Support the Purple Flower

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

This Thursday, the monthly fundraising event Cocktails for a Cause will benefit The Purple Flower, a local nonprofit close to my heart. If youíre a regular reader of this column, you know why The Purple Flower is so important to me. After all, it is the only domestic violence resource center in Carroll County.

As a survivor of domestic violence, The Purple Flower would be important to me whether or not I was acquainted with its volunteers. The service it provides helps our community in a big way, allowing families escape from violent situations or just lending an ear to those who havenít found their way out yet. I would appreciate that anyway, but Iím especially grateful to the center because of my background. See, Iím one of the people who has found solace through The Purple Flower.

When we moved to Carroll County in 2014, Gideon and I had just started dating. We got together a few months after ending other long-term relationships, and I hadnít fully processed the effect my former relationship had on me. It took six months for me to realize my ex-boyfriend had been abusive toward me and even longer for me to connect my anxiety to certain triggers.

A trigger is when you are reminded of something negative that happened in the past and respond accordingly. Itís much like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. For many survivors Iíve talked to, loud noises such as a car door slamming or a glass breaking triggers horrifying memories Ö memories of feeling fearful and helpless. We learn our triggers as we go, so Iíve found it hard to predict what will set me off.

A major trigger of mine is accidentally tripping Gideon or dropping one of his things. Those two combined about a year ago, when I dropped his heavy laptop onto his foot. He cried out in pain; I cried out and shielded myself from what I feared to be the verbal knockdown of the century. When Iíd accidentally drop something my ex-boyfriend owned, he would berate me as if I did it on purpose. He once tried to force me to buy him a new keyboard because my purse skimmed his desk and turned over an open, full bottle of water. I got out of that relationship before buying that keyboard, but he made sure I left with plenty of other worries.

Believe it or not, one of these worries is writing columns like this that shed light on my past. Being in an abusive relationship horrified me, and it completely changed who I am. Writing about that isnít always the most exciting thing to do, but the volunteers at The Purple Flower have convinced me itís something I need to do Ö not for me, but for all those men, women and children out there who are still stuck on the nauseating carousel that comes with being in an abusive relationship. Itís always the same and it never stops. If you want out, you have to jump off and risk getting hurt or, even worse, killed.

When I first started talking about my past, I referred to myself as a victim. The volunteers at The Purple Flower quickly corrected me on that. They told me the term ďsurvivorĒ is a more apt way to describe somebody who has left the cycle of abuse. When youíre not in it anymore, they said, you arenít a victim. You are strong and brave and deserving of true love, the kind that gives without expecting anything in return.

I didnít really believe all that when they said it, but Iíve healed enough over the past three years to see how far I have come. Looking back on my abusive relationship is a lot like remembering a particularly vivid dream; while I still know the gist, and even a few specific parts, much of it has faded into a series of unsettling events. Iím lucky to have Gideon, who has shown me that I can love and be loved like a normal person. Love should never hurt. Now that Iím in a healthy relationship, I feel secure and safe. I never felt that way with my ex-boyfriend.

Of course, Iím only one of many who have been abused and found a way to move past it. There are many more who havenít gotten out yet, and thatís why itís so important to support The Purple Flower. This week, we all have a chance to do just that.

Cocktails for a Cause is scheduled for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 9, at New Delhi in downtown Eureka Springs. I hope to see you there.

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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com.