Victim turns hurt into healing through writing

by Rebecca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs

11/2/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Al  -- Knowing firsthand the horrors of abuse, poet, author, mother and domestic violence survivor and perpetrator Kimberly Hicks shared her story of living in a home that was far from being a safe haven Oct. 25 at the Domestic Violence Awareness Month luncheon.

A retired master sergeant, Hicks, known by her pen names as Kay Cook or Kimmy Kim, gave an interactive presentation at the Maxwell Event Center. She provided audience members with a detailed look into her abusive relationship.

She related to the audience how she was able to walk away from the relationship, and offered them a chance to write down, crush and throw away their own hurts. The event included dramatic poetry readings by domestic violence survivors and awareness advocates.

As a medical technician in the Air Force, she always focused on the needs of her patients, while ignoring her own.

"People would come in [to the clinic] abused and hurt, both women and men, and I would sense there was something not right in their relationships," Hicks said. "Me personally, in my situation, I did not know I was in an abusive relationship until after my husband and I had divorced."

To friends and co-workers, Hicks was funny and popular. She was making rank, winning awards, rearing her five children and on her way to patenting a new invention. Her life seemed to have it all, but within her own home, she was nothing in the eyes of her husband.

"I was called names, and I was made to think at times that I was crazy," she explained. "I'd vacuum the floor, and he'd come home and vacuum the floor as if it hadn't been done. That was his way of telling me for so long that I wasn't a good housekeeper, I wasn't a good mother or I wasn't good at anything."

Belittled like that for years in front of her children, Hicks' feistiness finally caused one fight with her husband to become physical. Harsh words were said and punches were thrown, leaving Hicks with a bloody nose, puffy eyes and a lot to explain when she came into work that next morning. That was her first encounter with family advocacy and when she realized her abusive marriage was draining her of life.

"It took a lot out of me, and I didn't realize it until I just decided to walk away," said Hicks. "I had to walk away for my peace. I had no peace. I was always the peacemaker in a place that offered me no peace, which was my home, and that's not right."

Writing her book, "Poetic Therapy for a Sistah's Soul," Hicks was able to find a release from the pain. It was her therapy, she said. She said she hopes that from her experiences, she can give voice to women who are told to "hush."

"I encourage anybody to not live in silence," Hicks said. "Live your life on purpose. You have your whole life ahead of you. If there's a dream in your heart to do, do it. Let yourself go and be willing to step out of your mess and move forward. Live free and fearless."

To report suspicions of domestic violence, call family advocacy at 953-5430.