By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
It’s hard to believe, but this October is the fifth Domestic Violence Awareness Month since we launched See the Triumph. As we’re approaching the five-year anniversary since See the Triumph began, we’ve been taking a lot of time to reflect on how far we’ve come and how much the growing See the Triumph community means to us. As we’ve shared before, Allison and I really weren’t exactly sure of what we were doing when we started See the Triumph...we just knew we had to do it, and we were committed to figuring it out along the way.
We’d heard too many of the survivors who participated in our research tell us that they shared their stories with us because they wanted to help others, that we knew we needed to do as much as we could to build a forum for sharing those stories and working to end the stigma that makes it difficult for survivors to share their experiences in the first place.
So much has happened since January 1, 2013, when we first introduced See the Triumph to the world. Not only has our community grown here, but a lot has happened to change the conversation in our society about the experiences of survivors of intimate partner violence and other forms of abuse. Think about all the prominent news stories since then--including the Ray Rice video, other cases of domestic violence among NFL players and other professional athletes, more and more celebrities coming forward to share their own experiences of abuse, greater attention to sexual assault on college campuses--and the list goes on.
In my opinion, some of these developments have led to improvements for survivors, especially as we’ve seen the growing number of spaces for survivors to come forward and be heard and believed. Of course, other developments have exposed and/or created problems and challenges for survivors. We are in the midst of a time of great change and progress on the one hand, but there are also a lot of threats to that progress that we need to continue to work to address.
Despite all the ups and downs in recent years, I believe with all my heart that survivors are triumphing, individually and collectively, each and every day. Survivors are boldly putting one foot in front of the other, a step at a time, and showing the world that it is possible to triumph and overcome, despite having a history of abuse. They are celebrating victories, large and small--everything from making that first call to reach out for help to reclaiming their right to make decisions for their own lives by starting businesses, becoming advocates, and seeking healthy relationships and new experiences. Collectively, survivors are claiming space in public forums to share their stories and open new doors for others to find safety and freedom.
And so, this Domestic Violence Awareness Month, our goal at See the Triumph is to highlight stories of triumphing. Those who’ve been part of our community for many years may recall where our name, See the Triumph, came from. It was a quote from one of the survivors who participated in our research, in response to being asked if she was embarrassed by her history of having been abused. She said, “The only thing that bothers me about it is that other people can’t see the triumph in it. Because to me this is a treasure to be at this point in my life, in this stage, and it be beginning. Some people don’t even start to realize that they have the issues or start dealing with them until they get to this point.”
Beyond seeing the triumph, we want to encourage you to celebrate your triumph, whether that involves overcoming past abuse in your own life or supporting others to prevent or overcome abuse in their lives. Throughout the month, we’ll share stories in which people share their own triumphs, and we asked our contributors to write under the theme, “See MY Triumph.” When each of us triumphs individually, we add to a growing movement of survivors triumphing collectively, which I believe is key to eventually triumphing once and for all over abuse at the societal level.
So, this month, we invite you to not only do the important work of raising awareness of domestic violence, but also taking time to celebrate survivors and organizations that are triumphing over abuse. We hope you’ll be inspired by what you read here and find ways to celebrate triumph in your own lives, too!