Breakfast with Kyra

I miss Kyra every second of every day. I miss Kyra’s smile, her laugh, her voice and the way she embraced life. And, every morning, I miss our breakfasts together.

Kyra was becoming a fiercely independent toddler. “I do it, Momma. I do it,” is what she would always say. In the morning, we would make breakfasts together. She loved to make eggs with me. She would help me crack the eggs. She would help stir them up, and she would put in the salt and pepper. There were quite a few times when Kyra got too excited, and I would have to throw out the over-salted eggs.

She would talk to me and dance around the kitchen as I cooked the eggs. And then, we would eat together before our day began. She would always say or do something that would have me laughing out loud. She had such a strong sense of self and a bubbling personality, and it was incredible to watch her develop and become more and more independent.

These are now cherished memories. And, every time I see eggs, I think of our mornings together. I will always wish I had more mornings and breakfasts with her.

October is domestic violence awareness month. Domestic violence is real and it is devastating families and our communities. I am not the only one now eating breakfast alone. My one request is to ask that you take a few minutes and learn the signs of domestic abuse, so that when you see it, you can speak up. It’s time for this to end.

The DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence offers this guide:

How can I help a friend or family member who’s being abused?

Many of us know someone – mother, sister, friend, or neighbor – who is a victim of domestic violence.  Often, we ask how we can help.   If you know or suspect that someone you know is involved in an abusive relationship, it is important to recognize the signs and be a support for the person experiencing abuse.

Recognize the signs:

  • Has your friend been isolated?  Were they outgoing before their relationship but has become more and more withdrawn?  Do you rarely see them anymore?  When you do, are they constantly checking to see when they should leave?
  • Does their partner have an unusual amount of control over their activities, the way they dress, family finances?
  • Does their partner ridicule them regularly in public? Does their partner appear to be volatile?
  • Have you noticed other changes in their or their children’s behavior? Do they appear frightened, nervous, or uncomfortable when their partner is around?

Be a support:

  • Listen without judgment. For many of us, the hardest thing to do is to simply listen without asking – Why don’t you just leave?  Our eagerness to be helpful can often cause a victim of domestic violence to become more withdrawn and less likely to see you as a resource. Leaving is not always simple.  Leaving a violent relationship is dangerous.  There are often threats of violence in addition to emotional and financial control. Never blame them. Focus on providing support.
  • Become familiar with local resources. Find out about the local services – phone numbers, websites. Be able to refer your friend to an expert that can help identify their options and develop a safety plan.
  • Remember leaving or letting go is not always the immediate remedy.  For many of us the answer is easy – leave or let go and do it now.  However, it takes an average of 5 -7 times for a victim of domestic violence to leave the relationship for good, and some people may never leave.  While it can be frustrating to watch someone you love return to an unsafe situation, remember that alienating your friend or family member will just leave them isolated and less likely to remain safe.  Ask them how you can support them, both if they stay and if they leave an abusive relationship.
  • Let go of “What I would do” and listen to “What they want”.  The first response many victims of domestic violence hear from family and friends is “I would never…” or “I could never…” Let go of what you think would do and ask your friend or family member what they want to do.  Let them talk about their needs, frustrations and fears.  Remember that asking for help or reaching out is a big step, and you can be a huge support to them just by listening to what they want and need.