Have you experienced violence?


What was done to you?

Where would you like me to begin? I have a bullet wound in my skull, traumatic brain trauma from too many blows and too many nearly dead dances with explosions, a knife wound on my chin, a nose broken, arms, legs, ribs all broken at some time or other, feet all with odd clicks and bone spurs from breaks, both arms routinely fall out of their sockets because not enough ligaments or muscle are left to keep them in place…

That doesn't answer what was done, only the result. When did you receive these injuries?

Throughout my childhood and early adulthood.

What man did this to you?

Men and women did this to me.


About 500,000 various fighters across five countries would happily have chopped me into tiny pieces as a child, African wars are a bit like that. Also, my mother and sister.

Violence Against Women

That interview above are a list of questions with answers but we learn nothing from them. There is nothing to be gleaned from the information I have given nor been asked.

At what point was I going to be asked “Why?”

Why are women hurt? Tortured and abused?

I cannot answer for women but I can answer for me. It wasn’t the men and women in Africa who tried to kill me that answer the “why” but the man who decided where I should physically be placed as a child. A coffee estate on the border of Mozambique, effectively ground zero of that war, was not the kindest place to put a small white child and daughter of one of the Internal Affairs men on the kill list (a list that required his family to be killed to eliminate him from the fight if he was unavailable for said killing). Why would a father put a child in harms way?

Why indeed.

And my mother and sister?

Why would they regularly harm me?

I was groomed to be the perfect victim. Silent and immobile. I did not fight back. I had no voice. It took me until I was 40, and had found yet another abuser in my life who pushed me too far, before I found it. Nobody will ever do that to my girls, nor to me again.

We must be our own rescuers.  There is no knight in shining armour and if you become involved with a victim of abuse before she has had the time needed to find her voice, her real self, you will keep her trapped in the broken.  Trust me on this.  I met Brian when I was whole.  I was me: all the weird, the caustic, the crazy, the funny and the kind was all me. Brian often tells me that when I lose it I have one mode: KILL. He is right, but it’s a hell of an improvement on the previous mode of victim.

When I see a woman I know is being abused and I hear that she has yet again returned to her abuser, I nod in understanding. We are groomed, we are incapable of fighting our way through this. Can you help her? No. She must help herself, you can provide avenues, you can implement the law of the land and ensure that her abuser obeys that law. There will either come a time in her life when she finds it deep within to fight back or she will not.

Why do others seek to harm us?

Power. Control. Redemption.

Power: there is a narcissistic enjoyment apparent in all who abuse (I saw it in my mother and sister’s smiles when they saw me bleed, or a tear would trickle down my silent cheeks).

Control: the ability to control the reflexes and response of another human is intoxicating for some (have seen this in 3 unhealthy relationships of my own, a literal high from the fear they can generate in another human).

Redemption: my mother and sister had experiences that sought to find answers in doing the same to me. In hurting me they found answers to their own demons. In others, it is the replay of abuse from their childhood or a feeling of inadequacy that can be redeemed in their abusing of another human.

If you know of somebody who is being abused do not confront them with it, rather speak to professionals and find a way to improve their lives if only increments. Show them what can be.

Above all?

Give them HOPE.

Trust me, I have lived without hope. I have felt the pointlessness of it all and I have survived suicide. Hope is a precious gift and one that cannot be undervalued.


(Brian read this and asked “Redemption?”   Yes, Redemption.  I’ve seen it in their eyes.  Answers are given to their pain in their abuse of others.  There is a redemption for them in their meting out abuse to those silent victims.  Trust me on this.)



  1. Your sharing reminded me of watching my oldest sister being beaten by her husband when I was a child. She would take care of me while our mother worked. I witnessed his unbridled rage and fits kill my sister’s soul. I remember thinking that one day I would grow up and he would never lay his hands on my sister again. He died before that ever occurred thankfully. I am sorry that you had to endure that abuse as a child Kate. Unfortunately, it is often the children that pay the biggest price for our sins. Thank you for shining a light on an issue that sadly continues to this day.

    • Kate Gillie Reply

      I’m glad you never had to face that. Violence to the body is one thing, it’s the violence to the soul that takes the longest to recover from. When that violence comes from a person that is supposed to be there for you, care for and protect you it somehow leaves a deeper scar that never truly heals. I find that sharing my own story and how I work to overcome my demons helps. It is a way of find a purpose for suffering if that makes sense? I hope your sister is okay now.

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