The Beginning

The day I announced I'd be starting a domestic violence blog, I signed up for two Google alerts. Any time the words "domestic violence" and "murder suicide" appeared in the national news, I wanted to know about it. At the time I wasn't exactly sure what this new blog would be, and I thought the alerts would be a good start, a practical way to stay up to date on blogworthy news items. I thought it would give me ideas. I expected a handful of emails and a truckful of inspiration.But from day one my inbox was bombarded. In fact, I was so overwhelmingly inundated by domestic violence and sexual assault related emails that I had to cancel the alerts to preserve my sanity. I'm not gonna lie; I felt very discouraged and small. I felt like this was a mistake. I knew this was a huge issue, but I'd never really looked at the prevalence of violence on a day-to-day basis and it blew my mind. Frankly, it delayed this project for a while. After all, who the hell am I?

I am not an expert. I am not an educator. I am not a counselor. I'm just a woman hobbled by an old experience, a journalist inspired by a story, and a blogger -- and that's when it sunk in. I'm a blogger who has been touched and astounded by the power of this community over the past two years. I know what it can do.

And that's something.

So I'm starting small, and I'm sticking to what I know. My vision for this site is to bring the survivor stories of other bloggers to you with the hope that you will see yourself, or your brother, or your daughter, or your neighbor, in their words. With the hope that you will feel safe enough and inspired enough to chime in. With the hope that by the telling and the listening we will all be better people. I know what you people are capable of. I'm here to collect and disseminate your stories of abuse. I'm here to ask you to tell them, to hear them, and to spread the word.

Sure, I still want big things. I want to make a difference. I want to 'be the change.' I want to spark awareness and I want to reach you through your computer screen and I want to shake you and show you either that you are not alone, or that you are blind to what is all around you. I have such high hopes. But every big thing needs a beginning. This is ours.

Here is what I'm asking you to do.

1. SPEAK OUT: Tell your story. Read this, and email me at maggie [at] violenceunsilenced [dot] com with questions.

2. TAKE THE PLEDGE: Read the stories of your fellow bloggers. Subscribe to the feed, grab a badge for your sidebar, and add ViolenceUnSilenced to your blogroll and I'll return the favor on the pledge page.

3. SPREAD THE WORD: Share this post in your Reader, Twitter it, Stumble it, Kirtsy it, Digg it, whatever it is you Internet savvy folks do. There are gazillions of personal blogs out there, and one in four women share this experience. I'd venture to guess a hell of a lot of men do, too.

When you've done as many of these things as you can possibly do, drop a comment here and you'll be entered to win a necklace, the same one I gave away with the Violence UnSilenced naming contest, generously donated by my friend, Elizabeth. It says 'Peace' on one side, and on the other (facing a person's chest) it says 'at home.' It is strung on deep purple suede, and valued at $84. It's pretty awesome.

When Elizabeth sent this necklace to the winner of the naming contest, she surprised me by sending me one, too. I've been wearing it, and I hate to part with it, but I'll happily give it up to one of you for helping me out with this cause.

Speaking of generous women, my friend Samantha -- the blogger and wonder designer behind BlogNosh, Don Mills Diva, and of course, Okay, Fine, Dammit -- designed the new Violence UnSilenced blog free of charge. She put up with literally hundreds of emails from me, and not only that? She chipped in the domain registration and hosting. I'm incredibly grateful and humbled by her help. If you'd like to show her thanks, be sure and check out her impressive portfolio at Temptation Designs.

Time to cross my fingers and hit publish. Thank you all for the support you've already shown this cause. I will post the first survivor story tomorrow, and end the contest one week from today on Monday, February 23.

Here's to The Beginning.

**** Cross-posted at Okay, Fine, Dammit