I used to think the word “trigger” was just an overused term that people apply to insult someone who gets offended or has their feelings hurt. But now being someone with PTSD my perspective has changed. I hate the word trigger, but I respect it. Because I’ve learned that the slightest little thing can ruin my entire day, or sometimes send me into a spiral for a week.

My triggers are the obvious things that pertain to my trauma such as fire, sirens, smoke, loud noises. But lately my family has been my worst trigger. I’ve been estranged from my family pretty much since my trauma. I am astounded and disappointed in them because I learned that while its easy to be a family on the surface, if there is real drama then no one can face it. Deviate from the Catholic Italian family playbook and they turn on you like a pack of hungry wolves.

So while they could blog about their perfect lives and how fulfilled they were surrounded by their babies, they rejected me when the ugliness of my abuse surfaced and disrupted their smooth flight path through life. This cuts to the quick because they watched as my entire life literally went up in smoke from domestic violence but they failed to shelter me from the fallout.  In fact, they enabled the most heartbreaking rejection and family estrangement that followed my attempted murder. Not only was I was shunned and shamed by everyone who was important to me but they participated fully and openly in my condemnation.

I’ve confronted them with my questions about why they participated in events that literally drove me to a suicide attempt. ¬†Almost three years later, I’m still waiting for answers. My sister blogs about gun control and outrage over school shootings. She marched on Washington and posted proud photos of her feminism. She even blogged about her daughter being in an “abusive relationship”. But never has she or anyone in my family acknowledged that I am a domestic violence survivor or that they alienated me, the crime victim. And I get it, it was the easy way out. But I’d really like some validation. They failed me.

I refuse to believe that I’m the only domestic violence survivor that has lost their family because religious, traditional or societal norms taught them to shun and ignore things like sexual abuse and domestic battery. I love my family but I am triggered every time I see a Facebook post or the latest blog about superficial life displayed on a bed of arugula.

Let’s get real, let’s be honest and talk about the HUGE elephant in the room, Christianity, and the shame that drowns all us good Catholic girls if we aren’t the perfect wife, mother, daughter and sister. It’s time to move from the dark ages and talk about abuse and how we as a society enable it.

Lily Bell

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