When Domestic Violence Continues Beyond Divorce
I was recently asked to ghost-write a memoir for publication in a literary journal. It is about my sister, a survivor of domestic violence and a stalking victim. The reason I approached her about writing the story is to help her process the events four years after the trauma began. Her life story is one of incredible sadness, but it is also one of amazing strength, because the failures of law enforcement have resulted in an impenetrable wall built around her daughter and herself.
The pain of domestic violence cuts deep, and coping mechanisms are often employed. Escape poses additional risks, and most victims can’t break free until the situation turns dire. Those who are already battle-worn face new challenges after the split, usually ones that they are completely unprepared to handle. The presence of children in the home further complicates things.
The irony of the family violence is most people already know about the “secret,” but spouses often partially succeed in hiding the truth from themselves. Conflicting emotions of fear and denial intertwine, causing psyche paralysis. Anger and depression are two sides of the same coin – a crushing sense of hopelessness channelled either outward or inward.
Although domestic violence often involves criminal activity, stalking is a much more insidious crime. By definition, it encompasses unwanted persistent harassment that is meant to disturb and frighten a target repeatedly over a long period of time. Victims of stalking feel as if a murder for hire contract has been placed on them, and they are well-aware of the danger in simple daily activities such as shopping or taking a walk.
I hope that writing my sister’s memoir will help her process painful events that continue haunting her, events that have frozen her in time. This is one of the common social problems that has affected my life several times. Perhaps I will tell my personal story one day, though my sister has suffered a great deal more than I ever did.