I am a big sap. I'll admit it, although it would get me accused of being a big ol' cheeseball by someone I formerly called my lover (and it still matters, that's how cheesy I am): I have heroes. I have more than one. Most of them are women. Most of them are women who persist in plowing through life despite incredible pain, adversity, trouble in mind and heart. Most of them are out there saying it.
On a day when I read a letter from one of my dearest friends to her abusive ex-husband, who started in with a seemingly innocent query and then moved into competely negating the fact that he shoved her, grabbed her, tried to lock her in the house, hurled at her all manner of disgusting, degrading language---a letter that says in no uncertain terms, "you abused me, you asshole"---I am inclined to add to my list.
You're my hero. You know who you are.
Do you know how long it took me to allow the word "abuse" to cross my lips in reference to my own childhood? Ten years. Ten years before I said it to a family member. Ten years before they said back to me, "wow, we must have really different interpretations."
Women. Men. All people.
If you've been abused, you know. Your gut knows. Don't ignore that. Say it. Say it out loud. Say it to anyone who'll listen.
Say it to the person who hit you. Say it to the person who violated you. Say it to the person/people who made you feel small and weak. Know that they will respond to you with lies and deception, twisting your own words, defending themselves. It is the voice of an ogre. It's not human. Please remember that.
Say it to your teachers. Say it to your friends. Say it to your grocery store clerk. Don't make it a secret. Call it what it is. If your husband screams and throws a glass across the room, tell him that his violent outbursts are unacceptable. Then go outside and tell everyone you meet. They'll tell you to leave. That's a good thing. Pack your shit and go.
Write a comic about it. An autobio (to use the hallowed industry term). Tell everyone what happened to you. There is power there.
Don't say "oh it's ok because..." If your stomach hurts, it's not ok. Period.
Don't say "it's because of me." It's not, I promise.
Don't say "oh it can't be true." Can. Is.