When Home Is Not Safe

Writings on Domestic Verbal, Emotional and Physical Abuse


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About the Book

Even if you haven’t been hurt by domestic violence, someone you know has and wishes they could tell you about it. Perhaps you are a therapist, teacher, academic, or social worker who wants to help those who are suffering. Or maybe you are in an abusive relationship and need to know that you are not alone.

The poems, memoirs, and creative nonfiction pieces collected here tell of real incidents of abuse, as well as of those who left destructive and unsalvageable relationships. The beauty and truth of the language, as well as the honesty and courage, set this anthology apart from self-help manuals and academic treatises on domestic violence. This book offers a path forward to healing, health and fulfillment, using the power of art to give voice where voice has been stifled, forgotten, overlooked or denied.

About the Author(s)

Judith Skillman is the recipient of awards from the Academy of American Poets and Artist Trust, and has published twenty collections of poetry. She is a faculty member at the Hugo House in Seattle, Washington.

Linera Lucas won the Crucible Fiction Prize and her poetry and short stories have been widely published. She has taught at the University of Washington Women’s Center and Hugo House in Seattle.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Judith Skillman and Linera Lucas
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 221
Bibliographic Info: notes, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8392-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4412-7
Imprint: Exposit

Table of Contents

Preface by Judith Skillman and Linera Lucas 1
Introduction by Judith Skillman and Linera Lucas 4
Heidi Seaborn
Weather  9
Drafting a Flight Plan  9
Jennifer Jenkins
Hit Me  10
Susan April
The Ballet  13
Howie Good
Anger Is an Arrow  20
Stick Figure Family  20
The Secret Goldfish  20
Emma Brousseau
What’s True of the Garden Pea  21
Wren Tuatha
Fissure  25
Chelsea Clammer
Balcony, 3 a.m.  26
Nina Fosati
Her Father’s Daughter  28
RK Taylor
holy / days  30
Lynn Magill
You Smiled   30
Michael  31
Cynthia Steele
Words “Too Dark” for the Father’s Day Edition  33
Kurt Olsson
Packs  41
Drowned  42
The Best of a Bad Year  42
J. Flynn Doncaster
Ever Closer  43
Lindsay Erdman
Abroad  46
LeeAnn Olivier
Kintsugi  46
Aimee Parkison
Girl in Rape Kit  54
Victoria Elizabeth Ruwi
A Slice of Summer  55
Mary Ellen Talley
Wine Song  59
How to Survive Abuse  59
A Steady Whip  59
Ogu Chukwuebuka Kizito
Voices from the Streets  60
Carolyne Wright
Mandamientos: Lover to Beloved  63
I Forgive  63
Paul Rousseau
Kitchen Table  64
It Wasn’t the First Time He Hit Me  66
Darlene Goetzman
Reading the Lines  67
Anne Spollen
From Where I Live Now  76
Izzy Wilson
Why Are They Fighting?  79
Christina Hoag
When His Words Became a Drug  82
Amelia Goldman
The Fixer  88
Sally Quon
Beginnings  88
Gayelene Carbis
His face Right in My Face  93
The Weight of Words in Our Hands Like Water  96
This is What Happened  97
Kelsey Brown
A Game of Cat and Mouse  100
Polly Buckingham
Excerpt—The Queen in the Mirror  110
Tina Barry
Pine  122
Roxanne James
Counting Raindrops  123
Lillo Way
Pearls Before Swine  126
Sally Showalter
Stone Lies  127
H.M. Clark
Fire Line  131
Danielle Hark
I Keep Secrets Stashed in a Lock Box  134
Abandoned Doll  134
Cold Sheets  135
Secrets Stashed in Tiny Orange Pill Bottles  136
Lexy Courneya
Memoir Excerpts  136
Memoir Excerpts II  141
Joyce Hayden
The Out of Body Girl  142
Marjorie Maddox
Eiffel Tower  154
On a Hot Summer Night for Revenge  155
The Truth of Lies, The Lies of Truth  156
Sharp.  157
IV—In Retrospect
Susan Landgraf
The Woman Who Held Her Tongue  159
Carol Smallwood
House of Cards  159
A Picnic  160
Rosanne Ehrlich
­Two-Year Slide in Brooklyn Heights  161
Linera Lucas
Saddle Up  172
Signal  173
Lindsey Heatherly
Weaving Rope  173
Robert Kingett
My First Online Love  177
Alice Ting Liu
Tug of War  180
Judith Skillman
Trellis  183
Years Later  184
Jeff Burd
Lost in Transmission  185
Mary Zelinka
Last Supper  188
Sailor Holladay
Red Flag  190
Alison Stone
Heretic  194
Tina Kelley
Pushed Out of the Chevy, She Adjusts Her Miniskirt  195
Meggie Royer
Twenty Years of Rain  195
Acknowledgments 197
Acknowledgments of Previously Published Work 199
Notes 201
About the Contributors 203
Index 211

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Anthologies so often hold one subject up, turn it this way and that, show us crevices and winks of insight, make connections we haven’t before perceived. Judith Skillman and Linera Lucas’s recent anthology about domestic abuse does just that…. This is a book of collected truths, a conversation about the facets of abuse…. Skillman and Lucas clarify the nuance of abuse from the beginning, through the title, and their introduction defines and describes how it can be loud or quiet.… I’m amazed at the hard and clear power of the language of many of these writers and stories. These writers have not only endured abuse but offer psychological clarity for those who need it.”—Literary Mama

• “When Home Is Not Safe brings a necessary voice to the silent and all-pervasive epidemic of domestic abuse among us. This is a powerful anthology—healing for the writer, eye-opening for the reader. As a therapist and a poet, I highly recommend this collection.”—Gayle Kaune MSW, LICSW, author, Noise from Stars

• “This anthology on a wide range of abuse is alive in its varied writings, both prose and poetry. The full sensory experience of domestic violence reveals human suffering, as well as triumph over trauma. The sheer existence of these writings is memorable; this is a must read for educators, social workers, and all those in the field of domestic abuse.”—Ellen Katz, PhD, MSW, RSW, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

• “How are we to receive and make use of these cries of the heart? These writings serve as sociological evidence of the imposition of the disturbed narratives of the powerful upon the vulnerable, in our domestic lives. I see them as reminders of the need to assure victims that their narratives matter more, and that the shame of what was done lies with the perpetrators.”—Patty Cannon MA LMHC, psychotherapist, Seattle Washington