpy journey through life, she discovered that there is indeed a place where skies are blue, where clouds are far behind and where worries melt like lemon drops. The loss of the bluebird brought her to her knees, pleading to know the maker and the dweller of this place over the rainbows. He answered and He whispered, “I will give you a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61 NIV).
Darkness can only heal when it’s brought into the light. I speak out not as a victim but as a person who takes responsibility for what happened, my part in it, my silence and I seek peace and healing for all those involved. That extends to the perpetrator who used his own brokenness as a weapon, rather than seeking the help he desperately needed. My desire is for genuine peace, where truth is spoken in the pursuit of understanding, compassion and forgiveness.
Please don’t remain silent if you are aware of domestic violence. The consequences are far reaching. My silence not only cost me but also cost others a lot, and still has deep impacts to this very day.