October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. A staggering one-third of all women will experience some sort of domestic violence in their lifetime.

Domestic violence can be physical, emotional, verbal, and mental. Sometimes there are physical scars, but most are unseen.

I was 10 years old the first time I experienced domestic violence. My dad has come home from the bar drunk and was in an awful mood. He and my mom started arguing, and he ended up shoving her into the wall, then went downstairs and broke a glass window in the basement door.

The first time I had it happen to me was a few years after that. My dad was drunk again and ended up shoving me into the front door. I remember feeling so helpless.

The kids at school had no idea what I was dealing with at home, nor did my mom’s co-workers. My family lives under the “It’s none of their business” policy, so it was never discussed.

If someone had seen the signs then I’m certain my mom and I would have gotten the help we needed:

  • low self-esteem
  • Constantly apologizing
  • Always making excuses for my dad’s behavior

Some other signs of domestic violence are:

  • never having money on hand
  • Loose fitting clothes
  • Excuses for bruises and other bodily injuries
  • Constantly checking in with their partner

Now as an adult I wish I could speak encouragement to my younger mom and me. I would tell my mom how much God loves her and has amazing plans for her life. I would speak words of confidence to her and let her know it’s ok to stand up and leave the situation. She’s not trapped, and this won’t last forever. I would tell her to speak up and not keep the abuse quiet.

I would let me know that this will not define me and my future relationships. For better or worse it helped shape who I am, but I WILL rise above this and break the cycle. I am worthy and a beautiful daughter of the Lord.

The cycle of domestic violence ended with me. I know better and I’m doing better. If you are stuck in this cycle then speak up, get help, and break the power your partner has over you. If you know someone who is being abused then be their advocate. Be the voice that has been taken from them. Shine God’s bright love in the darkness and light their path to help and healing.