The Voice Inside:
People who have been incarcerated for years often don't know what to do with their lives once they're set free.
It's overwhelming because they've changed and so has the world.
They find technology strange and feel inadequate because they don’t know what to do with themselves or where to begin.
Too often they re-offend so they can return to the "comfort" of the prison walls instead of the daunting, open spaces found outside.
So many women I know have simply given up and don't have the strength to take that final step towards freedom from an abusive situation.
Comfort in discomfort:
They are not only financially broken but mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. They're afraid of failure because that's what they've been told they are.
Much like the prisoner described above, some abused women have "comfort" in discomfort.
It's the familiar house, the routine of taking the children to school or themselves to work. If you take away the abuse, their lives would otherwise be ok so they "trade" with themselves and stay just another day, another week, another month and another year!
The abuse has left them with the inability to trust people.
The abuse has left them with self-doubt.
The abuse has left them with a fear of even loud voices and outside their houses, the voices are loud.
People mill about not noticing that there is a broken woman in their midst who needs healing or time to heal.
- They don't want to be a burden to family or friends.
- They are embarrassed and feel like failures.
- The indecision gnaws away at them, never far from their conscious mind.
- The fear of losing their life, and their children to this person they once loved seems like a nightmare they just can't wake up from.
- They believe there is no safety net and nobody to talk to about their experiences and finally, the big fear: "What if they land up in the streets, homeless?"
But the longer they stay, the more a piece of them dies.
They look "normal," but if we could glimpse inside their hearts and minds we would howl at their pain.
The Voice Inside:
They're torn between the freedom they could have and the familiarity they have, with one very big exception, there's a voice that refuses to remain silent.
- Inside there is a voice that says: "You are worthy!"
- Inside there is a voice that shouts: "I deserve all the good there is!"
- Inside there is a voice that whispers: "You can do this!"
It's that voice they should listen to no matter how loud the abuser shouts because life outside the prison walls may not be perfect, but it's a life that they deserve!
A life where they can decide to walk in a mall without the phone going off like an alarm!
A life where they can simply sit on a park bench and watch the world go by!
A life where they can decide what to eat or not to eat at all!
A life that is free from abuse, harassment, humiliation, shouting, mocking, jeering etc because it's a life they would have chosen themselves.
So maybe today they will choose freedom or tomorrow, or whenever they are ready.
When they are ready, we should be there waiting, with no judgement, just a friendly shoulder to cry on and support to strengthen their voice until they can walk on their own!
Support Groups and supportive friends and family are crucial for those still in that situation who want to get out!