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Reflections on a friend’s act of courage

To the editor:

A friend texted me with this message: “I did the Hot Chocolate Run (I walked) last Sunday. I realized I am 6 months out of an abusive relationship.”

I answered: “Congratulations! How did it feel to be there?”

Her reply: “Quite emotional — very different from the previous year when I snuck out of the house to go & didn’t dare register in advance.”

In our enthusiastic community celebration of the Hot Chocolate Run, her text messages remind me of women who are silent, and of women who have been silenced. Too often we only think of domestic violence when we hear horrific stories.

Other forms of domestic violence don’t make the headlines — verbal abuse, angrily throwing things at a partner or hitting. I applaud women who, after suffering verbal abuse that denigrates their self-esteem to pieces, somehow are able to cement those fragments together enough to get out of and stay out of abusive relationships. My friend, even feeling hopeless and torn apart, had the strength to leave a relationship that had been loving as well as abusive. I found her action to be an act of extreme bravery and courage.

I hope that both at the Hot Chocolate Run and in our daily lives we support women who are victims and survivors of all types of abuse. When we help them hold their new emotional foundation together, there will be more and more survivors.

Barbara Allen


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