It’s estimated that every minute in the United States, an average of 20 people are abused, raped or stalked by an intimate partner.
60 seconds. That’s all it takes for 20 more people to become victims of domestic abuse.
Kristina Shetter is one of those people.
A victim of domestic abuse, but more importantly a survivor.
In a powerful testimony shared to Facebook, Kristina details her experience which left her body bruised and beaten. The purple and black marks that would one day fade were only a momentary glimpse at the shattered soul that now lived inside of her.
“I hated this photo. I hated this moment. I remember it so vividly,” she writes.
“Before this photo was taken my friend asked me to do something that, at first, seemed so trivial—and yet, it was so much harder than I could have imagined.
I had asked him to help me remember this time in my life. I had asked him to help me process what I had just been through. I asked him to take photos of me, so I could no longer deny the reality of what was.
Here we were standing in an abandoned home surrounded by dust and decay, and walls with memories long forgotten—now absorbing the weight of the story; I had to tell about my experience.
As he prepared for the next series of shots, my friend asked me to do one simple task: He asked me to point.
Point to every bruise on my aching body.
He asked me to show him where it hurt.
Oh, if only I could have torn the flesh from my very bones and laid my heart out on the floor, instead. The hurt was everywhere! The surface of this pain was so insignificant in comparison to the true depths of my heartache, that it almost felt insulting to point at the surface of my skin. But, how does one point to their very soul?
So, I stood there and pointed to a jaw, to a chest, to a neck, to an arm–none of which felt like they were attached to me anymore, at least not to the me I’d once known. I immediately felt the pain well up inside me. I felt it fill me to the brim as tears began to swell in my eyes; and I remember thinking: ‘Stop! Don’t do this! You’re hurting him!’ ‘Him’ being my Ex, the man I loved, the man I’d left, the man whose heart I’d broken, the man whose child I’d given up; the man who couldn’t contain the storms of his heart to the point that he nearly drowned us both, in his rage and despair.
The man who left his mark.
My friend asked me to show him exactly what I had asked him to help me show myself, and instantly I felt that wall go up. Instantly my head and heart and adrenaline were all screaming for me to continue to ignore the truth.
But, the truth was written all over my body, whether I wanted to see it or not.
And so, through tears of sorrow I stripped myself bare… and I pointed.”
Kristina’s gut-wrenching story tells the all-too-familiar tale of the more than ten million women and men who are victims of domestic violence every year. Their bruises and scars aren’t carried on the surface, but fester deep within.
My prayer is that her vulnerability and honesty would help just one victim find the courage and support they need to free themselves from a volatile relationship.
There is nothing anyone could ever say or do to deserve to be abused by their partner.
If you or someone you know is in a dangerous relationship, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224. Calls are safe and confidential.