Editor’s Letter: Violence from the Hands of Those We Love

Dear Readers,

December is a tough month for me. I grew up in toxicity, and while my family has worked hard to change patterns, some negative patterns live on. This leads to distance, sadness, alienation, feelings of loss and grief.

Every family has its issues. My therapist recently made a remark about “if your family is normal in its dysfunction” and that had me laughing. Everyone makes mistakes. We can’t erase them, but we can choose to acknowledge and move forward with compassion for ourselves and those we have harmed. I am going to use my family as an example. I’ve done this before. What I will say is not new, but may be new to those of you on The Relationship Blogger.

I grew up physically and emotionally abused by my parents. Until I was 10, my days were full of unforgivable bullying, except I have forgiven it. And the reason I am sharing this on yet another platform is I want to tell you why. Why would I ever forgive abuse at the hands of the people who were supposed to keep me safe?

When I was 10, my parents got professional help. They worked to make changes in themselves so they would no longer be physically abusive. My mother and father showed me that it is possible to change. Out of love for your children. Out of love for yourself. Out of fear. Out of need.

They did change. The abuse lessened and lessened. By age 17, I was no longer subject to hard slaps or beatings. They sputtered out gradually over seven years, becoming rarer and rarer. I could see in the time between slip-ups that there was a clear and conscious effort to prevent further abuse. Laughter and “I love you” came into our lives. We grew, and I learned the techniques I now use in coaching writers through trauma.

I want to share a bit of that here. This month is dedicated to violence. With violence is victimization and survivorship. We have a number of voices present for December (some of whom will give us a break from the heavier topic at hand). I request that you read and witness their work with an eye to what builds strength, what breaks through toxicity.

The Relationship Blogger is all about relationships and mental health. Those two come together and thrive through compassion. What compassion can we give those on these pages? What compassion can they give us? What compassion can we give ourselves when times are tough but we must keep struggling on?

I request also that you know you are loved. We here at TRB hold our readers and artists in high esteem. You are valued. You are a gift. You are wanted. And if you find no other space that feels quite like home to you in the next 31 days, I hope you will come back here and sit with those of us who have been wounded, who are plugging away at our best. Who are here for you.



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Shawna Ayoub Ainslie

Shawna Ayoub Ainslie is a mental wellness advocate and writing coach in Bloomington, IN. She teaches writing through trauma for release and recovery to survivors and veterans through the Center for Creative Writing, Ivy Tech Community College, and Survive Your Story. Shawna is also The Relationship Blogger's Editor-in-Chief.

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