Words with Elizabeth. Walking deeper into healing.

Content Warning

{Some of the text on these images and in the body of this post, might be triggering to someone who has experienced inter-personal violence}

‘ek sal jou dood moer’ Afrikaans, translated:
‘i will kill you (beat you to death)

i wasn’t sure whether i should share this part of my #wordswithelizabeth apron, here in a public space—partly because i know that it might be triggering for someone, and partly because i have now started working on the most personal memories—my own, as a young girl.

i also wasn’t sure whether i should stick to my ‘head language’ and the language the event occurred in, because many of you lovely people will not understand Afrikaans, but, as always i need to be as true to the memory as i can be, and stitching this has been painful, and also cathartic.

i want to let the images do the work, but i have some words to add:

• some of us have shouted ‘help’ into the void.

• the ripples are seemingly never-ending.

• these memories are lodged in our bodies, and with time, and therapy, and buckets of proper self-care, and mindfulness, and the love of people who see the scar with kindness and prayer (for some), and God (for others), and trees, and nature, and compassion, and so much hard work, we can eventually move through our lives with just a limp.

• you will always have a slight limp.

• you will see others with the same limp, more clearly, and when nobody else does.

• a limp can be disguised as a quirky walk.

• don’t do it, though—healing will take consistent work and learning how to show up for yourself.

• forgiveness does not equate healing.

• do not force yourself to forgive and think this means that you are healed.

• healing involves some form of ‘letting go’.

• if you have experienced inter-personal, or domestic violence, please be very kind to yourself whilst learning that you are allowed to have boundaries.

• kind-hearted people will sometimes tell you things that they think are helpful—things that could, or should, or might, or will work for you, but you will have to find your own path through healing, because the sound, and taste, and feel, and sight of each (person’s) trauma is very, very different and we walk away from it with burrs attached to places that are different to each other.

• healing is possible, but also, for many, very difficult.

i see you.


{stitched detail from ‘words with elizabeth’, an autoethnographic project, attempting to honour the women and the men in my family, who were affected by domestic violence.

i am combining my poetry with words that are often found in the domestic violence narrative, and i am free stitching these onto items of intimate vintage clothing}