Submitted by SAFE San Juans
This “story of hope” is comprised of excerpts from an interview with Will Blackmon of Friday Harbor and is part of SAFE San Juans (SSJ) Domestic Violence Awareness Month “Stories of Hope” series. This interview was conducted by Courtney Smith, SSJ Program Manager.
Courtney: Will, did you experience domestic violence?
Will: Just like a lot of discipline, … and the discipline was different that’s for sure. I didn’t know you could just get woopin’’s for anything. It was just the way my parents were raised. My mom’s and dad’s parents weren’t really in their life. They didn’t know what to do, so they disciplined us the only way they knew how which transpired into anger.
Growing up I seen lots of arguing, fights, and family members. … You know, just how they would treat women and how they would treat each other too. It just gets passed on. There was also some sexual abuse with a family member. That plays in your brain and it really does mess with you. Like “Why did it have to happen to me?”
Courtney: How did your upbringing affect your family and relationships?
Will: I was very angry. … [I] did some stuff I’m not proud of. I was just an angry period. It translated to my household when I started having a family. I still needed to deal with my own inside and what I went through. I really didn’t know how. People that are angry tend to take it out on the people that they love, which is crazy that it’s like that, but it is.
I also lived with thinking that even as an adult, I was still going to get hurt. I kinda had that childhood memory thing where you’re still scared, … like dang, what if I go to this person — how are they going to react? Even though I was in my 20s and had kids and stuff, it still clicks in your brain … like, still being fearful of that person.
Courtney: When did you realize that the abuse you suffered as a child was playing a part in your family life?
Will: When I woke up one day and I was like “I can’t keep doing this to my family.” And, I didn’t want to keep suffering. I didn’t want to keep living like that. I was living knowing that I had this messed up thing inside of me.
Courtney: Was there anything in particular that helped you heal from the abuse?
Will: Going to counseling. It was the tools that the therapist gave me. You know, a therapist can’t save you. You take the tools that are given and you apply them to your daily. That’s what I did — I applied it to my daily, and then I just started feeling good about myself.
Courtney: Did you ever talk with your family about the abuse or confront the abuser?
Will: I did. I confronted the people. They understood what they had done and caused. Once I did that everything was cool, and I started to feel better. But the last abuser was a hard one. That took me a while, the sexual abuser. It actually took me two years after I told the first abusers. I was like “Okay.” … I took a deep breath and called. I didn’t really care about the outcome as long as that person heard me.
Courtney: Did confronting the abusers that physically assaulted you heal your family?
Will: It sure did. It did because growing up I did everything. … I’m talking about cook, clean, take care of my brothers and sisters, and stuff like that. You don’t understand why you is getting treated like this if you is doing all this stuff and you’re a kid. I feel like my whole childhood, my whole teenagerhood was wiped, wiped out, taken, gone. That’s why I’m living my young life now, my best life you could say.
So when I confronted my sexual abuser, man I was nervous. My heart was pounding, and I was even sweating for no reason. When I called, I was like “I know what you did” and this and that. He just listened, and he was like, “I’m sorry that I did that to you”. I was like shocked … shocked. You know I really didn’t know what to say, but “thank you.” After that It was like “oh man”, like both of my shoulders felt light. It was extremely healing, even in my mind too.
Interviewer’s note: It isn’t unusual for someone to suffer abuse and then abuse. But, as Will so candidly explained, abuse does not have to be the final answer. You can choose to treat others differently, and there is healing for the scars. Thank you, Will!
Do you have a story of hope to tell? We would love to hear it and help you tell it. If you are in an abusive relationship and want help, we are here to help you think through what to do. To talk with someone from SAFE San Juans, call 360-378-8680 or visit us online at www.safesj.org.