Creative Nonfiction Abuse Stories

List Creative NonFiction Abuse Stories and Poems

Writing Creative NonFiction Abuse Stories & Poems Help Victims to Heal

Past and present victims of domestic violence generally embody great senses of creativity, empathy and ability to love unconditionally. These traits, when cherished and admired by a healthy partner, help to create storybook love and life-long commitments. However, an abusive person will corrupt their victim’s creativity, empathy and love, twisting giving attitudes into unfathomable self-destruction.

Most survivors of domestic violence report a “loss of self” during and after the abusive relationship. We feel as if we’ve lost a part of ourselves, given it over to our abuser as ransom in exchange for our lives. We feel like the “I” in us is destroyed. I used my creativity to find ways to stay with him, to solve “our” problem through feeling for his pain and believing my love would show him the way. I used my most divine qualities to confine myself in abuse. My truth got lost in a lie.

One day, several months after leaving him, it dawned on me that truth is always truth; truth remains when all hope leaves us. I, as a person unique in this world, am truth. I cannot be destroyed. My abuser could not destroy me. My abuser could not take my truth – it is the essence of me.creative nonfiction stories of abuse

So, in light of that realization, I began to think about all of the crap he smothered me with: guilt, fear, self-questioning, … all the way to self-abuse. I am still me, I am still here – but sometimes I didn’t feel that way because I drowned in the sea of all he told me I was and was not.

Creative Versions of Stories of Abuse Can Help

Healing from abuse sometimes requires revisiting it. Unraveling my truth from the lies brings up memories I didn’t know I retained. Remembering shocks me – the horrors I repressed, the lies I accepted, … sometimes it is too much to process in the first person. Sometimes I must remind myself that the events that created those memories are not happening now.

Detaching myself from the memory, as if a friend were telling the story instead of me, helps me to see more clearly the truth of it all. Writing out the memory as creative nonfiction, allowing the ideas to flow as they will to round up fleeting feelings, helps me to heal the painful memories and create a new story that suits me better.

Creative Nonfiction is a type of literature that tells a story while leaving some wiggle room that nonfiction does not allow. For example, this story titled Daybreak severely abbreviates the story of the night I left my husband. The part about the line on my forehead is not embellished, but the subject of the knife serves to tell this story without being entirely factual. The story is true, but pulled from different experiences. With creative nonfiction, the gist of the story is true, but the details are not required to be provable facts.

If you want to tell your story of abuse in this way, it can be a very cathartic, healing experience. I invite you to email it to me and we’ll work together to publish it here.

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  1. A wife who is abused says:

    Hi Kellie,

    I am in the process of healing It has just been around 2 months since I decided to divorce him. and its been 8 months of separation.

    I started writing a fiction story on my own case, a few months ago. However, every time I sit down to pen my thoughts and write the journey of my fictional character, I boil from inside and get stressed out. I have frozen my book writing plans for now.

    Any suggestions here?

    • When I began my healing, I became a researcher. I researched abuse from other sites, books, and “scholarly” papers from psychology journals. I related to much of the material (as you can imagine), but the cold hard facts presented in my research helped me detach from the emotional aspects of my experience. Perhaps distancing yourself from the old labels of “abuse victim” and “survivor” and choosing something else like, in my case, “researcher” could help.

      Could you try your hand at writing some “reports” with endnotes or a bibliography?

      That said, I still cried through my first version of the short story mentioned on this page. After I got it out on paper and set it aside for a while, I was able to go back into it and edit for grammar, spelling, continuity, etc. What if you just sat down and wrote it out? Cry it out, yell it out, whatever it takes to just get it on paper. When you feel the emotion, remind yourself you have every right to feel that way! Then put the story aside for a while.

      Writing with emotion helps you detach from it, but you have to leave time for “after care” – be patient with yourself, be good to yourself, remind yourself that the strength you once used to stay in the relationship is now available for the strength you need to heal.

      Many of “us” are also perfectionists 🙂 We want it right and we want it to be right NOW. Consider your book a work in progress, and the “work” includes the healing and recovery.

  2. Kellie Jo, it’s interesting to me that you use the term “creative non-fiction” which is often misunderstood. Here is how one reviewer described the use of the term for my memoir: “Author Lynn C. Tolson appeals to the reader from the first paragraph of her powerful memoir Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor’s Story. Tolson uses creative non-fiction to tell her story, fascinating the reader with metaphor, prose, and poetry. Tolson tells her riveting story in first-person narrative, enabling the reader to instantly bond with her authentic voice. Readers can readily visualize the settings, plot, and characters due to the author’s well-developed descriptions and dialogue. This is not an average auto-biography: the book combines story-telling with self-help, affirmations, meditations, and therapeutic concepts.” Your advice to the first commenter is so good. I’d like her to know it took me 20 YEARS to be able to complete the story. I am in the process of re-visiting my own memoir to produce an audio version. Even after all these decades, it is so difficult. We tell our stories to comfort others and break the silence. Cheers, Lynn

  3. Anonymous says:

    I asked why don’t she just leave him?

    Miss Honey, we called her Miss Honey because it was respectful and I never knew her last name, she had visited our home many times and most times she had bruises on her face or she was limping and in pain when she tried to walk. As time passed it was “normal” to see her “in that way”. As a thirteen year old I didn’t know about domestic violence but I knew the man that was making her look less than the woman that she was. According to my mother she was at one time a beautiful woman, but my cousin, the person in her life was slowly destroying her. One night she visited as usual and I heard her voice and to say hello I started toward the kitchen as I entered the hallway Miss Honey was coming towards me, I saw her using the wall as a prop, if you will, to hold on to, and thought that maybe she had been drinking.

    As she and I got closer to each other I first saw the sun glasses sitting crooked on her face, and then I saw her face and I gasped, Miss Honey said ‘it’s only Miss Honey baby”. She laughed as she said I can’t see. I immediately felt sorry for letting her hear me being afraid of what I saw. Her face was so deformed it could have easily been from a science fiction movie. Her eyes were so swollen I felt that if they had gotten more puffy they would spill over. Her lips were so swollen that it sounded as if her mouth was filled with cotton or gum. When I got to the kitchen I asked mama “why don’t she just leave him? She told me to stay in a childs place. I can remember thinking if anyone (besides my parents) were to hit me I knew what I would do, I would not only leave but call the police too! I knew exactly what needed to be done, at the ripe old age of 13. Miss Honey continued to endure beating after beating I guess she became immune to how her features had changed through the years then I couldn’t imagine how anyone could endure a fist being placed in their face over and over again, what rage it had to take to beat someone. I am not sure of when but Miss Honey, after if years of abuse, finally left and went back South to live with her family and I was happy for her. As I think back I was surprised when mama told me because I honestly thought she was dead.

    Mama said she still heard from her many years later and that she was much happier, she told me because I had asked what happened to her because my cousin now had another woman, Pat, whom he abused and she drank so much that she could hardly stand up. I could only think that she became an alcoholic because of the treatment she was now getting which was the same treatment Miss Honey had endured at the hands of this man. As far as I knew, before she met him she was sober. She too was a very pretty lady but now was stumbling and could barely speak because of the swollen lips and sounding as if she had cotton in her mouth and she had also lost so much weight.

    I pitied Pat just as I pitied Miss Honey but more than anything I was dumbfounded by both, why didn’t they just leave this monster. I found out why or at least possible reasons, my mother had a saying “a bought lesson is better than one told”. The only way to explain this saying is to liken it to having to pay an electric bill, at the time of the payment you understand why your parents told you to “cut off the lights when you leave when you leave a room”. The blessing of my lesson is that now I cut off the lights when I leave a room because I have to pay the bill.

    Getting out of an abusive relationship is easier said than done but done early and having the tools and resouces to do so is not only key it is imperative and can be a matter of life and death. Death is not always physical being killed slowly mentally and spiritually is just as devastating. I know this because I too have been there and didn’t leave after being choked, isolated from my family and verbally abused. My bought lesson made me understand why a person stays in an abusive relationship. For me it was a mixture of feeling ashamed, afraid and confused. The shame was that I knew I had chosen the wrong man. The shame was that I didn’t listen to the inner voice that told me not to marry him. The shame was how do I tell anyone about this I couldn’t let my family know about this. The fear was where do I go? The shelter I had called said I had 30 days to live with them and I kept thinking where do I go after my 30 days. The woman on the other end of the phone told me she didn’t know and I felt she didn’t care. My confusion came from trying to make sense out of this, I kept asking myself why, why was this happening to me what had I done. I believe so many women go through these same emotions when confronted with abuse. Statistics report;

    1.3 million women are victims of physical assault (this cannot compute the victims like Miss Honey, Pat and myself who didn’t or don’t report it)
    85% of domestic violence victims are women
    31% of women who reported being abused by a husband or boyfriend reported how they kept track of their schedules and whereabouts
    Approximately 240,000 pregnant women are abused each year (I was six months pregnant when I was choked)
    Domestic violence is the number two reason reason for homelessness among families
    252,300 nights of shelter was provided to women and their children in Illinois
    23,000 adults and children were denied shelter from domestic violence shelters in Illinois due to lack of space
    The cost of domestic violence to American businesses are staggering as well, the cost of direct medical and mental health is $4.1 billion and the lost in productivity is estimated at $1.7 billion for a total of $5.8 billion
    There are no exact statistics on the loss of life due to domestic violence

    What are your reasons for not leaving?

    Copyright – 01/2011

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