A New Perspective His Loved for Others

Artist's Note: There are many types of domestic abuse and different types of victims who are often viewed with unfair judgment as some members of the community blame them for the crime or see them as being flawed or damaged afterward. For this reason, survivors continue to feel the burden of shame long after escape and can make choices that continue the suffering. Most survivors are reluctant to admit they too have been a victim, especially when it comes to men. The common denominator of domestic abuse is the power and control an abuser has over the victim. This can be in the form of emotional manipulation, mind games, threats, and physical force. An abuser will build a dependent relationship and use the victim's love against him or her by threatening to harm a family member, pet, friend, or something meaningful to the victim. This is proven time and again as mothers stay in violent relationships to keep him from harming her parents or children. They think, "I can handle it...as long as he only hurts me." Abusers use victim's love for others against them.

In the case of this amazing survivor, his abuser did the same by threatening his family. The threat came from a major religious authority figure who had done the same to 200 other people. This was an institutionalized abuse situation where power and control over victims became a culture for predators. Yes, this is domestic abuse. The relationship dynamics are the same; the people and environment are different. He had held this pain inside himself in order to be strong for others. Eventually, he came to understand that silence allows abusers to continue harm, so he managed to find the courage to break that silence and come forward. Not only did he share his story privately, he did it publically by using his love for others to try and bring his abuser to justice.

Ever since, he has received many communications from people who were grateful to see him shed the shame and demonstrate that it's okay to talk about painful experiences. Opening up does not make one less of a man-just the opposite. He exemplifies that abuse doesn't have to destroy your life, but can be a catalyst for justice and change. Unfortunately, the public does not see things the same way, for his abuser was never brought to justice over the many lives he had damaged--not just the innocent victims, but their loved ones as well.

It is my honor to create this portrait of a beautiful spirit who serves our country as an Army Major, a member of the National Guard, and as an elected public servant who has dedicated his life to protecting people and using his love for others to make the world a better place for us all.