From my first relationship at fourteen, physical and mental abuse became normal pieces of my relationships. I was controlled, beaten, threatened and put down. I was quiet, docile and controllable. Three years and three partners later, I was still in the same relationship pattern.

Anyone who knows me now would never associate me with any of those things and I can credit Pacific to the strength and confidence I’ve found in myself. The amount of conversation and effort to understand and advocate here is unlike any culture I have ever seen.

That being said, I think the conversation about abusive relationships in particular is an incredibly important one because they are so hard to navigate.

We are all just one wrong person away from being in an abusive relationship.

The hardest thing about abuse is that it is so often accompanied by love. Usually, by the time you realize you are being abused you’re so dedicated to your partner, leaving becomes unimaginable.

When we are in such a strong advocating environment, it becomes easy to see abuse as black and white. Without realizing it, we become so fixated on deeming those who leave their situations as powerful and shame those who can’t as powerless.

The problem with this is that we are shaming victims who aren’t ready to stand on their own into thinking they are stuck where they’re at.

I am very grateful for the confidence I have gained

in my time without a partner, advocating and fighting for myself but I can’t ever forget the strength it took to survive and continue loving when I was being abused. Being abused and being unable to leave is nothing to be ashamed of.

To anyone reading this who may be in an abusive relationship, you are powerful.

Strength is shown in more ways than one and being unable to walk out the door today does not make you any less deserving of happiness than anyone else. It took me three years abuse and I still struggle with it every day. I am with you and I am proud of you for just surviving today.

To anyone supporting a friend who may be in an abusive situation, please be patient.

Your love and desire for them to be happy is beautiful and you may not know how much your friendship and acceptance could be saving a life.

As we go forward with Domestic Violence Awareness month, I want to commend everyone at every stage in their lives and relationships. If you’re ever doubting yourself, please know that there is at least one person here who is inspired to know you.

You are perfect where you’re at and I commend you for the strength it took to survive today.

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