“Sex is not love. Jealousy is not love. Pressure is not love. Possessiveness is not love. Control is not love…
Love is gentle. Love is kind. Love is brave. Love cannot be beat or be beaten. Love is unbeatable.”
This past September a new exhibit opened at the art gallery right here at Vanderbilt University. I AM UNBEATABLE is a new mission to raise awareness, educate and prevent domestic violence against women and children through real stories of real people. One story that this exhibit primarily focuses on is the story of a thirteen year old girl who got pregnant and was forced to drop out of school and raise the baby by her abusive partner. For years following the birth of her first child and even the birth of a second child, she was abused physically, mentally and emotionally by the father of her children. Now 29 years old, the mother of two boys and finally free of her abusive ex, Sarah Augusta’s story is photographed through a series of pictures displayed in this exhibit. Sarah is portrayed as no longer a victim, but a fighter.
As I was reading and examining the various photographs and captions throughout the display, the words which appear at the top of this page (which were presented as an explanation to one of the pictures in the exhibit “I Am Unbeatable”) really resonated with me and got me thinking. What does sex truly have to do with love? Many times in abusive relationships this idea that sex is love, and doing what your abuser desires, is “love”. However, love often times has nothing to do with any of this. There is no distinct description that constitutes what love really is, but if one this is for certain it is that pressure, possessiveness, control and jealousy do not have to do with it. The photograph that accompanies these words portrayed a young girl, Emma, who was the neighbor of Sarah and her two sons. At only 13, the age of Sarah when she got pregnant, Emma strongly believes that parents should start talking to their children from a young age about how to recognize abuse. This is something I completely agree with. It’s never too early to talk and inform people everywhere of the realities of abuse in this world.
In fact, one in five girls are found to be victims of abuse. Alongside of this, it is said that one in twenty boys are victims to abuse as well. Self report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a sexual abuse incident during childhood. These terrible statistics show the realities of abuse, but sometimes numbers do not always do the trick. Seeing the exhibit, “I Am Unbeatable”, today allowed me to visualize a real family that underwent the atrocity of abuse. How one person be so strong and overcome such adversity? Sarah Augusta and her family are inspiration for us all…and they show us that real love is truly gentle, kind, brave and most importantly UNBEATABLE.