Do Not Suffer Silently
Guest Blog Author: Ruth Gamble and Siblings
*Trigger Warning: Depictions of Domestic Violence*
During this Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we have brought attention to statistics and resources relating to domestic violence and invited the community to help us achieve change together. Now is the hard part: to convey the true depth of fear, suffering, and pain that a survivor may experience. It is always a difficult decision to know how much to share with the community. Will showing too much vulnerability make it harder for people to connect with our clients? Will keeping things in a positive spin, even when nothing may feel positive to some of the people we serve, make our supporters more likely to come back and stay involved?
But here is the real, honest, blunt truth: domestic violence is a scary, painful, big deal.
No one knows that more than survivor Ruth Gamble. As a child, she experienced violence at the hand of her father, and witnessed him abuse her mother on multiple occasions. He did not just hit them, what he did can be described as physical and psychological torture. He did things like force her mother to lick the floor “so that she would know there was nothing lower than she was”, beat her and the children with a hammer, burn them with fire from candles, and force the children to beat their own mother. Ultimately, her mother survived only by shooting her husband dead, in what the State ruled a Justifiable Homicide. This is her story.
“Speak out, cry out, get away, do not suffer silently at the hand of domestic violence abusers.
My family suffered silently for13 years at the mercy of our sadistic abuser, our father, in our time there were few if any options to source help. People looked the other way and didn't get involved. Mother once went to the local church we attended to seek help but was told the Church didn't get involved in family issues.
Thankfully, now there are so many great resources like Denton County Friends of Family to assist in getting free from the grip of domestic abuse. Unfortunately, many people still look the other way. Relatives and friends won’t acknowledge the person they love is an abuser.
Our nightmare ended when in self-defense Mother shot and killed our abuser, an act that haunted her until the day she died. There could have been a different outcome if there had been resources to assist in breaking the domestic violence syndrome, and different societal attitudes about a woman's rights and what are no longer a man's right.
Mother did find the courage to leave him once and made the mistake of letting him talk her into returning. Father had often told her should she ever leave he would kill the entire family, and that was in the back of her mind and gave her cause for thought. That day on the phone, he was so sincere in his promises to never hurt us again that she went back. He then tied her to a chair and beat her while we were made to watch. Warning, if a victim leaves, do not go back without proper resources, a safety plan, professional help and guidance, and a lot of commitment by the abuser in getting better. Statistically, abusers are unlikely to change their choices and behavior without intervention (see the DCFOF BIPP program for resources). Whether or not the abuser makes the choice to change, the victim’s life is often changed forever.
There is no way to describe this insane way of life, enduring the degradation of being abused physically and mentally by the person you once most trusted. Victims are often not able to explain or really to understand why they don't leave- be it financial, fear, or the misguided belief that the abuser will change. Because after all- they say they love you. It's difficult to understand a person so badly emotionally damaged that the promise of love is reason enough to stay, and to believe the abuse will stop, even when you are that person.
If you know someone that's caught in this vicious web don't judge- because few can understand the insanity, the reason for silence, the fear and repercussions of breaking out on one’s own. Instead of judging, help people become aware of domestic violence, that there is help, and that domestic violence won't be tolerated in today's society. This is the key.
Get involved, volunteer, donate, educate yourself: these are the actions that will change the world for those current victims, future survivors and ultimate “thrivers”.
My family and I went on to ultimately thrive, though there were many bends in the road from then until now. As I grow older, it becomes more important that our experience be of value in helping someone that is caught in the desperate life of domestic violence.”
-Ruth Gamble & Siblings
Thank you to Ruth Gamble and her siblings for sharing their story.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the DCFOF 24-Hour Crisis Line at 940-382-7273 or 800-572-4031.
If you would like more information about the resources offered to victims/survivors at DCFOF, learn more at dcfof.org.
If you have made the choice to abuse your partner and are looking for resources to change your behavior, we can help. Learn more about the DCFOF Battering Intervention and Prevention Program at dcfof.org/batteringintervention.
Denton County Friends of the Family is dedicated to providing compassionate, comprehensive services to those impacted by rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence while partnering with our community to promote safety, hope, healing, justice, and prevention.