Before the 2015 Grammy Awards aired, I knew Katy Perry was going to feature a woman speaking of her experience with domestic abuse. I didn’t know how it was going to tie into her performance, which the speaker would be introducing, and I ran through her Prism album in my mind. I knew she had two ballads about her divorce from comedian Russell Brand, “Ghost” and “By the Grace of God”, but they didn’t tackle domestic abuse. Still, I was intrigued by a performance on a world stage like the Grammys that was set to bravely include a tough, but very real subject.
Any campaigns, testimonials, and artwork that stands with survivors of abuse and advocates against it, my eyes just water about it. And it’s because in spite of so many altruistic efforts, the reality is, people still aren’t getting how detrimental it is to our society that women are victimized, and domestic and sexual abuse is an epidemic. Men in particular are not listening enough. At an approximate count, 85 percent of women in America have experienced domestic abuse (it’s 15 percent for men) whether financially, physically, and emotionally by their boyfriends, husbands, and loved ones. That is a very large percentage. What will it take to change these numbers? My greatest question may be, how can men, after seeing so many victims live on TV, some of them famous, the many pleas in commercials and TV specials that have included abusive storylines that they still find it within themselves to perpetuate domestic abuse? I need answers, but no one seems to have one.
Back to the Grammys, I wasn’t sure when Perry was scheduled to go on, but after a commercial break the show was back on and a PSA starring President Obama played. I always listen when Obama speaks, so I was all ears:
Wow. Already, I was moved. Obama had introduced to the ItsOnUs organization, that helps victims of abuse, violent and sexual, receive the help they need. I noted that the particular focus was on sexual violence, but thought nothing of it. It is the most prevalent form of abuse we are aware of. I made sense to me. Moments later, I saw a woman on stage who I knew was Perry’s special guest. I later googled and found her name is Brooke Axtell. With only a spotlight on her, she spoke. Her voice was strong, it nearly soared, but I felt, confirmed by my own goosebumps that she was keeping any trembling at bay. And the trembling came not of fear, but memory. I could faintly hear it in her voice. The memory of when she was one of those women and being a victim felt out of her hands. I know because I’ve heard it from my own voice box regarding similar situations of defeat.
After a year of a passionate romance with a handsome, charismatic man, I was stunned when he began to abuse me. I believed he was lashing out because he was in pain, and needed help. I believed my compassion could restore him, and our relationship. My empathy was used against me. I was terrified of him and ashamed I was in this position. What bound me to him was my desire to heal him. My compassion was incomplete because it did not include me. When he threatened to kill me, I knew I had to escape
I revealed the truth to my mom and she encouraged me to seek help at a local domestic abuse shelter. This conversation changed my life. Authentic love does not devalue another human being. Authentic love does not silence, shame, or abuse”.
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