BTS Photo Shoots – Let Your Voice Be Heard!

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Do you want to help us Break the Silence on abuse?  Then sign up for a BTS photo shoot and let your voice be heard!  We are now scheduling photo shoots to take place in the Philadelphia studio of Brian Mengini, co founder of BTS.  To schedule yours, email us at info@breakthesilencecampaign.org!

Break the Silence (BTS) gives victims of abuse a platform to help shed the baggage and let their voice be heard about the abuse they fell victim to.  All participants remain anonymous.  We would love to hear your story and let your voice be heard!

Break the Silence on Abuse!

 

C tells her story of abuse

I’m 25 now, when I was 4 my brother took advantage of my innocence. We are 10 yrs apart and back then he was my baby sitter. My grandmother who raised us both from babies, would go to work over night and leave me with him. What he did (sexually) hurt me, that’s how I can remember so vivid at that age what happened. It happened over a 3day period because he told me if I told grandma he would do it again. Now that I’m older I knew it was going to happen anyway. I did tell and my grandma did believe me thank GOD. My brother never did anything after that. We still grew up together as well after that. Weird, our relationship never the same. I found out that the reason he did it to me is because a man tried to do it to him when he was 4. I love and speak to my brother this very day. He never admitted to it though, which never gave me full closure. He is now 34. I truly believe he remembers and hates himself for it. I get sick to my stomach thinking about it. So I don’t. But ill never forget.

Anne’s Story of Abuse

The first time he hit me was Valentine’s Day seven months after we were married.  I don’t know what I did that caused him to hit me but I’ll never forget how badly it hurt.  Looking back, I am able to realize that the abuse started years before that day.

Everyone else saw all of the signs when we were just dating.  Clearly, I was blinded by my love for him.  I often wonder what was wrong with me that I stayed with him.  Unfortunately, staying was the easy part.  He was the love of my life, my husband, my everything.  As deranged as it sounds, he had me convinced that it was always my fault.

I believed him and tried so hard to be what he wanted.  He had rules for me to follow and I followed them the best I could.  Some of his rules were no guests in our home, no talking to other men at all, house had to be perfectly clean at all times, and I had to tell him where I was at all times.  Those rules were easy compared to his weight rule.  I had to maintain a weight of 120lbs or under or he would sleep with another woman.  At 5’6 and an athletic build, that was no easy task.  I starved myself to obtain that weight.

He did everything he could to separate me from my friends and family.  After, he would be so remorseful and promised that it would never happen again.  I endured his abuse for seven years until he ultimately left me for another woman.

There has not been a day that has gone by that I don’t think of him and wish that things could have been different.  I am thankful we did not have children.

Amanda’s Story of Abuse

I was stuck for almost six years with someone who not only abused me physically, but he emotionally drained me. It took me a long time to realize that I didn’t deserve everything that he put me through. No matter what I did it was never enough. I would walk on eggshells 90 percent of the time. I would go out of my way to make sure everything I did was up to standard so I wouldn’t have to be yelled at or put down. To me the emotional aspect of it was far worse than anything physical he could have done.
I remember coming home one night from work I had worked a double shift and I told him I was really tired and didn’t want to have sex so he tore all the pages out of all my books. And I love books. There were times when I would starve myself and make myself throw up because I was constantly told I was fat. I was always a bitch, or ugly, or fat, or a whore, I was always something. I wasn’t supposed to have friends or see my family. I was supposed to go to work and come straight home.
He constantly threw in my face how selfish I was because I loved my kid (our kid) more than him. And he was right. That is what any mother would do. He would tell me how messed up I was to always worry about my kid and want to spend so much time with him. He was jealous of his own child.
I would have to make up stories all the time as to why I had black eyes and bruises all over. I would make up reasons why my things got broken all the time. He would take my money and I would have to struggle to take care of my own child.
I could spend hours cleaning the house and he could find one crumb and start breaking everything around the living room and kitchen. I can’t tell you how much furniture I went through in six years because he kept breaking things. There were times when he would force me to have sex with him. There were times when he would take my car and my phone and leave me stranded at home with a baby. I felt like I must have deserved all this for this to happen to me. Why would someone treat me like this if I wasn’t a bad person? Why did I make him do this? And of course it was always my fault. Everything. If I had just been a little bit better he wouldn’t have snapped. If I had just been a little bit prettier he wouldn’t have cheated. If I had just been a little bit more perfect he wouldn’t have to call me so many names.
My son gave me the strength to leave. I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to live my life walking on eggshells and being afraid in my own house anymore. I wasn’t going to let my son grow up thinking it was normal to hit women and talk down to them. I didn’t want my son growing up in a house where mommy cried all the time and was hurt all the time. I had to change.
For years I felt like I wasn’t even a person. I was just this robot that managed to survive day to day. I had lost my spirit. For a while I didn’t even care if I lived or died and had it not been for my child I would have taken my own life. But I did survive. I got away. It hasn’t been easy and it will never be easy. I still can’t handle a man yelling. I still deal with anxiety. I still have problems trusting people. But I am alive and I am happy and I have my spirit back. A friend of mine told me that I have the light back in my eyes. And she is right I do. I survived.

M shares a story of abuse

The Silence That Never Goes Away

The silence of the pain is killing me, it never goes away. The pain I speak of is the abuse at the hands of my older brother. He was a person I expected to look up to, a person I expected to protect me from harm. Instead, he is the one that caused me harm, caused me pain and the reality I face is the pain of suffering for the rest of my life.

All the memories were tucked inside deep inside , hidden away until that one day…. one day they all came alive and they were fresh.The pain, the anger, the hurt all came back to haunt me. The day I will never forget …. the day the memories came to light. The day my life came crashing down.

The abuse all started as far back as I can remember, I was about 5 or 6 years old. The abuse continued for many years. He molested me, forced me to do unheard of things at such a young age. To this day the memories still affect me. When I look back at it all, I was terrified. He threatened to beat me up if I said anything to anyone. This went on for years, some of which I blocked out, some of which I remember vividly. The touching, the sex acts he made me perform, just completely and utterly horrific !!! No wonder I blocked them out of my life for so many years.

I was married and just had my beautiful baby girl. My brother was here in my home. He picked her up and held her. The look in his eyes just terrified me. It was like I remembered the way he looked at me when he molsted me. I yanked her out of his arms and asked him to leave. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops…. “child molester, pervert, abuser” !!!! I couldnt get the words out. I wanted to, but instead I became withdrawn and out of touch with many people, including my own family.

In time I went to see a therapist that was recommended by my insurance, what a joke. The therapist asked me such lame questions, almost as if it was my fault !!! How dare he ask me such questions, it was NOT my fault I did not ask to be abused !!! It was time that I find a new counselor asap, I searched and searched. Then came the time to see someone else.I had to struggle again with telling my story, my memories all over again, the tears, the heart ache the pain !!! I was going to weekly sessions, after a couple of months I finally decided to tell my husband what all of the “doctor appointments” were for. He was angry, hurt and confused. Most of all, he was behind me, proud of me for making the decision to talk about it. After a couple months I stopped going to the counseling sessions. The pain was just too unbearable.

I never really trusted anyone with my story, my truth, the facts of my childhood. I never openly discussed this with anyone, but I knew that I had to tell someone. I trusted only two others. They were shocked, saddened, angry and hurt for me. They hugged me and wanted to go hurt my brother, I couldnt allow that. I needed to heal so that I could approach him myself.

Heal, ha, what a joke, 40+ years later I am still hurting, I STILL have not healed. So if in telling my story helps another person share their pain and suffering and helps them heal, then I have succeeded in helping them get the help they need. Thats why I decided that telling my story, here on this page, would be good therapy for me.

Being sexually abused at such a young age made me very promiscuous now that I think back on things. The first time I had sex I was 16. I went into a spiral that has never quite ended. Never being able to pinpoint why I needed to have sex in order to feel loved. Now that I look back on things I can see why. Sex was the only thing that healed the hurt inside. It made me feel in control. I could be in charge. But was I really the one that was in charge? I felt used and even more abused with every sexual encounter. The never feeling good enough for anyone, the never healing. I just wanted the pain to go away.

To add to the molestation by my brother, I was raped twice. Raped by a date and forced to perform oral sex.To this day he denies it. Raped another time by a stranger. I dont recall all the details, perhaps I never will. Is it better for me not to know? I dont know… only time will tell.

I have had many sexual relationships. Relationships with married men, older men, younger men and some relationships that may even shock the average person. To me, it was what I needed at the time. At the time I felt that I had to have sex in order to feel loved, wanted and appreciated. In my marriage sex was awesome, then it went kaput and there’s been nothing for years now. A marriage with so many years behind me, and so many wonderful memories, how could it all stop in an instant? I was told because I pushed him away. I beg to differ, but thats not what this story is about.

Now I face the daily life of my marriage mentally abusing me because there is nothing but arguing and bickering and the mental despair of sleeping in the bed with someone who is now a stranger. I feel like I am sleeping with the enemy.

The events that unfolded over the years have all taken a toll on me and my relationships. Sad for the lies, sad for the hurt, sad for the pain.

I need to heal. Healing starts from within. Lets all take a stand against our abusers and make them face the pain of what they have done to us. We can no longer allow ourselves to be put to blame. We are not the abuser! We are the victim and we all need to be heard !!!

There is more abuse I endured at the hand of my father, both physical and mental abuse. My whole life I have been told I would never amount to anything. I watched him beat on my mother, my siblings and myself. The beatings were far worse than you can ever imagine. Many a day I went to school with a busted lip, or my legs so swollen from being beaten with a belt I could barely walk. So many small things I would get beat for. This went on until I moved out when I was 20. I was glad to be out of the house, but felt for my mother and my siblings that still lived with him, his anger and his abuse !

After my mother passed away, my father said some pretty hurtful things to me and I have never been so hurt in my life by his words. I never did tell my parents before they passed on about the abuse at the hands of my brother, but my father did get a 6 page letter about how I felt growing up, my pain, my anger. He said he read it, he said we would talk about the things I wrote….. that never happened. Once again, my abuse went silent.

I told my other siblings about the abuse from my brother, another weight lifted off my shoulders. Healing is taking time, but I am determined. I can do this, I am woman, I am strong. I have friends who walk beside me holding my hand through this all.

Many tears have fallen this past week as I have struggled to write this, but its good. Crying cleanses the mind and soul. I am healing and its going to take time. I can get through this.

You may sit here and feel sorry for me and cry tears for me. I will ask you not to do that. I will ask you to please talk to your friends if they are abused, then help them get the help they need. They may be too scared thinking they are the only one. Trust me, abuse and violence will not stop unless we victims put a stop to it. Be the voice you want heard. Together or alone, let your silence go on no further.

A simple slap can turn bigger, a shove can turn into a punch, a punch turn into a battle. Get the help. You are NOT alone. As long as you have a voice, there is no reason that you should suffer in silence any longer.

The mental abuse I endured was never ending. I hated myself because he made me believe I was nothing. He made me feel less of a person, but damn it I am a person! I am worth something to myself and the people around me. My voice will be heard.

I vowed to never ever spank my child or beat my child the way my father beat me. I kept that promise to me and my daughter. I broke that cycle and you can too by talking and getting the help you need now. Break your cycle of violence and abuse.

If you were abused, please do not beat your child. Do not mentally beat them down or physically harm them. Walk away, send them to another room, gather your self and then sit calmly and talk to them. They are not a punching bag nor put here on this earth to be abused.

We can heal from physical scars but the mental ones take longer.

Get the help you need, face your abuser and make them pay for what they have done to you !!!!

BREAK THE SILENCE NOW !!!

Thanks for taking the time to read my story.

B’s Story of Sexual Abuse

Much of the timeline of my childhood is a blur, however, I think I was about 8 or 10 when I was molested by my uncle.  It was not forceful or violent in the traditional sense.  It was violent and tragic in the sense of how it would affect me over the next 30 years.  I do not recall how it started, how it ended or how long it went on for.  It was not just once.  It took place over a period of time and at the time, I did not realize that what was happening was wrong and just how wrong it was.

I kept this a secret from most people for most of my life.  It wasn’t until my marriage fell apart and my wife was leaving me that I realized just how broken I was because of what happened.  I was not a whole person.  I was not able to maintain healthy relationships.  My self esteem and confidence were practically non existent.  My insecurity was through the roof and I had nagging fears of abandonment.

No one in my family knew what happened.  As my marriage was ending, I began to deal with all of my demons, the biggest one being the molestation.  The first person in my family that I told was my sister.  At some point after this, I began therapy.  I needed to be whole.  I needed to live and feel like I mattered; like I was important to myself and others.  I sat in the lobby of the victims services office filling out the intake questionnaire and I began to cry.  I think this was the first time I really grasped what happened to me, the severity of it and finally owned it.  As I sat there filling out the form, I also felt a huge pressure being lifted.  Just by being in that office and filling out the form, I had begun the process of  becoming whole. This also made me cry.

After a few sessions in, I had my next major breakthrough – I told my mother.  I knew I could not call her and tell her.  The words would not come out if I tried that, so I rushed home and wrote her a letter.  Aside from letting her know what happened to me, I also disclosed that my therapist and I developed a safe plan.  A week after my ex wife left us, I was in the house and felt nothing.  I was not numb or sad, I simply did not feel like I existed.  This was one of the most horrifying experiences.  I was terrified at what could happen in this moment and experience.

I do feel much stronger and whole through therapy and finally dealing with what happened; by sharing this with others which lifts the burden off of me.  However, I am not fully whole yet.  I am in a new relationship and madly in love.  I finally feel like I can be myself.  She was also a victim of abuse and therefore can understand me and my feelings. It is comforting that I can offer her the same sense of comfort, support and acceptance.  Even with the mutual acceptance and understanding, we both still have to work to remain cognizant of the affects of it.  It is easy to fall back into old patterns of pushing people away, playing mind games and living in a tormented state.  When you have lived in that space for so long, it begins to be a comfort because its what you know and sometimes it feels easier to do that then to fight it and accept that what you have may be real and whole and wonderful.  Fear of losing that can kick in.

It took a great loss in my life to get to where I am after the horrific things that happened, but through this I have also experienced my greatest period of self awareness and personal growth and I have also found unconditional love.  The first step was breaking the silence!

Welcome

Welcome to Break the Silence.  We created this project as a way to talk about and deal with our own experiences in abuse, while helping others do the same.  Combining our passions and talents, we set out to create a photo essay on abuse of all forms.  While our own experiences took place at very different points in our lives, before we became a couple, we both realize how they impacted us as people and our relationship.  However, our care and love for each other as well as our mutual understanding of the affects of abuse made this endeavor inevitable.

Along with being therapeutic for us, we hope that others will find this site, read the stories, view the images and find the inner strength to be able to deal with their own trauma from abuse and work to become whole again.  For us, it all started with literally, breaking the silence.  Once we became open about what happened to us, we started to feel free then the healing process could begin.

Sincerely,

Brian & Erin

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Carol’s Story of Abuse

I am a daughter. I loved my mother dearly and hope I am making her proud. I am a sister. I am an aunt, I love my nieces as if they are my own. I am a mother my children are my world. I love them more than I could possibly put into words. I am Nana to a beautiful special little girl who I love more than life itself, and I hope I will be blessed to live to see many more grandchildren. I am a friend… My friends and relatives know how much I love and adore them and I do believe a stranger is just another friend we haven’t met yet.

I am a woman who has faced a lot of pain during my childhood and throughout my teenage and adult years. I was sexually abused by a family member. I was in an abusive relationship that led to a teenage pregnancy and I have suffered a heartbreaking marriage. My husband decided to have an affair with my daughter(his stepdaughter) when she was 30 years old, at the time I was in a bitter custody battle with her over my granddaughter, I did not find out until almost a year after the affair started. While he was involved with my daughter he was abusive to me verbally saying things no one should hear from someone they had been married to 27 years.Verbal abuse can do damage especially if the victim has already suffered other forms of abuse.